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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.

 

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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.

 

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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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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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3 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Space

June 5th, 2014

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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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How to Grow Peppers Using Simple Hydroponics

March 18th, 2014

Antohi Romanian

 

For those who aren’t familiar with hydroponics, the method has been around for centuries and the word actually comes from the Greeks and Romans.  Roughly translated it means “working water” but a more practical/modern way to describe hydroponics is gardening without soil. The soil is replaced with an inert medium such as coconut fibers and the plant’s roots are fed directly with a nutrient rich solution.

There are dozens of benefits to hydroponics, but the simple reasons I use hydroponics can be summarized in one sentence.  Hydroponics plants grow faster, in less space, with greater yields all year long.  That’s a pretty great reason, right?

Hydroponics is a very flexible gardening method which can be used inside or outside. As an introduction, I wanted to share a brief guide to growing hot peppers with an indoor hydroponics system.

What you’ll need to get started:

  • Storage tote
  • 2 inch hole saw
  • 2” net pots
  • Clay pellets
  • Rapid Rooter plugs
  • pH Control Kit
  • Hydroponic nutrients
  • Hot pepper seeds – Humble Seed’s Hot Mama’s Peppers and Chiles will give you a nice variety to work with
  • Air stone
  • Air pump
  • Air Tubing
  • Air tube clips

Feel free to improvise your supplies as you can steal a lot of these things from an old fish tank setup!

Step 1: Prepare the grow tray

Arrange the net pots upside down on the lid of the tote.  Leave about 4” between the pots to allow enough growing space for the pepper plants to grow. Draw a line around each pot. Using a 2” hole saw and drill, cut out each circle.  If you don’t have a drill you can use a box cutter and some elbow grease.

Step 2: Prep the reservoir

Fill the storage tote with water.  Leave about 3 inches of headroom at the top.  This will allow the peppers’ roots to touch the water without being flooded.  Add the hydroponic liquid nutrition and pH adjuster. Note: Nutrition and pH kit directions vary by brand but all are very straight forward. 

Step 3: Setting up aeration system

  • Drill a small hole above the water line and thread the air tubing through.
  • Attach the air stone and use the clips to hold the system at the bottom of the reservoir.
  • Attach the check valve and air pump to the other end.

Step 4: Sewing the pepper seeds

  • Soak Rapid Rooter plugs for 30 seconds
  • Place one Rapid Rooter in each pot and place the pots in the pre-drilled holes
  • Put 3 seeds into each plug so you are assured that at least 1 germinates
  • Fill any extra space in the pots with clay pellets but make sure you do not block the hole on the rooter plugs

 

Once you have completed these steps, it’s time to wait and complete some simple weekly maintenance.  You should see the seeds start to sprout in about 7 to 10 days.  Each week you should check water pH, inspect the leaves for healthy growth, and add nutrition supplements as directed. As the pepper plants start producing peppers you will likely need to provide simple trellis support.

I hope this hydroponic introduction and pepper growing tutorial has peaked your interest so you will be incorporating this technique into your gardening this year. 

Readers, have you had success with growing hydroponic peppers? What varieties are your favorites?

 

About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This great content was written by Chris Wimmer. Chris maximizes his 400 square foot downtown Chicago backyard with hydroponics. You can find more hydroponic tips at his hobby blog: healthsmartliving.com/hydroponics/

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The California Drought, Food Prices & How to Prepare

March 2nd, 2014

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You may be clear across the country, and have heard little discussion about the current drought California is facing. Yet there is a good likelihood it can and will affect your food prices. Read on to discover why this is, and how you can prepare for it.

Some background: Much of the drought began in 2013, when the state received well below normal rainfall that year. Coupled with this issue, the neighboring Sierra Nevada region had only 10% of it’s average snowfall in December, leaving the reservoir levels at 30% of normal.  Almost immediately, desperate lawmakers passed mandatory water conservation orders across California to cut water consumption. The situation is serious enough for the Sacramento City Council to pass a water restriction forcing residents and businesses to cut usage by 20% or pay a fine up to $1,000.

