Seems to me, that a lot of salespeople forget how to learn or they forget why to learn. You master the products that you sell, you get a general sense of of how to sell and then you shut down. You don't want to do any more learning. I don't mean this as an indictment against all salespeople, I actually get it. I understand a lot of people who enter into this profession do so because they want to interact with people. They want to rely on their natural personality.
And learning feels like a distraction. It feels like time spent in a book or in a classroom will take away from time in the field or on the phone with customers. But if you want to expand your capacity, if you want to continually improve, if you want to be ready for a next level job or if you want to be even better in the job you already have somewhere in there, you'll have to do a little bit of learning, learning about your customers and prospects, learning about the industry, learning about the craft of selling.
There's a lot to learn. To expand your capacity, you have to have the humility to learn. Humility says I don't know everything, I don't have all the answers, I could benefit from learning something more or new. Give it a try. When you expand your capacity by learning, you also expand the possibilities, they become boundless. You can learn more and grow more and your revenue will follow suit.
The photo on the left shows a little less than half of my 2020 straw bale garden. The rest of it wraps around the other side of the outbuilding and is in containers. There are straw bales on that side, as well as containers for the plants that needed something different than straw to do their very best. We have 60 straw bales this year, as well as 16 containers. I'm growing 57 different crops, significantly more than I grew in 2019 when I had only forty eight straw bales and a lot more than I grew in 2018 with just twenty four bales straw.
And each year, as I've added on, I've done that because I've learned a few things along the way, including what to do with all that excess when I'm expanding. The reason I'm expanding is it because we need more. The reason I'm expanding is because I love straw bale garden. I'm having a great time and I've found some interesting ways to trade and give and barter all the things that I grow. As we're expanding as you can see over here on the right hand side, I have to get smarter unless I want to work a lot harder.
I have to be smart about what I'm doing. So we position soaker hoses in certain ways early in the season because once the plants grow, you can't reposition them very easily without potentially damaging the plants. I got bigger soaker hoses, higher quality ones this year because I wanted to be able to rely on them, instead of having to rely on myself to get the work of watering done. And as we have expanded, we've gotten creative with the ways that we are giving out the products that we have and that we are using for others.
We give products away. We invite people to come over whenever they want to and harvest in the garden. I get out there and pick early, so whatever's left a little later in the day is intended for some of our friends, family and neighbors to take advantage of. It's a good reason for people to come out and visit us, too. I also share recipes and I certainly share the canned goods and the vacuum sealed products and the frozen products that I have available.
We've been creative in what we've been able to do. When we had a lot of yellow tomatoes in 2019 (I'll never plant that many cherry tomato plants again), when we had an abundance, I had found a pickled cherry tomato recipe. That's actually pretty good for a quick snack. And I made sunset's salsa with half yellow tomatoes and half red tomatoes. And it's been incredibly popular. It's it's very tasty and it's pretty in the jar. People, of course, like plain old tomatoes, too, so I can give those away all day long.
Everyone's asking me, are you going to go into business? You have so much here , you could sell this and make a good living. But, you know, for me, it's all about the fun, not about potential profit in this endeavor.
Something else that was very bountiful last year and by design should be even more bountiful this year, where all these little ornamental gourds that I grow and the mini pumpkins. This year, I added, I'm growing lunch lady gourds and gizmo gourds and some butternut squashes to go on top of all the regular squashes and gourds that I've grown in years past. These are really fun to give away and it was fun to go see all my friends and family and see how they chose to decorate with all the gourds that we grew and gave away.
As you're thinking about ways to expand the capacity that you have or that your team has or that your customers have, you too can be very thoughtful about what it looks like to give something away if you have excess, because when you give something away or when you barter or trade, that expansion gives you a lot more to work with.
It's also like putting money in the bank. I was blown away come the holiday season last year with all the different interesting things that people wanted to give us because of how well we've taken care of them during the harvest season. I didn't expect it, but that's just the way things work. It's the law of reciprocity. When you give something, when you pay it forward, people want to give you something in return. Go ahead and think about expanding, but don't do it just for the sake of expanding.
Do it because it's the right thing to do, especially when it comes to your own and other's capacity.