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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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10 Tips on How to Make the Most of Your Small Garden Space

July 28th, 2013

container gardening

When it comes to having a garden we don’t all have acres and acres of land to work with. Some of us only have small backyard plots or even smaller patio areas. So how can you still have your dream garden in such a small space? Here are some suggestions to make the most of your small garden space:

  1. Pack it in – One thing that many gardeners overlook is that you can pack plants together without harming your harvest if you do it correctly. Some plants just naturally work well together and can stand close quarters. While carrots can’t be packed too close you can plant them next to lettuce without an issue. Since one produces aboveground and the other below there is little damage done to either of them. As long as they have similar harvest schedules or the harvest does not harm the other plants then you are good to go. The square foot method of gardening is a great example of packing a bunch of plants into a small space. Take a look at your desired garden and see what you can uncover. You can also pack flowers and other ornamental plants close together. Not only does this allow you to grow more but it also makes the plants look fuller and more visually attractive.
  2. Companion planting – Companion planting is a great way to naturally get rid of bugs and other pests while still getting the harvest you need. You can uncover lots of companion plants that grow great together but my personal favorite is corn and bean. You can let the beans grow right up the corn stalk. The beans ward off corn predators and attract beneficial bugs. The corn provides the beans with a living trellis and keeps your beans off the ground and safe. By planting them together you also save valuable space in your garden, even with these two large plants.
  3. High and low – Similarly you can plant high plants with low plants. Plants like lettuce require more shade than cucumber. However if you create a growing screen over the lettuce you can plant both at once and reap twice the crop. Let the cucumber vines grow over the lettuce for shade and use the shady ground beneath the cucumber to harvest lots of lettuce. Flowers can also be grown this way. Tall flowers can help shade smaller and more delicate flowers. Shade loving plants can nestle beneath larger sun loving ones.
  4. Keep it small – Another idea for small garden spaces is to pick small plants. There are dwarf varieties of almost every plant, even trees, that produce great tasting food in large quantities. By keeping your plants on the small side you can pack a lot more into those small spaces and get a great harvest. Bay greens and veggies are always a hit and have a wonderful flavor. Best of all many smaller varieties mature faster and are able to be harvested sooner which means you can get even more out of your garden.
  5. Switch out – Speaking of getting more out of your garden by harvesting earlier, why not time your garden’s harvest and replant. When you pick one item, like carrots, why not replace it with something like lettuce? That way you have a double harvest in the same growing period. You can switch out your harvest schedule to make the most of your planning space. As the seasons change rip up nonproducing plants and replace them with new ones. That way you can have a year round harvest without having to have a huge garden.
  6. Stack it up – Stacking pots is a great way to grow a lot in a small space. Like strawberry pots with multiple holes in different heights you can grow many plants in the same pot without being hampered by the diameter of the top. You can stack smaller pots in a larger one for an adorable and useful container garden.
  7. Container gardens – Speaking of container gardens, you can grow a lot in a container. Even if your open growing space is limited you can expand it with containers. In your home, out on the porch, hanging in baskets or in widow boxes there are a variety of container to fit any garden size. Best of all you can grow year round by bringing your plants indoors during the crisp winter days.
  8. Wall gardens – Another method of container gardening is the wall garden. By mounting your containers on the wall you have a vast amount of space to grow without taking up any square feet. Even an apartment dweller can have a wall garden. You can use pots or even gutters to create a perfect wall garden that can effectively expand your garden area up and up. A repurposed pallet can also be mounted or leaned against the wall for a wall garden. Both beautiful and practical wall gardens are gaining in popularity. Use a fence as well!
  9. Vertical gardens – In a similar vein you can also use walls, fences, trellis, wires, cages or other methods to make your garden grow up instead of over. Veggies like tomatoes take up much less space when caged and trained to grow up instead of out with no loss to the fruit production. Cucumbers can grow along trellises as well as other vines like beans. Even squash can grow up and over instead of spreading out and taking up valuable garden space.
  10. Hydroponic – Last but not least is a great way of getting the most out of your garden space. Hydroponic garden systems make for great and productive gardens even without access to good soil. By enclosing the system there are methods to grow almost any plant without having to add additional water or growing solution. This can be a great way to grow whatever you want right there in your home. Keep in mind that enclosed hydroponic systems must remain enclosed, so no rain should be allowed in the system. A green house or simple clear covering can protect you outdoor plants. If you grow indoors then no covering is needed. I have seen huge cucumber plants grown out of a trash barrel with this system and yards and yards of gourmet lettuce. It is definitely something to consider.

