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Gardening with Your Children- 5 Reasons why it’s Important

March 31st, 2014

Organic gardening

Gardening can be a great way to relax while creating a method to provide healthy snacks or decorate your landscape with beautiful plant life. As a parent, it is up to you to share this experience with the children. It may be more important than you may realize as it can have a great deal of benefits to their development. In what ways is maintaining a garden with your children important?

1. Healthier Eating - Unless you use toxic chemicals or pesticides in your garden, you can’t get more organic than eating foods from your own garden. Some may even attest to how much better these foods taste whether it is psychological or not. This provides you with an opportunity to teach the children that food can be grown instead of purchased from the grocery store.

2. Money Saving - Although there may be some foods that you’ll have to buy, a large portion of the food bill can be eliminated by growing your own edibles. Of course this is dependent on the size of your garden, but there are many people across the country that grow their own fruits and vegetables in the backyard. This can teach children how to reduce spending on foods they can grow themselves. If you’re able to develop a large enough green house or an indoor garden, you can provide this food year round.

3. Important to Survival - Plants do more for humans than simply provide food. They can reduce the damage from floods, improve the air quality of a home and provide heavier rainfalls in extremely large circumstances such as a rain forest. While you are maintaining the garden, you have a great opportunity to teach children this important symbiotic relationship humans have with the environment. Essentially, you are planting your own seeds in their minds of a more sustainable future.

4. Bonding - Finding a common interest is a great way to strengthen a bond with your child. By working together to achieve a common goal, you can create that instance in the garden. Most young children love the idea of eating foods they personally had a hand in growing. The interest is so high that many manufacturers have developed miniaturized version of tools and clothing for young gardeners. In many cases, the children may be more excited to work with you in the garden than you could imagine.

5. Teaching a Skill - It is the responsibility of parents to expose children to experiences that may turn out to be marketable skills when they become adults. The interest a child shows today may impact his or her future greatly – as long as you support the opportunity. Teaching your children how to maintain a garden provides them with a skill that could develop into anything from a relaxation method to owning an organic farm of their own.

While gardening may not be for everyone, you’ll never know how your children will respond unless you try. Encourage the children to maintain the project with you using magnificent flowers or tasty fruits that they would enjoy. Gardening can be so much more than merely planting flowers next to your porch. It can be a peaceful and constructive way to add more life to your existence. Allow the children to decide for themselves if gardening is something they would be interested in.

 

About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This great content was written by Ken Myers. Ken is a father of three and passionate about great childcare. He’s always looking for ways to help families find the support they need to live fuller, richer lives. Find out more about expert childcare by checking out @go_nannies on Twitter.

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Soil Temperature- Tips You Can Implement Now

March 24th, 2014

 

 

Have you heard? Knowing the last frost date in your area is crucial for starting your spring vegetable garden. Perhaps you’ve heard this advice as many times as an Adele song on the radio, but you’re having trouble finding a good planting date based on a calendar guide. Even natives have mistakenly planted too early or too late in the season. We have a few tips regarding soil temperature to get you warmed up (pardon the pun) for planting season.

Soil Temperature Tips You Can Implement Now

– If you’re new to gardening, try cold tolerant and hardy vegetables first – think broccoli, carrots and collards. This leaves more wiggle room for mistakes, or an unexpected late frost. If you’d like to learn more about what to grow, check out our post on Frost Tolerant Plants.

– Be patient and wait for optimum soil temperatures. (the payoff is worth it!)

– Learn how to take a correct soil temperature (see our guide below).

– Be prepared for the chance of an unexpected late frost. Store a blanket, or have another method for protecting plants from freezing temperatures handy.

– Consider using organic compost in lieu of store bought fertilizer. It will enrich your soil with vital nutrients, and it acts as a natural pesticide and soil conditioner.

– Strongly consider using mulch to stabilize soil temperature, especially in the warmer months. Mulch will also increase moisture levels, suppress weed growth, and safeguard against erosion.

