Instant Payday Loan Lender Instant Payday Loan Lender

Tips On Growing And Supporting Washington Cherry Tomatoes

March 14th, 2014

Cherry Tomato

Peak into a few backyards in the summertime, and you may find gorgeous, cherry tomato’s, ripe on the vine and ready for harvest. You can also grow these gorgeous tomato plants too! Here are some tips to get you started:

Some background:

Our Washington Cherry Tomato’s are organic, will grow all season long, yielding 1 ¼” meaty and flavorful fruits.  They are perfect for appetizers, salads, and snacking. We love to roast our tomato’s at 325 degrees F (until softened) with fresh thyme, salt pepper and olive oil.  After roasting, we pair them with crackers, mozzarella cheese, and basil – it’s a real treat! You can find these seeds in our Veggin’ Out and Producer seed kits.

Surprising Health Benefits:

One serving of fresh cherry tomato’s  will provide Lycopene, Vitamins A, C, K, Potassium as well as Folate.  These nutrients will contribute to strong bones, better skin and vision, a healthy immune system, reduce inflammation, and can even fight cancer. Tomato’s are also low in calories and fat, and are naturally cholesterol and saturated fat free. Even we are amazed that something this tasty can do so much good.

Growing Tips

-You will need a tomato cage or other support system to hold the tomato plants upright – we have a few great ideas below.

-If starting inside, begin 6-9 weeks before the average last spring frost. If sowing outside after the last frost, wait until temps are above 60 degrees. Tomato plants also tend to grow very well in warm summer areas.

-Plant at ¼-1/2” depth and space 1”.

-Washington Cherry Tomato’s require full sun, moderate watering, and perform best when soil is 80-85 degrees F.

-A high yielding plant will produce many 1 ¼” meaty, red cherry tomato’s that can be enjoyed right off the vine!

-Harvest when tomato’s are firm and fully colored.

Two New Ways To Support Tomato’s

Traditionally, gardeners use metal cages or stakes to keep their tomato plants upright. Yet, many are now finding that these methods can be unstable, lead to uneven sunlight exposure, or other nuisances.  Now more than ever, gardeners are trying a new method to grow their tomato plants upright: they are bending and tying the tomato plants’ rubbery stems on a flat plane.  Using a flat plane can offer what stakes and cages cannot: more stability, even sunlight exposure, a decreased likelihood of fungal disease, increased air circulation, less drooping, and an easier time spotting pests.

1. An Arbor or Backyard Archway: a unique and beautiful instrument for growing tomato’s, and can provide plenty of support.

How to:  Much like you would use a trellis, plant the tomato’s at the bottom of the arbor. Gradually train your tomato plant to climb the arbor by weaving the stems in and out of the support bars, and tying and twisting the flexible stems up and over the archway. Be sure to prune or tie loose stems that meander away from the arbor. Trellises and lattices can also make gorgeous arbors during the summer growing season.

2. A Wire Fence: These are already commonly available in many backyards. Using it for a tomato plant is a great way to create a “living wall” for you and your neighbors to admire.

How to:  If you already have a wire fence – you’re set! If you’d like, you can reinforce the fence stability further by attaching “hog wire” or “horse corral panels” commonly found at animal feed stores. To get started, plant the tomato’s at the bottom of the wire fence. As the tomato plant grows, the trick is to weave and tie the branches as wide as possible. This will provide stable support, and even sun exposure. Soft ties, hooks and twine can also help to ensure the tomato plant stays securely on the fence. Feel free to prune or redirect plants up and over the fence if they grow too tall.

Other Flat Plane Ideas:

-Grow tomato’s up a nice lattice or trellis.

-Create a “bridge” by leaning two wire mesh panels against one another (wire the top for stability). Grow tomato’s on the top surface of the “bridge.”

-Weave tomato plants up a gazebo or similar structure for a unique look.

***Friends, will you grow tomatoes this season? What are some tips that have proved successful in your garden?

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed. We’re also proud to say we have taken the Safe Seed Pledge!

Be Sociable, Share!

Let’s all give thanks to the parsnip!

