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10 eco-friendly tips for keeping your garden pest free

July 20th, 2014

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Growing your own food is rewarding, beneficial to the environment and cost effective. If pests take over your garden it doesn’t take long until your efforts go to waste. In the event of a serious outbreak professional exterminators, such as North London Pest Control, could pest-proof the area to prevent further damage. However, for minor pest problems, these tips may help.

Sacrificial Crops

Slugs are definitely a garden’s worst enemy. Sadly, there’s no easy fix. Kill them and eventually more will turn up in their place. If you’re growing lettuce, plant a few sacrificial crops around them. Growing loose leaf varieties on the edges should stop them venturing into the inner rows.

Vaseline and Rock Salt

Even if you have fruit and vegetables in containers, slugs will find their way inside. To prevent them from touching the pots in the first place, mix together equal amounts of Vaseline and rock salt and smear it over your pots. While the salt will prevent slugs getting inside, the Vaseline will keep it securely in place, even in wet weather.

Enviromesh (garden netting)

To keep away carrot flies, enclose your carrot patch in a 3 foot high cage of enviromesh. Carrot flies can’t get any higher than this; therefore, they won’t be able to gain access to your vegetables.

Peppermint Oil

If you can’t get hold of any garden netting, add a few drops of peppermint oil in your watering can when you next water your carrots. The strong smell is enough to keep carrot flies and bay and won’t affect the taste of your vegetables.

Ultrasonic Repellents

Ultrasonic repellents are often used in gardens to ward off cats and dogs; however, most of them also work against rabbits and like-minded creatures. The high-pitched frequency is inaudible to most humans, but will scare away larger pests when they come within a certain proximity of your area.

Squirrel Traps

Squirrels will dig up bulbs, steal fruit and gnaw bark off trees. Luckily, they’re fairly easy to entice. Set up some humane squirrel traps using fruit as bait. Once caught, let them loose in a nearby wooded area.

Wire Mesh

If you truly want to rabbit and bird proof your garden, encase the whole area in wire mesh. While it’s not particularly pleasing on the eyes, it’s the only sure-fire way to prevent larger pests from eating your food.

Coffee Granules

One of the best things about spreading coffee granules over your compost is that slugs hate them. In addition, they are pH neutral, contain nitrogen and are a great fertilizer! When you start to see the results you’ll never chuck them in the trash again.

Water Sprinklers

Water sprinklers are great at scaring away large pests. Like ultrasonic sound devices they will deter cats, dogs, rabbits and birss, and will only activate when they detect movement within a certain radius.

Egg Shells

Caterpillars are perhaps one of the most annoying garden pests and consume a surprisingly large amount of food. If you regularly find caterpillars on leaves, crush up egg shells and place them at the base of the plant. Most caterpillars hate treading on them.

 

Not all pest control techniques are harmful. There are plenty of eco-friendly ways to stop pests from ruining your garden. Before you start taking drastic measures try out these simple tips.

 

Folks, how do you keep pests from feasting on your garden goodies?

 

About the Author:

This great content was provided by Aaron Hopkins. Aaron is a freelance web designer, his passion is in all things creative. Also a keen gardener who prides himself on growing the best carrots in Hertfordshire and has even won local awards!

 

About Humble Seed:

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!!

Does starting your first garden seem too overwhelming or you simply don’t have the space? The Tower Garden may be the answer for you!  Passionate about gardening and healthy living, or looking to expand your current health-based business? Consider becoming a Tower Garden distributor! Email info@humbleseed for more information or message us on Facebook.

 

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Natural Pest Control That’s Safe For Family And Pets

June 12th, 2014

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Has this happened to you? Just when you think all is well in your garden, you notice tiny, pear shaped insects clustering on the leaves, sucking out the juices and leaving damage behind.  Before you grab a bottle of synthetic pesticide, consider that natural pest control is not old-fashioned, and are very effective. Furthermore, natural pesticides mean there are no health concerns for your family, pets, or water supply. Check out these common pests that could disrupt your garden, and the natural pest control options to keep them at bay.

