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The First-Timer’s Guide to a Successful Garden Layout

July 26th, 2014

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Starting your own vegetable garden is a great way to provide fresh food and health benefits for your family, and what a perk it is knowing it all came from your own backyard. It’s an economical, eco-friendly solution for putting healthy vegetables on your dinner table every day. So as a first-time gardener, your new vegetable garden will take some serious preparation and planning, but the end results will be a thriving garden you’ll enjoy for many years to come.

 

Start Small

As a first-time veggie gardener, we recommend that you start small and plant a garden you can easily manage. Limit the size to 8 feet x 10 feet or smaller just to start. You can always expand your garden later after you gain a little growing experience. When you begin gardening, your hands, knees and back can get a workout, so don’t overdo it with a large garden that you won’t be able to maintain. Raised garden beds can make introductions to edible gardening easier by providing enclosed garden areas with controlled soil and drainage. You can also create higher beds to prevent back problems if you find that this may become an issue. If you don’t really have the spacing to allow these types of garden beds, opting for unique planters for each vegetable or even Tower Garden planters can be a great alternative and in some cases, can add some personality to your backyard or patio.

 

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Select a Location

Choose a location that gets good sun throughout the day, and in cooler northern climates, opt for full sun if possible. Examine the soil to find out if it’s mostly clay, sand or a sandy loam, which is the best type of soil to have as a default before adding other soil nutrients. If your soil is predominantly clay or sand, you’ll need to add a good topsoil or compost for proper pH levels that provide nutrients like nitrogen, potash and potassium that your veggies will need in order to thrive. Add compost in the spring and in the fall for several seasons until your soil becomes richer.

Select Your Veggies

Start with easy to grow veggies that don’t take up much space such as zucchini squash, green beans, radishes, and if your space does in fact permit, various herbs and salad greens. Avoid corn that will overtake your garden quickly. Start tomatoes, peppers and herbs indoors from seed about six to eight weeks before planting time. Plant tender crops like squash, beans, tomatoes and watermelon after all frost danger has passed. When planting, follow the instructions on seed packets for proper spacing, planting depth and recommended soil type and be sure not to over water your plants and allow proper drainage.

 

humbleseed-seedlings

 

Fertilizers

If you’re not growing organically, a 15-15-15 or 20-20-20 fertilizer will provide good nutrients with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium that’s needed for growth. Use a granular fertilizer several days before planting and work it into the topsoil. Use a water soluble fertilizer every two or three weeks after your plants emerge.

 

Pest Control

Watch for insects in your new garden. If you see evidence of crop damage, identify the insect causing damage as soon as possible and choose eco-friendly pest control. Proper spacing, weeding and fertilizing will help prevent disease and insect infestation without having to resort to harmful insecticides.

 

Cricket

 

Folks, what are your tips in starting a successful garden?

 

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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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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Week Four Tower Garden Fun- Team Ann Arbor

June 29th, 2014

Hi Humble Seeders!

Last month we featured a contest in which we gave away a  Tower Garden. We thought it would be exciting to giveaway such a unique and easy-to-use growing system to one lucky person! We also thought it would be interesting to try the Tower Garden out ourselves here in Ann Arbor, we also had San Francisco-based teammate start one as well. We thought it would be interesting to see how the Tower Garden experience may vary with different locations and differing growing techniqes.

In just under an hour our Tower Garden was fully assembled, filled with water and ready for action. We started our very own Humble Seed utilizing the included seed-starting materials and transplanted our seedlings to the tower the first week of June.  Currently, we spend not more than 10 minutes a day to ensure our plants are growing like weeds! It truly is amazing to witness such rapid plant growth! Well, we can say we haven’t had this much fun gardening in quite a long time!

Check out our Tower Garden photos below:

Week 1 -Jun 12, 2014

The Tower Garden Experiment

Week 4- June 29, 2014

Week 4

Here’s what’s going on inside the reservoir:

Week 4 Root System

Roots extending down through the tower to the reservoir tank.

Roots extending down through the tower to the reservoir tank.

We hope to have more exciting updates next weekend and perhaps even some fruit development!

Now, here are a few extra things we  in Ann Arbor are doing that might help you with your Tower Garden.

1. We change out the water in the reservoir every 7-10 days to ensure there is no waste or toxic build-up in the tank. And, to make things easy, we invested in this hose filter that  removes or greatly reduces thousands of common water contaminants and hazards along with 90-percent of chlorine and 98-percent of dissolved metals. In between reservoir turn-overs, we top the tank off daily with water from our hose (we find that about 2.5 gallons of water evaporates daily).

