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Your Guide in Starting an Organic Garden

March 29th, 2013

Organic gardening

Everywhere we look, the word “organic” seems to take center stage. With so many advances in technology, including genetically modified or genetically altered foods, everyone wants to go back to basics and partake in organic gardening.  All gardeners, whether they are professional or those who do it as a hobby prefer organic gardening because of two main reasons. It promotes better health to those who eat the produce, and also promotes a better environment.

Organic gardening involves not having to use any pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers which are usually used during common farming. However, little did farmers know that using these chemicals was harming the environment. Pesticides and fungicides were being washed away into rivers by the rain, which affected aquatic life. People also discovered that these chemicals did no good to humans once they ate the food.   So naturally, people started organic farming, which involved no pesticides or other chemicals which are harmful to animals, humans or the environment.

The basic principle of organic farming is to saturate the soil with nutrients rather than the plant. More attention is therefore paid on getting the soil as nutrient rich as possible, since plants get their nutrients from the soil naturally through their roots. In organic farming, crop rotation is also crucial. If you are growing crops in your garden or greenhouse, then this basically means swapping the boxes or located areas around. It allows the soil to rejuvenate itself since each plant takes up a different amount of each nutrient.

Fertilizers are still used in organic farming, but they are organic i.e. natural. In most cases, organic fertilizer comes in the form of manure. However, this is more likely to happen on farms. If you are planning on doing some organic gardening in your home, then you may not be able to get a hold of manure. In this case, you can use compost, which can be made at home or purchased from a good gardening center.

How to start an organic garden: 

If you want to start organic gardening, you will not be sorry that you did. All you need to do is prepare the soil in a way which is natural and chemical free. This means not using any form of plant or flower food as a fertilizer or a plant growth booster. You want to use the most natural product available to you which can be manure or compost (take your pick).  Then water your soil to make sure that it is fully moist.

Decide on what it is you wish to grow. Since you may be completely new to the organic farming game, you may want to start off by planting something simple and easy such as tomatoes or blueberries. Over the growth period, you need to make sure that you are not using any artificial fertilizer to promote growth, since this goes against the principles of organic farming. If you feel the need to re-fertilize the soil, simply add more manure or compost.

Once you have mastered the simple food such as tomatoes, you can try something harder such as potatoes or peas. Once you have enough experience and are comfortable with the concept of organic farming, you could grow virtually anything, which is a superb quality to have, especially during these times where we cannot be entirely sure about what is in our foods.

Your final product will be a delicious item of food that has been grown using nothing but nature’s goodness. This crop will contain no chemicals in any way, shape or form. It is completely and utterly natural, making it the healthiest you could possible get.

 

About the author:

Nicole is an author keen on flowers and home organizing. Enjoy her tips on decorating with flowers and gardening.

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From Garden To Glass: 5 Herbs For Your Cocktail Garden + Book Giveaway

March 27th, 2013

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Spring is upon us, which means gentle, crisp breezes, sun-kissed flowers, and early evenings on the porch are all just around the corner. A Mint Julep or Cucumber Cooler in hand can only make spring that much sweeter, no? If you’re growing herbs in your garden this season, consider adding cocktail ready herbs and citrus to the mix. Imagine a freshly shaken cocktail ready in minutes, and all within reach of your own backyard.

***Would you like to learn more about the plants behind your favorite boozy beverages? Check out our giveaway details below! Entering is as simple as throwing a lime in your favorite margarita.

Basil – If you enjoy adding fresh Basil leaves to your pizzas and pastas, then perhaps adding these fragrant leaves to your cocktail is a logical next step?  Muddled basil leaves  add a nice Italian twist to a traditional martini,  adds flavor to hard lemonades, and compliments most cocktails with a tomato base.

Growing Tip: Basil loves warm weather. Plant this herb when temperatures remain in the 70’s or warmer, and keep these plants well protected from frost.

Cilantro – If you haven’t added fresh sprigs of cilantro to your martini– run, don’t walk! Even Bond would appreciate the invigorating flavors of cilantro the next time you serve up a martini, shaken, and not stirred. Cilantro also adds a zesty flavor to Cucumber Coolers, or try freezing cilantro in ice for a frozen margarita. Get inspired with these flavorful cilantro cocktails ideas over at Organic Authority.

Growing Tip: Cilantro plants do not transfer well, and should be started from seed whenever possible.

Lavender – Cocktails made with sprigs of lavender is the latest chic trend at dinner parties. The fragrant, purple flowers on lavender are perfect for stirring a martini, or adding an intriguing flavor to lemon drinks – like hard lemonades or Lemon Drops.  Are we the only one’s eager to try this lavender infused simple syrup?

Growing tip: Lavender is extremely drought resistant and grows best in well-drained soil and in full sun.

Lime – these flavor packed green fruit are perfect for margaritas, but also taste wonderful squeezed in Bloody Mary’s, or added to many vodka drinks. Plus, the best Cuban Mojito’s are not only made with mint leaves, sugar, and rum – but also a wedge of lime that gets muddled with the other ingredients. Try any one of these 10 Lime Cocktails at your next dinner party.

Growing Tip: This fruit tree prefers to grow in tropical or semitropical climates – however, this plant will also grow in cooler, drier climates with a little extra work.

Mint – On a warm weekend afternoon, adding a cool touch to your favorite hard lemonade recipe, a fresh mojito or mint julep can be very invigorating. Simply adding it as a fragrant garnish to other cocktails just screams, “Spring is here!”

Growing Tip: Grow this herb in a container to keep it from taking over your garden, as this herb is notorious for spreading very quickly.

And if you’re growing sage in your cocktail garden… we love this cocktail  recipe using muddled fresh sage leaves, bourbon, and Benedictine (an herbal liquor). Benedictine and bourbon bring out the flavor of muddled sage, while verjus (a tart unfermented grape juice) adds a bit of acidity.

