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10 Tips on How to Make the Most of Your Small Garden Space

July 28th, 2013

container gardening

When it comes to having a garden we don’t all have acres and acres of land to work with. Some of us only have small backyard plots or even smaller patio areas. So how can you still have your dream garden in such a small space? Here are some suggestions to make the most of your small garden space:

  1. Pack it in – One thing that many gardeners overlook is that you can pack plants together without harming your harvest if you do it correctly. Some plants just naturally work well together and can stand close quarters. While carrots can’t be packed too close you can plant them next to lettuce without an issue. Since one produces aboveground and the other below there is little damage done to either of them. As long as they have similar harvest schedules or the harvest does not harm the other plants then you are good to go. The square foot method of gardening is a great example of packing a bunch of plants into a small space. Take a look at your desired garden and see what you can uncover. You can also pack flowers and other ornamental plants close together. Not only does this allow you to grow more but it also makes the plants look fuller and more visually attractive.
  2. Companion planting – Companion planting is a great way to naturally get rid of bugs and other pests while still getting the harvest you need. You can uncover lots of companion plants that grow great together but my personal favorite is corn and bean. You can let the beans grow right up the corn stalk. The beans ward off corn predators and attract beneficial bugs. The corn provides the beans with a living trellis and keeps your beans off the ground and safe. By planting them together you also save valuable space in your garden, even with these two large plants.
  3. High and low – Similarly you can plant high plants with low plants. Plants like lettuce require more shade than cucumber. However if you create a growing screen over the lettuce you can plant both at once and reap twice the crop. Let the cucumber vines grow over the lettuce for shade and use the shady ground beneath the cucumber to harvest lots of lettuce. Flowers can also be grown this way. Tall flowers can help shade smaller and more delicate flowers. Shade loving plants can nestle beneath larger sun loving ones.
  4. Keep it small – Another idea for small garden spaces is to pick small plants. There are dwarf varieties of almost every plant, even trees, that produce great tasting food in large quantities. By keeping your plants on the small side you can pack a lot more into those small spaces and get a great harvest. Bay greens and veggies are always a hit and have a wonderful flavor. Best of all many smaller varieties mature faster and are able to be harvested sooner which means you can get even more out of your garden.
  5. Switch out – Speaking of getting more out of your garden by harvesting earlier, why not time your garden’s harvest and replant. When you pick one item, like carrots, why not replace it with something like lettuce? That way you have a double harvest in the same growing period. You can switch out your harvest schedule to make the most of your planning space. As the seasons change rip up nonproducing plants and replace them with new ones. That way you can have a year round harvest without having to have a huge garden.
  6. Stack it up – Stacking pots is a great way to grow a lot in a small space. Like strawberry pots with multiple holes in different heights you can grow many plants in the same pot without being hampered by the diameter of the top. You can stack smaller pots in a larger one for an adorable and useful container garden.
  7. Container gardens – Speaking of container gardens, you can grow a lot in a container. Even if your open growing space is limited you can expand it with containers. In your home, out on the porch, hanging in baskets or in widow boxes there are a variety of container to fit any garden size. Best of all you can grow year round by bringing your plants indoors during the crisp winter days.
  8. Wall gardens – Another method of container gardening is the wall garden. By mounting your containers on the wall you have a vast amount of space to grow without taking up any square feet. Even an apartment dweller can have a wall garden. You can use pots or even gutters to create a perfect wall garden that can effectively expand your garden area up and up. A repurposed pallet can also be mounted or leaned against the wall for a wall garden. Both beautiful and practical wall gardens are gaining in popularity. Use a fence as well!
  9. Vertical gardens – In a similar vein you can also use walls, fences, trellis, wires, cages or other methods to make your garden grow up instead of over. Veggies like tomatoes take up much less space when caged and trained to grow up instead of out with no loss to the fruit production. Cucumbers can grow along trellises as well as other vines like beans. Even squash can grow up and over instead of spreading out and taking up valuable garden space.
  10. Hydroponic – Last but not least is a great way of getting the most out of your garden space. Hydroponic garden systems make for great and productive gardens even without access to good soil. By enclosing the system there are methods to grow almost any plant without having to add additional water or growing solution. This can be a great way to grow whatever you want right there in your home. Keep in mind that enclosed hydroponic systems must remain enclosed, so no rain should be allowed in the system. A green house or simple clear covering can protect you outdoor plants. If you grow indoors then no covering is needed. I have seen huge cucumber plants grown out of a trash barrel with this system and yards and yards of gourmet lettuce. It is definitely something to consider.

As you can see there are many way that you can make even a small garden into a productive and beautiful space. From using vertical growing methods to companionplanting there are many ways to make the most of your small garden.

About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers- this post was written by Ken Myers. He holds a master’s in business leadership from Upper Iowa University and multiple bachelor degrees from Grand View College.  As president of, Ken’s focus is helping Houston-based parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife.