November 19th, 2013

Parsnips

Are we the only ones who love root vegetables in the fall? While we all enjoy our standby potatoes and carrots – we are having a love affair with parsnips lately. Who can deny their sweet flavor and versatility? Here are eleven facts we found pretty darn interesting about our beloved Lancer Parsnips (and here’s where to find them).

1. Cultivated in Europe since ancient times and a relative of the carrot, the ivory-colored, fibrous parsnip offers sweet, nutty flavor and celery-like fragrance.

2. It can be harvested through the end of November, and if you wait until after the first frost of the year, you’ll find that they are delightfully sweeter, because cold temperatures turn the parsnip’s starch into sugar.

3. Because parsnips are so fibrous, they’re generally cooked before eating. Parsnips are the sweetest of all the root vegetables and easy to prepare.

4. Parsnips are chocked full of vitamin C, which is essential for building healthy connective tissues, teeth, gums, and the immune system.

5.  The parsnip is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. It is also rich in vitamin K, folate, and manganese.

6. Prior to planting, soak parsnip seeds in water for 24 hours for optimal germination.

7. Starting the parsnip seed outside is recommended. Plant in late spring or early summer about four months before the first frost. Harvest anytime between June and late November.

8. They can be sliced up or left whole when baked or boiled, and mashed with butter and cream. Try slicing parsnips into big chunks and steam like carrots.

9. These root vegetables are a delicious addition to roasts, soups and stews.

10. Flavors that complement this root vegetable include: allspice, brown sugar, chives, cinnamon, ginger, maple syrup, nutmeg, rosemary, and sage, to name a few.

11. Parsnips are especially wonderful when mashed with butter, cream, and spices – feel free to include potatoes in the mash too. This side dish is perfect for pairing with roasted meats:

Mashed Parsnips

(Serves 4)

  • 2 pounds parsnips, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup heavy cream

Place parsnips in a large saucepan then cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt to the water. Bring to a boil, lower heat then simmer for about 12 minutes or until parsnips are very tender. Drain parsnips then place in a food processor. Add butter nutmeg, cream, and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt; Process ingredients until smooth.

 

Roasted Parsnips with Cinnamon & Parsley

10 medium parsnips (appx. 1 – 1.5 lbs)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. coriander

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. sea salt, or more, if desired

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 TBS. chopped fresh parsley

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Peel the parsnips and cut each into 1-inch pieces crosswise, then cut the thicker pieces into halves or quarters to get chunks of roughly equal size. If the core seems pithy or tough, cut it out. You’ll have about 4 cups.

Arrange the parsnips in a single layer in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat evenly. Combine the cumin, coriander, paprika, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl and stir to mix. Sprinkle the spices evenly over the parsnip slices and toss until well coated.

Roast until tender and lightly browned on the edges, appx. 35 to 45 min., stirring once or twice during cooking. Sprinkle with the parsley and lemon juice and toss well. Taste and season if necessary before serving.

 

Readers…we’re curious how your parsnips did this year? What are your favorite ways to use them? 

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.

Be Sociable, Share!

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.

Be Sociable, Share!

Saving Heirloom Seeds 101

May 9th, 2013

winebox

For many, preserving an heirloom seed in its original genetic makeup is important.

Why?

When we think of the word “extinction,” a head of lettuce normally doesn’t pop up in our minds. It’s also obvious that our grocery stores aren’t full of endangered fruits and vegetables either. But think about the prize-winning heirloom beets you boasted last spring, or your grandfather’s special heirloom tomatoes you remember eating every summer. If these heirloom seeds are not saved, the legacy of these plants will eventually die out.

Furthermore, preserving heirlooms creates diversity, making some gardeners feel it’s their responsibly to save these seeds so that genetic variation doesn’t become extinct. If you decide to save your heirloom seeds this year, there are some important ideas to learn and put into practice to ensure success.

How To Preserve The Genetic Makeup

Ensuring an heirloom variety doesn’t accidently change its genetic makeup is a top priority. Luckily, there are some simple practices that can help limit genetic loss. One is to ensure heirloom plants do not cross-pollinate with other varieties. The easiest way to avoid this is to separate varieties a fair distance away from one another. It’s a good idea to research each plant to ensure the distance is far enough away. For example, lettuce may only require separating it 25 feet, while some pepper varieties are considered a safe distance when distancing them at least 500 feet.