2. Along with the recommended addition of the Tower Garden Mineral supplements (Nitrogen, Calcium, Iron, Phosphate,Soluble Potash, Magnesium, Sulfur, Boron, Copper, Manganese, Molybdenum, and Zinc), we add our own super charged growing juice consisting of 76 trace organically-bound earth minerals. We steep Bloomin Minerals in a food safe- 5 gallon bucket and add this nutrient dense water to the reservoir after every turn-over.

3. By adding these minerals we are raising the Brix level of our plants and ultimately our food.  Not only are we ensuring we are growing nutritionally-dense foods packed with minerals, we are also deterring insects.  Bugs don’t like the taste of high Brix plants. Insects generally target weaker, unhealthy plants. We haven’t seen any bugs messing with our Humble Seed plants!

4. We choose to also invest in a electronic Ph tester for ease and accuracy. We strive to maintain the Ph level around 5.5. It takes a little bit of time after you do a full reservoir change out to get your Ph stabilized but after that its very low maintenance.

5. We tested out some expensive boutique seed along with an eggplant seedling from large gardening chain store to see how they fare against our seed. Well, the eggplant seedling is on life support and the paper pack strawberry seeds were D.O.A. And, as you can see our Humble Seed plants are doing what they do best-GROW!  (Did you know we have some of the highest germination rates out of all the seed companies?)

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Store-bought eggplant seedling was immediately decimated. Could be due to lack of minerals…. Plant was pruned back and is currently doing much better!

6. We rotate our Tower Garden daily to ensure sun exposure is being distributively evenly over time to all of our plants. The dolly really makes this a simple task.

7. Oh, this should have been at the beginning but prior to starting our seed we preconditioned the rockwool with a conditioning solution to stablize and adjust the rockwool ph to a most favorable condition. Outside of rockwool, what have you found that works best in hydroponic growing system?

8. We are staggering our lettuces to ensure succession harvesting. Thus, you may notice empty slots that are on reserve for future kale and lettuce seedlings.

9. HUGE tip- We marked our growing slots with a Sharpie and then made note of what seedling we transplanted where.

So, we have been learning a lot the last few weeks about this type of gardening and we really enjoy it. We think the Tower Garden is the ideal system for those who have limited time, space, and perhaps  limited mobility. We are confident that through the course of a growing season or two, the Tower Garden will be very cost effective and paying for itself in no time at all.

 

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 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.

 

 

 

 

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Week 5 Tower Garden Updates-San Francisco Team

June 29th, 2014

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We’re a little over a month into our Tower Garden experience, and we are thrilled by how well our vegetables are taking shape. We transferred our 3 inch tall seedlings into the Tower Garden 2 weeks ago, and they all have almost doubled in size. Our Black Seeded Simpson Leaf Lettuce, Red Saladbowl, Rose Tomatoes, and Tavera Green Beans have the most growth followed by the Yankee Bell Peppers. (Check out our 1st and 2nd photo for comparison). This is our first time gardening in the fog prone Bay Area, as we’re recent transplants from Arizona. We’ve discovered that finding a sunny location for the suggested 5-6 hours is our biggest challenge. After testing out various locations, we settled on a spot that achieves about 4 hours of sunlight a day, and it does appear to be enough.

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We found that filling the reservoir and adding the nutrients took the most time, but is easy to accomplish. The Tower Garden comes with a Tower Tonic Mineral Blend along with a pH tester kit, and pH adjusters to achieve an optimal range of 5.5-6.5. Twice a week we adjust our pH and water levels if we find they are out of range. This normally takes 10-15 minutes.

photo 1

We also rotate our garden a quarter turn each day because of it’s placement next to a wall. We want to achieve optimal plant uniformity. This task requires two people, or one person with serious biceps!

Transferring our seedlings from the rock wool starter cubes to the Tower Garden was very easy. Though, taking the time to care for the tender roots of each seedling is very important. (Below are our photos showing transferring the seedlings out of the cubes and into Tower Garden. The last photo shows the growth 2 weeks later).

A bonus we haven’t mentioned yet is the lovely water trickle sound the Tower Garden makes while on our patio. Our family is constantly commenting that it sounds like we have a garden fountain or babbling brook nearby! I also think it lulls our toddler to sleep on most days. Now that’s priceless.

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**Friends, what are you growing in your garden right now? What else would you like to learn about our Tower Garden experience? 

