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Week Four Tower Garden Fun- Team Ann Arbor

June 29th, 2014

Hi Humble Seeders!

Last month we featured a contest in which we gave away a  Tower Garden. We thought it would be exciting to giveaway such a unique and easy-to-use growing system to one lucky person! We also thought it would be interesting to try the Tower Garden out ourselves here in Ann Arbor, we also had San Francisco-based teammate start one as well. We thought it would be interesting to see how the Tower Garden experience may vary with different locations and differing growing techniqes.

In just under an hour our Tower Garden was fully assembled, filled with water and ready for action. We started our very own Humble Seed utilizing the included seed-starting materials and transplanted our seedlings to the tower the first week of June.  Currently, we spend not more than 10 minutes a day to ensure our plants are growing like weeds! It truly is amazing to witness such rapid plant growth! Well, we can say we haven’t had this much fun gardening in quite a long time!

Check out our Tower Garden photos below:

Week 1 -Jun 12, 2014

The Tower Garden Experiment

Week 4- June 29, 2014

Week 4

Here’s what’s going on inside the reservoir:

Week 4 Root System

Roots extending down through the tower to the reservoir tank.

Roots extending down through the tower to the reservoir tank.

We hope to have more exciting updates next weekend and perhaps even some fruit development!

Now, here are a few extra things we  in Ann Arbor are doing that might help you with your Tower Garden.

1. We change out the water in the reservoir every 7-10 days to ensure there is no waste or toxic build-up in the tank. And, to make things easy, we invested in this hose filter that  removes or greatly reduces thousands of common water contaminants and hazards along with 90-percent of chlorine and 98-percent of dissolved metals. In between reservoir turn-overs, we top the tank off daily with water from our hose (we find that about 2.5 gallons of water evaporates daily).

2. Along with the recommended addition of the Tower Garden Mineral supplements (Nitrogen, Calcium, Iron, Phosphate,Soluble Potash, Magnesium, Sulfur, Boron, Copper, Manganese, Molybdenum, and Zinc), we add our own super charged growing juice consisting of 76 trace organically-bound earth minerals. We steep Bloomin Minerals in a food safe- 5 gallon bucket and add this nutrient dense water to the reservoir after every turn-over.

3. By adding these minerals we are raising the Brix level of our plants and ultimately our food.  Not only are we ensuring we are growing nutritionally-dense foods packed with minerals, we are also deterring insects.  Bugs don’t like the taste of high Brix plants. Insects generally target weaker, unhealthy plants. We haven’t seen any bugs messing with our Humble Seed plants!

4. We choose to also invest in a electronic Ph tester for ease and accuracy. We strive to maintain the Ph level around 5.5. It takes a little bit of time after you do a full reservoir change out to get your Ph stabilized but after that its very low maintenance.

5. We tested out some expensive boutique seed along with an eggplant seedling from large gardening chain store to see how they fare against our seed. Well, the eggplant seedling is on life support and the paper pack strawberry seeds were D.O.A. And, as you can see our Humble Seed plants are doing what they do best-GROW!  (Did you know we have some of the highest germination rates out of all the seed companies?)

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Store-bought eggplant seedling was immediately decimated. Could be due to lack of minerals…. Plant was pruned back and is currently doing much better!

6. We rotate our Tower Garden daily to ensure sun exposure is being distributively evenly over time to all of our plants. The dolly really makes this a simple task.

7. Oh, this should have been at the beginning but prior to starting our seed we preconditioned the rockwool with a conditioning solution to stablize and adjust the rockwool ph to a most favorable condition. Outside of rockwool, what have you found that works best in hydroponic growing system?

8. We are staggering our lettuces to ensure succession harvesting. Thus, you may notice empty slots that are on reserve for future kale and lettuce seedlings.

9. HUGE tip- We marked our growing slots with a Sharpie and then made note of what seedling we transplanted where.

So, we have been learning a lot the last few weeks about this type of gardening and we really enjoy it. We think the Tower Garden is the ideal system for those who have limited time, space, and perhaps  limited mobility. We are confident that through the course of a growing season or two, the Tower Garden will be very cost effective and paying for itself in no time at all.

 

About Us:

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

Does starting your first garden seem too overwhelming or you simply don’t have the space? The Tower Garden may be the answer for you!  Passionate about gardening and healthy living, or looking to expand your current health-based business? Consider becoming a Tower Garden distributor! Email info@humbleseed for more information.

