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What To Plant In October

September 27th, 2013

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Unless you’re living in California and Florida and are essentially free of frost, it’s important to be mindful of your first frost date when it comes to October sowing. Typically, the first frost in most regions will begin at the end of October. This means that it’s a wise idea to start preparing your garden…right now!

If each season you’re feeling stumped on what to plant and when, run (don’t walk!) and check out our Humble Seed Garden Planner. This clever slide chart has a variety of features; including the critical frost dates in your specific region. To make your garden even further fail-proof, the planner also shows planting depth, distance between rows, and the distance between plants after thinning for 22 different popular vegetable varieties.

What To Plant Right Now

Asparagus – These vegetables thrive in areas with winter ground freezes and dry seasons. Essentially if you’re living in anywhere other than Florida and the Gulf Coast, go ahead and plant in October. While it takes some time until harvest, crisp asparagus stems smothered in butter is well worth the wait.

Beets, Turnips and Radishes – Root crops can take a little frost, but be sure to continue protecting them from the extreme cold to extend the season if you plant in October.

Broccoli – This versatile vegetable not only likes cool weather, it tends to taste better when grown in down right chilly weather. Cloth cover these guys on the coldest nights, but don’t fret too much if your region has moderately cold winter weather.

Brussels Sprouts – While  slow growing, Brussels sprouts truly prefer cooler weather and will not give you trouble if you plant in October AND live in the Pacific Northwest (“the fog belt”) where they tend to grow best.

Onions, Scallions, Shallots  – Depending on the variety of Allium, there are quite a few to choose from that will hold up well during frost and can be planted safely in areas with moderate winter climates.

Peas – These little veggies prefer October sowing in cool soil that is not overly fertilized (they tend to reject too much nitrogen). Go ahead and sow in October, and enjoy a variety of winter soups all season.

Winter Lettuce, Swiss Chard, Cabbage, Kale and Spinach – Hardy leafy greens are the soul of winter! Sow a really hardy variety and be mindful to not overwater. Protecting these leafy greens from the cold is essential, so try using fleece covers or winter lights to help provide additional warmth if you plant in October.

Readers, we’d love to ask you: What are you planting in October? 

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 Transition from a Summer to a Fall Vegetable Garden

September 14th, 2013

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Whenever we tell someone that we’re planting a fall organic vegetable garden, we sometimes hear, “Woh! I thought it was too cold to plant.” But there are quite a few vegetables we recommend planting at the end of the summer because they love the cool weather. Be sure to check off your chores, and you’re ready to go for fall!

Chores For Transitioning From a Summer To a Fall Garden

*First look around and see what’s working in your garden and what’s not. Pull out the plants that are no longer producing, and remove any lingering weeds or debris.

*Consider making or buying new tags or markers to label fall crops. We love this crop marker idea if you want to get your children involved!

*Before sowing in particularly hot climates, shade and water the area for a few days to allow the soil to cool down.

*Since the previous plants have used most of the nutrients from the soil, incorporate organic compost and smooth it out well. Adding compost will rejuvenate the soil when planting something new.

*Adding mulch will retain the seed moisture, and helps to prevent the soil from baking at the end of the summer. Straw or hay works well as an insulator, but there really is a variety of mulch options  you can use. If you’re concerned about keeping the straw down, consider using a floating row on top of the mulch.

What To Plant At The End Of Summer

The Brassica family in particular grows very well in cool weather (think broccoli, arugula, cabbage, lettuce, chard, collards, kale, spinach). Mustard greens also tend to be less bitter when grown in cool weather climates. Root crops like parsnips, turnips, beets, and radishes can also do quite well. Most of them can take a little frost – but you can extend the season up to 30 days (give or take depending on mother nature) by using a frost blanket. To learn more, check out our other frost suggestions for keeping your veggies safe. 

Planting Tips

*Count back from frost date but tack on extra time to the calculation. Remember that the days are getting steadily shorter and cooler as fall plants mature. Don’t expect them to produce as fast as in longer and warmer spring time days.