Aphids

About this bug: These pear-shaped insects may appear harmless at first glance, but these little guys defy the laws of science and are born pregnant; which can lead to a quick infestation. 

Organic pest control solutions: Try spraying them off with forceful water or using a plant based soap (recipe below). You can also let nature take its course by attracting beneficial insects like ladybugs, lacewings and hoverflies to your garden. Plants like parsley, fennel, coriander, sunflowers and Queen Anne Lace will attract these beneficial insects, and could help keep aphids and other harmful critters out of your garden.

Beetles 

About this bug: There are many varieties of beetles, and many will hide under the leaves and flowers of your plants, chewing away the foliage and leaving your plants looking tattered.

Organic pest control solutions: If you’re not terribly squeamish, pick them (or dust buster them) off the plants, and destroy their eggs that may be hiding just beneath the surface of your plant. While beetles love feasting on starchy plants like potatoes, they tend to loathe horseradish, yarrow, catnip and garlic plants. Keeping these plants nearby along with beneficial insects may prevent beetles from trespassing in your garden.

Caterpillars

About this bug: Caterpillars may look charming, but as they increase in size, their mouths grow even larger; leaving gaping holes in their feasting paths. 

Organic pest control solutions: Once they become butterflies, they will deter harmful pests in your garden. But if their caterpillar stage is wreaking havoc on your garden, a natural pest control option is plucking them off the plants and make your own organic pesticides (see recipe below) to deter them from inching along your favorite vegetables.

Leafhoppers

About this bug: Feeding on plant sap, leafhoppers are another villainous garden pest.  Leafhoppers belong to the Cicadellidae family, and there are numerous species that could damage your garden.  Just as their name implies, these insects hop from plant to plant when disturbed. Ranging in size from approximately ¼ – ½ inch, wedge-shaped leafhoppers feed on plants using their sucking mouthparts, similar to their sidekick; the aphid.  Some species of leafhoppers can transmit a virus particularly harmful to beets, tomatoes and other crops causing crinkled, dwarfed or distorted roots and veins. 

Organic pest control solutions: If you suspect a small leafhopper problem, forceful water makes for natural pest control. For more severe infestations, consider incorporating beneficial insects ladybugs, lacewings, hoverflies and praying mantids in the garden (see Aphids for plants that attract these insects).

Mealybugs and White Flies

About this bug: Common in indoor plants, these critters can weaken your plants while mealybugs leave a sticky substance behind. Normally infestations occur from a new infested plant exposing the others to the insect. 

Organic pest control solutions: To keep these pests at bay, try creating more air circulation in the area the plants reside in. For severe infestations, spray the leaves with diluted alcohol which acts like organic pesticides (remember to administer a test a patch first). Neem oil, plant based soaps and even natural dish detergent has also been studied to rid your plants of these non beneficial insects. 

Slugs and Snails

About this bug: Similar to caterpillars, these plump pests leave holes in your plants, while leaving behind their trademark sticky trail.  

Natural solutions: Luckily, slugs and snails go wild for a cold brew, and some prefer leaving a container of beer at the base of the plant for the slugs to eventually drown in. If the thought of watching a slug drown in your favorite stout seems hard to swallow (pardon the pun), try attracting lizards and garden snakes to your garden by leaving sunning stones and water nearby.  Your garden will feel like an oasis to these slug-loving reptiles.

*Make your own organic pesticides*

Caffeine Spray: Combine a few tablespoons of used coffee grounds with herbs like: catnip, lavender, yarrow and thyme which acts like organic pesticides. Add 2 cups of water, and allow at least 24 hours for the mixture to steep. Strain, and spray liberally on insects and plant leaves. Combine with organic pesticides soap (below) for a stronger treatment.