As you can see there are many way that you can make even a small garden into a productive and beautiful space. From using vertical growing methods to companionplanting there are many ways to make the most of your small garden.

About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers- this post was written by Ken Myers. He holds a master’s in business leadership from Upper Iowa University and multiple bachelor degrees from Grand View College.  As president of  morningsidenannies.com, Ken’s focus is helping Houston-based parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife.

 

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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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Grow Up! Tips for Maximizing Your Garden Space

June 11th, 2013

Lattice

Yards come in all shapes and sizes, and even the most gifted gardener may run into the issue of trying to grow plants in an itty-bitty space, only to become frustrated and end up with frustrated plants, as well. If you’ve found that your plants aren’t thriving, don’t dismiss the idea of having a gorgeously blooming yard quite yet. There are ways to please your green friends, even when you don’t have acres of lush land with which to work.

What’s the secret to having more space in which to garden? Extending your yard upward, not outward. If you’ve never considered using a lattice, now might be the time. You’ll be amazed what you’ll come up with (pun intended).

What is lattice?

A lattice, quite simply, is a structure where pieces of material cross over each other in a grid. A lattice can make the garden space you’re working with seem much larger, since it enables your plants to grow up toward the sky.

Different Types of Lattices

There are a few types of lattices, each boasting its own advantages. Before you decide to put one in your garden, take a look at your options.

Plastic or Vinyl

A plastic lattice can be the least expensive option for the gardener, and plastic certainly has its good points. The advantages of using a plastic lattice can include:

  • It is less susceptible to weather elements.
  • Insects are not as drawn to plastic as they may be to natural materials such as wood.
  • It is easy to clean.
  • It will not warp or splinter.

Wrought Iron or Metal

A metal lattice can be copper, iron or a lightweight aluminum. The advantages of selecting a lattice made out of metal can include:

  • It is durable through the years, provided you maintain it.
  • It brings a sophisticated look to the garden.
  • It can hold heavy plants because it’s durable.

Wood

Of course, let’s not forget wood. If you choose a wooden lattice, you’ll have your pick of trees – pine, cedar and redwood, to name a few. Here are the advantages of a wood lattice:

  • It is environmentally friendly.
  • It blends naturally with the beauty of the natural world.
  • It can be painted or decorated easily.
  • It is relatively inexpensive.

Installing a Lattice in the Garden

Once you’ve decided on the type that suits your space the best, it is time to introduce the lattice to your garden. If you chose a lattice made from wood, follow these tips to install it.

  • Measure the space; measure the lattice.
    You’ll need to make sure that your lattice is cut into the size you need. Measure the space first and cut the appropriate amount of lattice. Use a fine tooth saw on a steady surface for cutting the lattice.
  • Create a frame.
    It’s a bit more difficult to get the lattice to attach to the earth, so a frame is helpful in this case. A simple wooden frame that surrounds the garden space should work.
  • Attach the lattice to the frame.
    Use small nails, deck screws or staples to attach the lattice to the frame you’ve created.

Selecting Plants for the Lattice

Now that you have a lattice in your garden, which plants will grow successfully in a vertical direction? Here are a couple suggestions for plants that will beautify your newly decorated space – there are many others, of course! Keep in mind, too, that these plants are also great for picket fences and any other structures around your home.

