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What To Plant In October

September 27th, 2013

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Unless you’re living in California and Florida and are essentially free of frost, it’s important to be mindful of your first frost date when it comes to October sowing. Typically, the first frost in most regions will begin at the end of October. This means that it’s a wise idea to start preparing your garden…right now!

If each season you’re feeling stumped on what to plant and when, run (don’t walk!) and check out our Humble Seed Garden Planner. This clever slide chart has a variety of features; including the critical frost dates in your specific region. To make your garden even further fail-proof, the planner also shows planting depth, distance between rows, and the distance between plants after thinning for 22 different popular vegetable varieties.

What To Plant Right Now

Asparagus – These vegetables thrive in areas with winter ground freezes and dry seasons. Essentially if you’re living in anywhere other than Florida and the Gulf Coast, go ahead and plant in October. While it takes some time until harvest, crisp asparagus stems smothered in butter is well worth the wait.

Beets, Turnips and Radishes – Root crops can take a little frost, but be sure to continue protecting them from the extreme cold to extend the season if you plant in October.

Broccoli – This versatile vegetable not only likes cool weather, it tends to taste better when grown in down right chilly weather. Cloth cover these guys on the coldest nights, but don’t fret too much if your region has moderately cold winter weather.

Brussels Sprouts – While  slow growing, Brussels sprouts truly prefer cooler weather and will not give you trouble if you plant in October AND live in the Pacific Northwest (“the fog belt”) where they tend to grow best.

Onions, Scallions, Shallots  – Depending on the variety of Allium, there are quite a few to choose from that will hold up well during frost and can be planted safely in areas with moderate winter climates.

Peas – These little veggies prefer October sowing in cool soil that is not overly fertilized (they tend to reject too much nitrogen). Go ahead and sow in October, and enjoy a variety of winter soups all season.

Winter Lettuce, Swiss Chard, Cabbage, Kale and Spinach – Hardy leafy greens are the soul of winter! Sow a really hardy variety and be mindful to not overwater. Protecting these leafy greens from the cold is essential, so try using fleece covers or winter lights to help provide additional warmth if you plant in October.

Readers, we’d love to ask you: What are you planting in October? 

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 from a Summer to a Fall Vegetable Garden

September 14th, 2013

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Whenever we tell someone that we’re planting a fall organic vegetable garden, we sometimes hear, “Woh! I thought it was too cold to plant.” But there are quite a few vegetables we recommend planting at the end of the summer because they love the cool weather. Be sure to check off your chores, and you’re ready to go for fall!

Chores For Transitioning From a Summer To a Fall Garden

*First look around and see what’s working in your garden and what’s not. Pull out the plants that are no longer producing, and remove any lingering weeds or debris.

*Consider making or buying new tags or markers to label fall crops. We love this crop marker idea if you want to get your children involved!

*Before sowing in particularly hot climates, shade and water the area for a few days to allow the soil to cool down.

*Since the previous plants have used most of the nutrients from the soil, incorporate organic compost and smooth it out well. Adding compost will rejuvenate the soil when planting something new.

*Adding mulch will retain the seed moisture, and helps to prevent the soil from baking at the end of the summer. Straw or hay works well as an insulator, but there really is a variety of mulch options  you can use. If you’re concerned about keeping the straw down, consider using a floating row on top of the mulch.

What To Plant At The End Of Summer

The Brassica family in particular grows very well in cool weather (think broccoli, arugula, cabbage, lettuce, chard, collards, kale, spinach). Mustard greens also tend to be less bitter when grown in cool weather climates. Root crops like parsnips, turnips, beets, and radishes can also do quite well. Most of them can take a little frost – but you can extend the season up to 30 days (give or take depending on mother nature) by using a frost blanket. To learn more, check out our other frost suggestions for keeping your veggies safe. 

Planting Tips

*Count back from frost date but tack on extra time to the calculation. Remember that the days are getting steadily shorter and cooler as fall plants mature. Don’t expect them to produce as fast as in longer and warmer spring time days.

*You generally don’t want to plant a seed more than 3 times the thickness of the seed. Strive to plant the seed two times the thickness; remembering that any deeper can impose stress, making it an issue for the plant to grow above the soil.

