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Surprise Mom This Mother’s Day with a Gift She’ll Really Dig!

April 28th, 2011

Mother’s Day is on Sunday, May 8, and if your mom is a gardener or planning on starting a garden this spring you may want to consider surprising her with a Humble Seed gift basket. Our prepared gift baskets save you the hassle of having to buy individual gifts to include in the basket, and we have a variety of gardening goodies that your mom will happily put to use in the family garden.

Our baskets also make great Mother’s Day gifts for new, young mothers or expecting mothers, as overall family health is an important consideration when starting a new family or building the family. According to the Garden Writers Association Foundation’s 2010-2011 Winter Gardening Trends Research Report, younger generations (“under 40” households) are gardening in numbers similar to other age groups. That’s great news for those of us who believe that the most nutritional foods are the foods `you can grow yourself!

Whether your mom loves just-picked fresh herbs or grows her own vegetables for the healthiest and most flavorful meals, we’ve got great Mother’s Day gift ideas for you.

Uncle Herb’s Favorites Gift Basket is perfect for your favorite chef. This basket features our Uncle Herb’s seed kit, which contains 10 great varieties of non-GMO and non-hybrid culinary herb seeds. Included in the basket is our 7-Piece Humble Garden Tool Tote, which contains gloves, assorted tools and a mister. Finally, we added a hand-crafted, hand-cut bar of Annie’s Goat Hill chamomile and neroli scented goat milk soap and a 4 oz hand lotion, perfect for refreshing tired hands after a day in the garden. Basket is shrink-wrapped for secure shipping. Price includes packaging, shipping, and handling.

Hot Mama’s Peppers and Chiles Gift Basket is perfect for those who want to spice things up in the kitchen. This basket features our Hot Mama’s seed kit, which contains 10 varieties of chile and pepper seeds. Included in the basket is our 7-Piece Humble Garden Tool Tote, which contains gloves, assorted tools and a mister. Finally, we added a hand-crafted, hand-cut bar of Annie’s Goat Hill chamomile and neroli scented goat milk soap and a 4 oz hand lotion, perfect for refreshing tired hands after a day in the garden. Basket is shrink-wrapped for secure shipping. Price includes packaging, shipping, and handling.

Veggin’ Out Gift Basket is ideal for your favorite all-around gardener or first-time gardeners. This basket features our Veggin’ Out seed kit, which is equipped with 11 different non-GMO and non-hybrid vegetable seed varieties, ideal for backyard and container gardening. Included in the basket is our 7-Piece Humble Garden Tool Tote, which contains gloves, assorted tools and a mister. Finally, we added a hand-crafted, hand-cut bar of Annie’s Goat Hill chamomile and neroli scented goat milk soap and a 4 oz hand lotion, perfect for refreshing tired hands after a day in the garden. Basket is shrink-wrapped for secure shipping. Price includes packaging, shipping, and handling.

The Humble Seed Trio Gift Basket features our three seed kits: Uncle Herb’s Favorites, Hot Mama’s Peppers and Chiles, and Veggin’ Out. This basket contains over 30 varieties of vegetable, pepper and culinary herb seeds; making it the ultimate gift for your favorite ultimate gardener. Included in the basket is our 7-Piece Humble Seed Garden tote, which contains gloves, assorted tools and a mister. Finally, we added a hand-crafted, hand-cut bar of Annie’s Goat Hill chamomile and neroli scented goat milk soap and a 4 oz hand lotion, perfect for refreshing tired hands after a day in the garden. Basket is shrink-wrapped for shipping.

Our Humble Seed 7-Piece Garden Tool Tote and $30.00 Humble Seed Gift Card also make great gift options.

All of us at Humble Seed wish all of the mom’s out there, a very Happy Mother’s Day!

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Backyard Conservation: Good for the Yard and Environment

April 26th, 2011

 

The word conservation has several meanings: 1. Prevention of injury, decay, waste, or loss. 2. Official supervision of rivers, forests, and other natural resources in order to preserve and protect them through prudent management. 3. A district, river, forest, etc., under such supervision. 4. The careful utilization of a natural resource in order to prevent depletion. 5. The restoration and preservation of works of art.

With backyard conservation each of these definitions can apply on some level, improving the environment, helping wildlife and making your outdoor living space beautiful and enjoyable.