Other gardeners prefer time isolation, caging, bagging, and even individually hand pollinating – these are all techniques that can help avoid accidental cross-pollination. Keep in mind that while these practices take time and thought, if two varieties cross – their genes are permanently mixed.

How To Harvest Heirloom Seeds

When you’re ready to harvest, specifically select seeds from the plants that grew quickly and with vigor.  A common mistake is to choose seeds randomly, and from mediocre plants. One major rule of thumb? Never save seeds from malformed fruit, or a fruit that has been damaged by insects, mold, or disease. Plants should be strong, healthy and not exposed to stressful conditions when early seed formation begins.

Removing any diseased plants away from potential seed saving plants will increase the viability of the plant and its seed. Diseased plants can also spread pathogens to otherwise healthy plants, and can affect the success of succeeding generations as well. During seed formation, be sure to provide the plant with sufficient moisture at flower time – this will promote pollen development and flower set.

Furthermore, learning how to properly harvest seeds from a variety of plants can ensure you’re getting the most from each plant. We look forward to sharing how to properly clean, dry, and preserve your heirloom seeds in a future post.

Friends, which heirloom varieties are you growing this year?

Be Sociable, Share!

The Top 10 Health Benefits Of Beets

August 24th, 2012

Beets are easy to love. They are gorgeous in color, and offer a rich, earthy flavor that can’t be replicated. Once you get cooking, one slice down the center allows a beet’s red juices to trickle free, making you wonder if you got lost in some teenage vampire movie. But don’t let that deter you from roasting or juicing them, grating and then throwing them in salad, or even baking them into a gratin.

While at one time beets made “The 11 Best Foods You Are Not Eating List” we’re hoping that beets are making a comeback! There are just too many health benefits one should take advantage of. Read on for 10 reasons beets should make a comeback on your plate.

1. Beets contain a unique combination of antioxidants. They contain essential phytonutrients called betalains. Betalains contain a variety of antioxidants, and give beets their famous red and yellow hue.  These phytonutrients, along with vitamin C and manganese, help to protect against certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, as well as age-related macular degeneration.

2. Beets can lower blood pressure. Research at the American Heart Association found that beets can lower blood pressure and reduce cardiovascular disease. An article published by Hypertension (June 30, 2010) suggests that 8.5 ounces of beet juice can greatly lower systolic blood pressure.

3. Beets keep athletes hydrated. Beet juice contains high levels of potassium, which help to balance electrolytes and regulates the body’s fluids.

4. Beets are a natural anti-inflammatory. Chronic inflammation can lead to heart disease, certain cancers, and other health problems. Fortunately, beets contain high levels of carotenoid phytonutrients and betain (a B-complex vitamin), that help to regulate inflammation. Furthermore, beets also contain choline, an important vitamin in controlling inflammation.

5. Beets detoxify the body. Betalain pigments not only give beets their rich color, but are also important contributors to the body’s detoxification process. Pigments help to neutralize unwanted toxins and make them easier to eliminate in urine. Those that live in big cities or feel they are exposed to above average toxin levels could benefit from adding beets to their diet.

6. Beets contain healthy nitrates. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that there is an important nitrate in beets that helps increase stamina, and reduces the need for oxygen intake.  This combination makes exercise less tiring, and those who took part in the study felt more energized.

7. Beets can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. Many prefer beets that are lightly steamed, boiled, baked or roasted. But just remember that high heat reduces the antioxidant and nutrient content (don’t you hate that?). Fear not – raw beets are also exceptionally flavorful. To attain the most benefits, throw ½ beet down a juicer along with your favorite fruits and vegetables, or grate/slice thinly in a salad.

8. Beets are essential for eye health. They can improve overall eye health, and have even been studied to reduce rates of macular degeneration, which affects a growing number of seniors.