 

 

 

 

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Week 5 Tower Garden Updates-San Francisco Team

June 29th, 2014

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We’re a little over a month into our Tower Garden experience, and we are thrilled by how well our vegetables are taking shape. We transferred our 3 inch tall seedlings into the Tower Garden 2 weeks ago, and they all have almost doubled in size. Our Black Seeded Simpson Leaf Lettuce, Red Saladbowl, Rose Tomatoes, and Tavera Green Beans have the most growth followed by the Yankee Bell Peppers. (Check out our 1st and 2nd photo for comparison). This is our first time gardening in the fog prone Bay Area, as we’re recent transplants from Arizona. We’ve discovered that finding a sunny location for the suggested 5-6 hours is our biggest challenge. After testing out various locations, we settled on a spot that achieves about 4 hours of sunlight a day, and it does appear to be enough.

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We found that filling the reservoir and adding the nutrients took the most time, but is easy to accomplish. The Tower Garden comes with a Tower Tonic Mineral Blend along with a pH tester kit, and pH adjusters to achieve an optimal range of 5.5-6.5. Twice a week we adjust our pH and water levels if we find they are out of range. This normally takes 10-15 minutes.

photo 1

We also rotate our garden a quarter turn each day because of it’s placement next to a wall. We want to achieve optimal plant uniformity. This task requires two people, or one person with serious biceps!

Transferring our seedlings from the rock wool starter cubes to the Tower Garden was very easy. Though, taking the time to care for the tender roots of each seedling is very important. (Below are our photos showing transferring the seedlings out of the cubes and into Tower Garden. The last photo shows the growth 2 weeks later).

A bonus we haven’t mentioned yet is the lovely water trickle sound the Tower Garden makes while on our patio. Our family is constantly commenting that it sounds like we have a garden fountain or babbling brook nearby! I also think it lulls our toddler to sleep on most days. Now that’s priceless.

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**Friends, what are you growing in your garden right now? What else would you like to learn about our Tower Garden experience? 

 

About Us:

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

Does starting your first garden seem too overwhelming or you simply don’t have the space? The Tower Garden may be the answer for you!  Passionate about gardening and healthy living, or looking to expand your current health-based business? Consider becoming a Tower Garden distributor! Email info@humbleseed for more information.

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Our Tower Garden Growing Plan

June 5th, 2014

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The Humble Seed family couldn’t resist all of the amazing benefits of a Tower Garden, so we got a few of our own! You might have read about the Tower Garden during our giveaway sweepstakes a few weeks ago. It’s truly like a farmer’s market in our backyard – without the weeds, soil, and pests we normally deal with in our traditional garden. We are really looking forward to sharing our Tower Garden experiences with all of you, along with tutorials and what we’re growing.

Our Assembly & Location Experience It took us about 25 minutes to set up the Tower Garden, which was easier than we thought (thanks to the Tower Garden YouTube station we used for guidance).  We live in the Bay Area with lots of foggy days, and a good amount of shade in our backyard, so choosing a location was a little tricker. We found a location that gets between 4-6 hours of sunlight a day, which should work well. It’s also near our kitchen for easy access. Before we dive right into tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, herbs and flowers galore, we decided to create a growing plan to ensure success. Here’s what we have so far…

What We Plan On Growing We are growing a variety of seed from our Veggin’ Out seed kit including: Tavera Green Beans, Rose Tomatoes, Bull’s Blood Beets, De Cicco Broccoli, Simpson Lettuce, Red Salad Bowl Lettuce, Marketmore Cucumbers, and Yankee Bell Peppers. The plan is to place the green beans and tomatoes at the bottom of the Tower Garden with the trellis to help them along, the cucumbers and bell peppers will sit mid range, and leafy greens will go up top. You want to ensure that larger plants (like eggplant) stay at the bottom so that they do not block the sunlight and water from your other vegetables. The end result should look like a pyramid.

Seed Starter Tray Plan Our plan is to take the following steps:

1. Thoroughly wet the seed starter tray and cubes with filtered water for 30 minutes.

2. Fill the cube holes with seed, following the directions on our seed packet. We will lightly fill each hole with vermiculite, and using less vermiculite for smaller seeds like lettuce to keep just enough moisture around the seed.