Trees are great for backyard conservation for many reasons: they help reduce cooling costs by shading the home, they provide homes for different types of wildlife, they add beauty to the backyard, and they help clean the air. When selecting trees for your backyard take into consideration your geographical area, landscape, and native plant species. Wildlife love shrubs and trees that bloom and bear fruit or nuts, as these can provide food throughout the year.

Water is another important element in backyard conservation. Whether you incorporate a backyard pond with logs and rocks—for birds, butterflies, and turtles—or a bird bath, fresh water provides nourishment for wildlife. If you choose to incorporate a small backyard pond, it can create a relaxing and beautiful environment for you and your family to enjoy. Make sure to plant native plant species around the pond to provide habitat for birds, frogs, and other small animals.

Composting is very beneficial for backyard conservation. Composting provides important nutrients to your soil, encourages plants to thrive, and improves aeration, structure, and water-holding capacity. For more information on composting read our previous post: How to Make Your Own Compost.

And, finally, water conservation can be beneficial for the environment and your plants. Water conservation tips include: choosing native plant species, as they are acclimated to the soil and weather conditions in your area; collecting rainwater to water your plants via rain barrels; preventing water evaporation by deeply watering your plants early in the morning; and mulching around your plants to help retain moisture in the soil.

Backyard conservation is relatively easy, and with thoughtful planning you can help protect and sustain your backyard in beneficial ways. With backyard conservation, you can save money, nuture and protect your personal environment, and beautify your surroundings.

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Humble Seed’s ‘Earth Day-Birthday’ Giveback

April 22nd, 2011

Earth Day 2011 is the first birthday of Scottsdale-based Humble Seed, but instead of accepting gifts, the little online seed company that could is giving away tens of thousands of edible-plant seeds to good causes, as well as pruning prices April 22-May 22 to celebrate the beanstalk growth of its Facebook community.

Why? Because first-time entrepreneurs Jim and Kristen Mitchell are among that rare breed of business folk motivated by passion. The owners of Humble Seed fervently believe in the importance of growing your own food, which is why they’ve partnered with Tempe (Ariz.) Community Action Agency’s new garden project at Escalante Park. Plans for the Escalante Community Garden include producing high-quality fruits and vegetables, and teaching the community about sustainable gardening and healthy cooking. A portion of the produce grown will be donated to TCAA’s Food Pantry and “Cooking on a Budget” classes, and participants who work two hours a week in the garden also receive a produce share.

Giving back is nothing new for Humble Seed. Humble Seed has contributed to such causes as The Dinner Garden, a Texas-based national non-profit organization that provides seeds, gardening supplies, and gardening advice free of charge to all people in the United States of America. They assist those in need in establishing food security for their families. Their goal is for people to plant home, neighborhood, and container gardens so they can use the vegetables they grow for food and income.

“Our first tenet is to give back and empower people instead of taking advantage of someone’s hardship during this time,” Kristen says. “We want to help feed needy people. Last year we donated almost as much product as we sold. We’re not just saying it; we’re walking it.”

If Facebook’s “Like” button is any indication, the sincere tone of the Mitchells’ message strikes a chord with the public. Since August of last year, the number of Humble Seed fans has exploded from 700 to over 8,000. “We’re building this huge online gardening community who talk about growing their own food, healthy living and buying locally,” says Kristen. “We hope that consumers respond to our giveback philosophy by supporting our products.”

Since day one, Humble Seed’s mission has been to entice gardening newbie’s as well as seasoned growers by offering non-GMO and non-hybrid seeds cradled in amazing re-sealable Mylar packs bundled together in eye-catching packaging. The coming full month of 20 % savings on humbleseed.com purchases, starting on Earth Day, April 22, is to both thank and further germinate the company’s “grounded” Facebook community.

Humble Seed is dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to conscientious gardeners who choose to start from seed. Hobbyists, nursing homes, survival gardeners, schools and restaurants can buy the kits at http://www.humbleseed.com/products.php. The website also features gardening accessories and books, recipes and seed-growing tips. Except for The Producer (bulk-seed kit $129.95), kits costs between $21.95 and $29.95. Enter EDBD2011 at checkout to receive the 20% anniversary discount.