  • Roses
    There are many different types of roses in the world, so pick your favorites (make sure they’ll grow in your climate) and watch them wind around your new lattice. Roses are cherished for their fragrance – not to mention that they’re a symbol of love.
  • Clematis
    Clematis vines come in many colors. This is a hearty plant in most climates.
  • Wisteria
    Wisteria is known for its small flowers (usually white, blue or pink). Wisteria blooms in the spring and also thrives in many climates.
  • Morning Glory
    Considered one of the easier vines to grow, even for beginners, morning glory will bloom in the morning with large flowers in colors including white, purple and scarlet.

Remember, a lattice can offer privacy and beauty to your yard, as well as creating a more vertical garden space for happier plants. If you’ve been wondering how to make the most of a minuscule yard, letting your plants grow up might be the answer you seek.

 

About the Author:

Chris Long is a store associate at a Chicago-area Home Depot. He frequently writes for the Home Depot website. Chris’ outdoor project interests range from providing homeowners with lattice tips to how to choose the right fencing for your yard.

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IntroducingThe Humble Seed Garden Planner

May 31st, 2013

Garden_Planner_Spring_Web_Large

 

Most gardeners have a favorite gardening tool – one they always keep on hand as they work in the garden. If you already have a favorite, get ready to add one more must-have. Humble Seed is excited to introduce a new product to our market: the Humble Seed Garden Planner! Our planner is perfect for the home and hobby gardener, whether you are very experienced or starting a garden for the very first time.

What makes this garden planner unique?

It will help in any region Frost dates differ from region to region, leaving many gardeners wondering when the best times are to plant in their unique area. Humble Seed’s Garden Planner lists all frost dates in the United States and in Canada – making it a reliable reference for every gardener in North America. The frost chart operates off the local last frost, and shows a time-phased format for gardening events that occur before and after the frost date.

It will save time This chart can save countless hours of scrambling for information on the Internet or in expensive books. It covers everything you need to know for a successful garden – including when to sow, grow and harvest 22 different vegetables all year round. For inexperienced gardeners, this must have planner can make or break your garden. Yet, if you are quite experienced, this planner is a great at a glance reference during those busy times.

It will ensure your garden isn’t exposed to frost We understand how critical knowing the average frost dates are to a home garden. This is precisely why the Humble Seed Garden Planner operates off of the local average frost. A red line represents the frost, and clearly shows a time-phased format for when to plant, grow, and harvest your favorite vegetables. To avoid frost using the Garden Planner, simply slide the red line on the chart based off of where you live. Once it’s in position, each column will feature one week, and will display which vegetables to plant after the danger of the frost has passed. The chart also shows indoor and outdoor planting times based off of spring and fall frost dates.

It has a variety of features This ingenious tool has a variety of features; from showing the critical frost dates in your region, to when to plan your important gardening events. In addition, by pulling the chart open, it reveals the planting depth, distance between rows, and the distance between plants after thinning for 22 different vegetables. Furthermore, by flipping the chart over – gardeners can access fall and spring planting information so that you can enjoy the benefits of a garden all year round.

It’s at the right price With so many useful features; you simply cannot find a comparable gardening tool at this price. At $6.00, this ingenious tool can be shipped to you just in time to start your spring 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.

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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

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image28648335

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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How to Maximize Small Space Gardening for Apartment Renters

March 1st, 2013

Herb Gardening-Pizza-219

“I’d love to have a garden but it’s impossible to do living in a tiny apartment.” If this is what you think, you’re either not trying hard enough or not that interested in gardening, because there are tons of ways to use your green thumb—even for renters. From balcony plants to window boxes to sprouting jars, apartment-dwellers have a wealth of options available to them.

And with the number of urban gardeners on the rise, you can even find lots of store-bought tools and DIY ideas that help you to greenify your space while still keeping your living area clutter-free and maximizing the space. Here are just a few great ways to get the most garden out of a tiny area.