To give you an image about the severity of this drought, this is what one blogger found as she drove through the farms of Central California, “…the fields were mostly dormant and being “prepared” for planting, but that did not prepare me for their utter NAKEDNESS. Not only were there no weeds or wild plants (even at the edges) but there were no cover crops, no mulches, no PROTECTION for the soil, either. The soil was dry and barren—a dust bowl just waiting to happen!”

How does the California drought affect your food prices?

For one, California is one of the leading food producers in the nation. With over 80,000 farms and ranches spread across the state, there’s a good chance that some of the food in your refrigerator was grown in California. Even more likely is that your olives, almonds, figs, persimmons, pistachios, prunes, strawberries, walnuts, dates and raisins were grown in the state – since California grows 90-100% of these crops distributed world wide.

Unfortunately, when these big farms aren’t getting the water they need, crops aren’t producing and even more troubling – fruit and nut trees take up to two years to recover. Therefore, families must anticipate two years of nation-wide increased food prices and food shortages. So, this begs the question-What you can do now?

Carolyn Nicolaysen, a disaster preparedness expert suggests families do the following before food prices start rising:

-Plan and plant a garden

-Stock up and store produce that is in season now

-Save and store 100% fruit juices

-Store abundant supply of any fruit or vegetable grown in California or any product using these as an ingredient.

-Store foods that contain any California grown produce as ingredients.

-Can or freeze and store produce grown in your garden (find a mentor to help plant and can if needed, help is out there!)

***Friends, what will you do to prepare for the increase in food prices? 

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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A Guide To Long-Term Seed Storage

February 20th, 2014

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Seeds are living things. For that reason, you have to treat them as such. Just like any living creature – exposure to too much cold, heat, sunlight – even moisture – can kill their essence. In fact, as a general rule, any 1% increase in moisture can mean seed life is cut in half. Knowing more about long term seed storage will ensure their viability when you need them most, and can guarantee a never-ending food supply.

Remember that the only seed that can produce another fertile seed are non-hybrid or open-pollinated seeds, so be sure your pick has these qualities before you start preparing for long-term seed storage.

Why Try Long Term Seed Storage

For one thing, having a continuous supply of fresh produce is one best investments you can make for your health. Additionally, people from all over the country are making efforts to prepare for the worst. Can you blame them? In an unsteady global economy and food market, and considering the impact of natural and man-made disasters – it’s vital to consider your food supply in an emergency situation. You may want to consider, what you would do if our food supply were cut off? Or if the price of food became unaffordable? Stockpiling cans and dried goods can be lifesaving, but what happens if it runs out?

Here’s how to get started for long term seed storage.

The Three Most Effective Ways To Store Seeds Long-Term

Refrigerating Seeds: This method can prolong seed lifespans. Many seed savers simply place seeds in zip block bags with another fabric or brown paper bag over it to prevent light seeping in and penetrating the seeds. Do keep in mind that depending on the availability of refrigeration in an emergency situation, this method isn’t always dependable. Also, refrigeration exposes seeds to some moisture and can decrease viability. If you do have access to a refrigerator, vacuum sealing seeds and refrigerating combined was found to have one highest rates of germination after 12 months.

Vacuum Sealing Seeds: As we mentioned above, moisture is one of leading reasons seeds deteriorate quickly. Vacuum-sealing ensures seed humidity levels are low and can keep seeds dormant for years. While there is an initial investment in purchasing a vacuum seal-packaging machine, the end result is a reliable method to seed storage, even without refrigeration.

Water Proof Storage Containers And Bags:  Traditional seed packets just won’t cut it in terms of long term seed storage. There is too much risk of exposure to sunlight, humidity, and temperature fluctuation. Re-sealable Mylar® bags and other FDA food safe containers that are air-tight and waterproof can be very reliable in terms of seed storage. Because seeds are dormant and you do not want to activate the seed, store seeds in a dark, cool location.

