What would we do differently with our instant gardens? Watch this video to find out!
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This year we created two instant gardens, one was a method we've used successfully multiple times before, and the other was a brand new method using a vertical tower garden. If you missed the videos you can check them out below:


So which method was successful and which was a failure? Watch to find out, as well as how I diagnose the issues in order to remedy them moving forward.

If you're looking for a vertical garden of your own, be sure to check out Greenstalk Vertical Garden Planters, if you use our code "homesteadingfamily" for $10 off your purchase:

WELCOME! We're so glad you're here! We are Josh and Carolyn Thomas. Together with our nine children, we are The Homesteading Family where we’re living a self-sustainable life in beautiful North Idaho. Let us welcome you and show you a bit about us here:

Grow, Preserve & Thrive with us!
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A few highlights you don't want to miss are our FREEBIES!!

Click any of the links below for instant access to free video training resources:

– Healthy Healing at Home- Free 4 video workshop on our herb course Herbal Medicine Cabinet: Colds
– Bread Making workshop- Free 4 video workshop on our masterclass, The Art of Homemade Bread
– Meals on Your Shelf- Free 4 video workshop on canning. The Abundant Pantry: Canning

Click any of the links below for instant access to these free downloadable PDFs:

– Homesteading Family's Favorite Holiday Recipes – A PDF download filled with our family’s favorite holiday recipe.
– 5 Steps to a More Self Sufficient Life- Simple PDF download on 5 steps anyone can take wherever they are to start a more self-sufficient lifestyle.
– Thrive Wellness Checklist- A simple PDF download for healthy living.
– Permaculture for Your Homestead- PDF download that is an introduction to permaculture with some strategies for applying it to one’s homestead and garden.
– Carolyn’s Cottage Garden herb list- PDF with Carolyn’s favorite herbs for growing at home.
– Carolyn’s Make-Ahead Breakfast Casseroles- Carolyn’s favorite make-ahead breakfast casseroles.
– Your FREE Guide to Preserving Eggs- PDF download with multiple ways to preserve eggs.
– 5 Steps to a Healthy Garden- PDF download with an explanation of what makes healthy soil and 5 steps you can take to improve your garden
– Save the Crumbs- Several Recipes for using bread leftovers, a less committal entry to bread than the workshop.
– Fearless Fermenting- A PDF on basic lacto-ferments.
– Fermenting Tomatoes- PDF download on fermenting tomatoes
– Preserving Culinary Herbs- Downloadable, step by step directions to drying, freezing and salting culinary herbs.
– Render Your Own Lard- PDF with instructions on how to render your own lard.
#instantgarden #greenstalk #verticalgarden #towergarden #gardening



  • Joanne Cohen

    I am learning from your mistakes. Thank you 🙏🏻 for your Tutorials. It is valuable and beneficial information for my Family.

  • D Chavez

    We had a bunch of our lettuce ended up stunted so I appreciate you sharing. It’s nice to know a seasoned grower can have similar results as novice like myself. Reassuring to keep trying and address the soil

  • Zhippidy Doodah

    We made the mistake of ordering screened topsoil this year, to try some raised beds rather than pots. I ended up with a lot – a whole lot – of nasty weed growth, even after pouring boiling water over the soil to kill anything before planting. The nightshade berries and jimsonweed fruits are scary. I need to burn it all. I guess a nice thing was that we got some grape tomatoes with it, or some birds brought them, I didn’t plant any this year.

  • Sniping Rhino Ranch - Homesteading

    Thanks for the video. We use our failures to “Fail Forward”.

  • Vicki

    I have heard that if you use manure from animals that have eat from a field where weed control spray has been used, it will cause the problem with future plantings. You maybe need to ask what kind of weed control was used, then look up if it lasts longer than one growing cycle. Glyphosate is a big one. Even if it says it breaks down, some research says otherwise. Love your stuff. Keep up the great work. Am learning alot.