*You generally don’t want to plant a seed more than 3 times the thickness of the seed. Strive to plant the seed two times the thickness; remembering that any deeper can impose stress, making it an issue for the plant to grow above the soil.

*Sow approximately one seed about every two inches. You don’t want to plant too many together, yet being too skimpy can cause problems too! You will be thinning them out later, so make like Goldilocks when sowing seeds. You’ll find your rows will look “just right” after some practice.

*If you’re trying to conserve water, focus watering activities on the most vulnerable plants – along with the oldest trees and shrubs on the property.

**Fellow gardeners, what are you planting for your autumn 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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The Most Frost Tolerant Plants In Your Garden

December 1st, 2012

Don’t wait until after the last frost to plant these vegetables that prefer cooler weather. These plants can take a little frost – and should be planted a month or more before your area’s last average frost. While most vegetables may perform better when started indoors, radishes, turnips, and lettuce germinate and grow rapidly, and are simple to sow directly into the ground. When they are finished growing in the spring, it’s easy to grow warm loving vegetables in their place. Be sure to follow spacing recommendations, and place them in a full sun location during the coolest months.

Broccoli – This nutrient packed plant loves cool weather, and will tolerate a day or two of frost or freezing weather. Plant this vegetable approximately a month prior to your area’s average last frost date. We carry the Di Cicco Italian variety in our Veggin’ Out and The Producer seed kits.

Carrots – These beta-carotene rich vegetables taste sweeter in cooler weather, but can be enjoyed in the spring, summer, and fall. Adding mulch over the roots to keep the soil from freezing can add even more vitality during the winter months. The Scarlet Nantes Carrot, featured in Veggin’ Out and The Producer has a reputation for abundant production.

Chives – These perennial herbs are incredibly weather tolerant, and can be harvested in the spring as leaves appear. Our Purly Chives offer a mild onion flavor, and can found in the Uncle Herb’s Favorites seed kit.

Collards – These hardy greens love cold weather, and can even tolerate a hard freeze. They also fair well in the warmer months, though- keep them out of extremely hot weather.

Lettuce – Green leafy vegetables like lettuce do quite well in cool weather, but need some protection from freezing weather. When gardeners take the time to plant a few seeds every week, a crop can become available on a continuous basis. Red lettuce varieties, like our Red Saladbowl can add beautiful color to your garden.

Peas – These cool season vegetables grow well on a fence or teepee, and under direct sunlight.

Radish – These cool weather-loving vegetables can be harvested as quickly as a month after seeds are planted. You may want to grow these smaller vegetables in containers to save space in your garden.

Spinach – Spinach is loved by gardeners for its low maintenance and cold tolerance. These plants perform better in areas with mild winters, and thrive in the shade during the summer months.

Swiss Chard – Our Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard is one of the most cold tolerant varieties around. This pretty leafy green tastes great raw, sautéed, or added to your favorite soup.

Learn how to protect plants that are not frost tolerant: Protecting Plants From Extreme Cold

**Friends, which frost tolerant plants do you have in your garden right now? How are they doing?

 

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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What To Plant Late Summer For A Fall Harvest

July 24th, 2012

With temperatures steadily rising, and many cities experiencing one of the worst heat waves in decades, it’s hard to imagine that fall is just a few short months away.  If you’re already dreaming of chilly temps and a gorgeous fall harvest, you may want to consider planting now, or in the near future. There are a variety of plants that are adapted to grow well in warm soil, when temperatures increasingly get cooler. Choosing fast maturing plants will also ensure that your bounty can be harvested before the fall frosts become an issue.

What to Plant in the Summer

First, check out the average frost date in your city or town. Places with early starting frosts may not be able to plant their heart’s desire, or perhaps should start planting earlier in the summer time to prevent frost damage. Below is a general guide to what to plant and when:

July: lima beans, eggplant, okra, southern peas, peppers, and tomatoes.

August (these plants have a 60-80 day maturity cycle): snap beans, pole beans, corn, cucumbers, southern peas, peppers, pumpkin, squash, broccoli, cauliflower, collards, onions, and turnips.