Organic pesticides: Add 1-2 tablespoons of castile soap to 2 cups of water. Spray insects as needed. Add boiled garlic cloves to boost the effectiveness.

Beneficial nematodes: Beneficial nematodes are effective microscopic fighters of soil borne pests like gnats, fleas, rootworms, grubs and cutworms. Beneficial nematodes can be applied in mulch with a garden sprayer or watering can. Another benefit? Beneficial nematodes will also reproduce and spread for long lasting organic pest control. Have you tried beneficial nematodes in your garden?

Friends, how have you naturally treated bothersome pests 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!!

Does starting your first garden seem too overwhelming or you have limited space? Check out this option: The Tower Garden Aeroponic Growing System.  Grow healthy and nutritious food year round!

 

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Seed Starting 101: Outdoor Basics

April 8th, 2014

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We recently asked on our Facebook page what topic you’d like to learn a little more about. Overwhelmingly, many of you responded, “Seed Starting!” Being a seed company and all, we wanted to write a post about this as soon as possible. It may be too late to start seed indoors, but for some of you, it’s perfect timing to start seed directly in the garden.

There are a number of compelling reasons to try seed starting: 1) More plant choices than what’s offered at your local gardening store; including organic, non-GMO, heirloom, and non-hybrid varieties, 2) More control (and fun!) over how your plants are grown, including soil, water, and amendment selecting, 3) A chance to use natural pest and vermin control, 4) To learn more self-reliance skills, 5) Save a great deal of money – we hope this encourages you to take the plunge and try seed starting.

Our Basic Guide For Sowing Directly In Your Garden

Suggested Tools For Seed Starting Outdoors

*Seed of choice (beans, carrots, corn, peas, and radishes are great choices for beginners, and truly do best when sown directly in the garden)
*Soil Thermometer
*Organic (safe) soil
*Organic compost
*Plant labels
*Watering system for gentle watering (“shower” setting on hose or “rose” fitting on watering can, etc.)
*A notepad and pen for jotting down notes

Build Up Your Soil

If you’re starting a new garden bed, remove sod, weeds, roots, and rocks from the area. Vegetable garden soil should be a mix of air and solids, and include clay, silt and loam. Work in 6 inches of compost to enhance the soil structure, and get a soil test, aiming for a neutral pH level. If needed, amend the soil further. You also may want to consider using a raised garden bed, as these will yield more vegetables and save time in the long run. This is because the smaller space shades out competing weeds, and watering/harvesting are more efficiently done.

Plan Ahead 

Ensure your soil is ready to sow seeds by taking the temperature (here’s our guide on how to take soil temperature). When ready, moisten the soil so that it’s the consistency of oatmeal a few days prior to planting. Thoroughly read your seed packet instructions for plant depth and spacing. Most seeds will require planting at a depth 3 times the diameter of the seed. If you’re a visual person, we suggest using a notepad to configure a layout of where seeds will go, and the spacing/depth for each before seed starting.

Sow Your Seeds

First, follow the seed packet instructions for the depth of furrows and spacing between them. Lay out the rows in a north-south direction which will ensure that both sides will receive an equal amount of sunlight during the day. Form the furrows with a rake, hoe, or stick; for perfectly straight rows, we recommend using a board or taut string as a guide. Do your best to sow seeds evenly, spacing them out as the seed packet instructs. If you’re using a large seed packet like we provide, pour the seed in your palm and scatter small pinches of seed as evenly as possible. Some gardeners sow seeds more thickly to guarantee germination, and thin out rows later, while others avoid this chore by spacing seeds out evenly. Tamping the soil (gently pressing on the soil surface after you sow seeds) will help secure the seed for roots to grow.

If you planted different types of seed, some gardeners outline the areas in flour, string, or stakes, while others use garden labels. This will help in recognizing plants as seed germination begins and plants grow, and will reduce the risk of mistaking a plant for a weed.