  • rain coast

    Killer compost, i got some this spring from the city composting facility at the landfill. Even manure from a farm can have residual herbicides in it that can stunt growth of certain plants. The best plan of action is to do a test plot in a container early in the season before you plant out the main garden to see if you have poison in your compost. Just search Killer Compost and see how people have dealt with it.

  • Madison D McLean

    Loved this video! I have to say it was too funny how distracted by sweet peppers Josh got! 🤪

  • Marirose

    Josh, The link to subscribe to your email list is broken FYI.😞

  • Livesout Doors

    I bought some soil once, it was totally useless it was amazing how different it was from productive soil. Saving a couple dollars cost me production in one bed thank goodness I didn’t put it on any other beds. Also take in consideration that many people are having problems with soil and mulch that has weed spray in them from farmers spraying and it getting into the mulching system.

  • Stephanie Huesler

    Thank you for the overview! Carolyn, would you please do a video about what’s in your “book of secrets”? What kinds of things do you record in there? Some tips and tricks for starting one’s own household book? That would be so helpful!!

  • Anna Wolf

    Thank you. We as expired gardener had failed this year too.

  • Megan Smith

    After watching your instant garden video and your “what to plant in the fall” video I started a small garden in our backyard the first week in August. I needed a project to do towards the end of the summer and this was perfect. I bought tomato and bean plants and then from seed I planted lettuce, spinach, and carrots. Our spinach is not doing anything and the carrots only have a few sprouts. The lettuce has done great, the bean plant is producing and I am hoping we still have enough warm days for our tomatoes to ripen. I have been happy with the result and look forward to expanding in the spring. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Rose Felton

    Thanks for the update. Was very interesting that you mentioned the problem was soil and compost. We put in 5 raised beds with bought soil and compost from a reputable dealer, or so I thought. I planted several different seeds and some onion starts in January (I live in Arizona) and everything started coming up good, but then I noticed the peas and onions were looking kind of sickly. I did a quick soil test and found that the soil and compost was the problem. I immediately started amending the soil. Saved my onions, but lost my peas. I have a Garden Tower similar to your tower, but mine has vermicomposting in the center of it. I have tomatoes and peppers in the top, swiss chard, lettuce and herbs in the middle section and zucchini and broccoli on the bottom. They are all doing good. Love using the Tower!!

  • Caroline Donohue

    It could have been something in the compost. Maybe if maure compost the straw bedding had been sprayed with weedkiller in the field.


    10yr gardener here! This year was a mess being pregnant/delivering my 4child. Basically grew alot of weeds with produce! We love failure here! Just motives us for next year! God bless your family!

  • Janet Clark

    I got one of the Greenstalk vertical systems after watching your video and I love it! I am growing arugula, green onions, eternal spinach, beets, swiss chard and tomatoes. The lettuce starts I planted wilted in the first couple of days, but everything else is doing great. i also only used 3 of the sections because when full they were too heavy to lift up that high (i am a short person) – so I am doing the other two separately and havenʻt had a chance to plant anything in them yet. I am lucky to be in a place where I can do year round gardening, so am planning to do some lettuce, and some salsa plants in the other two sections – maybe this weekend ;o) thank you for the information on the system.

  • Donna Atchison

    I’m on my second crop of bush beans in my Green Stalk. Fantastic production from both crops. I’m guessing that each crop was approximately a forty foot row if in an in ground garden. I sowed three seeds per pocket and thinned to 2 plants each. I amended each level with an organic fertilizer before planting and used an organic liquid fertilizer at 1/2 strength weekly.

  • Dayna In Hawaii

    Persistent herbicide, causes no or stunted growth. Might last a couple years.

  • Lisa Kukla

    Oh my gosh! You guys are so close to 11 million views! Probably by the time your next video comes out, you will have already whizzed right by it. That’s got to be an amazing feeling. Congratulations!

  • Lisa Brogdon

    Do black walnut grow up there? I know you’ve been doing some logging… that’s one of the trouble trees we have to be weary of when we’re buying wood chips. Just a thought..

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