September (these plants mature quickly):  beets, cabbage, carrots, endive, escarole, mustard, onions and radish.

Protecting Plants From Mr. Freeze

Plants can grow successfully in the late summer and early fall.  Yet, when those chilly temps begin to drop, frost damage can wreak havoc on vulnerable plants. Most plant damage can be prevented (see our guide to preventing frost damage), but do keep in mind that hardier plants are better adapted to withstand cooler climates. Knowing the frost date in your area can help prepare your garden, and sticking to plants with cold hardiness can better ensure a successful crop.

These hardy plants can withstand a fair amount of frost and continue to grow relatively unharmed: broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, collards, kale, mustard greens, onion, parsley, peas, radish and turnips.  Avoid planting basil, bush beans, and snap peas too late, as these sensitive plants will only disappoint come frost season.

Soil that is too warm can also pose a problem early on. Certain plants are unable or are difficult to germinate in soil over 85 degrees F. In exceptionally warm climates, stay away from planting lettuce, snap peas and spinach until the soil can cool down a bit.

Helpful Tips for Summer Planting

*Pest control can be particularly bewildering in the summer time.  See our guide to treating pest naturally.

*In very warm climates, utilize large plants and trees to provide some shade during peak sunlight hours.

*Do not allow seeds to dry out. Provide at least 1 inch of water, once a week.  This will moisten the soil without overwatering. You may wish to water young seedlings more often.

*Warm, dry soil can form a layer of dry crust around young seedlings, interfering with germination. To prevent this, layer compost, mulch of moist potting soil over the seed row and continue watering to keep the soil moist.

***Friends, what are you planting now for a delicious, fall harvest?

Sources:

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-66.pdf

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/fallgarden.html

http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/horticulture/M1227.html

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Plant the Garden of Your Dreams with a Customized Humble Seed Kit

April 3rd, 2012

Spring is officially in full swing, and many of us are eager to get back into our gardens and harvest the delicious benefits.  Selecting the seed varieties that work best for your own growing conditions, environment and dinner plates is all part of the fun – and can produce very positive results in your garden.  With this in mind, Humble Seed is pleased to offer a popular demanded option to take advantage of: the opportunity to customize your own seed kit! We are thrilled to partner with Very Jane once again to bring gardeners this much requested option for a limited time.  We also look forward to featuring a permanent customized seed kit option in the near future on our own website.  Review the details below so you can begin your seed selecting right away!

How To Customize Your Seed Kit

To get started, simply review the 28 varieties of premium seeds that are offered exclusively for this promotion. Select 10 different seed packs of your choice. Due to inventory demand, we will not be able to fulfill multiple packs of the same seed type within a single order. Each customized seed kit is priced at $32.00, a 20% discount from the retail price ($40.00) and offered exclusively for this promotion! We are offering the following premium seeds for each customized kit:

 

Vegetables:

Scarlet Nantes Carrot

White Bunching Onion Scallion

Crimson Sweet Watermelon

Amazing Cauliflower

Tavera Green Bean (organic)

Red Express Cabbage (organic)

Green Romaine (organic)

Rosa Bianca Eggplant (organic / heirloom)

Washington Cherry tomato (organic)

Rose Tomato (heirloom / organic)

Black Seeded Simpson (heirloom)

Marketmore Cucumber (organic)

DeCicco Broccoli (organic /heirloom)

Peppers:

Yankee Bell Pepper

Antohi Romanian Specialty Frying Pepper (organic)

Padron Pepper (heirloom)

Joe’s Long Cayenne (organic)

Conchos Jalapeno

 Herbs:

Superbo Basil

Purly Chives

Banquet Dill

Bronze and Green Fennel (organic)

Greek Oregano

Cumin

German Winter Thyme

Titan Parsley

Common Sage

Santo Cilantro (coriander)

As always, Humble Seed offers non-GMO and non-hybrid seeds with heirloom and certified organic options at an exceptional value. You can also trust that our premium seeds have one of the highest germination rates when compared with other seed companies, and we ship them directly to you in a re-sealable and airtight Mylar® bag; guaranteed for long-term storage and effective seed saving.  At Humble Seed, you can trust that “ex-seeding expectations” is an affirmation we take seriously.

