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And the Humble Deed Goes To… Oliver’s Garden Project!

April 26th, 2012

We are excited to share a new feature on our blog we’re calling “Humble Deeds.” These posts will highlight those who take part in special projects related to individual or community gardening, and/or an effort that helps promote more sustainable living.  The first family we’d like to recognize for a Humble Deed established their own backyard community garden, with a goal of donating the proceeds to local youth charities.  This task would be a challenge for anyone, yet the striking part is… an exceptional six-year-old came up with the idea! Learn more about Oliver’s Garden Project below!

They are not only growing vegetables, they are growing adults.

Oliver’s Garden Project is a children’s based initiative that promotes growing organic vegetables in your yard and sharing the excess.  Sales of the vegetables go to local youth charities.

Oliver’s Garden Project was started because a six-year-old boy named Oliver wanted to help kids that may not have what they need in terms of food or clothes. It began when Oliver and his mother Stacey were driving, and he spotted two young boys digging through some curbside recycling bins. He asked his mother what they were doing, and Stacey responded, “perhaps they need to return bottles for cash in order to get what they need.” Oliver replied, “no kids should be hungry, we are good people and I want to sell our veggies and give the money to kids in our community.”

They were already growing vegetables in their backyard with the intent to sell and use the money for a family trip. But Oliver convinced them otherwise! With the help of his five-year-old sister Piper, Oliver’s Garden Project was born.

The family trip is still postponed.

They created their handmade vegetable stand and started selling on their front lawn. They sold tomatoes, peppers and basil, and 100% of vegetable sales went to local youth charities. Piper acted as ‘Veggie Stand PR’ and brought in the passers by, while Oliver was answering questions and in charge of the donation jar. His mother blogged about the experience and also shared information on Twitter and on Facebook. It snowballed from there.

The family also had the wonderful support of their neighbors, family and friends, and felt privileged to sell their wares at the Ottawa Street Market. Shortly after, The Hamilton Community Garden Network(HCGN) got in touch with them, and before they knew it they were entered into the Gardens For Good contest through Nature’s Path Organic Foods.  Clare Wagner of HCGN and Stacey met and devised a proposal to submit, which would then be evaluated on a voting system. The ending results were for one Canadian and two American projects to each win a $20,000 grant. Oliver’s family won the top voted idea for Canada!

Now with HCGN and Clare’s help, they are going to continue their project throughout their neighborhood. They now have five families that will have their yard transformed into an urban organic vegetable garden. In turn, what they don’t eat themselves they will share with family, friends or neighbors. They will have a Harvest Fundraiser at the end of the season to sell their vegetables and give the proceeds to local youth charities.

They plan to have tool sharing, seedlings, workshops, consultations and garden supplies available to the five families.  The public is also welcome to utilize the workshops and tool sharing available. They believe that teaching their children the importance of growing their own food, enjoying it and sharing it is an experience that will last them a lifetime.  The family suggests that we all need to get back to basics, feel the pride of producing our own food, and keep it local.

They appreciate any support in keeping this project sustainable. Their future goals include building a greenhouse to have year round access to fresh produce, to continue educating youth, and to create more community gardens.  Donations can be made through their website, www.oliversgardenproject.com .

Oliver and his family thanks you for taking the time to learn about Oliver’s Garden Project. They can be found on Facebook and Twitter (@OliversGProject).

Are you currently involved in a gardening project that contributes to the community and/or promotes a more sustainable lifestyle? Submit your ideas directly to us on Facebook or write to us at info@humbleseed.com!

 

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Get Crafty With Your Container Garden

April 16th, 2012

 

If you love quirky art projects, or inventive ways to display your gorgeous garden, then perhaps simple terra pots will seem a little “wah-wah” once you read these makeshift garden alternatives. A makeshift garden uses untraditional containers to display flowers, herbs, vegetables and peppers. The possibilities are endless! Which makeshift garden ideas are your favorite?

1. Decorative Chair – use a decorative dining room or patio chair and refurbish it to display your garden! To make your own garden chair, you’ll need to remove the seat and create a space to display your plants. Plant your favorite herbs, flowers or even small vegetables. (See a full tutorial with pictures here)

2. Vintage Bicycle – Give a vintage bicycle new life and make great use out of the front and back end baskets.  You may also add smaller baskets to the seat or pedals.  Fill each basket with coconut fiber and potting soil.  Plant your favorite herbs, flowers and small vegetables.