9. Beets can prevent cardiovascular disease. Amrita Ahluwalia, Professor of Vascular Biology at Queen Mary’s William Harvey Research Institute said, “Our research suggests that drinking beet juice, or consuming other nitrate-rich vegetables, might be a simple way to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, and might also be an additional approach that one could take in the modern day battle against rising blood pressure.”

10. Beets can help those with anemia and low-blood hemoglobin. The high iron content in beet juice is easily absorbed in the blood stream, and can also increase blood count and improve circulation.

***Are you growing beets this fall? What are your favorite ways to enjoy beets?

 

Sources:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=49

http://www.prohealth.com//library/showArticle.cfm?libid=7575

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/06/30/the-11-best-foods-you-arent-eating/

http://www.naturalnews.com/029227_beet_juice_blood_pressure.html#ixzz24DsBa5yc

http://www.ageless.co.za/herb-beetroot-juice.htm

Be Sociable, Share!

Two New Ways To Support Tomatoes

July 18th, 2012

Peak into a few backyards in the summertime, and you may find gorgeous, red tomatoes, ripe on the vine and ready for harvest. Traditionally, gardeners use metal cages or stakes to keep their tomato plants upright. Yet, many are now finding that these methods can be unstable, lead to uneven sunlight exposure, or other nuisances.  Now more than ever, gardeners are trying a new method to grow their tomatoes upright: they are bending and tying tomato plants’ rubbery stems on a flat plane.  Using a flat plane can offer what stakes and cages cannot: more stability, even sunlight exposure, a decreased likelihood of fungal disease, increased air circulation, less drooping, and an easier time spotting pests.

Below are two methods for growing and stabilizing tomatoes on a flat plane. You may find that these eye-catching methods are very easy to implement in your own backyard, and we hope they inspire you to think outside the box when it comes to growing food.

An Arbor

An arbor or a backyard archway is a unique and beautiful instrument for growing tomatoes, and can provide plenty of support.

How to:  Much like you would use a trellis, plant the tomatoes at the bottom of the arbor. Gradually train your tomato plant to climb the arbor by weaving the stems in and out of the support bars, and tying and twisting the flexible stems up and over the archway. Be sure to prune or tie loose stems that meander away from the arbor. Trellises and lattices can also make gorgeous arbors during the summer growing season.

A Wire Fence

Wire fences are commonly already available in many backyards. Using it for a tomato plant is a great way to create a “living wall” for you and your neighbors to admire.

How to: If you already have a wire fence – you’re set! If you’d like, you can enforce the fence stability further by attaching “hog wire” or “horse corral panels” commonly found at animal feed stores. To get started, plant the tomatoes at the bottom of the wire fence. As the tomato plant grows, the trick is to weave and tie the branches as wide as possible. This will provide stable support, and even sun exposure. Soft ties, hooks and twine can also help to ensure the plant stays securely on the fence. Feel free to prune or redirect plants up and over the fence if they grow too tall.

Other Flat Plane Ideas:

*Grow tomatoes up a nice lattice or trellis.

*Create a “bridge” by leaning two wire mesh panels against one another (wire the top for stability).   Grow tomatoes on the top surface of the “bridge.”

*Weave tomato plants up a gazebo or similar structure for a unique look.

Be Sociable, Share!

Hot For The Antohi Romanian Specialty Frying Pepper!

March 19th, 2012

Looking to spice up your meals at dinnertime? Consider, for a moment, the Antohi Romanian Specialty Frying Pepper found in The Producer as well as Hot Mama’s Peppers and Chiles. This bright yellow pepper that ripens into a brilliant red will entice your taste buds with its bright, sweet flavor.  It tastes sweetest fried, but can be baked, sautéed or even grilled for full flavor.  If you are new to growing peppers, plan on sowing the seeds indoors in mid to late March.  When spring is in full swing, you’ll find that they will become the coquettes of your garden. While you nurture and dote on them; they will ripen and plump, and undoubtedly bring promise of a flavorful dish!

Contrary to the popular belief, peppers are not annuals. Yet, they can be easy to grow if offered warm temperatures and plenty of sunlight.  These frying peppers also do quite well in drained soils rich in calcium and phosphorus. Be sure to harvest them when they are green or mature, and use gardening scissors so to not damage the plant.  Picking peppers when they are fully mature also encourages new buds to form.