Check out, if you’d like:

Here’s a handy list of desired soil temperatures for a variety of vegetables and herbs. (This list includes the minimum, optimum, and maximum soil temperatures for growing from seed. Be sure to also pay attention to the letters “b,” “c,” and “d” next to each vegetable, as “b” indicates a hardy vegetable for direct seeding, and the “c” & “d” signifies a tender vegetable for direct seeding.) Our Humble Seed Garden Planner also gives valuable insights and specifics for successfully planting 22 popular vegetable varieties.

4 Simple Steps To Using A Soil Thermometer

1 Buy an inexpensive probe thermometer: These are available at local gardening centers or online. The most cash-friendly thermometers have a glass bulb and a strong metal point, and they work just fine.

2 Find the recommended depth of your seed: Plan on checking the soil at that plant depth. If you’re planting a variety of seeds, then plan on checking at least 5-6 inches deep.

3 Make a pathway for the thermometer: Use a screwdriver to pilot a hole so that the thermometer will not break in hardier soils.

4 Follow Directions: Use the instructions on the thermometer package for the most accurate reading. Take multiple measurements by reading the temperature at different points of the day, including sunny and shaded times.

*Friends, what are your tips for checking and using soil temperatures for direct seeding?

 

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. We’re also proud to say we have taken the Safe Seed Pledge!

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Black Rice and Grape Detox Salad

March 22nd, 2014

grape walnut salad

 

As it gets warmer out and the leaves begin to turn green, I’ve been getting the urge to add some more greens to my diet as well. Spring is a good reminder of how beautiful it is when the world is refreshed- I think this goes for our lives and bodies as well. That’s why I love detox diets.

This isn’t about eliminating all foods until you’re as thin as possible- that isn’t healthy and I’m all about eating to keep you WELL. This type of detox is about eliminating the foods and others toxins from your life that are weighing you down and holding you back, while filling your body and life with sources of wholesome nourishment. This includes toxins like pollutants or alcohol as well as toxins like a bad relationship or a job that’s causing your more stress than it’s worth. When we detox, we replace these sources of toxicity with positive, healthy foods and choices.

It’s always good to reflect on our lives and our happiness. Food can’t solve everything, but sometimes when you focus on making healthy changes in what you eat, it inspires a domino effect of healthy changes throughout your life. I eat healthy most of the time, but I still think it’s sometimes good to take moment and reset our bodies. When you take a moment to take care of yourself by eating well, you are reminded that taking care of yourself makes you feel better and helps you form a better relationship with yourself.

This detoxing salad is packed with tons of my favorite healthy super foods. I love including fruits in my salads so I can make sure to get enough fruits and veggies in my diet. This salad includes various spices that help clear our your digestive system and fight inflammation so your body can recover from damage it suffered from the toxins that are always around us. I find with myself and with my clients that after eating clean for a little while, it becomes the natural and desirable thing to do. We don’t always have to restrict ourselves like we do when we’re detoxing, but we can make sure to fill ourselves with nutritious food that will make our minds and body run smoothly. This is all about getting our bodies to work with us, not against us.

For full recipe, click here.
About the Author: 

Amie Valpone

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This great content was submitted by Amie Valpone. Amie is a Manhattan-based Personal Chef, Culinary Nutritionist, Professional Recipe Developer, Food Photographer and Writer specializing in simple Gluten-free, ‘Clean’ recipes for the home cook. Check out The Healthy Apple for more great recipes.

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How to Grow Peppers Using Simple Hydroponics

March 18th, 2014

Antohi Romanian

 

For those who aren’t familiar with hydroponics, the method has been around for centuries and the word actually comes from the Greeks and Romans.  Roughly translated it means “working water” but a more practical/modern way to describe hydroponics is gardening without soil. The soil is replaced with an inert medium such as coconut fibers and the plant’s roots are fed directly with a nutrient rich solution.

There are dozens of benefits to hydroponics, but the simple reasons I use hydroponics can be summarized in one sentence.  Hydroponics plants grow faster, in less space, with greater yields all year long.  That’s a pretty great reason, right?

Hydroponics is a very flexible gardening method which can be used inside or outside. As an introduction, I wanted to share a brief guide to growing hot peppers with an indoor hydroponics system.