Use the walls. If you don’t want to have plants taking up precious counter space, consider mounting them to a section of your walls that gets a decent amount of sun. You can use manufactured options like FloraFelt to create a true “vertical garden,” or make your own mounting system to show your knack for design and artistry. A simple wood slab with metal brackets attached can be fantastic for sprouting jars, or you can build a shelf, a window box that goes on your wall, or use gutters (yes, that’s right, gutters). Some people have even used old hanging shoe organizers as “pots” for their herbs—not bad if function is more important than aesthetics to you.

Get a pallet, jack. Yes, that was cheesy, but it’s also a great idea. If you stand a pallet up vertically, the open slats are spaced perfectly for you to fit in a bunch of different plants while using very little space. You’ll just need trays that have been cut to fit and plants that are okay with being a little cramped. Oh, and of course the pallet itself but, if you just call around to a few stores close by, you’re bound to find a place that will allow you to take a pallet or two the next time they get a shipment. Some of the surprisingly best options to try are pet stores and paint stores, and you should definitely check out Craigslist, because it’s fairly common for people to list them.

Let it all hang out. The concept of decorating your house with hanging plants isn’t a new one but you can take that a step further by creating a hanging garden. This works fantastically for individually potted plants, especially if you can find a space where they’re able to get a lot of sun. But if you just don’t have room or like the idea of heavy ceramic pots hanging over your head, you can always try your hand at what this crazy guy has discovered and start a string garden. No, those photos aren’t doctored. The plants really are hanging by a string and there’s no pot holding in all that dirt. It’s pretty awesome.

Create tiers. Even for those of you apartment-dwellers lucky enough to have porches or balconies, there’s a good chance that they’re not very big so you still have to be creative with your space. One clever solution is to nest your pots together vertically rather than placing them side by side. This blogger made a gorgeous outdoor herb garden by using different sizes of galvanized steel containers and punching holes in the bottom to let the water drain through. The end result is kind of like a series of Russian nesting dolls (or a snowman), with a giant tub on the bottom, followed by a medium-sized tub centered inside it, and then a small tub centered in that one. Making it tiered gives the plants more space vertically and horizontally since they can spread out above the lower ones. Genius.

About the Author:

Mark Russell writes about apartment living and solutions and creative ideas for living in small spaces.  Mark is a writer for Apartment Guys in Chicago.

 

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Baby It’s Cold Outside: What You Can Grow Indoors

January 5th, 2013

Baby it’s cold outside, but that doesn’t mean you have to deprive your inner gardener of fragrant herbs and fresh vegetables this winter. In well-insulated homes with temperatures kept above 60 degrees F., growing plants indoors can be an ideal environment for both young and mature plants.

Growing Herbs Indoors: Most herbs can grow very well indoors, and require minimal maintenance. Place herbs near a bright window, and ensure they do not come in direct contact with the window. If a sunny window this winter is hard to come by, your next best option is supplementing their sun exposure with grow lights.

The best herbs to grow indoors are perennial and do not require significant sunlight. These include flavorful herbs like chives, marjoram, oregano and rosemary. Herbs like basil, parsley, sage, and thyme grow well indoors, but keep in mind that they require strong sunlight to thrive.

Growing Vegetables Indoors: To successfully grow vegetables indoors, choose small vegetables that do not build lengthy root systems. Delicious varieties of beets, carrots, eggplants, peppers, radishes, and tomatoes all have relatively short root systems and will do well in a container next to a sunny window. Leaf lettuces like Bib and Boston are also quite easy to grow from seed indoors, using a small container.

While your herb garden may not require supplemental light, the shorter and darker days of winter may not provide vegetables with the 6-8 hours of sunlight required to survive. Using fluorescent lights that provides a full UV spectrum or grow lights can make all the difference. Ask your local garden center which lights will work best for your vegetable needs.