These peppers are exceptionally flavorful when cooked in olive oil, and make a great addition topped on your favorite sandwich, or added to a stir-fry.  The recipe below is fresh and tasty — one bite will have you lingering over the thought of leisurely dining on a Mediterranean coast. The best part?  This sandwich can be ready in 20 minutes. Is it just us, or is it hard not to puff up your chest a bit when making a delicious sandwich using vegetables from your own garden?

Mediterranean-Style Vegetable Sandwich

(Makes 4 Sandwiches)

1 medium sized eggplant, sliced length-wise into ¼ inch thick rounds

1 tomato, sliced into rounds

½ onion, cut into half moon slices

5-6 Antohi Romanian Specialty frying peppers, de-seeded and sliced

8 ounces of Mozzarella cheese, ¼ inch slices (optional)

10-12 basil leaves

4 teaspoons Balsamic vinaigrette

¼ cup olive oil

8 slices of crusty French bread

salt and pepper to taste

Method:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Lay a single layer of the eggplant rounds on a baking tray.  Brush each round with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 20 minutes, flipping them over halfway for even cooking. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet to medium high heat.  Drizzle 2 teaspoons of olive oil in the pan, and add the onion, a pinch of salt, and your frying peppers.  Sauté until tender and fragrant.

Once the eggplant has cooled, layer on the eggplant, onions, peppers, basil and cheese (if using) on a slice of crusty bread.  Drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette and olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

Be Sociable, Share!

The Versatility of Swiss Chard

November 9th, 2011

                                                          The Versatility of Swiss Chard

When we envision Swiss chard, we may associate it with Switzerland.  Instead, we should picture this vitamin rich, green leafy vegetable devoured by those that live in the Mediterranean.  Places like Spain, France, Monaco, Italy and Greece all consider Swiss chard a staple.  And it is no wonder why it is so loved in there region; it is rich in calcium, potassium, vitamins A and C, beta-carotene and carotenoids – a pigment that studies show helps prevent against degenerative eye problems.  This leafy green has also been linked to helping balance blood sugar levels, and those with Alzheimer’s. Looking to include more minerals in your diet? Swiss Chard has a whole host of them, including copper, calcium, sodium, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus.  It is not a mere coincidence that those living in the Mediterranean region are some of the healthiest people in the world! It is clear that this leafy green vegetable is a powerhouse of nutrients just waiting to be served up for a healthy family meal.

When choosing seeds to grow, it is easy to pass up the Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard for a leafy green we are all familiar with leaf lettuces and cabbages.  But we at Humble Seed find Swiss chard to be just as versatile due to its soft leaves and subtle flavor. Many also find it tastes less bitter than Collard, Kale and Mustard greens.  So what are you waiting for? The Producer features Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard, and is just one of our premium seed kits that offer heirloom, certified organic, non-GMO, and non-hybrid seeds to choose from.

Planting Guide

Season: Swiss chard does not grow well in the heat, making it a cool weather vegetable.  Grow these leafy greens at the end of summer, fall and spring.  These plants grow best at temperatures never above 75 degrees F, and not below 32 degrees F. Therefore, avoid winter planting, and cover plants during cold frosts. Also, keep in mind that the maturity rate of the plant ought to be at least 2-3 weeks before the first snow.

Soil: Fertile soils that drain well work best for Swiss chard.  To prepare the soil just prior to planting, add well-composted organic matter, an all purpose fertilizer, and/or a cow manure tea to ensure the soil is nutrient rich.

Placement & Planting: Be sure to find an area exposed to direct sunlight before planting.  For container gardening, plant seed ½ – 1 inch deep in fertile, well-drained soil. When transplanting (plants should have 3-4 true leaves) or growing Swiss chard in a larger garden, plant 6 inches apart, and leave a foot between each row.

Watering: Provide 1 inch of water a week, or 2 inches during warmer days.  If you notice any flowers appearing, this means the plant is getting too hot.  If this occurs, prune the flower stalks to prolong the harvest and provide more water.