3. Label all seeds for easy identification. Add a small amount of water to the vermiculite as well as the seeding tray. Set the tray outside in a semi-shaded area because it’s warm outside.

Our Water Plan and Schedule The Tower Garden requires approximately 20 gallons of filtered water for plants to thrive (more on that on another post). We plan on using an All Purpose Garden Hose Filter to fill the reservoir. But if you don’t have a filtration system, you could always fill up a few large water jugs at your local filtered water source. The Tower Garden kit also comes with a Tower Tonic Mineral Blend and a pH tester kit for plants to get an optimal, nutrient rich water source. Very cool. A timer also comes with the Tower Garden, which functions best if watering is on a cycle rather than a continuous flow. Therefore, our plan is to set the timer for 15 minutes on, and 15 minutes off throughout the day and night.

Transplanting Seedlings And Placement Once seedlings are 3 inches tall, we will transplant the rockwool cubes to the Tower Garden, ensuring the base of the cubes are touching the net pot so that they receive adequate water.

Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Maintenance Plan

* Rotate garden 1/4 turn each day to provide equal sunlight for plants (our Tower Garden is placed next to a wall)

* Check water level once a week

* Check pH level twice a week

* Keep shower cap holes clean and free from debris – use a toothpick if needed

* Keep roots away from the pump, trim roots when dangling near reservoir

* Prune and train plants when needed

* Clean the pump filter monthly – follow instructions on manual

***Friends, what aspects of the Tower Garden would you like to learn more about?

 

About Us:

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

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

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Seed Starting 101: Outdoor Basics

April 8th, 2014

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We recently asked on our Facebook page what topic you’d like to learn a little more about. Overwhelmingly, many of you responded, “Seed Starting!” Being a seed company and all, we wanted to write a post about this as soon as possible. It may be too late to start seed indoors, but for some of you, it’s perfect timing to start seed directly in the garden.

There are a number of compelling reasons to try seed starting: 1) More plant choices than what’s offered at your local gardening store; including organic, non-GMO, heirloom, and non-hybrid varieties, 2) More control (and fun!) over how your plants are grown, including soil, water, and amendment selecting, 3) A chance to use natural pest and vermin control, 4) To learn more self-reliance skills, 5) Save a great deal of money – we hope this encourages you to take the plunge and try seed starting.

Our Basic Guide For Sowing Directly In Your Garden

Suggested Tools For Seed Starting Outdoors

*Seed of choice (beans, carrots, corn, peas, and radishes are great choices for beginners, and truly do best when sown directly in the garden)
*Soil Thermometer
*Organic (safe) soil
*Organic compost
*Plant labels
*Watering system for gentle watering (“shower” setting on hose or “rose” fitting on watering can, etc.)
*A notepad and pen for jotting down notes

Build Up Your Soil

If you’re starting a new garden bed, remove sod, weeds, roots, and rocks from the area. Vegetable garden soil should be a mix of air and solids, and include clay, silt and loam. Work in 6 inches of compost to enhance the soil structure, and get a soil test, aiming for a neutral pH level. If needed, amend the soil further. You also may want to consider using a raised garden bed, as these will yield more vegetables and save time in the long run. This is because the smaller space shades out competing weeds, and watering/harvesting are more efficiently done.

Plan Ahead 

Ensure your soil is ready to sow seeds by taking the temperature (here’s our guide on how to take soil temperature). When ready, moisten the soil so that it’s the consistency of oatmeal a few days prior to planting. Thoroughly read your seed packet instructions for plant depth and spacing. Most seeds will require planting at a depth 3 times the diameter of the seed. If you’re a visual person, we suggest using a notepad to configure a layout of where seeds will go, and the spacing/depth for each before seed starting.

Sow Your Seeds

First, follow the seed packet instructions for the depth of furrows and spacing between them. Lay out the rows in a north-south direction which will ensure that both sides will receive an equal amount of sunlight during the day. Form the furrows with a rake, hoe, or stick; for perfectly straight rows, we recommend using a board or taut string as a guide. Do your best to sow seeds evenly, spacing them out as the seed packet instructs. If you’re using a large seed packet like we provide, pour the seed in your palm and scatter small pinches of seed as evenly as possible. Some gardeners sow seeds more thickly to guarantee germination, and thin out rows later, while others avoid this chore by spacing seeds out evenly. Tamping the soil (gently pressing on the soil surface after you sow seeds) will help secure the seed for roots to grow.

