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Colony Collapse Disorder and Vanishing of the Bees

August 24th, 2010

If you know anything about bees, then you’re probably familiar with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Colony Collapse Disorder is an unusual phenomenon where bees abandon their hives, never to return.

What is frightening about CCD is that we’re not talking about a few thousand bees here or there. Just in the winter of 2006/2007, tens of billions of bees—more than a quarter of the United States’ bee colonies—were lost to CCD, and since then, more than three million bee colonies have disappeared.

When you think about the number of bee colonies that have been lost to CCD then wonder how our agricultural crops will be pollinated should this problem worsen, it’s hard not to think the word “catastrophic.”

In estimation, insects pollinate one third of the human food supply, most of which is pollinated by bees. In case you need a pollination refresher: Bees land on a flower to eat nectar and pollen. While on the flower, the bee will stuff powdery pollen into little sacks on the back of her legs. When the bee flies to another flower, some of the dusty pollen falls off her legs onto the new flower she’s landed on, thus beginning the plant pollination process (fertilization and sexual reproduction). Pollination is vital, because fruiting of a plant is dependent on fertilization.

Imagine the catastrophic consequences if crops such as apples, asparagus, avocados, broccoli, blueberries, cantaloupe, celery, citrus, cucumbers, nuts, peaches, and more were unable to fruit, due to lack of pollination, due to the lack of bees. It’s a very scary thought.

We’ve uprooted a very real bee movie that we hope everyone will get the opportunity to watch: Vanishing of the Bees. Check out the trailer.

http://www.vanishingbees.com/

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Seed and Feed in Phoenix

August 24th, 2010

Jim & Kristen Mitchell, Owners of Humble Seed will be talking about ALL things garden to YOUR plate at the fabulous Picazzo’s Organic Italian Kitchen (www.picazzos.com) in Phoenix this Saturday, August 28, 2010 from 11:00am-12:00pm. The Esplanade store is located at 2501 E. Camelback Road, Phoenix, AZ 85016. There will be delicious FREE Appetizers! Also enter to win a Uncle Herb’s Culinary Herb Seed Kit and our garden tote. We hope to see you there!

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Humble Seed Safe Seed Pledge

August 23rd, 2010

Safe Seed Program

Public opinion polls in the US and abroad reveal that the large majority of consumers are wary of genetically modified (GM) crops and plants. As a result, agricultural producers and manufacturers have found that “GM-free” can be both a socially responsible statement and an effective marketing slogan.

Created in 1999, the Safe Seed Pledge helps to connect non-GM seed sellers to the growing market of concerned gardeners and agricultural consumers. The Pledge allows businesses to declare that they “do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds,” thus assuring consumers of their commitment. Council for Responsible Genetics (CRG) formally recognizes vendors through the Safe Seed Sourcebook available online.

Safe Seed Program Public opinion polls in the US and abroad reveal that the large majority of consumers are wary of genetically modified (GM) crops and plants. As a result, agricultural producers and manufacturers have found that “GM-free” can be both a socially responsible statement and an effective marketing slogan. Created in 1999, the Safe Seed Pledge helps to connect non-GM seed sellers to the growing market of concerned gardeners and agricultural consumers. The Pledge allows businesses to declare that they “do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds,” thus assuring consumers of their commitment. CRG formally recognizes vendors through the Safe Seed Sourcebook available online.

The Safe Seed Pledge:

“Agriculture and seeds provide the basis upon which our lives depend. We must protect this foundation as a safe and genetically stable source for future generations. For the benefit of all farmers, gardeners and consumers who want an alternative, We pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. The mechanical transfer of genetic material outside of natural reproductive methods and between generations, families or kingdoms, poses great biological risks as well as economic, political, and cultural threats. We feel that genetically engineered varieties have been insufficiently tested prior to public release. More research and testing is necessary to further assess the potential risks of genetically engineered seeds. Further, we wish to support agricultural progress that leads to healthier soils, genetically diverse agricultural ecosystems and ultimately healthy people and communities.”

We do affirm,

Jim and Kristen Mitchell

Humble Seed, Owners

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Pickling: Preserving the Flavors of the Season

August 19th, 2010

Whether you call it brining, corning or pickling, the process of preserving foods goes way back—so far back that the pickle is estimated to be over 4,000 years old! Today, in addition to preserving the fantastic flavors of the seasons, there’s something tremendously rewarding in being able to enjoy the foods you’ve grown yourself throughout the year. While the history of pickling may have its roots in the necessity of preserving foods for sea travels and long journeys, presently, many people believe it’s a necessity to know that the foods their eating and serving their families are the best foods possible. Growing then preserving your own foods can provide you with a great sense of peace when it comes to feeding your family.

