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Jerry’s Garden: Freedom is Growing Your Own Food

March 31st, 2011

 

I am a strong believer that just because you may not have land to garden, it doesn’t mean you can’t garden!  I am fortunate enough to have a couple acres, but many of us are not so fortunate.  Just because you live in the city doesn’t mean you can’t do some good old fashioned survival gardening!  You just need to adjust to your surroundings!

If you have a patio or balcony, container gardening is the way to go.  If you live on a city lot and you have, let’s say, 5 feet between you and your neighbor, hanging gutters on the side of your house and planting in them is the latest thing.  Stacked and layered raised bed gardens help save room.  Rooftop gardens are becoming a new form of community gardens.  And, of course, hydroponics is certainly becoming a favorite amongst gardeners with limited space and sunlight.

Now it’s true, there are some types of plants you can’t grow in these limited spaces and under these conditions—some plants need plenty of “leg room”, and any form of container gardening may not be enough–but the reality is, you can grow many varieties of plants this way.  And in my opinion, anything is better than nothing, right?

I mean, after all, it’s called “survival gardening”, not “plentiful gardening”, or “flourishing gardening”, or “too much to possibly eat gardening”.  The whole point is to grow enough to feed you and supply you with enough nutrients if your regular food supply were cut-off for any reason.

I often encounter friends/family and readers of mine who say, “Hmph, I just don’t have the space to grow”, and I say nonsense.  Human beings are amazing at adapting and learning to work with our circumstances.  And if you really want something hard enough, you’ll find a way to make it work.  If you want to grow your own foods, then grow your own foods—it’s as simple as that!

And the time to begin is now!  No point in putting it off.  Take a look around you, establish a plan, and implement it!  No more excuses!

About the Author

Jerry Greenfield

My number one focus is growing my own food. I don’t think that really counts as a hobby.  For some people it is, but for me, growing my own fruits and vegetables and saving my own seed is the key to survival. The only person you can count on is yourself, if you ask me. The government is trying to help us all with GMOs and welfare, but it’s all a crock. I also like to build things and read Transcendentalist authors from the 1860s.

Connect with Jerry via his blog and Facebook page: Grow Like Crazy

 

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Jerry’s Garden: Yippie for the Hippie?

March 29th, 2011

Eating organically and growing your own foods are not just for the hippies anymore.  In recent times, many of us have begun to learn about and understand the fact that our government is not necessarily providing for us; they don’t exactly have the individual citizen’s well-being in their thoughts.

With the invention of the Internet, we now have easy access to information and opinions from all over the globe.  Our news sources are no longer limited to the newspaper and the evening news.  Because of this, we are now able to educate ourselves and make our own decisions about the foods we eat.

Many of the things we’re learning are not comforting.  We are learning about the massive overuse of chemical herbicides and pesticides on our produce and how these synthetic chemicals are hurting us.  We’re learning about the use (and overuse) of antibiotics and hormones in our meats and the health risks involved.  We’re learning of the inhumane ways animals are treated, whether it be dairy cows being given the bovine growth hormone, chickens living their short lives in cages, pigs having their tails cut off when they’re babies, or any number of other cruelties.

Because we can read information on these things, watch videos, communicate with each other, and SHARE THIS KNOWLEDGE we are no longer “in the dark.”  What that means is that now everybody has the opportunity to be educated and aware.  We are no longer an “ignorance is bliss” people.  And the promising thing is, the majority of us are good people who care enough to at least try to make a difference in our own lives, if not on a broader scale.

We have made choices to live healthier, more natural lifestyles.  We try to be more “green”.  We try to reuse, reduce and recycle more.  More and more of us are purchasing natural and organic foods and many of us are buying from local stores, Farmer’s markets, and co-ops.  A good portion of us are growing our own foods, whether in our own backyard vegetable gardens, in containers, porches and balconies, or even hydroponically.  We, as a people, are taking the steps that we need to take to ensure our own health and safety; our government sure isn’t doing it for us!

When once it was just the hippies who tried to live sustainable lifestyles, many of us are now actively seeking ways to be more like the hippies. Granted, not all of the hippies’ ideas were all that great, they did have some wonderful ideas and forward thinking views on how we impact our world and what we could do to work with it and not against it.

I think we can all learn a thing or two from the hippies.  And now that we have access to unlimited information, we can learn much about what we can do to live happier, healthier, and more sustainable lives.  Maybe the hippies had it right all along…

About the Author:

Jerry Greenfield

My number one focus is growing my own food. I don’t think that really counts as a hobby.  For some people it is, but for me, growing my own fruits and vegetables and saving my own seed is the key to survival. The only person you can count on is yourself, if you ask me. The government is trying to help us all with GMOs and welfare, but it’s all a crock. I also like to build things and read Transcendentalist authors from the 1860s.