If you planted different types of seed, some gardeners outline the areas in flour, string, or stakes, while others use garden labels. This will help in recognizing plants as seed germination begins and plants grow, and will reduce the risk of mistaking a plant for a weed.

Water Gently, And Not Too Much

This is essential for guaranteeing high seed germination rates. The soil must stay evenly moist for seed germination, yet you don’t want to spray water forcefully either. The “shower” setting on your hose or the “rose” fitting on a watering can should suit you just fine if you’re a beginner. More elaborate irrigation systems are also wonderfully convenient once you’re ready for this step.

Thinning Out Crowded Seedlings

This is done after seed germination. If you sowed your seeds thickly, or you notice two sets of true leaves, then thinning out the weakest seedling is needed. You can transplant those seedlings into the empty spaces of the bed if available. Here is a great guide on how to do it effectively: How To Thin Out Crowded Seedlings.

Let the fun begin. Lots of luck this year!

***Friends, did you sow seeds directly in the garden this year? How’d it go with seed germination rates? We’d love to hear your success stories too.***

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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Soil Temperature- Tips You Can Implement Now

March 24th, 2014

 

 

Have you heard? Knowing the last frost date in your area is crucial for starting your spring vegetable garden. Perhaps you’ve heard this advice as many times as an Adele song on the radio, but you’re having trouble finding a good planting date based on a calendar guide. Even natives have mistakenly planted too early or too late in the season. We have a few tips regarding soil temperature to get you warmed up (pardon the pun) for planting season.

Soil Temperature Tips You Can Implement Now

- If you’re new to gardening, try cold tolerant and hardy vegetables first – think broccoli, carrots and collards. This leaves more wiggle room for mistakes, or an unexpected late frost. If you’d like to learn more about what to grow, check out our post on Frost Tolerant Plants.

- Be patient and wait for optimum soil temperatures. (the payoff is worth it!)

- Learn how to take a correct soil temperature (see our guide below).

- Be prepared for the chance of an unexpected late frost. Store a blanket, or have another method for protecting plants from freezing temperatures handy.

- Consider using organic compost in lieu of store bought fertilizer. It will enrich your soil with vital nutrients, and it acts as a natural pesticide and soil conditioner.

- Strongly consider using mulch to stabilize soil temperature, especially in the warmer months. Mulch will also increase moisture levels, suppress weed growth, and safeguard against erosion.

Check out, if you’d like:

Here’s a handy list of desired soil temperatures for a variety of vegetables and herbs. (This list includes the minimum, optimum, and maximum soil temperatures for growing from seed. Be sure to also pay attention to the letters “b,” “c,” and “d” next to each vegetable, as “b” indicates a hardy vegetable for direct seeding, and the “c” & “d” signifies a tender vegetable for direct seeding.) Our Humble Seed Garden Planner also gives valuable insights and specifics for successfully planting 22 popular vegetable varieties.

4 Simple Steps To Using A Soil Thermometer

1 Buy an inexpensive probe thermometer: These are available at local gardening centers or online. The most cash-friendly thermometers have a glass bulb and a strong metal point, and they work just fine.

2 Find the recommended depth of your seed: Plan on checking the soil at that plant depth. If you’re planting a variety of seeds, then plan on checking at least 5-6 inches deep.

3 Make a pathway for the thermometer: Use a screwdriver to pilot a hole so that the thermometer will not break in hardier soils.

4 Follow Directions: Use the instructions on the thermometer package for the most accurate reading. Take multiple measurements by reading the temperature at different points of the day, including sunny and shaded times.

*Friends, what are your tips for checking and using soil temperatures for direct seeding?

 

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!

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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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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.

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Beat The Heat This Summer In Your Garden!

June 15th, 2013

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During the dog days of summer, you and your plants need some extra TLC – particularly when it hits above 100 degrees. It only takes a few hours for the sun’s rays to damage your plants beyond repair while you were splashing around in the pool (not that we blame you!). To make summer gardening beneficial for your plants and more bearable on yourself, here are some quick and easy tips.