The Problem With Freezing Seeds: While some seed savers swear by seed storage in a freezer, many are on the fence about freezing seeds. The argument: since seeds absorb and expel moisture in the air, there’s a chance a seed’s moisture level will shift. Freezing seeds can even force seeds to expand, causing the fibers to deteriorate. What do you all think about freezing seeds? Have you tried freezing seeds with success?

***Friends, what are your favorite methods for long term seed storage? What have you tried that worked? What didn’t work***

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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Indoor Garden- Essentials for Year-Round Edibles

February 2nd, 2014

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Maintaining a steady stream of vegetables throughout the year can be difficult in some places. Let’s face it, most plants were never built to produce edibles while covered in snow. Although the weather outside may be frightful, your indoor garden can still be delightful. As long as you can provide what they need…let ‘em grow, let ‘em grow, let ‘em grow. Setting all fun aside, you can maintain a good indoor garden that can produce year round edibles. What are the essentials for creating an indoor garden?
1. Temperature Variance - It is important to provide a stable temperature that can allow fruits and vegetables to grow. For most edibles, a temperature between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. This can be harder to maintain in the winter than you may realize, however. Drafts, windows, gaps in the doors and other instances could drop the temperature too low for a plant to flourish. Keep your indoor garden as warm as possible throughout the winter months.

2. Light - While many people believe that only heat lamps and sunlight can be used to grow an effective indoor garden, you should never underestimate the power of a $20 fluorescent ballast and bulb. Although sunlight allows for the production of vitamin D, plants utilize photosynthesis to exist – meaning virtually any light source will do. There have been many gardeners who saved money while providing fruits and vegetables by providing a regular balance of light through CFL and long fluorescent tubes.

3. Containment - You need an area that is not going to be trafficked by people and pets that could ruin a plant or a crop. This is especially difficult if you have cats and dogs. However, you can keep your furry friends out of these indoor gardens by using a cheap roll of screen that you would use on windows and doors. As long as you’re not growing anything of consequential interest such as mint or catnip, your pets are easily deterred by the screen mesh.

 

Putting it All Together

Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a shelving unit with built in lighting, you could spend less than half of the cost and build a unit yourself. It doesn’t take a great deal of engineering skill or electronic nuances to build an effective edible producing garden. Must have indoor gardening supplies, include:

-A shelving unit: These can be as high as $60 or more for large plastic shelves from your local hardware store.

-Fluorescent lights: The long tube ones are better for mounting on the shelves lengthwise. Just make sure the ballasts are shorter than the width of the shelving unit.

-Roll of screen mesh: These rolls are usually quite inexpensive at hardware stores. You’ll want to wrap the screen around the openings, but leave a place where you can enter and water your plants.

-Pots and containers for your plants: These are usually inexpensive, too – especially if you pick them up at yard sales throughout the summer.

-Power strip: You’ll need one of these if you plan on using more than two florescent ballasts.

Of course the screen is not necessary if you don’t have pets or children that can mangle the plants. The creation of this garden unit is simple enough and can provide an endless stream of edibles if you time the plantings correctly. As long as you can simulate the ideal growing environment, any plant can flourish indoors. 

 

Folks, what successes have you had with indoor gardening?

 

About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This great article was contributed by Elizabeth Reed. Elizabeth is a freelance writer and a resident blogger at Live in Nanny. She particularly enjoys writing about parenting, childcare, health and wellness. In addition, she is an expert consultant on issues related to household management and kids.