 

 

 

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Seed Spotlight: Tongue of Fire Bush Bean

April 20th, 2011

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Don’t let the name of this bush bean scare you! Tongue of Fire Bush Bean is actually a very strikingly beautiful bean. Mature pods are ivory white with streaks of red coloring that look similar to flames, thus, Tongue of Fire. It has been said that the original Tongue of Fire seed was from Tierra del Fuego, on the tip of South America. From there, seeds were then sent to Italy then spread throughout southern Europe. Today, everyone can enjoy the beauty and taste of this unique horticultural bean.

Tongue of Fire Bush Bean pods can be harvested while young (before red streaks become too visible) and enjoyed like snap beans. The young pods are great for stir-fry dishes or any other way that you enjoy snap beans. Once mature the shelled beans of Tongue of Fire are large and round, and they offer excellent taste and texture. They can be canned, frozen or enjoyed fresh.

Maturing in 70 days, you can have a wonderful supply of Tongue of Fire Bush Beans for a variety of delicious dishes, from cold bean salads to soups and stews. This is a beauty in the garden and a taste bud pleaser.

On Thursday, April 21, 2011 Humble Seed will be at the Keep Phoenix Beautiful Earth Day event from 11am to 1:30pm at Cesar Chavez Plaza in Phoenix, Arizona. Humble Seed will be giving out samples of Tongue of Fire Bush Beans. If you’re in the Phoenix area come learn about recycling and sustainability at this wonderful environmental event celebrating the 41st anniversary of Earth Day, and stop by the Humble Seed booth for your free sample of Tongue of Fire Bush Beans.

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Spring Garden Succotash with Washington cherry tomatoes and some of Uncle Herb’s favorites!

April 20th, 2011

Spring Garden Succotash

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons organic butter
8 cups organic  vegetable broth
2 tablespoon organic tomato paste
2 garlic cloves crushed and minced
1 cup organic kidney beans (soak overnight, then rinse and drain before cooking)
1 cup Washington cherry tomatoes cut in 1/2
2 cups sliced white mushrooms
12 baby corn cut into fourths (fresh or frozen)
1 cup organic green peas (fresh or frozen)
3/4 cup Israeli Cous Cous
juice of one large lemon
1 tablespoon finely minced German Winter Thyme
1 tablespoon finely minced Greek Oregano
6 large Superbo Basil leaves roughly torn in to small pieces not cut
handful of Titan Parsley chopped for garnish
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper

Directions
Melt the butter in a large heavy soup pot or dutch oven. Add the garlic, thyme, oregano, and basil. Toast until they become fragrant over low heat.  Once the garlic has slightly browned add the vegetable broth, tomato paste, and kidney beans. Boil on low until the beans become tender. About twenty minutes.  Add the cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, baby corn, peas, lemon juice and bay leaves. Simmer for twenty minutes until the veggies become soft and then add the cous cous and cook for another eight to ten minutes.  You will know when its ready because the small cous cous balls will become larger and soft as they absorb the broth. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve in a large bowl and garnish with freshly chopped titan parsley, shaved Parmesan and some crusty bread.

About Katheryne Phillips:

Sustainability very important to me because I believe that we should take care of the planet that gives us so much. Love the earth and it will love you back. Know where your food comes from; be informed about what you are consuming. By choosing to eat organically grown produce the impact that you are making on the environment and your own health is a positive one.  Living sustainably to me, is not about  what you are giving up, it’s about all that you get! You can check out my website here http://katherynecooks.com/.

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Guest Blog: Get Your Garden Growing!

April 19th, 2011
Just four years ago I was a self-described brown thumb. It wasn’t because I had definitively proven my inability to grow anything but more because I had given no effort to the task. Until 2008 my gardening was limited to a sunflower grown in vacation bible school one summer and a pitiful tomato plant in one of those “As Seen on TV” upside down contraptions. But as I moved from Brooklyn, NY to my family farm in middle Georgia I quickly realized that without bodegas on every corner, street vendors, amusing cab drivers, and dive bars to keep me occupied I was going to need a hobby.

As I walked around the land a few times with my Dad I found myself falling in love with stories about my grandfather clearing the land and sending lumber off to the mill so as to build both a home and a working farm. I dug my hands down into the cool soil that he too had once allowed to pass through his callused fingers. As if the voice of Kevin Costner had spoken out to me I began thinking that this part of the Earth needed attention. If I tilled it, the plants would come.