*Sow approximately one seed about every two inches. You don’t want to plant too many together, yet being too skimpy can cause problems too! You will be thinning them out later, so make like Goldilocks when sowing seeds. You’ll find your rows will look “just right” after some practice.

*If you’re trying to conserve water, focus watering activities on the most vulnerable plants – along with the oldest trees and shrubs on the property.

**Fellow gardeners, what are you planting for your autumn garden?

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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The Taste of Summer And How to Preserve It By Canning

September 4th, 2013

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Oh, the taste of summer. Who doesn’t love dipping a crisp tortilla chip into fresh tomato salsa, or enjoying a bite of corn on the cob smothered in butter or sprinkled with lime? With memories like that, canning vegetables and fruit is becoming a popular way to preserve the taste of our favorite seasons all year long.

Interested in preserving the taste of summer, but have never canned before?

Essentially, canning the taste of summer requires placing the sweet taste of seasonal fruits and vegetables into prepared jars and heating them to a temperature that microorganisms are unable to survive in (and it’s easier than you think!).  If done effectively, canning vegetables and fruits can prevent unnecessary waste with tasting results, save money, and provide a summer bounty for your family all year long, as well as in an emergency situation.

There are two main options for home canning the taste of summer: one is water bath canning and the other is pressure cooker canning.  While both effective, this post details water bath canning as it is user-friendlier for first time canners. We’re covering everything you need to know in this post, from what you need to get started, to a step-by-step guide to effective canning.

Water Bath Canning

Selecting The Correct Jars Mason and Bell jars are the two safest and most effective jars to use for canning the taste of summer because they are designed to heat at high temperatures, and come with a two-piece self-sealing lid.  Do no use commercial mayonnaise, baby food or pickle jars, as these are not suitable for high temperatures.

Supplies Needed Much like with any hobby, the start up costs for canning the taste of summer can seem daunting.  Yet as each year passes, count on saving money as you can reuse jars, canning racks, and other food preserving tools through the years. There are also several canning kits that are available on the market, but you can also purchase these items separately:

*A large traditional cooking pot, specialized canning pot, or pressure cooker to place jars in. Whichever you choose, be sure it has a secure lid to prevent spills.  The pot should also be large enough to fit in each jar with room at the top for water to flow. Check that it is no more than 4 inches wider than the burner for an even temperature.

*A jar rack works well to guarantee water flow, and to space the jars properly; which will prevent cracking.  If a jar rack is unavailable, some choose to use sanitized cotton cloths to separate and cushion each jar.

*Jar funnels helps to easily ladle food in, and prevents fingers from touching the jar lid.

*Several Mason or Ball Jars with two-piece self-sealing lids.

*Other Useful Supplies: Mixing bowls, saucepans, clean towels, a timer, measuring cups, tongs, a ladle, and a cutting board will all help ensure a smooth canning process.

Basic Step-By-Step Water Bath Canning This process is ideal for canning the taste of summer: pickled carrots, a cucumber-turned-dill-pickle concept, unwashed berries, jams, preserves, jellies, pickles and tomato sauce, and can offer intense flavor even after many months.

1. Sanitize all jars and lids by dishwashing them first, and then adding them to a large pot of boiling water.  Allow all jars to soak for at least 5 minutes.  Remove each jar with sanitized tongs, and place them on a clean towel.

2. Using sanitized tongs for larger pieces of food, or a jar funnel for sauces and jams, gently ladle or funnel the food into each jar.  Leave approximately ¾ of an inch at the top for the lid. Be sure to use fresh and seasonal produce for optimum taste and expiration life.

3. Seal each jar by placing the small metal disc on the lid of the jar, and twisting the circular piece until securely fastened

4. Place the jar rack inside a large pot of boiling water, allowing the handles to come up from the top.  Carefully lower each filled jar into the boiling water, until all jars are set and carefully spaced. Using the jar rack handles, lower in the jars and fold the handles inside the cooking pot.  Allow the jars to soak for approximately 30 minutes.

5. Carefully remove the jars using tongs, and allow them time to cool off.  Jars should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place to preserve the jar’s contents.

Bonus tip: Looking for a great recipe to get your canning off to the right start? Tomato sauces are excellent choices for first time canners.  The Producer includes the Rose Tomato, an heirloom variety with a beautiful, deep rose pink color. Meaty and flavorful, these tomatoes are perfect for tomato sauces.

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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