 

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 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.

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Natural Pest Control That’s Safe For Family And Pets

June 12th, 2014

ladybug

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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3 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Space

June 5th, 2014

container gardening

If your patio is the size of a postage stamp (been there), then making the most of your space is paramount. Luckily, a small space does not mean you have to give up growing your favorite fruits and vegetables; it just means you have to get a little creative! Hoop houses, vertical, and container gardening are three fantastic ways to manage urban and small spaces.

Hoop Houses – These are miniature, unheated greenhouses made with a series of metal hoops covered in plastic, and set over a raised bed to trap heat. 

     Advantages: This creates a microclimate around your plants, while jump starting and extending the growing season. Hoop houses are a low tech structure to build, and should cost no more than $50 if you want to go simple. This method is especially ideal if daylight length is less than 10 hours with harsh winters – but have little space for a greenhouse. With proper ventilation, hoop houses can be used in the summertime too.

     How To: First, a support structure needs to be built using PVC tubing or standard metal pipes – we’ve even seen it constructed using ocotillo cactus bones. Cut that to the size needed for your garden, and push both ends into the ground in an arc. Once you have this done, cover them with plastic, and presto! Your hoop house is ready to go.

Vertical Gardening – While there are numerous ways to create a vertical garden, there are essentially two types of vertical garden styles: those that grow in soil and those that grow in water. If you’re interested in water-based vertical gardening, our hydroponic Tower Garden posts (including our goals, experiences and photos) is something you may be interested in. Check in with us every month for these posts!

     Advantages: Some of the advantages of all vertical gardening include: plants become less pest and disease prone since plants are away from the ground where pests tend to gravitate. Gardeners also don’t have to be stooped over a garden for hours, as less time is spent  harvesting while leaning over a garden bed. Weeding and tilling become less necessary in some circumstances.  Another fantastic benefit? Typically less water is required for vertical gardening, and your plants will look healthier as oxygen has the opportunity to circulate more evenly. 

     How To: To grow a vertical garden inexpensively, use a chain link fence, trellis, hanging baskets, or a garden lattice. Other effective structures include: nailing decorative cans to a wooden fence, using an old dog kennel or shelving unit, and building your own structure using garden fencing and pipes. Watch to see how the vines and plants grow naturally, and secure the plants with garbage bag twist ties or gardening green tape. Plant the vertical garden next to shade loving plants like herbs, and away from sun-loving plants like vegetables. Did you know that if you hang your plants from baskets or pots, you can actually have the same number of plants as a square foot of garden space?

Container Gardening – Container gardening is another practical way to garden in a small area.  Likewise to vertical gardening, almost anything grown in a regular garden can grow well in a container garden.  

     Advantages: This type of gardening is easy to maintain, and can be done inexpensively. Once you have built your container garden, you may continue using it season after season, and year after year.

     How To: Luckily there are a wide array of containers to choose from that will suit a variety of needs. We find that wood, plastic and strawberry containers are the least expensive, but can easily rot and sustain wear and tear after frequent use. Therefore, if you prefer containers that will withstand the hands of time, then ceramic or metal containers are worth the investment.  Just be sure you drill a few holes at the bottom if they do not already have a drainage system.

***Friends, we’re curious: what are your tips for making the most out of your space??

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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Our Tower Garden Growing Plan

June 5th, 2014

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The Humble Seed family couldn’t resist all of the amazing benefits of a Tower Garden, so we got a few of our own! You might have read about the Tower Garden during our giveaway sweepstakes a few weeks ago. It’s truly like a farmer’s market in our backyard – without the weeds, soil, and pests we normally deal with in our traditional garden. We are really looking forward to sharing our Tower Garden experiences with all of you, along with tutorials and what we’re growing.

Our Assembly & Location Experience It took us about 25 minutes to set up the Tower Garden, which was easier than we thought (thanks to the Tower Garden YouTube station we used for guidance).  We live in the Bay Area with lots of foggy days, and a good amount of shade in our backyard, so choosing a location was a little tricker. We found a location that gets between 4-6 hours of sunlight a day, which should work well. It’s also near our kitchen for easy access. Before we dive right into tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, herbs and flowers galore, we decided to create a growing plan to ensure success. Here’s what we have so far…

What We Plan On Growing We are growing a variety of seed from our Veggin’ Out seed kit including: Tavera Green Beans, Rose Tomatoes, Bull’s Blood Beets, De Cicco Broccoli, Simpson Lettuce, Red Salad Bowl Lettuce, Marketmore Cucumbers, and Yankee Bell Peppers. The plan is to place the green beans and tomatoes at the bottom of the Tower Garden with the trellis to help them along, the cucumbers and bell peppers will sit mid range, and leafy greens will go up top. You want to ensure that larger plants (like eggplant) stay at the bottom so that they do not block the sunlight and water from your other vegetables. The end result should look like a pyramid.