What you’ll need to get started:

  • Storage tote
  • 2 inch hole saw
  • 2” net pots
  • Clay pellets
  • Rapid Rooter plugs
  • pH Control Kit
  • Hydroponic nutrients
  • Hot pepper seeds – Humble Seed’s Hot Mama’s Peppers and Chiles will give you a nice variety to work with
  • Air stone
  • Air pump
  • Air Tubing
  • Air tube clips

Feel free to improvise your supplies as you can steal a lot of these things from an old fish tank setup!

Step 1: Prepare the grow tray

Arrange the net pots upside down on the lid of the tote.  Leave about 4” between the pots to allow enough growing space for the pepper plants to grow. Draw a line around each pot. Using a 2” hole saw and drill, cut out each circle.  If you don’t have a drill you can use a box cutter and some elbow grease.

Step 2: Prep the reservoir

Fill the storage tote with water.  Leave about 3 inches of headroom at the top.  This will allow the peppers’ roots to touch the water without being flooded.  Add the hydroponic liquid nutrition and pH adjuster. Note: Nutrition and pH kit directions vary by brand but all are very straight forward. 

Step 3: Setting up aeration system

  • Drill a small hole above the water line and thread the air tubing through.
  • Attach the air stone and use the clips to hold the system at the bottom of the reservoir.
  • Attach the check valve and air pump to the other end.

Step 4: Sewing the pepper seeds

  • Soak Rapid Rooter plugs for 30 seconds
  • Place one Rapid Rooter in each pot and place the pots in the pre-drilled holes
  • Put 3 seeds into each plug so you are assured that at least 1 germinates
  • Fill any extra space in the pots with clay pellets but make sure you do not block the hole on the rooter plugs

 

Once you have completed these steps, it’s time to wait and complete some simple weekly maintenance.  You should see the seeds start to sprout in about 7 to 10 days.  Each week you should check water pH, inspect the leaves for healthy growth, and add nutrition supplements as directed. As the pepper plants start producing peppers you will likely need to provide simple trellis support.

I hope this hydroponic introduction and pepper growing tutorial has peaked your interest so you will be incorporating this technique into your gardening this year. 

Readers, have you had success with growing hydroponic peppers? What varieties are your favorites?

 

About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This great content was written by Chris Wimmer. Chris maximizes his 400 square foot downtown Chicago backyard with hydroponics. You can find more hydroponic tips at his hobby blog: healthsmartliving.com/hydroponics/

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Tips On Growing And Supporting Washington Cherry Tomatoes

March 14th, 2014

Cherry Tomato

Peak into a few backyards in the summertime, and you may find gorgeous, cherry tomato’s, ripe on the vine and ready for harvest. You can also grow these gorgeous tomato plants too! Here are some tips to get you started:

Some background:

Our Washington Cherry Tomato’s are organic, will grow all season long, yielding 1 ¼” meaty and flavorful fruits.  They are perfect for appetizers, salads, and snacking. We love to roast our tomato’s at 325 degrees F (until softened) with fresh thyme, salt pepper and olive oil.  After roasting, we pair them with crackers, mozzarella cheese, and basil – it’s a real treat! You can find these seeds in our Veggin’ Out and Producer seed kits.

Surprising Health Benefits:

One serving of fresh cherry tomato’s  will provide Lycopene, Vitamins A, C, K, Potassium as well as Folate.  These nutrients will contribute to strong bones, better skin and vision, a healthy immune system, reduce inflammation, and can even fight cancer. Tomato’s are also low in calories and fat, and are naturally cholesterol and saturated fat free. Even we are amazed that something this tasty can do so much good.

Growing Tips

-You will need a tomato cage or other support system to hold the tomato plants upright – we have a few great ideas below.

-If starting inside, begin 6-9 weeks before the average last spring frost. If sowing outside after the last frost, wait until temps are above 60 degrees. Tomato plants also tend to grow very well in warm summer areas.

-Plant at ¼-1/2” depth and space 1”.

-Washington Cherry Tomato’s require full sun, moderate watering, and perform best when soil is 80-85 degrees F.

-A high yielding plant will produce many 1 ¼” meaty, red cherry tomato’s that can be enjoyed right off the vine!

-Harvest when tomato’s are firm and fully colored.