3. Picnic Basket – How often do you really use a picnic basket, perhaps twice a year? Give yours a full time job and allow your plants to be beautifully displayed from its openings.  Any sized picnic basket will work just fine, and remember to fill it with a good quality potting soil.  Plant a variety of herbs, flowers, small vegetables or even chilies for larger baskets — how creative is this basket?

4. Bird Bath – Old or unused ceramic birdbaths make wonderful displays for gorgeous herbs and flowers. Be sure to carefully drain holes at the bottom for proper drainage.

5. Dresser Drawers and Crates –  Distressed wood drawers and wine crates can create a unique, vintage feel in your garden or home. Be sure to drill holes at the bottom for proper drainage, and see this example.

6. Wheelbarrow – If you no longer use a wheelbarrow, don’t give it away! They create a quirky, rustic look when flowers, herbs and vegetables are displayed from them. Plant your favorite herbs, flowers or small vegetables. (See this tutorial)

7.  Toolbox – Using toolboxes to display your garden can create a fun conversation piece next time you have guests over.  Remember to drill in drainage holes, and fill the toolbox with potting soil.  This is a great idea for a small herb garden.

8. Used Tires – Some prefer using 1 – 2 tires for smaller gardens, while others stack several to create a tower of plants for display. Leave the tires as is for a recycled feel, or spray paint each for a decorative edge. Some studies show that used tires have the potential to release harmful chemicals in warm temperatures.  Therefore, inedible plants are recommended, and never display them in an enclosed area or in-doors. (A beautiful photo here)

9.  Tree stump – Tree stumps can be unsightly and difficult to mask. Why not make lemonade out of a lemon?  They can be quite beautiful with a variety of flowers and herbs rising out. Creating a makeshift garden out of a tree stump is a little more challenging – but well worth the effort.  This how-to gives thorough step-by-step instructions.

10.  Picture Frames – Picture frames filled with small plants can make a boring fence instantly adorable and functional! Window box frames work best, or use any frame with additional width to fit small pots with herbs or flowers. (A gorgeous example here)

 

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Plant the Garden of Your Dreams with a Customized Humble Seed Kit

April 3rd, 2012

Spring is officially in full swing, and many of us are eager to get back into our gardens and harvest the delicious benefits.  Selecting the seed varieties that work best for your own growing conditions, environment and dinner plates is all part of the fun – and can produce very positive results in your garden.  With this in mind, Humble Seed is pleased to offer a popular demanded option to take advantage of: the opportunity to customize your own seed kit! We are thrilled to partner with Very Jane once again to bring gardeners this much requested option for a limited time.  We also look forward to featuring a permanent customized seed kit option in the near future on our own website.  Review the details below so you can begin your seed selecting right away!

How To Customize Your Seed Kit

To get started, simply review the 28 varieties of premium seeds that are offered exclusively for this promotion. Select 10 different seed packs of your choice. Due to inventory demand, we will not be able to fulfill multiple packs of the same seed type within a single order. Each customized seed kit is priced at $32.00, a 20% discount from the retail price ($40.00) and offered exclusively for this promotion! We are offering the following premium seeds for each customized kit:

 

Vegetables:

Scarlet Nantes Carrot

White Bunching Onion Scallion

Crimson Sweet Watermelon

Amazing Cauliflower

Tavera Green Bean (organic)

Red Express Cabbage (organic)

Green Romaine (organic)

Rosa Bianca Eggplant (organic / heirloom)

Washington Cherry tomato (organic)

Rose Tomato (heirloom / organic)

Black Seeded Simpson (heirloom)

Marketmore Cucumber (organic)

DeCicco Broccoli (organic /heirloom)

Peppers:

Yankee Bell Pepper

Antohi Romanian Specialty Frying Pepper (organic)

Padron Pepper (heirloom)

Joe’s Long Cayenne (organic)

Conchos Jalapeno

 Herbs:

Superbo Basil

Purly Chives

Banquet Dill

Bronze and Green Fennel (organic)

Greek Oregano

Cumin

German Winter Thyme

Titan Parsley

Common Sage

Santo Cilantro (coriander)

As always, Humble Seed offers non-GMO and non-hybrid seeds with heirloom and certified organic options at an exceptional value. You can also trust that our premium seeds have one of the highest germination rates when compared with other seed companies, and we ship them directly to you in a re-sealable and airtight Mylar® bag; guaranteed for long-term storage and effective seed saving.  At Humble Seed, you can trust that “ex-seeding expectations” is an affirmation we take seriously.