Click here to start building your seed kit!

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Companion Planting: How To Effectively Play Musical Chairs With Your Garden

October 10th, 2011

Have you had the dilemma in which your pea plant grew remarkably tall with plump pods next to last year’s carrots, but were sulking by the onions the following year? I can tell you it is not the vegetable gods cursing your peas this year.  It has to do with placement.  Companion gardening is strongly recommended as an eco-friendly way to manage your garden.  This is because most of the plants in your garden have substances in their leaves and roots that repel and attract other various types of plants.  We can thank the Iroquois tribe for discovering companion gardening when they noted that three vegetables grew very strongly together. They dubbed them the Three Sisters: corn, beans and squash. Since the discovery, vegetables and plants have been studied to find which plant took from the soil to compliment plants that put nutrients back in.  Companion planting is commonly used on personal gardens, and can greatly enhance your crop as well as aid in naturally deterring insects.

You can find any of these premium vegetables and herb seeds in Veggin’ Out and Uncle Herb’s Favorites!

 

                  Vegetables And Herbs That Grow Well Together                                                     

Vegetable

Friends: Companion Plant

Enemies: Non-Companion Plant

Bull’s Blood Beet Bush beans, cabbage, broccoli, kale, lettuce, onions, garlic Pole beans
Scarlet Nantes Carrot Beans, tomatoes None
Di Cicco Broccoli Beets, celery, dill, Swiss chard, lettuce, spinach, onions, potatoes Pole beans
Washington Cherry Tomatoes Carrots, celery, cucumbers, onions, peppers Corn, potatoes
White Spear Bunching Onion Beets, carrots, Swiss chard, lettuce, pepper All beans and peas               

Herb

Friends: Companion Plant

Effects

Superbo Basil Tomatoes Improves flavor and discourages insects
Bronze and Green Fennel None Most plants dislike it – keep it separate
Common Sage and Greek Oregano Carrots, cabbage, peas, beans Deters some insects
Bouquet Dill Cabbage and carrots Improves growth and health
Titan Parsley Tomatoes, Asparagus Improves growth and health

 

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Kids and Fall Gardening: Make It Fun!

September 14th, 2011

If you’re a fall gardener and you have children, you can provide them with wonderful, educational experiences via your garden and plants. From exploring nature to delving into biology to showing older, budding chefs how to prepare simple dishes with fresh fare from the garden, you can plant nurturing and inquisitive seeds inside your children that can last a lifetime. And with kids getting back to school, it’s also a great way to foster a sense of learning and study.

A fall garden is home to a wonderful variety of bugs that make great biology subjects. When you and your kids come across bugs, you can educate your kids on the roles that each bug plays in the garden. We even have blog posts dedicated to garden heroes and villains (bugs!), including Garden Villain: Itsy Bitsy Spider Mites, Garden Hero: The Green Lacewing, AKA Aphid Lions, Garden Villain: The Leafhopper, and more.

Do you have a child that displays a love for drawing? A fall garden provides the perfect environment for sketching…You never know: you may have a future naturalist or scientist in your family. From plants to insects, sketching has a long history as a means of scientific investigation. Surprise your artistic child with a blank journal and colored pencils for their “field notes,” and then teach them how to observe bugs and plants and jot down notes. From the behaviors of a specific bug to the colors of a Red Express Cabbage as it matures, there are so many sketching opportunities to be found in a fall garden. Another great activity for a budding artist is to have him or her draw a plant as it grows from a seedling to maturity.

If you have a child that loves food and loves to help in the kitchen, a fall garden can be a great source of inspiration and creativity. Teach your future chef how to tell when lettuce, broccoli and other fall garden vegetables are ready for harvesting. When it’s time to make a salad with your home grown foods, walk your child through the salad making process, from harvesting the vegetables right from the garden to cleaning the vegetables to preparing the vegetables for a salad. Talk about our five senses and have your child describe how each one is affected by, say, a head of lettuce. Before you know it, you’ll have your own personal salad maker and a child who is eager to experiment with a variety of healthy tastes and textures.