Two New Ways To Support Tomato’s

Traditionally, gardeners use metal cages or stakes to keep their tomato plants upright. Yet, many are now finding that these methods can be unstable, lead to uneven sunlight exposure, or other nuisances.  Now more than ever, gardeners are trying a new method to grow their tomato plants upright: they are bending and tying the tomato plants’ rubbery stems on a flat plane.  Using a flat plane can offer what stakes and cages cannot: more stability, even sunlight exposure, a decreased likelihood of fungal disease, increased air circulation, less drooping, and an easier time spotting pests.

1. An Arbor or Backyard Archway: a unique and beautiful instrument for growing tomato’s, and can provide plenty of support.

How to:  Much like you would use a trellis, plant the tomato’s at the bottom of the arbor. Gradually train your tomato plant to climb the arbor by weaving the stems in and out of the support bars, and tying and twisting the flexible stems up and over the archway. Be sure to prune or tie loose stems that meander away from the arbor. Trellises and lattices can also make gorgeous arbors during the summer growing season.

2. A Wire Fence: These are already commonly available in many backyards. Using it for a tomato plant is a great way to create a “living wall” for you and your neighbors to admire.

How to:  If you already have a wire fence – you’re set! If you’d like, you can reinforce the fence stability further by attaching “hog wire” or “horse corral panels” commonly found at animal feed stores. To get started, plant the tomato’s at the bottom of the wire fence. As the tomato plant grows, the trick is to weave and tie the branches as wide as possible. This will provide stable support, and even sun exposure. Soft ties, hooks and twine can also help to ensure the tomato plant stays securely on the fence. Feel free to prune or redirect plants up and over the fence if they grow too tall.

Other Flat Plane Ideas:

-Grow tomato’s up a nice lattice or trellis.

-Create a “bridge” by leaning two wire mesh panels against one another (wire the top for stability). Grow tomato’s on the top surface of the “bridge.”

-Weave tomato plants up a gazebo or similar structure for a unique look.

***Friends, will you grow tomatoes this season? What are some tips that have proved successful in your 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. We’re also proud to say we have taken the Safe Seed Pledge!

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The California Drought, Food Prices & How to Prepare

March 2nd, 2014

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You may be clear across the country, and have heard little discussion about the current drought California is facing. Yet there is a good likelihood it can and will affect your food prices. Read on to discover why this is, and how you can prepare for it.

Some background: Much of the drought began in 2013, when the state received well below normal rainfall that year. Coupled with this issue, the neighboring Sierra Nevada region had only 10% of it’s average snowfall in December, leaving the reservoir levels at 30% of normal.  Almost immediately, desperate lawmakers passed mandatory water conservation orders across California to cut water consumption. The situation is serious enough for the Sacramento City Council to pass a water restriction forcing residents and businesses to cut usage by 20% or pay a fine up to $1,000.

To give you an image about the severity of this drought, this is what one blogger found as she drove through the farms of Central California, “…the fields were mostly dormant and being “prepared” for planting, but that did not prepare me for their utter NAKEDNESS. Not only were there no weeds or wild plants (even at the edges) but there were no cover crops, no mulches, no PROTECTION for the soil, either. The soil was dry and barren—a dust bowl just waiting to happen!”

How does the California drought affect your food prices?

For one, California is one of the leading food producers in the nation. With over 80,000 farms and ranches spread across the state, there’s a good chance that some of the food in your refrigerator was grown in California. Even more likely is that your olives, almonds, figs, persimmons, pistachios, prunes, strawberries, walnuts, dates and raisins were grown in the state – since California grows 90-100% of these crops distributed world wide.

Unfortunately, when these big farms aren’t getting the water they need, crops aren’t producing and even more troubling – fruit and nut trees take up to two years to recover. Therefore, families must anticipate two years of nation-wide increased food prices and food shortages. So, this begs the question-What you can do now?

Carolyn Nicolaysen, a disaster preparedness expert suggests families do the following before food prices start rising:

-Plan and plant a garden

-Stock up and store produce that is in season now

-Save and store 100% fruit juices

-Store abundant supply of any fruit or vegetable grown in California or any product using these as an ingredient.

-Store foods that contain any California grown produce as ingredients.

-Can or freeze and store produce grown in your garden (find a mentor to help plant and can if needed, help is out there!)

***Friends, what will you do to prepare for the increase in food prices? 

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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