From Humble Seeds’ Amazing Cauliflower to Conchos Jalapenos to Romanesco Zucchini, you can preserve your harvests relatively easy; all you need in order to pickle your own vegetables is a brining solution—such as salt, vinegar and spices—and the right pickling equipment—canner, jars, lifting tongs, lid lifter, lids, rings, and canning jar funnel.

Here is a wonderful pickling recipe for you to try using Amazing Cauliflower and Conchos Jalapenos.

Pickled Jalapenos, Carrots and Cauliflowers

Ingredients

1 pound jalapeno peppers, stems intact

1/3 cup olive oil

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thickly

Cauliflower florets from ½ head of cauliflower

2 medium white onions, sliced thickly

1 garlic head, cloves separated but not peeled

4 cups apple cider vinegar

3 large sprigs fresh thyme

3 large sprigs fresh marjoram

½ teaspoon dried oregano

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons kosher salt

Preparation

Wash chiles. With a small paring knife, cut an ‘X’ in the tip of each chile. In a deep, large skillet heat oil. Add chiles, carrots, cauliflower florets, onions and garlic cloves; sauté, turning occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add vinegar, thyme and marjoram sprigs, oregano, bay leaves, sugar and salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat then simmer ingredients for 10 minutes or until jalapenos are cooked through. Pack jalapenos and vegetables into 4 pint-sized sterilized jars. Pour vinegar into jars, seal then process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Once opened, jars will keep for 1-2 months in the refrigerator.

If you’ve never pickled before, here are two informative websites to help you through the process: Virginia Cooperative Extension and Pick Your Own.

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What’s Been Growing with Humble Seed?

August 18th, 2010

Here are some photo’s of what people have been growing this year with their Humble Seed. All seen here were direct seeded and germinated quickly into very healthy and plentiful plants!

Costata Romanesco Zucchini

“Hello All – We thought we would share our recent pics of our wonderful Humbleseed veggies! We live in Michigan and are focused on eating naturally, which is why we have chosen Humbleseed….My husband and I have gardened most of our life, and we have to admit, the zucchini and summer squash plants are the biggest we have ever seen! The veggies are delicious! We are looking forward to the melons and harvesting our seeds! Thank you Humbleseed!”

Crimson Sweet Watermelon

“We tried growing other watermelon and cantelope seeds last year, and all we got was a tiny little melon my children shared for a snack….Not this year! We have at least 24 watermelon and 30 cantelope currently growing on the vines, with many more flowers still blooming. Depending on weather, we are expecting to have our first melon ready in 3 to 4 weeks..”

Marketmore Cucumber

“This weekend was our first pick in which we harvested 40 cucumbers, with many more to come!! I’m looking for a good dill pickle canning recipe if anyone has one to share…”

Superbo Basil

“Mom grew her basil in a container on the porch. The basil was very robust and aromatic! Pesto is the besto!”

Yellow Crookneck Squash

“In this picture you can see the summer squash. We usually grill it with just a touch of olive oil. The kids also love it!”

Sweet Granite Cantaloupe

“A couple of the Cantelope, they look great!!”

Bull's Blood Beets

“We’re very exicted for the beets….One of my favortie summer time veggies! There is nothing like FRESH beets!”

Tavera Green Bean

“We had the Humbleseed beans tonight for dinner, they were wonderful! We usually steam them and serve with just a touch of butter…I like to sprinkle a little steak seasoning on mine!”

Please forward on your Humble Seed harvest pictures-we would love to seem them!

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Seed And Feed in Paradise Valley, AZ

August 18th, 2010

Jim & Kristen Mitchell, Owners of Humble Seed will be talking about ALL things garden to YOUR plate at the fabulous Picazzo’s Organic Italian Kitchen (www.picazzos.com) in Paradise Valley this Saturday, August 21, 2010 at 11:00am- there will be delicious FREE Appetizers! Also enter to win a Uncle Herb’s Culinary Herb Seed Kit and our garden tote. We hope to see you there!

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Seed Spotlight: Tavera Green Bean

August 16th, 2010

If you’re enjoying a bumper crop of Humble Seed’s Tavera Green Beans then you’ve probably prepared numerous dishes that spotlight this French filet bean.

Dark green, slender and stringless, this is the kind of green bean found in upscale French markets. We’re talking gourmet. It’s designed to be picked before it reaches ¼” in diameter, which results in an incredibly tender bean.