Harvesting: When the moment of truth arrives, harvest when leaves are about 5-6 inches in length. Leave 2-3 inches of stalk in the soil, and trim away any unwanted leaves that may be impeding the growth of any new growth. Store the leaves in the refrigerator for as long as 2 weeks.

Recipes:
Looking for some fresh ways to use Swiss chard? Your taste buds will do a happy dance once they taste these recipes!

*The Basics: As Fraulein Maria says in the Sound of Music, “Let’s start from the very beginning, a very good place to start.” With that in mind, the whole Swiss chard plant is edible, and you can enjoy it raw, sautéed, braised, steamed, or in soup. However, many prefer to eat just the tender leaves over the crisp stalk. Therefore, remove the stalk and any ribs if you are looking for less crunch.

Stuffed Shells with Oyster Mushrooms and Swiss Chard
This is an absolutely delicious dish with brain boosting oyster mushrooms and nutrient rich Swiss chard.  Bonus: the calories and fat normally found in stuffed shells do a disappearing act!  View how-to pictures here.  
(Serves 4-5)

3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow onion, diced
8 large oyster mushrooms, chopped
1 bunch of Swiss chard, chopped
1 pinch nutmeg
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt to taste
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/2 large lemon, juiced
1 package pasta shells
1 jar of your favorite tomato sauce
1 large tomato, thinly sliced
1-2 T vegan Parmesan cheese
1-2 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil for cooking

Method:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta shells for approximately 10-15 minutes in boiling water and a little olive oil.  Allow pasta shells to boil until el dente. Drain water and carefully set pasta shells aside. Heat a skillet on medium high heat with olive oil and add onions, garlic, and a pinch of salt.  Once the onions are translucent, add the oyster mushrooms and another pinch of salt.  Allow the oysters to soften (about 4-5 minutes). Stir in the Swiss chard, a pinch of salt, red pepper flakes, and the nutmeg.  Allow mixture to simmer until the chard is wilted (about 5-6 minutes). Stir in pine nuts and lemon juice.

Pour 1/4 of the tomato sauce into the large casserole dish.  Carefully stuff each shell with the vegetable mixture, and set each shell in the dish.  Neatly line up the shells until you have used up the vegetable mixture. Pour the remaining tomato sauce over the shells, and place tomato slices (about 6 needed) on top of the shells.

Lightly place tin foil over the casserole dish, and bake for 20 min.  Once done, take off tin foil, and bake for an additional 5 minutes.  This will give your dish a nice rustic appeal.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley.  Serve immediately.

Swiss Chard Salad With Garlicky Pommes De Terre

(Serves 4 )Take a mini-mental vacation to France and make this delicious and unique salad.  When we visited France, we saw Parisians in cafes just about everywhere devouring this salad.  View how-to pictures here.

Ingredients:
5-6 stalks Swiss chard, de-ribbed and chopped well
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 avocados, sliced
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 Yukon Gold potatoes (or other small potatoes)
5 cloves garlic
4 slices smokey Tempeh bacon
parsley for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
1 baguette, sliced

Miso and Herb Vinaigrette

¼ cup red wine vineger
¼ cup chopped basil
¼ cup fresh parsley
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. mellow white miso paste
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
cracked pepper
salt

Method:
Arrange your Swiss chard, tomatoes and avocados on a plate. Heat a large skillet on medium high and add the olive oil.  Stir in potatoes and season lightly with salt and pepper. Sauté the potatoes for at least 10 – 15 minutes, or until browned and tender. When potatoes are almost finished cooking, add garlic and a touch more olive oil. Sauté the garlic and potatoes for the remaining few minutes.

While potatoes are simmering, make your dressing and brown the tempeh bacon.  For the dressing, whisk together all ingredients in a medium sized bowl.  The end result is purposely a little chunky from the herbs.

Assemble the salad by adding the browned tempeh bacon to the Swiss chard, and pile the potatoes high on top.  Add the freshly chopped parsley, and dressing.  Slice the baguette and offer it on the side of the salad.  The French never go without a side of baguette!

Be Sociable, Share!