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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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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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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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The Value Of Humble Seed: We ExSeed Expectations!

April 29th, 2014

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Imagine opening one palm full of conventional, store bought seeds, and the other with Humble Seeds. Would you be able to spot the difference? Most probably not. But is investing in Humble Seeds worth it? Absolutely! While your two hands full of seed may look the same, only conventional leaves the buyer with numerous unanswered questions: For starters….

*How long were the seeds in the store for? 

*Were they exposed to the sun, rain and other elements? 

*Were they seeds genetically modified? 

*Or perhaps inoculated with pesticides? 

*What other chemicals were these seeds treated with?

*Is there a possibility that these seeds were hybrid or pollinated in a controlled environment, and are now unable to regenerate a seed for future planting? 

In essence, life is like a package of store bought seeds, you never know what you’re going to get. We soon begin to realize that all seeds are not alike.

The Difference Humble Seed simply doesn’t leave unanswered questions. It’s a relief for so many of us who care about what ends up on our plate. We do this by ensuring all of our seeds are non- GMO and non-hybrid quality. We also feature numerous organic and heirloom varieties in each seed kit. In addition, all of our products are carefully stored within temperature controlled environments prior to being shipped directly to your home or business, ensuring the most reliable seed available with the highest germination rates.

Furthermore, our seed offers…

*Fresher herbs, fruit, and vegetables with more nutritional value than their store-bought counterparts.

*FDA food-safe containers, along with our re-sealable Mylar® bags, keep seeds fresh in between plantings, allowing you to plant now or later.

*Seed without the direct exposure to chemicals 

*An opportunity to save money by purchasing seeds in bulk and growing your own foods.

*More family engagement around a backyard experience, and an opportunity to educate children on the importance of gardening for a sustainable way of living.

*A chance to learn how to garden using organic growing practices. 

*An opportunity to sustain yourself with garden know-how in case future disasters deplete our nation’s food supplies. 

*Open-pollinated seeds, meaning all seeds are pollinated the way nature intended. 

*We offer our seeds in themed, bundled kits. When you purchase a garden kit, you get to choose from a variety of carefully themed packages that are convenient and wonderful for busy lifestyles. Whether you are a spicy food fan and prefer a variety of hot and spicy chilies, want to grow your own herb garden, or you’re someone who desires the freshest and most nutritious vegetables to choose from; Humble Seed has a package that will suit your gardening needs for all growing regions within North America.

Our Full Line of Themed Seed Kits

Uncle Herb’s Favorites

Hot Mama’s Peppers and Chiles

Veggin’ Out

The Producer

Other Popular Items You Might Like

Haven Brand Natural Brew Tea

Humble Seed Garden Planner

We’d love to know: What are reasons you choose Humble Seed over conventional seed?

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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Two Ways To Store A Year Of Fresh Herbs

July 21st, 2013

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If your basil’s tall green leaves are drooping over, and your parsley’s becoming bushy and overcrowding the tomatoes – it may be time to think about storing your favorite herbs long term. Freezing herbs, especially basil, cilantro, chives, dill, parsley, and homemade pesto is a brilliant way to enjoy their fresh flavors all year round (besides, who really gets that excited about dried herbs?  Compared with fresh herbs – there is no contest!).

Our two favorite ways to store herbs are 1) as an ice cube, and 2) as an herb log. Learn the easy processes below, and you too can make summer soups, pastas and sauces full of garden fresh flavor all year round. When you get a chance, don’t forget to check out this post on re-growing chives and celery.

How To Freeze Fresh Herbs

Herb Ice Cube Instructions:

After washing the herbs, place 2-3 individual leaves, or a spoonful of chopped herbs into ice cube trays. Fill the tray half full of water, gently ensuring that the leaves stay down. If a few leaves give you trouble, the next step should alleviate the problem.