Water Gently, And Not Too Much

This is essential for guaranteeing high seed germination rates. The soil must stay evenly moist for seed germination, yet you don’t want to spray water forcefully either. The “shower” setting on your hose or the “rose” fitting on a watering can should suit you just fine if you’re a beginner. More elaborate irrigation systems are also wonderfully convenient once you’re ready for this step.

Thinning Out Crowded Seedlings

This is done after seed germination. If you sowed your seeds thickly, or you notice two sets of true leaves, then thinning out the weakest seedling is needed. You can transplant those seedlings into the empty spaces of the bed if available. Here is a great guide on how to do it effectively: How To Thin Out Crowded Seedlings.

Let the fun begin. Lots of luck this year!

***Friends, did you sow seeds directly in the garden this year? How’d it go with seed germination rates? We’d love to hear your success stories too.***

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!

Does starting your first garden seem too overwhelming or you have limited space? Check out this option: The Tower Garden Aeroponic Growing System.

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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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5 Easy Tips For Seed Starting Indoors

January 22nd, 2014

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Starting seeds indoors can sound confusing to beginner gardeners – especially with the extra steps involved.  Yet the benefits make the extra steps worthwhile. For one, plants have a better chance of thriving in harsh weather, and secondly, seeds are more likely to stay organic from the start.

Here are five tips to get your seed underway.

Prep Your equipment Collect the necessary equipment and supplies for seed starting. You can start simple by using good old-fashioned yogurt cups, seed starting potting mix, and sunlight. As you get the hang of it, you may want to invest in seed flats (large containers that can hold many seedlings), peat pots, nutrient-rich potting mix, a grow-light system built for seed starting indoors, heating mats and cables, and organic compost.

Have A Plan Save yourself a lot of time (and heartache) and buy a Garden Planner before seed starting.  The planner will provide all the information your need for starting your seeds indoors – from when to start and frost dates, to planting seed depth and when to transfer outdoors.

Get Your Seed Cozy Prepare your seeds indoors by first gathering your containers and make a few drainage holes. Fill each container with a moistened seed starting mix (either store bought or make your own), and sow in seeds carefully. A good rule of thumb is seeds ought to be at a depth of about three times the thickness of the seed.

Give the seeds a light sprinkle of water and place plastic wrap or a sheet of glass over the containers for a cozy and moist environment. Ideally, you want each plant to be at a humid 70 degrees F. for optimal germination. Keep the soil moist by misting with water, or filling the trays with water below.

Maintain With Attentiveness When you first notice your seed sprouting, go ahead and move your plants to a bright location (after clicking your heels up in the air!). The bright location can be a sunny window, a greenhouse, under fluorescent grow lights, or an alternative steady high-powered light source. Keep in mind that if you live in an area with little sunlight or short days, you may want to consider an alternative lighting system.

Next, seedlings should be moved into a cooler location. Continue composting and lightly water your plants a few days a week. Also, many gardeners practice gently ruffling out seedlings so that roots and stems grow strong. Once the plant is too large for the container, transfer to a larger one without damaging the fragile root system.

Harden Them Off After consulting your planner (see tip 2), determine the date that you will transfer your plants outdoors. One week prior, begin toughening up your plants by exposing them to the outdoors a few hours a day. Start by placing them in a shady location, and gradually allow for more time exposed to the sunlight and weather patterns. When you’re ready, go ahead and transfer your plants outdoors unless you’re experiencing terrible weather.

***Friends, what are your tips for starting your seeds indoors? Let’s hear your successes! Also, what didn’t work?

 

About us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease.  Enter seed15 at checkout to save 15% off your next order.

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New Year’s Resolutions For Gardeners

December 27th, 2013

Saving Money

Brainstorming New Year’s Resolutions for 2014? As you start thinking about the new year, consider these mindful gardening practices that will improve your garden, your wallet, and the planet!