Kids + Vegetable Gardening + Fun = A Love for the Freshest, Healthiest Foods

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Color Your Plate and Palate with Super Foods

August 2nd, 2011

 

Super foods—some grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, yogurt, and more—offer a great source of antioxidants and essential nutrients. And they’re low in calories, which make them an excellent choice for weight control and weight loss.

Did you know that the colors of fruits and vegetables also put them in their own group of super foods?

Green super foods, such as broccoli, parsley and spinach, contain large amounts of chlorophyll, which is what gives green vegetables their wonderful green coloring. When chlorophyll found in green vegetables is consumed, hemoglobin in blood is increased. Hemoglobin provides more oxygen-rich blood, and oxygen-rich blood helps cells thrive. Green super foods also contain large amounts of easily digestible nutrients, minerals, proteins and vitamins.

Orange fruits and vegetables, such as carrots, mangoes, oranges and pumpkins, are high in beta carotenes. Beta carotenes may help improve immune function and reduce the risk of heart disease. And beta carotenes help strengthen eyesight, the esophagus, the lungs, and the stomach and may help fight cancer in these areas.

Red fruits and vegetables, such as pink grapefruit, red bell peppers, tomatoes and watermelon, offer large amounts of lycopene. Lycopene, a bright red carotenoid pigment and phytochemical, helps protect cells against damaging free radicals. Studies have demonstrated that lycopene may help fight lung and prostate cancers.

In the moments when we’re enjoying a refreshing, tasty slice of watermelon or flavorful, crunchy carrot we don’t always think about the increased health benefits they offer, but they’re there—super benefits from super foods!

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Themed Gardens for Kids: Pizza Anyone?

June 7th, 2011

 

Getting kids interested and involved in gardening is not only a great way to spend quality time together, it’s also a fun, adventurous activity for them, and it’s a great educational experience—you never know, you may have some future plant botanists or horticulturalists in your family!

Make gardening with the kids fun by allowing them to help plan the garden from the start. Incorporate a theme that will really get them excited, such as “Pizza Garden,” “Stir-Fry Garden,” or “Peter Rabbit Garden.”

Decide together what you want to plant and how the plants will be arranged in the garden then get in there and grow your own foods. You can also mark a wall calendar with fun, colorful gardening stickers on the days that you and your kids will be tending to the garden; this will give them something to look forward to, and it’s a great way to incorporate routine and responsibility into their lives.

Help your kids make and decorate some whimsical signs for their garden or let them pick out a few garden accessories to place in their garden.

Pizza Garden

A Pizza Garden is as much fun for the adults as it is for kids. Why? Because who doesn’t like pizza? And this themed garden is shaped like a pizza!

Place a stake in the ground, attach a 3 ½ foot piece of string to the stake then mark off a circle, keeping the string tight. Divide circle into six wedges.

In each wedge, plant classic pizza ingredients: 2 to 3 basil plants, 1 to 2 bell pepper plants, onion, 2 to 3 oregano plants, 2 to 3 parsley plants, and 1 tomato plant. If you plant more, you can always transplant them into another area of your yard.

It just doesn’t get any better than homemade pizza made with fresh herbs and vegetables from your own garden.

Stir-Fry Garden

Stir-fry is one healthy meal, and fresh-from-the-garden vegetables make it simply amazing. This is a great dish for experimenting with your favorite food flavors.

Some classic stir-fry ingredients include: bell peppers, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chives, garlic, green beans, hot peppers, squash, etc.

With stir-frying, foods cook fast so they retain their flavor and texture, and cooking fresh ingredients contain less calories than packaged stir-fry entrées.

Peter Rabbit Garden

Beatrix Potter’s characters are great inspiration for kids to garden, and this theme is a wonderful way to educate kids on nature and animals.