Connect with Jerry via his blog and Facebook page: Grow Like Crazy

 

 

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Guest Blog:The Rule of Succession

March 28th, 2011

 

Depending on the space you are working with and the primary use of your garden, succession planting or staggering your crop can be a great way to make the best use of your space and extend your growing season. Ultimately, you are at the mercy of Mother Nature; but with some of these tips you can be eating or canning your freshly picked, nutrient filled food through the summer and into the fall.

With most vegetables, you want to space out your planting of uniform crops by about 2-4 weeks. This will allow a continuous harvest of a sort. Typically, the initial harvest is going to be the largest, yielding a weightier crop at first and tapering down as the summer months continue. Rather than dedicating all of your space to an initial “go big or go home” mentality, many of us green thumbs prefer the succession method to keep the harvest coming through the warm summer months and beyond. With cucumbers, depending on your locale, you can harvest most varieties all the way until fall, with multiple plantings throughout the warm months. On a side note, essential fiber and vitamin A are lost when removing the skin from the cukes; remember your plants are going to absorb a lot of the nutrients in the soil, so using organic fertilizer or compost between plantings becomes a necessity to replace the nutrients lost.

This next technique, relay cropping, can be amended to support the planting and harvest of various species. For example, your snow or snap pea growing season is usually short and early. While a staggered planting approach may not be plausible for this certain veggie, you can replant the same row, or pot with a less frost resistant or a warmer germinating seed like pumpkin. This makes use of your row, pot or plot while the sunshine and warmth are abundant. Remember, Halloween pumpkins take at least 100 days to full mature; so late May to July is prime time for this festive squash to be firm and ready for carving, or pie recipes in the fall. This keeps your harvest useful for Halloween or Thanksgiving pies.

Another way to maximize space and take advantage of the full growing season is simply planting vegetables that can share the same space, also known as inter-cropping or inter-planting. Multiple approaches to this have been used for generations to keep a fruitful and healthy balance between space and yield. Inter cropping primarily works on an opposite attract policy. For example, a shallow rooting vegetable (lettuce) can be planted with a deep rooted vegetable (carrot). Another example would be in a warmer climate taller veggie (corn, tomatoes, pole beans) shading and cooling a more heat sensitive lettuce.

Lastly, a strategic approach commonly associated with inter-cropping is sowing both short and fast harvest crops together, (such as spinach and Brussels sprouts.)  A good amount of planning and documentation can help avoid mix-ups and give you more of a visual. I always try and keep a diagram as well. Many sprouts are not distinguishable until they are more mature. Experiment! It’s always helpful in figuring out what works best for your particular variables, and will help you decide what grows in your garden. Whether planting in your urban garden, your commercial farm, or anywhere in between, succession planting and inter cropping and staggering is a great way to maximize your yield of your edible garden!

Happy gardening!

Tony

About the Author:

Tony Kasowski

My connection to gardening is simple. I love to eat, cook, and the satisfaction of making a dish with something from my own garden. The feeling that is second to none! I also strongly believe that genetically modified food is an epidemic that is not effectively addressed by government, so I have decided to speak out.  Gardening, for me, is becoming a necessity for true healthy living. I live in Phoenix, AZ with my lovely fiancée and enjoy all types of music, outdoor activities, and traveling.

 

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Seed Money!

March 23rd, 2011

Just in time for spring gardening, Humble Seed is excited to announce that we now offer $30.00 Humble Seed Gift Cards, which can be applied to any Humble Seed product.

If you have friends who enjoy gardening or know someone who is interested in learning how to garden, surprising them with a Humble Seed Gift Card is a great way to show them support in their food growing endeavors. We can ship your Humble Seed Gift Card to you or a designated recipient, and you can include a personalized message if you’d like. They’re great for any occasion, and what makes them nice is that the receiver can choose the Humble Seed products they need or want.

For more information, and to order, go to our green gifts link then scroll down to ‘$30.00 Humble Seed Gift Card.’

Thank you for being a Humble Seed friend!

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Seed Spotlight: Washington Cherry Tomato

March 22nd, 2011

 

Whether you’re hungry for a healthy snack or making appetizers, salads, and more, cherry tomatoes are a great choice for nutritional eating and enhancing a variety of foods. When picked fresh from the vine, radiant red cherry tomatoes offer full-of-flavor juices that showcase the wonderful flavors of the gardening season, and these little beauties will keep growing all season long.

Our organic Washington Cherry Tomato seeds produce 1 ¼” meaty and flavorful fruits. Seeds can be sown in spring after the average last spring frost and when soil temperatures reach 60 degrees. Tomato plants can be grown in a warm area that receives plenty of sunlight. In warm winter/hot areas, they can also be planted in early fall for winter harvesting. If growing cherry tomatoes you will need a tomato cage or other support system. Cherry tomatoes are lycopene-rich!