Seed Starter Tray Plan Our plan is to take the following steps:

1. Thoroughly wet the seed starter tray and cubes with filtered water for 30 minutes.

2. Fill the cube holes with seed, following the directions on our seed packet. We will lightly fill each hole with vermiculite, and using less vermiculite for smaller seeds like lettuce to keep just enough moisture around the seed.

3. Label all seeds for easy identification. Add a small amount of water to the vermiculite as well as the seeding tray. Set the tray outside in a semi-shaded area because it’s warm outside.

Our Water Plan and Schedule The Tower Garden requires approximately 20 gallons of filtered water for plants to thrive (more on that on another post). We plan on using an All Purpose Garden Hose Filter to fill the reservoir. But if you don’t have a filtration system, you could always fill up a few large water jugs at your local filtered water source. The Tower Garden kit also comes with a Tower Tonic Mineral Blend and a pH tester kit for plants to get an optimal, nutrient rich water source. Very cool. A timer also comes with the Tower Garden, which functions best if watering is on a cycle rather than a continuous flow. Therefore, our plan is to set the timer for 15 minutes on, and 15 minutes off throughout the day and night.

Transplanting Seedlings And Placement Once seedlings are 3 inches tall, we will transplant the rockwool cubes to the Tower Garden, ensuring the base of the cubes are touching the net pot so that they receive adequate water.

Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Maintenance Plan

* Rotate garden 1/4 turn each day to provide equal sunlight for plants (our Tower Garden is placed next to a wall)

* Check water level once a week

* Check pH level twice a week

* Keep shower cap holes clean and free from debris – use a toothpick if needed

* Keep roots away from the pump, trim roots when dangling near reservoir

* Prune and train plants when needed

* Clean the pump filter monthly – follow instructions on manual

***Friends, what aspects of the Tower Garden would you like to learn more about?

 

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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3 Ways to Make Your Garden a Paradise For Wildlife

April 21st, 2014

One of the greatest gifts of our planet is the abundance of life that surrounds us, from the smallest insect to the mighty blue whale. While you’re unlikely to see the latter in your back garden, there are lots of things you can do to make your yard more attractive to our feathered, furry and many-legged friends. Here are the essentials that every nature lover should offer in their garden!

Gimme shelter

Firstly, if you want to attract animals to your garden, you should really offer them somewhere to stay. If you put up a birdhouse in springtime you may see it inhabited by the summer months, and bee houses are a great way to encourage our stripy friends to give your garden some loving. Feeling crafty? Check out this tutorial on how to build your own birdhouse.

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Bird Houses; Image Credit – See-ming Lee

 

However, there are animal shelters that require even less effort. Simply letting a patch of your lawn grow long, and laying some logs in a corner of your yard will attract insects and provide them with a suitable habitat. We can’t think of a better excuse not to rake up those leaves…

 

Dining companions

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Bird Feeding; Image Credit – Marcus Ward

 


As well as a roof over their heads, your feathered and furry friends are going to need some sustenance, so offering a bite to eat will work wonders in attracting them to your garden. Here are a few types of food that will go down a treat in attracting certain birds and animals:

  • Mealworms – house sparrow and shrews
  • Peanuts – great spotted woodpecker and badger
  • Fat balls – blue tit and great tit
  • Niger seed – siskin and goldfinch
  • Sunflower hearts – bullfinch
  • Dog food – hedgehog
  • Root vegetables – deer

Check out some more ideas on suitable foods here.

Bath time!

Installing a pond will wildly expand the range of wildlife you’ll attract. As well as the amphibians and insects who will find the perfect home in its watery depths, and of course the fish you may want to introduce, birds will be able to drink the water and use it to bathe. This is a great tutorial on how to install your own pond.

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Garden Waterfall Pond; image credit- Andrew Rollinger

However, honeybees will also need your help in getting a drink, as bird baths and ponds are too deep for them. A saucer of water with some rocks that the bees can use as a drinking platform should do the trick. Find out more about how to help bees here.

 

About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. Today’s post was contributed by Nick Seaby from the Millrace Garden Centre. Check them out for more garden supplies and advice.

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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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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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