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November Zone-By-Zone Garden Checklist

November 9th, 2014

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Is it just us, or is November one of the most beautiful times to be out in the garden? The sizzling summer heat has left, and gardening chores seem less daunting with the prospect of breaking with a sweet treat leftover from Halloween. In most zones, November is an important time to prep your garden for winter, protect tender plants from frost, and start a compost pile. There are additional tasks that coincide with each zone. Find your zone and use the checklist to ensure the winter months are as peaceful as possible. Zone 1 *If you’re still growing, apply mulch to the garden before the ground freezes. *If you’re not growing any cool-weather crops, remove all plant material and dispose it in your compost bin. Remove any lingering debris to ensure disease and pests don’t survive in the winter. Zone 2 *Feed indoor herb gardens sparingly, herbs are sensitive to overfeeding during the winter months. Zone 3 *Frequently check onions, garlic, ginger, and other bulbs for signs of spoiling or softness. *When outdoor power tools sit around all winter, the oil gets sludgy, fuel degrades, and rust builds. Take the time to winterize your outdoor power tools before storing them, and they’ll roar back to life come Spring. *Take special care of your gardening tools before storing them. Clean, sharpen, and repair if needed. Store in a dry location. Zone 4 *If you’re not growing any cool-weather crops, remove all plant material and dispose it in your compost bin. Remove any lingering debris to ensure disease and pests don’t survive in the winter. *If you’re still growing, protect your plants from frost. The best method is to move plants in containers or pots inside before the first frost. However, if plants are rooted in the ground, use row covers, old blankets, sheets and burlap sacks and lightly drape them over your plants in the evening.  Make sure to remove the covers in the morning so that each plant receives plenty of necessary sunlight. *Feed indoor herb gardens sparingly, houseplants are sensitive to overfeeding during the winter months. *Continue your watch on the compost pile, turn and add water at this time. Zone 5 *Harvest remaining yams, carrots, turnips, and beets. *Plant garlic and shallots, make sure to mulch well to protect against frost. *Move herbs indoors and set them at a bright window. Zone 6 *If you’re not growing any cool-weather crops, remove all plant material and dispose it in your compost bin. Remove any lingering debris to ensure disease and pests don’t survive in the winter. *If you haven’t started a compost pile, now is a good time to start one. *Continue thinning your mustard greens, lettuce, cabbage, and spinach. *Rake up fallen leaves and use them along with straw as mulch to protect against frost. *After a frost or two, harvest your kale, mustards, carrots, turnips, and Brussels sprouts to ensure a flavorful taste. Zone 7 *If you’re still growing, protect your plants from frost. The best method is to move plants in containers or pots inside before the first frost. However, if plants are rooted in the ground, use row covers, old blankets, sheets and burlap sacks and lightly drape them over your plants in the evening.  Make sure to remove the covers in the morning so that each plant receives plenty of necessary sunlight. *If you’re not growing any cool-weather crops, remove all plant material and dispose it in your compost bin. Remove any lingering debris to ensure disease and pests don’t survive in the winter. *Rake up fallen leaves and use them along with straw as mulch to protect against frost. *Move herbs indoors and set them at a bright window. Zone 8 *Harvest all of your cold-sensitive vegetables, especially pumpkin, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and winter squash. *If you missed out on a fruit tree last year, now is a good time to plant one. *If you’re still growing, protect your plants from frost. Lightly cover beds, use row covers, old blankets, sheets and burlap sacks and drape them over your plants in the evening.  Make sure to remove the covers in the morning so that each plant receives plenty of necessary sunlight. *Under row covers, plant vegetables that love cool weather (think Brussels sprouts, radishes, mustard greens, broccoli, cilantro, and parsley). *If you want sweet strawberries by spring, start planting now. Zone 9 *Harvest all of your cold-sensitive vegetables, especially pumpkin, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and winter squash. *Plant garlic, shallots, leeks, and fava beans. *If you missed out on a citrus tree last year, now is a good time to plant one. *If you’re still growing, protect your plants from frost. Lightly cover beds, use row covers, old blankets, sheets and burlap sacks and drape them over your plants in the evening.  Make sure to remove the covers in the morning so that each plant receives plenty of necessary sunlight. *Under row covers, plant vegetables that love cool weather (think Brussels sprouts, radishes, mustard greens, broccoli, cilantro, and parsley). *Spread rich compost in garden bed and around citrus trees. Zone 10 *Water is more important factor for you than other zones. Ensure your plants receive at least an inch of water a week either from rainfall or irrigation. *If you’re still growing, protect your plants from frost. Lightly cover beds, use row covers, old blankets, sheets and burlap sacks and drape them over your plants in the evening.  Make sure to remove the covers in the morning so that each plant receives plenty of necessary sunlight. *If a frost is anticipated, soak the ground (not the plants) before covering. *Under row covers, plant vegetables that love cool weather (think Brussels sprouts, radishes, mustard greens, broccoli, cilantro, and parsley). *Harvest all of your cold-sensitive vegetables, especially pumpkin, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and winter squash. Zone 11 *When outdoor power tools sit around all winter, the oil gets sludgy, fuel degrades, and rust builds. Take the time to winterize your outdoor power tools before storing them, and they’ll roar back to life come Spring. *Take special care of your gardening tools before storing them. Clean, sharpen, and repair if needed. Store in a dry location. Friends, which gardening tasks do you have planned this November?  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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Preparing Your Vegetable Garden For Fall