Sage Advice 

(From Drinks.SeriousEats.com)

7 sage leaves, plus one for garnish
½ oz verjus
dash simple syrup
2 ounces Jim Beam bourbon
½ oz Benedictine
dash bitters
In a cocktail shaker, muddle 7 sage leaves with verjus and simple syrup. Fill with ice, then add Jim Beam, Benedictine, and bitters. Shake well, then strain into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with additional sage leaf.

Giveaway details: The Drunken Botanist, written by Amy Stewart explores the extraordinary, lesser known, and sometimes bizarre plants behind your favorite boozy drinks. This book will not only make you the most interesting guest at the next cocktail party – it’s also packed full of recipes using fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables.

To enter this giveaway: Eager to win this book for free? Leave a comment below, and tell us your favorite fruit, vegetable, and/or herb you enjoy in your cocktails. We will select a winner at random in one week from today (4/3/2013). Good luck!

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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Announcing Humble Seed’s First Fundraising Initiative

March 13th, 2013


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We are pleased to announce that Humble Seed is partnering with Saline High School’s Future Farmers of America for our first fundraising initiative!

Would you like to learn the exciting details?

Who we’re working with: We are fortunate to have David Mellor, Saline High School’s Agriscience teacher and FFA advisor working with us directly to spearhead the project. Together, we will support students as they sell our premium garden seed kits to their friends, family, and community members.

We are incredibly impressed with the dedication Saline students have demonstrated during the course of this fundraiser! Students have been hard at work handling all the sale orders, shipping, and delivery of seed kits. Furthermore, they will continue to educate the community on how to grow a home garden, as well as the importance of gardening with non-GMO and non-hybrid seeds.

What’s for sale:  Humble Seed is offering our favorite seed kits to support the endeavor. This includes Veggin’ Out, Hot Mama’s Peppers and Chiles, Uncle Herb’s Favorites, and The Producer seed kits.

Why we’re doing it: 50% of all sales generated will be donated back to the school! From this initiative, we hope to encourage families to grow a garden that will provide a source of healthy, safe and nutritious food all while saving them money.

Our promise: As always, we offer heirloom, certified organic, non-GMO, and non-hybrid varieties in our seed kits at an exceptional value. We are providing the same quality packaging – utilizing Humble Seed’s unique resealable Mylar packs that keep seeds fresher, longer- allowing gardeners to plant now or later.

Thanks for all of your hard work, Saline Hornets! We are proud to be part of such a worthy cause, and look forward to continuing these types of fundraisers in the future.

Want to fundraise with Humble Seed: If you have an organization that is interested in partnering with Humble Seed for an upcoming fundraiser, please send your information to info@humblseed.com

 

 

 

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How to Maximize Small Space Gardening for Apartment Renters

March 1st, 2013

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“I’d love to have a garden but it’s impossible to do living in a tiny apartment.” If this is what you think, you’re either not trying hard enough or not that interested in gardening, because there are tons of ways to use your green thumb—even for renters. From balcony plants to window boxes to sprouting jars, apartment-dwellers have a wealth of options available to them.

And with the number of urban gardeners on the rise, you can even find lots of store-bought tools and DIY ideas that help you to greenify your space while still keeping your living area clutter-free and maximizing the space. Here are just a few great ways to get the most garden out of a tiny area.

Use the walls. If you don’t want to have plants taking up precious counter space, consider mounting them to a section of your walls that gets a decent amount of sun. You can use manufactured options like FloraFelt to create a true “vertical garden,” or make your own mounting system to show your knack for design and artistry. A simple wood slab with metal brackets attached can be fantastic for sprouting jars, or you can build a shelf, a window box that goes on your wall, or use gutters (yes, that’s right, gutters). Some people have even used old hanging shoe organizers as “pots” for their herbs—not bad if function is more important than aesthetics to you.

Get a pallet, jack. Yes, that was cheesy, but it’s also a great idea. If you stand a pallet up vertically, the open slats are spaced perfectly for you to fit in a bunch of different plants while using very little space. You’ll just need trays that have been cut to fit and plants that are okay with being a little cramped. Oh, and of course the pallet itself but, if you just call around to a few stores close by, you’re bound to find a place that will allow you to take a pallet or two the next time they get a shipment. Some of the surprisingly best options to try are pet stores and paint stores, and you should definitely check out Craigslist, because it’s fairly common for people to list them.

Let it all hang out. The concept of decorating your house with hanging plants isn’t a new one but you can take that a step further by creating a hanging garden. This works fantastically for individually potted plants, especially if you can find a space where they’re able to get a lot of sun. But if you just don’t have room or like the idea of heavy ceramic pots hanging over your head, you can always try your hand at what this crazy guy has discovered and start a string garden. No, those photos aren’t doctored. The plants really are hanging by a string and there’s no pot holding in all that dirt. It’s pretty awesome.

Create tiers. Even for those of you apartment-dwellers lucky enough to have porches or balconies, there’s a good chance that they’re not very big so you still have to be creative with your space. One clever solution is to nest your pots together vertically rather than placing them side by side. This blogger made a gorgeous outdoor herb garden by using different sizes of galvanized steel containers and punching holes in the bottom to let the water drain through. The end result is kind of like a series of Russian nesting dolls (or a snowman), with a giant tub on the bottom, followed by a medium-sized tub centered inside it, and then a small tub centered in that one. Making it tiered gives the plants more space vertically and horizontally since they can spread out above the lower ones. Genius.

About the Author:

Mark Russell writes about apartment living and solutions and creative ideas for living in small spaces.  Mark is a writer for Apartment Guys in Chicago.

 

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