The Tavera Green Bean is perfect for Salad Niçoise [nee-suaz], a French cold salad dish that showcases green beans, potatoes and tuna fish. If you’ve never tasted Salad Niçoise, there’s no better time than now to use your Tavera Green Beans in a new recipe that’s certain to become a favorite fresh green bean stand by for your summertime menus.

Salad Niçoise

Ingredients

Vinaigrette

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons minced fresh basil leaves

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves

2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves

1 small shallot, minced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Salad

8-10 new red potatoes, scrubbed and quartered

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 heads of butter lettuce, leaves washed, dried then torn into bite-sized pieces

2 grilled tuna steaks (about 16 ounces total)

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

3 small tomatoes, cored then cut into eighths

8 ounces green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise

6 hard boiled eggs, peeled then quartered

¼ cup nicoise olives

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

Preparation

For vinaigrette, whisk olive oil through shallot together in a bowl then season with salt and black pepper; set aside.

For salad, add about 4 quarts cold water to a large pot. Add potatoes then bring to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon salt; boil potatoes for about 8 minutes or until they are tender. With a slotted spoon, transfer potatoes to a medium-size bowl then add ¼ up of the vinaigrette; toss to coat. Set potatoes aside.

While potatoes are cooking, add lettuce to a large bowl then add ¼ cup of the vinaigrette; toss to coat. Arrange a bed of lettuce on a serving platter. Cut grilled tuna into ½-inch slices, place in a bowl then add a little bit of the vinaigrette; gently toss to coat. Place tuna in the center of the serving platter, mounding atop lettuce. Arrange reserved potatoes in a mound atop lettuce bed. Add red onion and tomatoes to bowl then add a little bit of the vinaigrette; toss to coat then season with salt and black pepper. Arrange onion-tomato mixture atop the lettuce bed.

Return water to boil. Add green beans and 1 tablespoon of salt. Cook green beans for about 5 minutes or until tender but still crisp. Drain green beans then transfer to an ice bath for 30 seconds. Drain again then dry green beans with paper towels. Add green beans to the bowl then add about 3 tablespoons of the vinaigrette; toss to coat then season with salt and black pepper. Arrange green beans on serving platter.

Arrange eggs and olives in mounds on the serving platter. Drizzle eggs with remaining vinaigrette. Sprinkle salad with capers then serve. SERVES 6

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A Glimpse Into Off the Rack, Tortured Seeds

August 11th, 2010

 

Did you know that seeds can be tortured? It’s true. Humble little seeds are living things that are dormant until placed in the right conditions. When exposed to elements such as heat and moisture, the life of seeds can be gravely compromised. Have you ever noticed how seeds are stored at big box stores? Many times, they’re placed in the hot sun or near plants that get misted. The paper packets that these seeds are stored in do not protect them from these elements.

Seeds need to be stored in environmentally controlled conditions in order to ensure optimum germination and prolong their lives. That’s why we store our seeds in environmentally controlled conditions up to the point of shipping. Before being shipped, seeds are packaged in re-sealable Mylar® bags which provide great seed protection, as well as the opportunity to plant now or later. And, if you are a seed saver, you can re-use your Mylar® bags to save seeds from the plants you grow. We pamper our seeds so much that we even play classical music to them in our storage facility.

Once purchased, keep seeds stored in a dry and cool place, such as in an airtight container in your refrigerator. Also, keep seed varieties separated from each other in clearly labeled packets. If stored in the right conditions, seeds will remain viable for years.

While it may be fun to shop off the rack for new clothes, you should never shop off the rack for seeds.  They’re too valuable a resource to torture by storing them in the wrong conditions.

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Seed and Feed

August 10th, 2010

Jim & Kristen Mitchell, Owners of Humble Seed will be talking about ALL things garden to YOUR plate at the fabulous Picazzo’s Organic Italian Kitchen (www.picazzos.com) in Scottsdale this Saturday, August 14, 2010 at 11:00am- there will be delicious FREE Appetizers! We hope to see you there!

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Humble Seed Hits the Airwaves

August 5th, 2010

Want to learn more about Humble Seed? Listen in this Saturday, August 7, 2010, when Humble Seed’s Jim and Kristen Mitchell make a special guest appearance on the Certifiably Organic Radio Show.

What: Certifiably Organic Radio Show

Where: KFNX 1100 AM (CAN LISTEN LIVE VIA ONLINE STREAMING: http://www.1100kfnx.com/)

Time: 11:OOAM – 12:OOPM PST

Host: Shairon Beale (http://shaironbeale.com/)

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