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Composting: Discover Which Bin Is Right For You

February 16th, 2013

So you’ve read about the benefits of composting, and now you’re eager to get started. But what composing bin is right for you? Between compost tumblers, enclosed bins, rolling bins, or a simple, homemade bin – choosing the right bin for your needs can be confusing. We’ve de-mystified the most popular styles of composting bins so that your garden is flourishing this spring, with the help of the food scraps in your kitchen.

Compost Tumblers

Pros: These circular, self-turning bins aerate compost by cranking or rolling the container with a handle. They can build a steady supply of compost every few weeks, and are ideal for small backyard spaces. These composting bins are also a lot easier to use compared to turning up an open pile with a pitchfork.

Cons: Once the composting bin is completely full, expect to wait anywhere from 2-10 weeks for the contents to process before adding more materials.  They can be pricey, and will also run you anywhere from $100 – $500.

Enclosed Bins

Pros: Enclosed bins are ideal for someone seeking low-maintenance composting, as family members can easily lift a lid to throw in composting materials. There are a variety of enclosed bin styles – from bins specifically made for composting, to a simple garbage can with a lid. Most enclosed bins will also keep rain, pests, and wildlife out very well.

Cons: While low maintenance, the processing time can be quite long (up to two years) because the materials are not aerated routinely. Unfortunately, low maintenance composting can also mean a longer wait time for rich results.

Rolling Bins

Pros: Rolling bins are convenient because of their removable lid, which makes it easy to turn the soil while keeping out pests and rain. Like the name suggests, the bin can be rolled to your garden or yard waste, and rolled back. You’re also able to aerate and turn the compost pile every few days by tumbling it around.

Cons: A rolling bin is not necessary for small backyards, and work best in large yards. Bins can also become challenging to roll once they are very full.

Simple, Homemade Bins

Pros: Simple, homemade bins can be made from a variety of inexpensive materials. Many choose to create their bins from lattice panels, plywood, cinder blocks, wood pallets, or a trash can. We like this guide to making a few different styles. Most homemade bins can be made in a day or weekend, and if made well, can work well for many years.

Cons: Wooden compost bins may rot within a year or two.

Friends, which composting bins have been the most successful for your needs? What bins are you eager to try?

 

 

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease.  We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

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Valentine’s Day Plant Meanings, And Other Holiday Favorites

February 14th, 2013

Beginning in the Victorian era, a “flower dictionary” was created to give meaning to each plant, making some plant gifts “romantic” and others “lucky.” Whether you prefer giving traditional roses on Valentine’s Day, or opt for other romantic favorites like Orchids or Lilacs, each plant sends a unique message to your loved one.

Below are both traditional and unique plant gift ideas – may it inspire you to consider the special meaning behind each plant much like Lord Shaftesbury and Charles Dickens might have done. Which plants do you love giving and receiving on Valentine’s Day, and other holidays?

Valentines Day

Dwarf Pussy Willow: This fuzzy plant symbolizes motherly love, making it a lovely gift idea for a new mother.

Hibiscus: This fragrant flower means, “delicate beauty.”

Lilac: The perfect gesture when feeling the “first emotions of love” on Valentine’s Day.

Orchid: This exotic flower is perfect for expressing, “love, beauty, luxury, and strength.”

Red Tulip: Give these vibrant flowers to announce a “declaration of love.”

Roses: Beginning in ancient Greece when roses were considered sacred to Isis and Aphrodite, red roses are commonly associated with passion, while pink roses are associated with happiness and motherhood.

St. Patrick’s Day

Helloborus: Means, “spring breeze”, making it a perfect springtime gift.

Shamrock: This four leaf clover means “lightheartedness” and is considered lucky.

Mothers Day

Carnation: Fluffy with frilled petals, carnations mean, “woman’s love.”

Moss: A unique Mother’s Day gift, as this fuzzy flowerless plant means “maternal love.”

Tulips: These colorful flowers originated in Turkey and Persia, and are symbolic of elegance and grace.

*Also see Dwarf Pussy Willows and Pink Roses above.