Save More Water:  With the growing concern of water sustainability, many are looking to reduce the need of water use in their own home and garden.  For some, simply trying to use less water is not the answer.  Rather, a new perspective on gardening with water conservation as the leading principal is becoming the new standard for 2014. With this in mind, consider building a Xeriscape garden equipped with water harvesting this year. Xeriscape gardening conserves water by designating three different zones based on water use and encourages the use of native and locally adapted plants.

Passive water harvesting simply directs excess rainwater where it is needed, and includes sloping sidewalks/ terraces and channeling roof water.  Also, by constructing well thought out earth mounds of berms and channels, one can passively water harvest by keeping water on site for plants to take advantage of. If passive water harvesting proves difficult or is simply not your thing – active rain water harvesting is the new trend that involves storing water for later use in rain barrels, cisterns or other storage systems.

Combat Pests Naturally: Using chemicals to combat pests and animals in your garden? That’s so 2013! This year opt for more natural methods. A sharp blast of water, plant-based soap, vinegar, and coffee are all useful (and powerful) ways to treat pests in your garden without harming the environment. Try this caffeine-spray for preventing aphids, flies and leafhoppers:  Caffeine Spray: Combine a few tablespoons of used coffee grounds with herbs like: catnip, lavender, yarrow and thyme. Add 2 cups of water, and allow at least 24 hours for the mixture to steep. Strain, and spray liberally on insects and plant leaves. Combine with insecticide soap (below) for a stronger treatment.

Plan Your Garden More Efficiently: Don’t spend 2014 mourning your frost bitten tomatoes or complaining about time wasted in the garden (we’ve been there). Take the time to plan out your garden this year, including what plants grow well in your region, which are most susceptible to frost, and what new plants you’d like to try. We also highly recommend this Garden Planner for both beginning and experienced gardeners.

Start Composting Your Trash: Why begin composting in 2014? For one, it reduces the amount of organic waste that ultimately ends up in landfills.  In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency claims that 14% of food ends up in land mills each year. Secondly, it’s more sanitary. Placing food scraps to rot in your neighborhood garbage can ultimately lead to rodents, raccoons and insects. When done correctly, composting in your home reduces the potential of these nuisances, while also posing less imposition to public health and safety. Most importantly, composting can create a rockin’ fertilizer for your home garden.

Grow Your Own Food (and share it!): Instead of driving to the grocery store to pick up perhaps some not-so fresh vegetables that have traveled great distances, take out the middleman this year. With some planning, you can build a garden with everything you enjoy just a few steps from your kitchen. Another plus? Even if you start small, you can slash your food bill by planting a garden. Be sure to choose seed varieties that are organic and non-GMO to ensure your family is also eating healthfully and sustainably in 2014.

More New Year’s Resolutions Ideas:

Why You Should Add Disaster Preparedness To Your New Year’s Resolutions

Five Reasons To Start A Garden This Year 

** Friends, what gardening New Year’s Resolutions do you have this year? **

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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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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Beat The Heat This Summer In Your Garden!

June 15th, 2013

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During the dog days of summer, you and your plants need some extra TLC – particularly when it hits above 100 degrees. It only takes a few hours for the sun’s rays to damage your plants beyond repair while you were splashing around in the pool (not that we blame you!). To make summer gardening beneficial for your plants and more bearable on yourself, here are some quick and easy tips.

Taking note of your plants. When the heat is on, plants will show signs of distress. Look for browning, yellowing and/or wilted leaves with little to no flowering.  They may also feel crisp when touched. If there are already signs of damage, you may be able to save your plants for successful harvesting. Make sure to mulch 3 to 4 inches to help conserve water, and when watering, give your plants a good, deep soak. Mulching also cools the soil temperature by shielding it from direct sunlight. To prevent damage, read further.

Watering. Depending on what region you live in, you may be experiencing drought. If so, and if you are dealing with water restrictions, you will need to be thoughtful with the day(s) and time(s) you water. If you can, water your plants deeply when it’s cooler in the early morning or evening. If you have drip irrigation, great! If not, you may want to invest in soaker hoses. If you’re fortunate to get a summer monsoon season, a water harvesting barrel is a great way to water your vegetables and reduce your water bills.

