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3 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Space

June 5th, 2014

container gardening

If your patio is the size of a postage stamp (been there), then making the most of your space is paramount. Luckily, a small space does not mean you have to give up growing your favorite fruits and vegetables; it just means you have to get a little creative! Hoop houses, vertical, and container gardening are three fantastic ways to manage urban and small spaces.

Hoop Houses – These are miniature, unheated greenhouses made with a series of metal hoops covered in plastic, and set over a raised bed to trap heat. 

     Advantages: This creates a microclimate around your plants, while jump starting and extending the growing season. Hoop houses are a low tech structure to build, and should cost no more than $50 if you want to go simple. This method is especially ideal if daylight length is less than 10 hours with harsh winters – but have little space for a greenhouse. With proper ventilation, hoop houses can be used in the summertime too.

     How To: First, a support structure needs to be built using PVC tubing or standard metal pipes – we’ve even seen it constructed using ocotillo cactus bones. Cut that to the size needed for your garden, and push both ends into the ground in an arc. Once you have this done, cover them with plastic, and presto! Your hoop house is ready to go.

Vertical Gardening – While there are numerous ways to create a vertical garden, there are essentially two types of vertical garden styles: those that grow in soil and those that grow in water. If you’re interested in water-based vertical gardening, our hydroponic Tower Garden posts (including our goals, experiences and photos) is something you may be interested in. Check in with us every month for these posts!

     Advantages: Some of the advantages of all vertical gardening include: plants become less pest and disease prone since plants are away from the ground where pests tend to gravitate. Gardeners also don’t have to be stooped over a garden for hours, as less time is spent  harvesting while leaning over a garden bed. Weeding and tilling become less necessary in some circumstances.  Another fantastic benefit? Typically less water is required for vertical gardening, and your plants will look healthier as oxygen has the opportunity to circulate more evenly. 

     How To: To grow a vertical garden inexpensively, use a chain link fence, trellis, hanging baskets, or a garden lattice. Other effective structures include: nailing decorative cans to a wooden fence, using an old dog kennel or shelving unit, and building your own structure using garden fencing and pipes. Watch to see how the vines and plants grow naturally, and secure the plants with garbage bag twist ties or gardening green tape. Plant the vertical garden next to shade loving plants like herbs, and away from sun-loving plants like vegetables. Did you know that if you hang your plants from baskets or pots, you can actually have the same number of plants as a square foot of garden space?

Container Gardening – Container gardening is another practical way to garden in a small area.  Likewise to vertical gardening, almost anything grown in a regular garden can grow well in a container garden.  

     Advantages: This type of gardening is easy to maintain, and can be done inexpensively. Once you have built your container garden, you may continue using it season after season, and year after year.

     How To: Luckily there are a wide array of containers to choose from that will suit a variety of needs. We find that wood, plastic and strawberry containers are the least expensive, but can easily rot and sustain wear and tear after frequent use. Therefore, if you prefer containers that will withstand the hands of time, then ceramic or metal containers are worth the investment.  Just be sure you drill a few holes at the bottom if they do not already have a drainage system.

***Friends, we’re curious: what are your tips for making the most out of your space??

About Us:

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

 Does starting your first garden seem too overwhelming or you have limited space? Check out this option: The Tower Garden Aeroponic Growing System.

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Indoor Garden- Essentials for Year-Round Edibles

February 2nd, 2014

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

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

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

 

Putting it All Together

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Folks, what successes have you had with indoor gardening?

 

About the Author:

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

 

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5 Easy Tips For Seed Starting Indoors

January 22nd, 2014

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

Here are five tips to get your seed underway.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

About us:

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

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

March 27th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sage Advice 

(From Drinks.SeriousEats.com)

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

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

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

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease.  We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

 

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How to Maximize Small Space Gardening for Apartment Renters

March 1st, 2013

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“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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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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Basil Basics- Great Tips for Growing This Tasty Herb.

October 28th, 2012

 

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

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

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

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

 About the Author:

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

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How To Freeze Fresh Herbs And Pesto

September 18th, 2012

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

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

Ready to try?

How To Freeze Fresh Herbs

(Baking Sheet Method)

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

(Ice Tray Method)

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

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

How To Freeze Fresh Pesto

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

 Fresh Basil-Chive Pesto

Recipe from The Happy Go Lucky Vegan

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

1-cup basil

2 tbsp chives, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic

½ lemon, squeezed

½ cup olive oil

½ cup water

Sea salt and pepper

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

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

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