For almost three months my wife and I scratched, tilled, and turned the soil. We amended it, watered it, mulched it. We plowed out rows and strung up dividers. We researched plants in our zone and read up on potential seeds. With as much passion as I had once given my photography when on assignment in NYC, I was now analyzing the sunrises and sunsets and rain showers in between. By late spring I felt confident enough for us to plant.

We had long since decided to grow organically for a number of reasons. Having lived in culturally rich area just months before, I was very much in tune with sustainability, the plight of “BIG” agriculture, and harms of pesticides on food sources. But deciding how to grow organically was something that took more than just a passing thought. It took planning, research, determination, and discipline to figure out. From that first season came these tips that I hope to share with you.

5 Steps to Getting Your Organic Garden Started

  1. Plan Before You Plant. We started by reading the Farmers’ Almanac. While they have a timeless print edition they also offer a host of resources online now. You can also go to your local Agriculture Extension office or the National Climatic Data Center to research the average last frost date in your area. From this point check out the back of your seed packet to determine the number of days until germination and harvest. Plant as the weather allows and be familiar with which varieties are hearty and which require more TLC.
  2. Recycle, Reuse, and RepurposePotting Equipment. The best way to start your seeds is to purchase seed starting flats or use cut down milk cartons, chipped pots, or empty plastic containers that are two to three inches deep. Fill the containers with potting soil, gently firm the surface and water until moist. Be careful not to make the soil muddy and wash out the seeds.
  3. Take Cover. There are a number of benefits to starting seeds indoors. The right seed starting supplies and methods can improve germination rates. It’s important that you remain vigilant in the caring for your seeds. Once they are planted, cover the container with plastic and place it in a warm spot in your house. Check the container daily and remove the plastic once seeds have germinated.
  4. Let the Sunshine In. After seeds have germinated, relocate containers to a sunny location. Your third-grade science teacher taught you that plants require water and sun. Well, she was right! Water only when the soil becomes dry, preferably from the bottom, to prevent flooding the seeds.
  5. Push Them Out of the Nest. When your plants are ready to be placed in your garden, dig a small hole for each plant, insert the plant, cover the roots, and water. In just a few weeks or months, depending on the variety, you will be ready to harvest some incredible organic veggies!

About Andrew Odom:

Bigger does not always mean better. Progress does not always mean forgetting our roots in order to forge a new future. Blogger, photojournalist, and hobby farmer Andrew Odom has spent much of the last few years rediscovering the lost art of living, growing, and being truly happy. Visit him online at www.tinyrevolution.us.

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Guest Blog: Reflections on Earth Day from The Dinner Garden

April 19th, 2011

 

Our great grandparents knew of the importance of a home garden.  It once took only a trip out the backdoor to harvest a carrot or two for the evening stew or a quick snack for the kids. They took what they needed and canned for the future.  Thankfully, gardening is no longer our great grandparent’s chore.  Wisdom that once seemed lost or never taught have become accessible once more…gifts of container gardening, weed barriers, and internet sites come to mind. We’ve forgotten the simple promise of the seed and the strength we hold in our own hands to feed our families, until now.

The Hirshberg household, of San Antonio, planted a garden to deal with the spiraling effects of the recession, and soon after established a federally recognized nonprofit organization in an effort to heal and help a nation. Over 60,000 families have received FREE packets of vegetable garden seeds from The Dinner Garden! 136 community gardens were also granted the gift of seed!

My name is Julie McClaren Autaubo.  I am one of three full-time volunteers for The Dinner Garden. One would think that a  gardening nonprofit is only seasonal. We are not. Planting times vary with several states enjoying year-round gardening. The Dinner Garden is reminded daily that the family budget rarely includes good nutrition. This keeps me volunteering on a daily basis.  Every hand packed envelope includes 10 different vegetable seed with The Dinner Garden covering the postage.  The D.G. currently operates without major corporate sponsorship. Not only do we need donations of seed [cucumber, green beans, winter squash, chard & okra] but also donations for postage.  A generous donation of $50,000 for postage & handling would greatly assist in tackling our waiting list of 45,000 seed recipients along with meeting additional needs.  I’d would also like to tackle this volunteer’s personal dream for The Dinner Garden… seed for a vegetable or container garden sent to every mailbox across the U.S.A!