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Two Ways To Store A Year Of Fresh Herbs

July 21st, 2013

photo (16)

If your basil’s tall green leaves are drooping over, and your parsley’s becoming bushy and overcrowding the tomatoes – it may be time to think about storing your favorite herbs long term. Freezing herbs, especially basil, cilantro, chives, dill, parsley, and homemade pesto is a brilliant way to enjoy their fresh flavors all year round (besides, who really gets that excited about dried herbs?  Compared with fresh herbs – there is no contest!).

Our two favorite ways to store herbs are 1) as an ice cube, and 2) as an herb log. Learn the easy processes below, and you too can make summer soups, pastas and sauces full of garden fresh flavor all year round. When you get a chance, don’t forget to check out this post on re-growing chives and celery.

How To Freeze Fresh Herbs

Herb Ice Cube Instructions:

After washing the herbs, place 2-3 individual leaves, or a spoonful of chopped herbs into ice cube trays. Fill the tray half full of water, gently ensuring that the leaves stay down. If a few leaves give you trouble, the next step should alleviate the problem.

Once frozen or mostly frozen, fill the remaining cubes with water, and freeze once more. When completely frozen, place the individual blocks of ice into a zip blog baggie, or a lidded glass container. When ready to use, remove from the freezer and drop the entire ice cube into soups, stews or sauces.

Herb Log Instructions:

Remove the leaflets off of the stem, rinse the leaves, and dry them well. Place the herbs in a freezer bag, and begin compressing and rolling the bag into a log, ensuring the air has escaped. Tie with a rubber band, and freeze. When it’s frozen, remove the herbs at any time and slice as much or little as you need.

Herb harvesting tip: Always harvest the thickest stems first, leaving the thin midsummer stems time to grow stronger and more flavorful.

***Fellow gardeners: Have you tried freezing your herbs as an ice cube or log? What is your favorite way to use frozen herbs and pesto? 


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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How to Transition Your Garden From Spring Into Summer

July 21st, 2013

Multi_Frame_Vegetable_Gardening-300x289When the seasons change, we all have our own rituals to celebrate the passing of one season and the beginning of another. When winter gives way to spring, we put away the snow boots, stick the gloves in the back of the closet, and enjoy storing away for months the snow tires on our cars. When spring turns to summer, we make sure we have plenty of shorts to wear and that our sunglasses collection is fully up to snuff. But changing seasons also has an impact on our gardens, of course. When the seasons change from spring to summer, we need to take care to transition the garden into the new warmer months. There are a number of ways to do this, and every garden is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Below are some tips for transitioning your garden from spring into summer.


Look for the right annuals for your garden. It is important when choosing your annuals that you match them to the lighting of your garden’s locations. makes the following recommendation: “Try impatiens, begonias or brilliant fuchsias to brighten shaded nooks, as these flowers thrive in shade or partial shade. Petunias, marigolds and geraniums fill the bill for sunny locations. Tuck annuals into the flowerbed between your perennials to liven the bed while waiting for summer perennials to bloom.”


Make room for vines. Vines can make a beautiful addition to a garden, partly because they evoke a romanticism from the time of Shakespeare and Italy, and also because they are often great annuals. The right vines also add texture and a variety of heights to your garden. Morning glories and tall nasturtiums can make things interesting by being tall and beautiful. Wait for the danger of frost to have passed through your area. By midsummer, the vines will cover the trellises and be in full bloom.


Don’t forget the mulch. Mulching is an important tool for all gardeners, as most already know. Using it around the base of your flowers will control weeds and help your plants hold onto their moisture. You can buy decorative mulch at a gardening store or you can make your own with grass clippings, woodchips and other organic materials. Stone mulch is another option and is well suited for those gardeners without a lot of extra time to spare: unlike organic mulches, stone will not break down and eventually require being replaced. Find what works for you.


Use trimming to help the seasonal transition. Trimming is an essential part of gardening. While some gardens have that unkempt, overgrown look, that doesn’t mean that their gardeners are not trimming. All gardeners trim to some extent. During the spring to summer transition time, make sure you are cutting back yellowed leaves from your spring-blooming flowers. Don’t wait – trim as soon as the yellowing starts. Once the foliage is yellow, it is dead, and the plant no longer needs it. You should safely remove the yellowed foliage to keep your garden looking fresh and summer ready.


Hang flowers too. Not all of your plants need to be planted in the ground. Try some hanging baskets to add some depth and variety to your garden. If you have, for example, a large swing in your garden, see if you can hang a basket of flowers from the top of it. If you have a tree, use the branches. There are plenty of ways to hang baskets in gardens, you just have to see what will work in yours.


Keep everything clean. While you are in your garden getting it ready for summer, planting the right flowers and trimming the dead foliage, make sure you put in some extra time to straighten things out. Rake away any leaves that have gathered and clear away any gardening tools, toys, or other detritus that has a tendency to collect in the garden. Keeping your garden well maintained includes keeping it clean. Nothing will undo all of your hard work faster than a pile of gardening tools in your garden.