Once frozen or mostly frozen, fill the remaining cubes with water, and freeze once more. When completely frozen, place the individual blocks of ice into a zip blog baggie, or a lidded glass container. When ready to use, remove from the freezer and drop the entire ice cube into soups, stews or sauces.

Herb Log Instructions:

Remove the leaflets off of the stem, rinse the leaves, and dry them well. Place the herbs in a freezer bag, and begin compressing and rolling the bag into a log, ensuring the air has escaped. Tie with a rubber band, and freeze. When it’s frozen, remove the herbs at any time and slice as much or little as you need.

Herb harvesting tip: Always harvest the thickest stems first, leaving the thin midsummer stems time to grow stronger and more flavorful.

***Fellow gardeners: Have you tried freezing your herbs as an ice cube or log? What is your favorite way to use frozen herbs and pesto? 

 

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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Turn A Family Dinner Into Baby Food: Summer Squash Soup

July 3rd, 2013

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Move over Gerber, there are some delicious meal options out there that the whole family can enjoy. Here’s the thing: babies can eat real food, and from our experiences, they enjoy it more than what you can find in a jar. Furthermore, if you turn up your nose at bland, over-steamed vegetables, your baby might have the same reaction. Therefore, don’t be afraid to make baby food taste good. Get creative and add fresh cilantro, chopped chives, and dried seasonings to a meal, and serve it to the entire family (just take an additional step to puree or chop into small pieces for your little one).

All over the world, babies are introduced to flavor very early on. In India, curry spices are mixed in with yogurt and rice after 6 months of age. In other parts of Asia, lemongrass, tamarind, and coconut milk are introduced within the first year – and in South American – babies can be seen enjoying food with chili peppers!

A great trick to get the entire family eating one nutritious meal is a creamy, choc-full-of-good-stuff soup. You can make a soup out of just about anything (and we have!). In the summer, seasonal summer squash, carrots and sweet potatoes can turn even a baby who wants to only be fed by a sock puppet (ahem, our baby) into one that grabs the spoon to feed herself. If your baby eats the whole bowl, go ahead and call it a miracle as you ladle another helping for yourself.

Summer Squash Soup With Basil

Serves 4-6

Recommended starting at 8 months of age

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 ¼ pounds yellow squash

2 carrots, thinly sliced

1 sweet potato, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

½ cup julienned basil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Heat oil in a large saucepan, and add the onion and a pinch of salt until it’s translucent. Add the remaining vegetables and vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Bring down to a simmer, and allow the vegetables to soften, partially covered for 20 minutes. Stir in the basil and puree.

Friends, what is your favorite way to turn dinner into baby food? We’d love to hear your recipe ideas and inspiration.

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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Seeds That Can Thrive Anywhere

May 10th, 2013

A common question we hear frequently is, “do your seeds grow well in my growing region/state?” To put it simply, the answer more often than not is “yes.” Our seeds are specifically selected to do well in growing conditions throughout North America under normal growing conditions.

Humble Seed’s premium garden seed kits are intentionally bundled to suit a variety of needs and lifestyles, while our re-sealable Mylar® bags keep seeds fresh in between plantings, allowing you to plant when it’s convenient in your region. Need more proof? Check out these examples below!

Red Saladbowl -Veggin’ Out seed kit

Description: This slow bolting red oak-leaf type of saladbowl is very appealing. Its finely divided leaves that are a rich, deep-red color characterize it. Gardeners enjoy its sweet flavor and the wonderful color that it adds to a variety of salads

Where these seeds grow best: This seed will germinate in a low 40 degrees F soil temperature, making it pretty forgiving to cold weather. They do quite well in a variety of regions across the United States. Red Saladbowls will flourish in most parts of the northeast, west, and Midwest, and in places like New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Illinois, Idaho, Oregon, and more.

Scarlet Nantes CarrotVeggin’ Out seed kit

Description: The Scarlet Nantes has a reputation for abundant production and a consistent quality that offers up crisp texture and sweet flavor. The roots, which average about 6” long, are bright orange and cylindrical to slightly tapered.