September 14th, 2014

 

Rotate Crops

Right now, before you forget, mark a few days in your calendar to prep your garden for the fall season. Fall is a wonderful time to enjoy seasonal pumpkins, squash, green beans, broccoli and cabbage. A full weekend is all you need to get everything prepped and ready to go. Here’s how we prepare our garden for Fall.

Clean Out The 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. Remove plants that are diseased, old or damaged by pests – they will most likely never produce abundantly again. Weeds also grow rampant in the summer time, and need to be pulled – or made into a snack. Our guide to preventing and removing weeds can help with this endeavor. Leave all frost friendly veggies if the foliage is still healthy and producing. Remember that disease-free plants can be added to the compost bin. If you’re suspicious they have a problem, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Take it from us, you don’t want the same issues coming back to haunt you while you should be festively decorating for Halloween (been there). 

Loosen Up The Soil 

Using a flat shovel, or a digging fork – begin chopping up the bare soil. Flip over the soil using a “thrust-tilt-flip-chop” rhythm. You’ve got this! Now do it one more time (soil is at its best when tilled twice). 

Amend the Soil & Incorporate Organic Compost 

Amending the soil is vital. Your previous plants have stripped it of its rich nutrients. Adding worm castings or an organic fertilizer with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (potash) can enhance any vegetable in your garden. Also, you may want to incorporate organic compost and smooth it out well. Adding compost will rejuvenate the soil and add vital nutrients for your new plants.

Cover Up Your Soil 

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

Think About Sunlight Take note of the position of your garden and the sun. Decide which plants will require full or partial sun, and re-position your garden accordingly. Use large plants (like sunflowers) to protect plants that require more shade. Remember the saying, “The right plant in the right space”

When To Start Seed 

Most seed needs to start before the nights turn cold. If you live in a climate with early frost dates (zones 1-4), your fall vegetable garden should be started mid-summer, between July and August. Even if your daytime temperatures are still in the 80’s and 90’s, evening temps will start to dip and the length of day light will begin to decrease. Therefore, select seed varieties with a small number of days to maturity and get them in the ground on time. 

Plan What You’ll Need For Fall

Consider making or buying new tags or markers to label fall crops (Check out these super adorable DIY markers that kids can help with!).  If you’re thinking about which plants will do well in the Fall, 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 by using a frost blanket. To learn more, check out our other frost suggestions for keeping your veggies safe. 

A Reminder About Frost Damage: To prevent frost damage, the best method is to move plants in containers or pots inside before the first frost. However, if plants are rooted in the ground, use old blankets, sheets and burlap sacks and lightly drape them over your plants in the evening.  Make sure to remove the covers in the morning so that each plant receives plenty of necessary sunlight.  Stones, stakes or bricks can also be used to prevent covers from blowing off.  Avoid using heavy blankets or place wire around the plant to balance the weight and prevent crushing.

***Friends, we’re curious: What are you planting in your garden this fall? 

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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How To Use Essential Oils In Your Garden

August 17th, 2014

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If you’re dealing with unwanted pests in your garden, you’re not alone. There are a variety of natural methods to deter pests and curious animals (see posts here and here), but if you’re looking for a new method – have you considered using essential oils? You may associate essential oils with scented candles and a variety of medicinal and cleaning purposes. Their potent scent however, can be used effectively to deter unwanted garden pests. Some are also powerful antifungals and can stop pathogens from infiltrating a garden. Because pure essential oils are safe to use topically and some internally – there is no worry about dangerous toxins or chemicals. Though, we do recommend thoroughly washing your vegetables with vinegar or castile soap before eating.

Here are answers to some common questions about using essential oils in the garden:

1. Which essential oils have pest deterring properties?

Peppermint: repels aphids, ants, beetles, caterpillars, moths – even mice!

Purification: this is a blend that can deter many flying nuisances, including  flies, fleas, gnats, mosquitoes. Ticks and parasites have also been said to loathe the scent. Purification can also be used to treat fungus and disease on plants.

Cedarwood: discourages snails and slugs.

Lemongrass and citronella can repel a variety of insects.