Anyone game?

Deepest Gratitude!

Julie McClaren Autaubo

Full-Time volunteer

 

Please consider buying a DG tee or donating the price of your favorite latte to The Dinner Garden this Earth Day! You can find us at www.dinnergarden.org or  Facebook us!


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Pets In and Out of the Garden

April 10th, 2011

 

If you garden and have pets, chances are you know how much of a challenge it can be to keep both your pets and plants happy. After all, the yard is a playground for pets, and many pets like to dig and explore exactly where you’ve planted your garden. It’s natural behavior for pets, so instead of getting angry at them for doing what they like to do, you may need to employ strategies to deter them from the garden.

Here are some scenarios and suggestions that may help you with any pet and garden problems you’re experiencing:

1. If possible, observe your pet’s behavior before planting your garden. Does Fido have a favorite location in the yard that he likes to lay in? If so, you may want to avoid planting anything in that spot. Also, if you have a dog that likes to patrol the perimeter of the yard; leaving a path between the fence and garden will allow your dog to be able to continue patrolling. Making paths for your pet is like making a pet obstacle course in your yard!

2. Bricks, pine cones, rocks, rough mulches, and river stone may deter pets and roaming cats from digging or lying in certain garden areas. If Fido really, really likes to dig, why not create a special area of the yard where he can do just that? Create a soft digging area with garden soil or sand. And throw in some of his favorite toys.

3. Raised garden beds may deter pets from playing in the garden, but dogs love to dig in loose dirt—it’s the perfect location for hiding their bones! If necessary, you may need to put up fencing around your garden to keep your pet out. If you decide to put fencing around your garden, you should take the fencing height into consideration as some dogs will literally try and climb the fence.

4. If Fido is overly rambunctious, you may want to put him in the house during the times that you work in your garden. He may mistake your gardening time as, “Oh, we’re playing in the garden now!? Woot!”

5. Scarers, devices that emit high pitched noises when anything gets near, can be purchased at garden centers and hardware stores.  A motion-activated sprinkler may also do they trick.  The spray of water startles your pet, while watering your plants- the perfect 2 for 1!

6. If you have problems with roaming cats using your garden as a litter box, you may want to consider planting geranium, lavender, and lemon-thyme, as cats do not like the scents of these plants. If you go this route, it’s a win-win situation because cats don’t like scents of these plants and these plants are simply beautiful.

These are just a few suggestions for helping you with pets and gardening. When you think about it, needing to get creative with keeping Fido out of the garden can actually turn into a fun task. Just picture the perfect garden with Fido playing in his very own sandbox.

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Green Weddings Gaining Ground

April 7th, 2011

Love Makes a Garden Grow

For engaged couples who are passionate about sustainability and the environment, when it comes to walking down the aisle, going green for the big day is becoming more and more mainstream. And just about every aspect and element of a conventional wedding can be sustainable, and yet still stunning.

From invitations made from recycled paper with pressed flowers petals in the paper to recycled gold or conflict-free diamonds for the rings, and locally grown or fair trade flowers for the bouquet to an all organic menu, with a little planning an eco-savvy wedding is a wonderful way for couples to share their passion for green living with their guests.

There are even green bridal registries for couples to choose only eco-friendly items. Some sustainable couples also ask wedding guests to donate money to an eco-friendly charity opposed to receiving wedding gifts.

Humble Seed recently had the honor of providing Jayare and Adrian Robbins of Mesa, Arizona, with Santo Cilantro Coriander and Tongue of Fire Bean seeds as wedding favors for their green wedding, which was held on March 12, 2011.  Because Adrian is a vegan and Jayare a vegetarian, they were passionate about having a green wedding.  The bridal dress was used; the bridesmaid earrings were bought from an artist on Etsy; all the food was locally grown, organic, and vegetarian; the decorations were made with a ton of lemons that were donated by local trees; and they hand-crafted their own invitations and reception programs.

Humble Seed is passionate about sustainable living, in all forms, and we’re happy to see and hear about green weddings becoming more common and spreading the sustainable love.

Adrian & Jayare March 12, 2001

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