Spend time outside! What’s the point of a beautiful garden if you never use it to relax? Grab a glass of wine and a book and spend some time outdoors!


About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This is a guest post from Matt Zajechowski who writes for Architectural Garden Design, Located in Lake Forest, IL.




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How to Promote a Healthy Garden on a Budget

July 7th, 2013

Saving Money


If you’re a beginning gardener or have problems getting a garden to form, there are ways you can promote a healthier living without investing too much money. While you may have to spend a few dollars here and there for necessities, much of the experience can utilize items you may already have around the home. Whether you are building a beautifully rich garden full of color or trying to get vegetables to grow for home-grown meals, your labor doesn’t have to be fruitless.

1. Starting Strong - Getting your plants to grow healthy can be difficult if your yard is heavily trafficked or the environment is too harsh for seedlings to take a solid root. Instead create starter plants within the home where you can control the entire environment the plants are subjected to. By keeping the seedlings indoors where they can grow stronger you are more likely to be successful in your gardening. Once the plants stand at least three to four inches, they can easily be transplanted to your garden.

2. Soil - Mixing nutrient-rich top soil into your garden can ensure that your plats have a solid base to work with. If you have the budget to include top soil, it would be advisable. However, there are ways to encourage a garden without investing a lot of money. Compost and natural mulch can be a great source of nutrients for your garden. This is the process of taking organic material from the home and yard to decompose in the garden to infuse it with the necessities the plants need. By mixing food bi-products from the home, leaves, and grass clippings into your soil, you can save money from topsoil purchases as well as reducing the amount of waste that you throw out.

3. Weed Prevention - Once your indoor started plants are transplanted into your compost-rich soil, it’s time to think about ways to prevent weeds from invading your garden. Mulch made from grass clippings, leaves, wood chips, or essentially anything else that can prevent weeds from getting direct sunlight can help eliminate the work of pulling these invaders out every weekend. For those who are developing edibles, many will use black plastic sheets to cover the beds save for the area where the plant is present.

4. Watering - Water is essential to promoting a healthy plant. Depending on your area, you could be faced with drought restrictions. In these areas, rain-barrels can be a savior providing it will rain any time in the near future. If you have the money to invest in a water saving material this can help your plants retain every droplet of water they can by keeping the water locked where it needs to be. These water saving materials are perfect for areas that are only allowed to water lawns and gardens on specific days. Your plants can live longer with less watering.

You’ll get out of your garden the amount of effort you put into the experience. This also includes a constant vigilance over the development and care of the plants themselves. At moments, it can be akin to caring for a child as you provide necessary nourishment and the proper environment for them to flourish. Don’t get discouraged if the plants don’t perform to your expectations and find solutions to what is causing the problems you face.


About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This post is contributed by Linda Bailey from She is a Texas-based writer who loves to write on the topics of housekeeping, green living, home décor, and more. She welcomes your comments which can be sent to b.lindahousekeeping @

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Turn A Family Dinner Into Baby Food: Summer Squash Soup

July 3rd, 2013

photo (11)

Move over Gerber, there are some delicious meal options out there that the whole family can enjoy. Here’s the thing: babies can eat real food, and from our experiences, they enjoy it more than what you can find in a jar. Furthermore, if you turn up your nose at bland, over-steamed vegetables, your baby might have the same reaction. Therefore, don’t be afraid to make baby food taste good. Get creative and add fresh cilantro, chopped chives, and dried seasonings to a meal, and serve it to the entire family (just take an additional step to puree or chop into small pieces for your little one).

All over the world, babies are introduced to flavor very early on. In India, curry spices are mixed in with yogurt and rice after 6 months of age. In other parts of Asia, lemongrass, tamarind, and coconut milk are introduced within the first year – and in South American – babies can be seen enjoying food with chili peppers!

A great trick to get the entire family eating one nutritious meal is a creamy, choc-full-of-good-stuff soup. You can make a soup out of just about anything (and we have!). In the summer, seasonal summer squash, carrots and sweet potatoes can turn even a baby who wants to only be fed by a sock puppet (ahem, our baby) into one that grabs the spoon to feed herself. If your baby eats the whole bowl, go ahead and call it a miracle as you ladle another helping for yourself.

Summer Squash Soup With Basil

Serves 4-6

Recommended starting at 8 months of age

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 ¼ pounds yellow squash

2 carrots, thinly sliced

1 sweet potato, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

½ cup julienned basil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Heat oil in a large saucepan, and add the onion and a pinch of salt until it’s translucent. Add the remaining vegetables and vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Bring down to a simmer, and allow the vegetables to soften, partially covered for 20 minutes. Stir in the basil and puree.

Friends, what is your favorite way to turn dinner into baby food? We’d love to hear your recipe ideas and inspiration.

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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