Plant a variety of herbs and vegetables along a border or in raised beds then tuck garden bunny statues in between the plants. Name the statues after The Tale of Peter Rabbit characters: Peter, Flopsy, Mopsy, and/or Cottontail. Even though Mother Rabbit forbade her children to enter Mr. McGregor’s garden, your children’s garden can be a cozy home for their sweet garden statues.

Parsley, sage, thyme, bush beans, cabbage, and carrots are perfect for a Peter Rabbit Garden.

Making fun, meaningful, and long-lasting memories with family is so important, and this is an activity your kids will cherish for their whole life.

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Starting Garden Seeds Indoors

February 10th, 2011

 

For many gardeners, February is the perfect time to start seeds indoors 2-3 months before your average date of final frost. If your region’s average final frost date is the end of March then February is a great time to get started so your seedlings will have a good 6-8 weeks to prepare for their new home in your garden.

Starting seeds indoors is easy, and you do not need expensive supplies to get a head start on spring gardening. Supplies include: containers that are 2-3 wide and 2-3 inches deep, like a plastic 40 count tray; loose textured potting mix that has soil, vermiculite or perlite and sphagnum peat moss; seeds; popsicle sticks, a waterproof pen; clear plastic bags large enough to go around your container(s); a 15-15-15 soluble fertilizer; and snail bait.

Here’s how to sow spring garden seeds (such as broccoli, cabbage, cucumber, eggplant, head lettuce, onion, peppers, squash, and tomatoes) indoors:

1. Fill your container with pre-moistened potting mix then level the soil. To moisten soil, simply put potting mix in a large bag and get it wet until it’s just moist.

2. Sow 1-2 seeds in each tray cell. Gently press the seeds into the soil then add a little bit of soil to the top, to cover seeds.

3. Mark your seedling trays by using your waterproof marker on the popsicle sticks, noting the date you planted and variety of seeds.

4. Place the tray inside of a clear plastic bag then tie it shut. If covering the tray with plastic wrap, you will want to make sure that the plastic does not touch the soil surface. Once covered with plastic you will not need to water the soil until your seeds sprout.

5. Set your seed tray in a spot that is evenly warm, such as the top of your refrigerator if you have the room. Do not place your seed tray in an area that is too drafty or too warm.

6. Once the seeds have sprouted remove the plastic and move the seed tray to a sunny south-facing window. If you do not have a window that provides full sun, you may need to purchase lighting equipment. If the region you live in continues to get very cold at night, you will want to move your seed tray away from the window so that the seedlings do not get too cold.

7. Watering your sprouts is easy. You’ll want to check the soil moisture daily by feeling the soil with your finger. If the soil is dry use a spray bottle that contains room temperature water and mist them with a fine spray.

8. 3-4 weeks after seeds are established, add some complete soluble fertilizer to the water. You’ll only need to fertilize once or twice before planting your seedlings into the garden.

9. After 6-8 weeks, you can start hardening off your seedlings by placing the seed tray outside in full sun for 2-3 hours. Bring the seed tray in after the allotted time. As your seedlings start adjusting to the 2-3 hours in full sun start moving them into the shade too for a few hours before bring the seed tray back indoors. You’ll want to follow this process for about two weeks. After the two week hardening process you can leave your seed tray out all day and night, as long as the temperatures are not freezing. This process, of putting your seed tray outdoors then moving them back indoors allows your seedlings to get used to being outdoors and keeps them from going into shock.

10. Once you’re ready to plant the seedlings in your garden you’ll want to: transplant them in the late afternoon when the sun is low; make sure the seedlings are well watered before planting them in the garden; make sure the garden soil is moist; try not to disturb the root ball when transplanting; water the seedlings once planted, to make sure the soil has settled around the root ball; place snail bait around the seedlings; and keep the seedlings moist for the first 4-5 days after transplanting, to make sure they get established. Once established you can water your seedlings when the soil is slightly dry in between watering.

That’s it! Starting seeds indoors gives you a head start on the spring gardening season and is an activity that provides you with great gardening practice (if you’ve never gardened before) and a wonderful sense of accomplishment. We’re excited for the spring garden season, and we hope you are, too. It’s going to be a great year for healthy, homegrown food!

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