Christmas

Christmas Rose: Not actually a rose, this forest cactus blooms during the Christmas season.

Christmas Ivy: This evergreen was used all the way back during medieval times, and represents immortality, vitality, and hope.

Holly: Many decorate with holly during Christmastime to symbolize joy and peace. Christians believe the white flower represents the purity of Jesus, the leaves a “crown,” and the red berries represent “sacrifice.” 

Poinsettia: a traditional plant with red leaves that symbolize the “divine love of the Redeemer.” Each flower is also shaped like a star, a reminder of the Christmas star on the first Christmas.

New Year

Basil – Give basil to represent “good wishes” to your friends and loved ones each New Year.

Lucky Bamboo Plant – This is a “good luck plant” given in China. The four green bamboo shoots are often tied together with red ribbon before giving it to the recipient.

Sources:

Kate Greenway’s Language of Flowers (1885)

http://www.yankeemagazine.com/home/flower-language

http://aboutflowers.com/flower-a-plant-information-and-photos/meanings-of-flowers.html

 

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease.  We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

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Crockpot Cooking Tips For Fresh Vegetables and Herbs

February 6th, 2013

Looking for more ways to use your garden fresh vegetables and herbs this winter? The crockpot is one of the greatest time-saving appliances in your kitchen. While one of the best features of a crockpot is its simplicity (just flip a switch!), getting vegetables and herbs perfectly tender and flavorful in a one-pot wonder can be tricky. Read our tips to ensure your next crockpot meal shows off your garden’s bountiful harvest.

Crockpot Tips For Fresh Vegetables and Herbs

*Vegetables do not cook as quickly as meat. Therefore, place all vegetables at the bottom of the crockpot, which is nearest to the heat.

*Fill the crockpot halfway to 2/3 the way full. Overfilling the crockpot will not allow the contents to cook entirely, while not filling the crockpot enough will cook the contents too quickly.

*Adding plenty of liquid to the crockpot (ie: vegetable broth, water, juice) will allow vegetables to become tender and moist.

*Avoid the urge to lift the lid to stir or to “check on” your meal (we know it’s tough!). Lifting the lid, even only for a moment will only force heat to escape, which may affect the cooking time anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.

*Add tender vegetables that cook quickly at the end of the cooking period (we suggest the last 45 minutes to an hour). Vegetables that cook very quickly are tomatoes, squash varieties, and mushrooms.

*Try sautéing vegetables in olive oil, salt, and seasonings directly in the crockpot before you add the remaining ingredients. This will add more POW to your meal.

*Many dry herbs can be thrown in at any time, yet many fresh herbs should be added only at the end of the cooking period. Herbs like basil, cilantro, and parsley taste their best when stirred in last minute, just before serving. You can also try using half the herbs in the beginning of cooking, and using the remaining herbs at the end of cooking.

Ready to test these crockpot tips out? We offer many of the vegetables and herbs in this recipe in our Veggin’ Out and Uncle Herb’s Favorites seed kits. This slow cooker stew recipe is simply a cinch to make, and has many of the bright flavors associated with Mediterranean cooking.  Feel free to layer it on pasta, ravioli, rice or quinoa – or serve it as a rich stew all on its own. Is it me, or is it hard not to puff up your chest a bit when making a fabulous meal using a slow cooker?

Slow Cooker Mediterranean Stew

Serves 4-5

2 cups eggplant, diced with peel

1 yellow squash, diced with peel

1 small yellow onion, diced

¼  cup black olives, sliced

¼  cup golden raisons

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ cup vegetable broth

8-ounce can tomato sauce

½ teaspoon chopped cumin

¼  teaspoon turmeric

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon lemon zest

salt and pepper

2 tablespoons fresh parsley

olive oil for drizzling

Method: In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients except for the parsley and olive oil and stir until well mixed.  Cover, and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until vegetables are tender. The last 30 minutes, add chopped parsley. Serve over pasta, ravioli, quinoa or rice.  Drizzle each plate with olive oil before serving.

 

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease.  We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

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