 

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5 Easy Tips For Seed Starting Indoors

January 22nd, 2014

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

Here are five tips to get your seed underway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About us:

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

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Don’t Fall for the “Fall” Fallacy: Autumn is an Awesome Time to Start a Garden

October 12th, 2013

shutterstock_119313934Have you have always wanted to grow your own garden and vowed that this year was the year, but found yourself so busy all spring and summer that you never quite got around to it? And now that the fall has arrived, you think it’s too late to start planting anything this year?

Good news: it’s never too late in the year to begin an indoor garden and in fact, starting small with a container garden is a great way to get a feel for the planting process before investing time, money and energy in a full-scale in-ground garden.

Alternatively, there are plenty of cool weather options if you want to plant a raised bed garden outside, so don’t think that just because the air is acquiring a chill that you’re completely out of outdoor options.

In fact, the fall actually presents some unique benefits for gardening. For one thing, the cooler weather is easier on the humans and plants, alike. Plus, the ground is still warm enough for roots to establish themselves this year, whereas if you wait until spring, you need to wait until the frost is over and that can be tricky (late frosts, etc.).

Even if your long-term goal is simply to grow items inside, the point is the same: there’s no time like the present to get going on your growing. Here are a few tips you can use in either growing situation, as well as suggestions for various types of fall vegetables that can still take root in your raised bed garden this year and some considerations for your container garden.

First Things First

Initially, you may think that a raised bed garden and a container garden are the same thing. After all, isn’t a container garden just pots of plants that are raised out of the ground? Not exactly.

A raised bed garden uses soil with the addition of compost to grow items and is often more closely associated with in-ground growing. Many times the bed is “raised” in the sense that it is merely built up to the point that it sits just above ground level and is boxed in with some sort of siding, most often a type of lumber. You might also have a raised bed that is perched upon a platform, thereby making it easier for the gardener to tend to the plants without having to bend over or kneel on the ground.

Container gardens, on the other hand, use soilless potting mix that must have a means for sufficient drainage. Although you can use your preference of containers, keep in mind that pottery dries out faster than plastic, so if you love the look of a terracotta pot, you can easily place a plastic tub or bucket inside of the pot, provided they both have drainage holes.

Both options are great for small spaces and tend to look neater than a large, unruly garden, since they reduce weeding. Starting plants from seeds is also an option for both methods.

Additionally, all plants have several basic requirements for survival that don’t depend on their physical planted location:

  • Sun: At least five to six hours of full sunlight every day is necessary for healthy growth.
  • Water: Although each plant has specific preferences where moisture is concerned, they all need it!
  • Food: Nutrients can be added in the form of liquid food or compost.
  • Well-drained soil is crucial to encourage healthy root growth, to prevent root rot and other diseases, and to ensure plants maintain appropriate chemical balances.

Fresh Fall Outdoor Options

If you opt for a raised bed garden, a few options that will survive and even thrive in chillier outdoor weather include:

  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Spinach

Just be sure to cover them with a blanket or utilize winter lights on especially cold nights or if you are getting a late start getting them in the ground.

*Tip: Fall foliage is a fantastic addition to your pile if you create your own compost. The last few lawn mowings of the season contribute to your “greens” and the dried leaves that fall throughout autumn can serve as some of your “browns!”

Herbaceous Harvest

Because indoor container gardens facilitate growth all year long, the fall is a fantastic time to see what seeds you can sprout inside. A collection of culinary herbs might be the perfect place to start, contenders include:

  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Dill
  • Parsley

*Tip: If you opt for a container garden, don’t use dirt you’ve dug up from the ground; even if used solely as a mix-in, outdoor garden dirt can contain parasites and soil-borne diseases which can be deadly to indoor plants. Instead, purchase soil mix or make your own and be sure to add time-released fertilizer.

What are some of your favorite cool weather garden components?

 

About the author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This great content was provided by:

Home Depot store associate in Illinois for over 10 years, Chris Long enjoys giving tips ranging from when to plant or build a raised bed garden to fall lawn care maintenance. Chris is also a regular contributor on outdoor decor and gardening products for Home Depot’s blog

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