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Basil Basics: Tips For Growing This Tasty Herb

October 17th, 2014

Basil is an annual-growing herb and happens to be one of the world’s healthiest foods. There are many delicious varieties of basil – some are spicier, others have a lemony, cinnamon, or have a peppermint flavor. Basil grows easily in sunny, warm climates – and also quite well indoors next to a sunny window in the fall and in mild winters. The pointed leaves are used for cooking and the flower buds are edible too. Some basil gardeners use their surplus for naturally dying fabric or for children’s crafts (learn how here). If you’re looking for a new way to use basil this fall, check out our Pumpkin Seed Basil Pesto below.

Tips On Growing Basil Outdoors Growing basil outdoors does best in warm spring and summer climates (for growing basil in the fall and winter, see Tips On Growing Indoors below).  Sizes of basil varies – the “sweet basil” can grow up to 6”, but many gardeners like to grow it only up to 3″. Since basil loves heat, you should plant it when the day temperatures are higher. Basil also likes rich, moist soil. Plant the seeds about 10” from each other. Once the plants reach about 6” in height, start pinching off the top layer of leaves to encourage better leaf growth and to prevent the plant from getting “leggy.” Keep in mind that basil is sensitive to frost – as soon as autumn comes, you should bring it indoors before frost touches the leaves and turns them black.

Tips On Growing Basil Indoors This method is best in fall and winter climates, as basil can be kept warm and away from frost while indoors. You will need direct sunlight (a south facing window does best) and provide plenty of warmth by either using a heat mat or by keeping plants near a heater. If you cannot provide at least 6 hours of sunlight next to a window, you might want to consider supplementing with artificial light. Using fluorescent grow lights or specially designed high intensity lights can keep basil lush and delicious all year round. Remember to keep artificial lights at least 5 inches away from the top of your plants. High intensity lights need to be two to four feet away from basil plants to ensure vitality. We also like to keep a fan running 2-4 hours a day (we suggest from the time you get home from work to bedtime) to simulate a natural environment. We find that the air does not get too stagnant and the plant thrives even further.

Tips On Preserving Basil’s Flavor Try to prevent the blooming of the basil plant as long as possible. This is to ensure a full, bushy plant with loads of tasty leaves. To stop the blooming process on your basil plant, harvest the top layer of leaves when the plant reaches 6”.  When the plant eventually goes to seed, you’ll notice the plants bright flavors get a little wah-wah. You can still cut them, as well as the flowers, and use them in cooking if you’d like. To preserve your plant when it’s tastiest, either preserve it in a container with olive oil and salt, or store it in an ice cube or herb log. 

Pumpkin Seed Basil Pesto 

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds or pepitas

1 clove garlic

1 cup fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons parmigiano reggiano

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

Method: Blend all ingredients together in a blender. Add a splash of water if you prefer a smoother texture. Top on pastas and spaghetti squash, drizzle over polenta, and use it as a dip for veggies, bread, and pizza.

***Friends, how is your basil doing this year? We’re curious, what tips would you give to someone who was growing basil for the first time?

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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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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5 Tips To Keeping Your Garden Surviving (And Thriving!) in August

August 5th, 2014

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability. ~Sam Keen

The dog days of summer can be a major stressor on your vegetable garden. To combat the heat, plants actually have the capability to cool off just like we do. They do something called evapotranspiration by shedding water from their surface areas. But when temps hit the triple digits (oh hey, Arizona and Texas), this nifty trick won’t help your plant survive on its own. Here are 5 tips to beat the summer heat and keep your garden surviving (and thriving!).

Keep soil moist and cool Soil can act as a sponge, where water absorbs after first spilling outwards. Therefore, if the soil is not retaining water well, it may be necessary to water lightly twice a day, rather than one long soak. Remember to allow time for the water to dry before the next watering, and try your best not to over water, as this may lead to fungi and other problems that kills plants. 

Inspect plants frequently and know the signs of heat stress Keep an eye out for brown, yellow or white areas on the leaves – which could indicate a form of plant “sunburn.” When this happens, find some shade for the plant immediately (we provided some shady ideas below) If plants droop in the daytime but perk back up in the morning, they are probably doing fine. Plants are wise enough to droop down to avoid over exposure from the sun.   

Regularly clean off containers You know when you’re under a lot of pressure at work or have a million chores to do, and suddenly you catch the flu and you’re out for the count? Plants are very similar. When they are battling stress, they are more susceptible to disease and pests. Cleaning off the containers can prevent disease when you’re plants are weak. To care for terra-cotta plants, bake them in an oven set for 225 degrees F. for one hour. Allow them to return to room temperature before use. 

Use mulch to protect soil and roots Mulch insulates soil, stabilizes temperature, helps reduce erosion, and can suppress weed growth. A variety of organic and non-organic materials can be used as mulch in your garden. In a forest, we see dried leaves and twigs become “mulch,” as it forms around tree trunks, protecting the top soil and roots of each tree.  Many gardeners use the same idea as they mulch in their own garden.  Natural falling leaves, twigs, and pine needles all work well (and come at no cost!).  Yet grass clippings, nut shells, plastic mulch sheets, shredded wood, hay, cardboard, bark, sawdust, crushed rocks and aged compost are also commonly used. 

Control sunlight exposure Strategically plant a garden under trees, near a fence or wherever else may create shade. If it’s too late for all that and your plants are suffering, create shade by using sheets, a tarp or a large backyard umbrella. 

**Folks, what are your tips for keeping your garden cool this summer? 

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

July 26th, 2014

Multi_Frame_Vegetable_Gardening-300x289

 

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.

 

humbleseed-gardenbed (1)

 

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

http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photos-snail-lettuce-leaf-slug-garden-eating-schneckenplage-garden-image32622533

 

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?)

eggplant_towergarden

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.

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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

 

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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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