Where these seeds grow best: You can start this seed outside 2-4 weeks before an average last frost, and in warm climates with lows above 25 degrees all winter long. This seed can do well in a variety of locations that don’t experience harsh winters – particularly the west coast and southwest (places like California, Oregon, New Mexico, and Arizona), as well as parts of the Midwest and the south (Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, and Georgia – and more).

Washington Cherry TomatoVeggin’ Out seed kit

Description: This organic variety produces tomatoes that are meaty and very flavorful. It is a high yielding plant that produces 1 ¼” red cherry tomatoes that are excellent for appetizers, salads, snacking and more.

Where these seeds grow best: This seed grows best when sown in the spring; after the average last spring frost and when soil temperatures reach 60 degrees. Generally, regions in the south, southwest, and Midwest will offer these types of conditions – whether you’re in California, Arizona, Utah, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina, Missouri or Kansas. They can also be planted in the early fall for a winter harvest if you live in a warm winter/hot summer area.

Superbo BasilUncle Herb’s Favorites seed kit

Description: This Genovese-type of basil provides thick leaves and wonderful flavor. It is great for homemade pesto and complements a variety of foods, including fish, poultry, rice, vegetables and more.

Where these seeds grow best: Basil is loved not only for its abundant flavor, but also for its ability to grow very well in a variety of regions and conditions. This seed does best in the springtime, 1-3 weeks after the average last frost, and when soils are warm. With these requirements in mind, anyone living in California to New Jersey (and in between) can grow basil in their backyard when the weather turns a bit warmer. If your location experiences a harshly cold spring, basil can also be grown indoors near a sunny window.

Yankee Bell Pepper  - Hot Mama’s Peppers and Chiles and Veggin’ Out seed kit

Description: This plant provides wonderful red bells for northern climates. It is a strongly branched plant with good cover, producing 6-10, 3 to 4-lobed, medium-size, green to red fruits. The Yankee is less likely to make too many peppers in the initial crown set, resulting in a higher percentage of thick-walled and smooth fruits. These peppers last well into the sweet red stage.

Where these seeds grow best: Grow these seeds in the springtime, 3-4 weeks after the average last frost date and when soil temperatures are at least 65 -70 degrees. While these peppers prefer warmer climates, they truly do well in a wide range of areas across the United States – particularly the south, southwest, Midwest, and northern regions. What we love about these seeds is how well they will grow in places like Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, but will also do quite well in Arizona and California – and even in Michigan, Wisconsin, and New York.

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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From Garden To Glass: 5 Herbs For Your Cocktail Garden + Book Giveaway

March 27th, 2013

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Spring is upon us, which means gentle, crisp breezes, sun-kissed flowers, and early evenings on the porch are all just around the corner. A Mint Julep or Cucumber Cooler in hand can only make spring that much sweeter, no? If you’re growing herbs in your garden this season, consider adding cocktail ready herbs and citrus to the mix. Imagine a freshly shaken cocktail ready in minutes, and all within reach of your own backyard.

***Would you like to learn more about the plants behind your favorite boozy beverages? Check out our giveaway details below! Entering is as simple as throwing a lime in your favorite margarita.

Basil – If you enjoy adding fresh Basil leaves to your pizzas and pastas, then perhaps adding these fragrant leaves to your cocktail is a logical next step?  Muddled basil leaves  add a nice Italian twist to a traditional martini,  adds flavor to hard lemonades, and compliments most cocktails with a tomato base.

Growing Tip: Basil loves warm weather. Plant this herb when temperatures remain in the 70’s or warmer, and keep these plants well protected from frost.

Cilantro – If you haven’t added fresh sprigs of cilantro to your martini– run, don’t walk! Even Bond would appreciate the invigorating flavors of cilantro the next time you serve up a martini, shaken, and not stirred. Cilantro also adds a zesty flavor to Cucumber Coolers, or try freezing cilantro in ice for a frozen margarita. Get inspired with these flavorful cilantro cocktails ideas over at Organic Authority.