Taking note of your plants. When the heat is on, plants will show signs of distress. Look for browning, yellowing and/or wilted leaves with little to no flowering.  They may also feel crisp when touched. If there are already signs of damage, you may be able to save your plants for successful harvesting. Make sure to mulch 3 to 4 inches to help conserve water, and when watering, give your plants a good, deep soak. Mulching also cools the soil temperature by shielding it from direct sunlight. To prevent damage, read further.

Watering. Depending on what region you live in, you may be experiencing drought. If so, and if you are dealing with water restrictions, you will need to be thoughtful with the day(s) and time(s) you water. If you can, water your plants deeply when it’s cooler in the early morning or evening. If you have drip irrigation, great! If not, you may want to invest in soaker hoses. If you’re fortunate to get a summer monsoon season, a water harvesting barrel is a great way to water your vegetables and reduce your water bills.

Feeding your plants. Many plants may hold back fruit in the hot weather, making it important that you continue to encourage fruit by providing nutrients. One easy way to do this is by side-dressing your plants with compost. Making your own compost is easy (see tips here), plus it makes a rockin’ natural fertilizer for your garden. Limiting weeds can also reduce competition for nutrients and water with your plants – pesky little things aren’t they? If it’s too hot to go weed pullin’ – you may want to try in the evening.

Shade. If your plants are showing signs of heat stress, you should provide them with shade during the hottest part of the day, generally between 11am and 3pm. You can purchase shading material at your local garden center or you can construct a shade barrier using old bed sheets and poles. Summerweight garden fabric is also a nice investment; it can shield plants from damaging rays, and protect crops from birds, insects and other nuisances. Lattices and old screens also work well to shade vulnerable plants.

Keeping your cool. Summer’s heat can be brutal and dangerous to the gardener as well, so it’s important that you protect yourself when in your garden. Using sun block and wearing a wide brimmed hat, loose fitting pants and a light-colored long-sleeved shirt or tee shirt will help reduce skin damage due to the sun’s powerful rays. Wetting or freezing a collar or a towel can also keep you feeling fresh. Furthermore – make sure to have plenty of water within reach while you work!

Best of luck this summer! What are your favorite ways to beat the summer heat within your garden? Do tell…

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Q and A: How To Create A Garden For Your Community

May 12th, 2013

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What is a community garden? A community garden is a space where community members are able to grow anything from fruits and vegetables to flowers on a plot of shared land. A church, school, business, or private landowner can donate a piece of land – but the space continues to thrive as a community garden by a variety of share holders.

What can I expect? Typically, you’ll find designated garden plots, usually measuring about 3′ x 20′ that are made available to individuals and families in the neighborhood. The gardener is responsible for supplying the plants, seeds, and soil amendments. However, you don’t have to worry about manually watering your plants each week, as drip irrigation systems are normally installed to supply water to the plants.

What is the cost? Expect the cost to be based on the bed size, as well as a reimbursement water fee to the property owner – usually around $15.00 per month for each plot. This money also pays for the irrigation equipment, a monthly newsletter in some cases, as well as a set of tools made available.

How can I create a garden for my community?

Step 1: The first step is initiating a planning committee. As a group, determine if there is a real need for a community garden, and whom the garden will serve. As you move forward, you will also need to make a list of what needs to be done, and designate roles to each member.

Step 2: The planning committee or sponsor will need to choose a site. The land should get at least 6 full hours of sunlight, pass soil tests, and be clear of contamination. You may also need to consider if irrigation is available.

Step 3: The next step is developing the site. The community garden site should be cleaned up and organized. This includes selecting work crews, choosing plot sizes, creating a storage area, and deciding whether organic gardening practices will be used.

Step 4: Organize the garden details. The planning committee should decide the large and tiny details behind the community garden. At the very least, these questions should be answered:

* What are the conditions of membership?

* How will plots be assigned?

* How will the money be used?

* How large should each plot be? Should there be various sizes to choose from?

* Will there be a plot for children?

* What happens if the plot becomes vandalized?

* What will the community vs. committee members be responsible for?

* Will there be garden meetings? How often?

* Will the garden members share tools or supply their own?

* What kind of maintenance will the garden need daily, weekly, monthly and seasonally?