Click here to start building your seed kit!

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Water Friendly Gardening Techniques

April 1st, 2012

With the growing concern of water sustainability, many are looking to reduce the need of water use in their own home and garden.  For some, simply trying to use less water is not the answer.  Rather, a new perspective on gardening with water conservation as the leading principal is becoming the new standard.  If you are thinking about planting a xeriscape garden, or are looking for more innovative ways to conserve water – we have a few guidelines below to consider.

Planning a Xeriscape Garden

Xeriscape gardening conserves water by designating three different zones based on water use and encourages the use of native and locally adapted plants. Before cultivating a xeriscape garden, it’s important to begin with a master plan.  First, observe your garden for a few days.  What are the microclimates caused by sun and shade, sloped and flat areas, and air movement on the site? Once you have mapped out these areas, designate your property into hydro zones of low, moderate and high water use.  Many refer to these as the Natural, Transition and Oasis zones.

The Natural Zone is the lowest water use area and should include native and local plants already growing naturally on your property. Once these plants are established, they will survive well relying on natural rainwater, averaging 10-12 inches per year.  If your area is experiencing a drought, you may supplement with a little water when needed.

The Transition Zone is the area to plant trees (at least 15 feet from your home).  These trees will provide shade, cooler temperatures, and can be quite aesthetically pleasing in your outdoor space. Once established, these trees will need occasional but little watering to help them thrive and look attractive.

Finally, The Oasis Zone is the most water-intensive and should be planned next to your home. This will provide easy access for watering, while naturally cooling your home in the warmer months. An oasis zone can have a variety of plants, flowers, vegetables and herbs, which will create a lush environment. Keep in mind that areas near your home that are very rarely used should be planted with native plants that require little water.

More Water Conservation Techniques:

Plant Selection: Whether you are creating a new garden, or when replacing plants; proper planning and research is key to effectively conserve water in your home and garden. Before purchasing and installing new plant material, know the full and mature size of each plant, as well as the necessary water and maintenance requirements.  If possible, use low water and drought resistant plants – as there are many varieties available that need little water (including a variety of herbs and deep root vegetables). Avoid tropical plants as these will require consistent watering.

Water Harvesting:  Water harvesting, grey water x and drip irrigation are efficient ways to sustainably water your garden.  Try to incorporate one or all of these techniques into the landscape design so that water can be channeled to planted areas and then preserved for later use.  Passive water harvesting simply directs excess rainwater where it is needed, and includes sloping sidewalks/ terraces and channeling roof water.  Also, by constructing well thought out earth mounds of berms and channels, one can passively water harvest by keeping water on site for plants to take advantage of.

If passive water harvesting proves difficult or is simply not your thing – active rain water harvesting is the new trend that involves storing water for later use in rain barrels, cisterns or other storage systems.  Be sure to drain the water if you are unable to use the stored amount, as sitting water can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes and other insects.

Grey Water Recovery:  This involves channeling laundry, shower and bath water into basins or French drains.  Some prefer filtering the grey water so that soap and lint don’t wind up in your garden.  However, many prefer directly draining the grey water into the soil quickly, allowing the soil to act as an effective biological filter.  Remember that allowing the water to stagnate more than 24 hours can compromise the water.

Efficient Drip Irrigation: Drip irrigation can be a very efficient way to irrigate your plants because it puts water directly where it is needed, and reduces the risk of evaporation.  Early morning or late night irrigation reduces evaporation rates even further when wind or high daytime temperatures are a problem. Also, using a timer or controller to regularly schedule irrigation, and adjusting the water seasonally reduces the risk of over-watering and run-off.  Plus, good irrigation encourage roots to develop more deeply, improving drought resistance.

What are ways you conserve water in your home garden?

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