Growing Tip: Cilantro plants do not transfer well, and should be started from seed whenever possible.

Lavender – Cocktails made with sprigs of lavender is the latest chic trend at dinner parties. The fragrant, purple flowers on lavender are perfect for stirring a martini, or adding an intriguing flavor to lemon drinks – like hard lemonades or Lemon Drops.  Are we the only one’s eager to try this lavender infused simple syrup?

Growing tip: Lavender is extremely drought resistant and grows best in well-drained soil and in full sun.

Lime – these flavor packed green fruit are perfect for margaritas, but also taste wonderful squeezed in Bloody Mary’s, or added to many vodka drinks. Plus, the best Cuban Mojito’s are not only made with mint leaves, sugar, and rum – but also a wedge of lime that gets muddled with the other ingredients. Try any one of these 10 Lime Cocktails at your next dinner party.

Growing Tip: This fruit tree prefers to grow in tropical or semitropical climates – however, this plant will also grow in cooler, drier climates with a little extra work.

Mint – On a warm weekend afternoon, adding a cool touch to your favorite hard lemonade recipe, a fresh mojito or mint julep can be very invigorating. Simply adding it as a fragrant garnish to other cocktails just screams, “Spring is here!”

Growing Tip: Grow this herb in a container to keep it from taking over your garden, as this herb is notorious for spreading very quickly.

And if you’re growing sage in your cocktail garden… we love this cocktail  recipe using muddled fresh sage leaves, bourbon, and Benedictine (an herbal liquor). Benedictine and bourbon bring out the flavor of muddled sage, while verjus (a tart unfermented grape juice) adds a bit of acidity.

Sage Advice 

(From Drinks.SeriousEats.com)

7 sage leaves, plus one for garnish
½ oz verjus
dash simple syrup
2 ounces Jim Beam bourbon
½ oz Benedictine
dash bitters
In a cocktail shaker, muddle 7 sage leaves with verjus and simple syrup. Fill with ice, then add Jim Beam, Benedictine, and bitters. Shake well, then strain into an ice-filled glass. Garnish with additional sage leaf.

Giveaway details: The Drunken Botanist, written by Amy Stewart explores the extraordinary, lesser known, and sometimes bizarre plants behind your favorite boozy drinks. This book will not only make you the most interesting guest at the next cocktail party – it’s also packed full of recipes using fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables.

To enter this giveaway: Eager to win this book for free? Leave a comment below, and tell us your favorite fruit, vegetable, and/or herb you enjoy in your cocktails. We will select a winner at random in one week from today (4/3/2013). Good luck!

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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Basil Basics- Great Tips for Growing This Tasty Herb.

October 28th, 2012

 

Basil is an annual-growing herb which is often used in Italian cooking, but it actually originates from India. There are many varieties of basil nowadays – some of them are spicier, others have a lemony or cinnamon flavor. Basil grows easily in sunny and warm weather. The leaves are used for cooking and the flower buds are edible too.

The size of the basil varies – the “sweet basil” can grow up to 6”, but most gardeners can grow it only up to 3”. Some short varieties grow really well in pots. Basil needs a full sun exposure and warm climate in order to grow successfully. From after you plant the seed, allow 60-90 days and you can harvest the basil. Gardeners try to prevent the blooming of the basil as long as possible. This is done by harvesting the top layer of leaves when the plant reaches 6”. Once the plant blooms, it won’t reach that full and bushy state with lots of tasty leaves. When the plant goes to seed after that, the leaves lessen their flavor. You can still cut them, as well as the flowers, and use them in cooking though.