Step 5: Choose some general rules and bylaws for the garden. Bad gardeners and angry neighbors are the two most common reasons community gardens lead to frustration. Choose each rule and bylaw carefully so that there are understood procedures, and consequences to actions within the garden. To get some ideas, read these sample community garden rules.

**Friends, have you considered utilizing or starting your own community garden within your neighborhood? 

Resources:

http://www.communitygardensoftucson.org/main/

http://www.communitygarden.org/learn/starting-a-community-garden.php

About Us:

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

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Seeds That Can Thrive Anywhere

May 10th, 2013

A common question we hear frequently is, “do your seeds grow well in my growing region/state?” To put it simply, the answer more often than not is “yes.” Our seeds are specifically selected to do well in growing conditions throughout North America under normal growing conditions.

Humble Seed’s premium garden seed kits are intentionally bundled to suit a variety of needs and lifestyles, while our re-sealable Mylar® bags keep seeds fresh in between plantings, allowing you to plant when it’s convenient in your region. Need more proof? Check out these examples below!

Red Saladbowl -Veggin’ Out seed kit

Description: This slow bolting red oak-leaf type of saladbowl is very appealing. Its finely divided leaves that are a rich, deep-red color characterize it. Gardeners enjoy its sweet flavor and the wonderful color that it adds to a variety of salads

Where these seeds grow best: This seed will germinate in a low 40 degrees F soil temperature, making it pretty forgiving to cold weather. They do quite well in a variety of regions across the United States. Red Saladbowls will flourish in most parts of the northeast, west, and Midwest, and in places like New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Illinois, Idaho, Oregon, and more.

Scarlet Nantes CarrotVeggin’ Out seed kit

Description: The Scarlet Nantes has a reputation for abundant production and a consistent quality that offers up crisp texture and sweet flavor. The roots, which average about 6” long, are bright orange and cylindrical to slightly tapered.

Where these seeds grow best: You can start this seed outside 2-4 weeks before an average last frost, and in warm climates with lows above 25 degrees all winter long. This seed can do well in a variety of locations that don’t experience harsh winters – particularly the west coast and southwest (places like California, Oregon, New Mexico, and Arizona), as well as parts of the Midwest and the south (Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Florida, Texas, North Carolina, and Georgia – and more).

Washington Cherry TomatoVeggin’ Out seed kit

Description: This organic variety produces tomatoes that are meaty and very flavorful. It is a high yielding plant that produces 1 ¼” red cherry tomatoes that are excellent for appetizers, salads, snacking and more.

Where these seeds grow best: This seed grows best when sown in the spring; after the average last spring frost and when soil temperatures reach 60 degrees. Generally, regions in the south, southwest, and Midwest will offer these types of conditions – whether you’re in California, Arizona, Utah, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina, Missouri or Kansas. They can also be planted in the early fall for a winter harvest if you live in a warm winter/hot summer area.

Superbo BasilUncle Herb’s Favorites seed kit

Description: This Genovese-type of basil provides thick leaves and wonderful flavor. It is great for homemade pesto and complements a variety of foods, including fish, poultry, rice, vegetables and more.

Where these seeds grow best: Basil is loved not only for its abundant flavor, but also for its ability to grow very well in a variety of regions and conditions. This seed does best in the springtime, 1-3 weeks after the average last frost, and when soils are warm. With these requirements in mind, anyone living in California to New Jersey (and in between) can grow basil in their backyard when the weather turns a bit warmer. If your location experiences a harshly cold spring, basil can also be grown indoors near a sunny window.

Yankee Bell Pepper  - Hot Mama’s Peppers and Chiles and Veggin’ Out seed kit

Description: This plant provides wonderful red bells for northern climates. It is a strongly branched plant with good cover, producing 6-10, 3 to 4-lobed, medium-size, green to red fruits. The Yankee is less likely to make too many peppers in the initial crown set, resulting in a higher percentage of thick-walled and smooth fruits. These peppers last well into the sweet red stage.

Where these seeds grow best: Grow these seeds in the springtime, 3-4 weeks after the average last frost date and when soil temperatures are at least 65 -70 degrees. While these peppers prefer warmer climates, they truly do well in a wide range of areas across the United States – particularly the south, southwest, Midwest, and northern regions. What we love about these seeds is how well they will grow in places like Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, and Oklahoma, but will also do quite well in Arizona and California – and even in Michigan, Wisconsin, and New York.

About Us:

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

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