Thieves, Tea tree oil, and Oregano oil: can treat fungus and disease on plants. Using a combination of these three oils are highly effective and loathed by pests.

 

2. How do I use essential oils in the garden?

Essential oil spray Add 5-6 drops of essential oils to 32 oz spray bottle, and spray on plants to prevent and treat pest issues.

Cotton balls If rodents are your problem, add 3-5 drops to a cotton ball and place in a rodent nest or hole. The scent will cause them to relocate.

Add to water container  Stir in 6 drops of essential oils to 2 gallons of water. Pour into watering can and water as usual.

 

3. What other ways can I use essential oils in the garden?

Some prefer to clean their fruits and vegetables off by using essential oils. A few drops of lemon oil in bowl of water can be used to wash off dirt, chemicals, and potential food borne illness.

***Folks, which essential oils would most benefit your garden at the moment?

 

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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Sustainable Ways to Control Weeds

August 10th, 2014
 DandelionID: 93749 © Patricia Betts | Dreamstime Stock Photos

DandelionID: 93749 © Patricia Betts | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Regardless of how much time you spend gardening, there will always be the odd weed that creeps up and attempts to take over your entire garden. And while gardening is a typically relaxing activity, the appearance of weeds can at times sour the experience. While you may stress over whether your plants will successfully grow this season, weeds almost certainly spoil your gardening fun.

Weeds are all-pervading, with a report titled Principles of Sustainable Weed Management in Organic Cropping Systems stating that, “Weeds are the most costly category of agricultural pests, causing more yield losses and added labor costs than either insect pests or crop disease.”[1] And farmers are not alone in their weed-based frustrations. In fact, a paper authored by the WSSA (Weed Science Society of America) entitled Scientists Pursue New Sustainable Alternatives for Weed Control in Organic Production Systems stated that weeds are “the most critical problem facing today’s organic grower… They rob fields of moisture, compete with crops for nutrients, reduce yields and drive up costs.”[2]

But what does this mean for the humble gardener who doesn’t have the financial backing required to research and manufacture their own scientific remedies? How can you combat the dreaded weeds that slink into your garden without resorting to chemical products? For gardeners who are interested in learning sustainable techniques to eradicate the weeds, here are a few methods that do not include the use of chemical herbicide products.

 

Timing – As with most things in life, timing is everything. Whenever possible, inspect your garden and ensure that new weeds have not sprouted up. Early prevention is the key, and removing smaller “infant” weeds that have only just sprouted is much easier than trying to eradicate a whole garden’s worth of waist-height weeds!

 

Pouring – If you want to curb the increase of weeds but without using harmful chemicals, one of the easiest (and least expensive) ways is to simply pour certain things over infected weedy areas. For example, a well-known technique is to repeatedly pour boiling water until the weeds decide to retreat. Another idea is to pour a soapy brew made from five tablespoons of mild dish-washing liquid with two cups of water over the weeds. An additional homemade concoction involves adding an ounce of alcohol to some water and pouring it over Mr. and Mrs. Weed, or instead dispensing everyday household white vinegar on them.

 

Pulling – Obviously, a solid yank to uproot weeds from the root is an easy method, but remember to wear thick gardening gloves. If they are particularly defiant or unintentionally break off in your hand, a quick fix is to rapidly jab a screwdriver into the ground around the roots, so you can loosen up the surrounding soil and fast-track each weed’s removal. You can also relax the soil with a diamond hoe, or pour a smattering of water on the soil before wiggling the weeds and wrenching them out.

 

Sprinkling – Rock salt is a natural barrier for weeds, which means that sprinkling a little of it around your lawn borders will prevent new weeds from emerging (although bear in mind that it will also stop any other plants from growing too). Corn gluten is also an effective weed suppressant, and is available in numerous different forms, including powder, pellets and granules. Commercially available organic herbicide products that feature natural fatty acid and citric acid ingredients are also a helpful resource.

 

 Suffocating – Since weeds require sunshine to flourish, wipe out existing weeds (as well as stopping new ones from growing) by taking away their natural source of sunlight. Add a three-inch thick layer of mulch to keep pesky weeds from sprouting. You can also smother persistent weedy areas with heavy carpet off-cut remnants or large scraps of old newspapers.

 

Folks, how do you keep weeds from ruining your gardening spaces?

 

About the Author:

This great content was provided by Pestmaster.com which provides expert residential and commercial landscape pest treatment services. If you would like more information, please visit them online at Pestmaster Services today!

 

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.

 

 

 

article sources:

[1] http://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/1-Schonbeck-Principles-of-Sustainable-Weed-Management-in-Organic-Cropping-Systems.pdf

[2] http://wric.ucdavis.edu/archived_news/2010_October%20WSSA-ORGANIC-WEED-CONTROL.pdf

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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

winebox

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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