Basil is part of the mint family and it has strongly aromatic leaves. The different types of basil have different flavors. The color of the leaves goes from green to dark purple. Traditionally, basil is planted among tomatoes as they help each other during the growth. Some of the varieties you can grow include: “Genovese” (with large leaves), “Mexican Spice” (with purple flowers and cinnamon scent), “Spicy Clove” (a quick growing type you can grow in a container), “Lemon” (with a lemony tang and small leaves), “Red Rubin” (with great flavor and purple-colored flowers). Since basil loves heat, you should plant it when the day temperatures are higher. Basil also likes rich soil and you shouldn’t keep it dry. Plant the seeds about 10” from each other. Once the plants reach about 6” in height you need to start pinching off their top leaves, so they don’t grow too high with only few leaves. Keep in mind that basil is sensitive to frost and as soon as autumn comes you should be prepared that the plant will go. If you want to extend its season you can cover the plants, but as soon as frost touches the leaves they will turn black.

You could also grow the basil indoors from seed. You will need direct sunlight (perhaps put the pot on the windowsill) and plenty of warmth. Feed the plant monthly, otherwise its leaves will be pale green and you won’t be happy with their flavor when using them for cooking. As it has already been mentioned, basil needs regular harvesting – the tops should be pinched off and this way you can keep the plants to produce leaves for longer. Basil is used in cooking – it adds not only taste, but color too. You can put fresh basil leaves in salads or sandwiches. You could even wrap cheese cubes in basil leaves if you are aiming at preparing a fancy gourmet dish. Don’t forget that you need to treat the basil as you treat your other potted plants – regular care, plant food, water and sunlight. Don’t forget it’s there and you will be able to enjoy the production for a long time to come.

 About the Author:

Nicole really enjoys sharing interesting home organizing and gardening ideas. You can read some of her latest publications at http://www.flowershops.co.uk/.

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How To Freeze Fresh Herbs And Pesto

September 18th, 2012

Many gardeners enjoy the early fall ritual of freezing annual herbs; especially basil, cilantro, chives, dill, parsley, as well as homemade pesto. This easy process requires minimal time and effort, and can make chilly weather soups, stews and sauces full of garden fresh flavor.

While freezing herbs can be done in bulk, the key to freezing pesto is to create serving size portions – perfect for drizzling over pasta or a homemade pizza. Pesto does not preserve well when it is re-heated and re-frozen. Therefore, creating individual portions allows the pesto to taste fresh with each use.

Ready to try?

How To Freeze Fresh Herbs

(Baking Sheet Method)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and carefully spread out the washed and dried herbs. Not allowing them to touch will prevent the herbs from freezing in a large mound. When frozen solid, place the herbs in lidded glass container back in the freezer. Once already frozen, the leaves will not clump together.

(Ice Tray Method)

After washing the herbs, place 2-3 individual leaves, or a spoonful of chopped herbs into ice cube trays. Fill the tray half full of water, gently ensuring that the leaves stay down. If a few leaves give you trouble, the next step should alleviate the problem.

Once frozen or mostly frozen, fill the remaining cubes with water, and freeze once more. When completely frozen, place the individual blocks of ice into a zip blog baggie, or a lidded glass container. When ready to use, remove from the freezer and drop the entire ice cube into soups, stews or sauces.

How To Freeze Fresh Pesto

Make your favorite pesto sauce (our favorite recipe is below), and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon out ¼ cup mounds of pesto onto the baking sheet and place it in the freezer. When they are frozen solid, wrap each portion with plastic wrap, and store them in a lidded glass container in the freezer.

 Fresh Basil-Chive Pesto

Recipe from The Happy Go Lucky Vegan

¼ cup pine nuts (almonds or walnuts will also work)

1-cup basil

2 tbsp chives, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic

½ lemon, squeezed

½ cup olive oil

½ cup water

Sea salt and pepper

Method: Add all ingredients except for the water into a blender or food processor. Slowly add the water to thin out as desired. Add salt and pepper to taste.

**Fellow gardeners: what is your favorite way to use frozen pesto and herbs?

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