Tips For Growing Plants Indoors:

*Keeping a fan nearby can regulate plant temperature, and will help to properly circulate the air to prevent mildew and fungus from forming.

*You may need to water indoor plants a little more often, as winter heaters tend to keep soil pretty dry. Water plants when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch.

*Plants need darkness as well as sunlight in order to survive. Set a timer on your fluorescent lights, and don’t get overly ambitious about providing excessive supplemental sunlight.

*Add a time released fertilizer to plants as needed. Do some research on all of your plants, as different plants require varying amounts of fertilizer. Generally, plants that are growing rapidly will require more fertilizer than plants that are slow growing.

 

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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How To Prep In An Apartment Or Small Living Space

September 25th, 2012

If you’ve ever watched the posted videos from the apartment dwellers who survived the 2011 Fukushima earthquake, you’ll understand the importance of prepping, even when in an apartment. Many of the dwellers had little to no food in their refrigerators (since they ate out much of the time), and found their water contaminated. Limited space in an apartment means you may have to be more selective and creative when prepping for a disaster. But remember, the steps you take now can mean all the difference in a survival situation. Here are a few tips to get your started:

How To Plan An Apartment Garden

Start by saving now for a small garden, and reserve money each week. Use recycled goods to keep costs at a minimum, and begin saving soda bottles, yogurt tubs, food jars, etc., for later use as containers. Garage sales and thrift stores may also have some useful items.

It’s wise to carefully plan out your space, and work with what you have. Most apartments have a balcony or patio – but also consider using the space near a sunny window, or on the rooftop if available. Need some guidance on how to garden in small spaces? Find websites or blogs that detail their successes with container gardening, and take notes on what practices they used. You’ll likely discover small tips, like growing plants vertically which can manage small spaces better, and yield a crop comparable to larger garden spaces.

Invest in seeds that are non-GMO and non-hybrid, and store them in waterproof and rodent proof re-sealable containers. This will ensure long-term food storage, leaving the option of growing seeds now or later.

How To Store Food When Space Is Tight

Getting creative is a must when storing food in an apartment. Consider any unused space as a potential place to store food – under the bed, linen closets, storage lockers, or shelving units can hold dozens of cans and survival items. If you truly have limited space, try living minimally (that is, without unneeded items or furniture that take up space). You may find it challenging to give up some possessions in your home, but remember that it may mean the difference between surviving and thriving if a disaster strikes.

When storing food, remember to:

1)    Keep dry food up high. Keep all dry food up high and away from the ground to prevent water damage or problems resulting from high trafficked areas.

2)    Keep food away from sunlight. Sunlight can destroy the nutrients in food and cause internal temperatures to rise and fall in a container.

3)    Keep food in a cool, dry location. Cool, dry places provide the optimal environment for food to stay well preserved.

How To Plan Emergency Gear In An Apartment

Since space is limited, it can get tricky finding ways to store different kinds of emergency gear. Instead, stick with gear that is necessary and has multiple uses, and check our list below.

A Multi-Tool - a multi-tool can provide a screwdriver, pliers and an assortment of knives all in one.

Can Opener(s)  – food is necessary for survival, store at least two of these.

Portable Water Filter – water must be filtered or boiled if you suspect it’s contaminated.

Solar Charger – small devices can become fully charged even in the absence of power.

Duct tape – with its dozens of uses, duct tape can repair tears, seal up windows, pack up boxes, and more.

Other useful items: flashlights, a weather radio, hiking shoes, USB flash drives, emergency preparedness books, first aid kit, rain gear, lighter or matches, self protection such as pepper spray, and small hygiene items.

To learn more, see our guide to canning, as well as our other emergency preparedness posts:

Canning 101

Five Tips For Prepping

Tips For Sustaining A Survival Garden

Survival Gardening: How To Boost Your Disaster Preparedness 

***Preppers and gardeners:  What are your favorite tips for prepping in a small space? We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

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