If you’re looking for a new way to enjoy cherry tomatoes try slow roasting them. Richly flavored, they pair well with soft cheese and crackers—it’s the perfect warm weather appetizer. Simply cut cherry tomatoes in half, lengthwise, then place cut side up in a roasting pan. Sprinkle cut tomatoes with fresh thyme leaves then season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Liberally drizzle tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil then place roasting pan in a 200 degree oven for 6-8 hours. When finished, the tomatoes will be collapsed but not dried out. Cool then serve with accompaniments. Tasty tomatoes indeed!

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Guest Blog: Jerry’s Garden- GM(n)O

March 17th, 2011
 

 

Hi Everybody!  Hope you’ve all been well since my last article!  In this article, I’ll be talking about GMO foods—especially fruits and vegetables.  There are many reasons why genetically modified foods are not good for you.  But before we even delve into all that, it’s important for all of us to understand what GMO food really is.

Genetically modified foods, or GMO foods, are any kind of food that has purposely had specific changes made to its DNA. These changes have been made by humans and are not brought about by natural means over time. It’s natural for all organisms to change over time, whether it’s an extremely gradual change, or a relatively quick change caused by mutations, radiation, and other environmental factors.  These changes help the organism adapt to its environment and typically make it stronger.

With genetically modified foods, human interaction forces the organisms to change–unnaturally.  Certain genes in the organism’s make-up are purposely removed or introduced to the organism’s DNA. Whether it be a gene to help the organism grow faster, brighter, juicer, etc., the bottom line is, it is certainly not natural.

The theory and reasoning behind GMO foods is such: If humans can manipulate nature, and produce foods that are “better” for us, then the end result will surpass the questionable means and we (humans) can benefit from these “better” foods.

However, many studies have shown that GMO foods are less nutritious and can actually be harmful to humans and other animals. Lab rats fed GM foods were shown to develop lesions in their stomachs and other intestinal problems. GMO foods have also been shown to cause liver, kidney, and heart damage in mammals.

In addition, many GMO fruits and vegetables are much lower in the nutrients found in non-GMO foods.  Some of these include calcium, iron, phosphorus, and vitamin C.  Studies have shown that over the last two decades, these nutrients have been on a steady decline in our fruits and vegetables! What is the point of eating fruits and vegetables if you’re not getting any of the nutrients normally derived from these plants?!

The draw to GMO foods is, of course, that they grow faster and produce more.  But we can’t just look at the short-term benefits of these foods; we need to consider the long-term effects as well.  And I truly think that anyone who does their research and discovers the long-term effects of these foods will be willing to wait a bit longer and eat a bit less!

About Jerry Greenfield:

Jerry Greenfield

 

My number one focus is growing my own food. I don’t think that really counts as a hobby.  For some people it is, but for me, growing my own fruits and vegetables and saving my own seed is the key to survival. The only person you can count on is yourself, if you ask me. The government is trying to help us all with GMOs and welfare, but it’s all a crock. I also like to build things and read Transcendentalist authors from the 1860s.

Connect with Jerry via his blog and Facebook page: Grow Like Crazy

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Seed Spotlight: Santo Cilantro

March 10th, 2011

 

Who loves cilantro!? Raise your hand! This quick growing, versatile herb is one of our absolute favorites. Also known as Chinese parsley, cilantro is the leaves of the coriander plant. The unique, pungent aroma of cilantro makes this herb stand out, and it is used in many parts of the world. In Asian, Caribbean, Indian, and Mexican cuisines, just to name a few, you’ll find cilantro enhancing a variety of delicious dishes, from burritos to chutneys to salsas and more.

For thousands of years, cilantro was cultivated in China, Egypt and India, and in areas of the Near East and southern Europe coriander grows wild. Its uses have ranged from being an appetite stimulant to the relief of anxiety and insomnia to being used in love potions, believing it offered immortality.

Humble Seed’s Santo Cilantro is an easy to grow herb and perfect for container gardening if you do not have yard space. It’s fast growing, reaching 12-24 inches tall, and can be planted in 3-4 week intervals for a continuous harvest. Seeds can be started outside in the spring, after the average last day of frost.

Here’s a tasty Cilantro-Lime Dressing recipe for you to try:

Cilantro-Lime Dressing

1 Conchos jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined and coarsely chopped

¾ teaspoon minced fresh ginger root

1 garlic clove

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup honey

¼ cup lime juice

½ teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning

¼ cup packed cilantro leaves

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place jalapeno, ginger and garlic into a blender; pulse until finely chopped. Add balsamic vinegar, honey, lime juice, ½ teaspoon salt and cilantro leaves; pulse, to blend. Turn on blender then slowly drizzle in the olive oil until blended into the dressing; season with salt if desired.

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