Feeding your plants. Many plants may hold back fruit in the hot weather, making it important that you continue to encourage fruit by providing nutrients. One easy way to do this is by side-dressing your plants with compost. Making your own compost is easy (see tips here), plus it makes a rockin’ natural fertilizer for your garden. Limiting weeds can also reduce competition for nutrients and water with your plants – pesky little things aren’t they? If it’s too hot to go weed pullin’ – you may want to try in the evening.

Shade. If your plants are showing signs of heat stress, you should provide them with shade during the hottest part of the day, generally between 11am and 3pm. You can purchase shading material at your local garden center or you can construct a shade barrier using old bed sheets and poles. Summerweight garden fabric is also a nice investment; it can shield plants from damaging rays, and protect crops from birds, insects and other nuisances. Lattices and old screens also work well to shade vulnerable plants.

Keeping your cool. Summer’s heat can be brutal and dangerous to the gardener as well, so it’s important that you protect yourself when in your garden. Using sun block and wearing a wide brimmed hat, loose fitting pants and a light-colored long-sleeved shirt or tee shirt will help reduce skin damage due to the sun’s powerful rays. Wetting or freezing a collar or a towel can also keep you feeling fresh. Furthermore – make sure to have plenty of water within reach while you work!

Best of luck this summer! What are your favorite ways to beat the summer heat within your garden? Do tell…

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Saving Heirloom Seeds 101

May 9th, 2013

winebox

For many, preserving an heirloom seed in its original genetic makeup is important.

Why?

When we think of the word “extinction,” a head of lettuce normally doesn’t pop up in our minds. It’s also obvious that our grocery stores aren’t full of endangered fruits and vegetables either. But think about the prize-winning heirloom beets you boasted last spring, or your grandfather’s special heirloom tomatoes you remember eating every summer. If these heirloom seeds are not saved, the legacy of these plants will eventually die out.

Furthermore, preserving heirlooms creates diversity, making some gardeners feel it’s their responsibly to save these seeds so that genetic variation doesn’t become extinct. If you decide to save your heirloom seeds this year, there are some important ideas to learn and put into practice to ensure success.

How To Preserve The Genetic Makeup

Ensuring an heirloom variety doesn’t accidently change its genetic makeup is a top priority. Luckily, there are some simple practices that can help limit genetic loss. One is to ensure heirloom plants do not cross-pollinate with other varieties. The easiest way to avoid this is to separate varieties a fair distance away from one another. It’s a good idea to research each plant to ensure the distance is far enough away. For example, lettuce may only require separating it 25 feet, while some pepper varieties are considered a safe distance when distancing them at least 500 feet.

Other gardeners prefer time isolation, caging, bagging, and even individually hand pollinating - these are all techniques that can help avoid accidental cross-pollination. Keep in mind that while these practices take time and thought, if two varieties cross – their genes are permanently mixed.

How To Harvest Heirloom Seeds

When you’re ready to harvest, specifically select seeds from the plants that grew quickly and with vigor.  A common mistake is to choose seeds randomly, and from mediocre plants. One major rule of thumb? Never save seeds from malformed fruit, or a fruit that has been damaged by insects, mold, or disease. Plants should be strong, healthy and not exposed to stressful conditions when early seed formation begins.

Removing any diseased plants away from potential seed saving plants will increase the viability of the plant and its seed. Diseased plants can also spread pathogens to otherwise healthy plants, and can affect the success of succeeding generations as well. During seed formation, be sure to provide the plant with sufficient moisture at flower time – this will promote pollen development and flower set.

Furthermore, learning how to properly harvest seeds from a variety of plants can ensure you’re getting the most from each plant. We look forward to sharing how to properly clean, dry, and preserve your heirloom seeds in a future post.

Friends, which heirloom varieties are you growing this year?

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