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Basil Basics: Tips For Growing This Tasty Herb

October 17th, 2014

Basil is an annual-growing herb and happens to be one of the world’s healthiest foods. There are many delicious varieties of basil – some are spicier, others have a lemony, cinnamon, or have a peppermint flavor. Basil grows easily in sunny, warm climates – and also quite well indoors next to a sunny window in the fall and in mild winters. The pointed leaves are used for cooking and the flower buds are edible too. Some basil gardeners use their surplus for naturally dying fabric or for children’s crafts (learn how here). If you’re looking for a new way to use basil this fall, check out our Pumpkin Seed Basil Pesto below.

Tips On Growing Basil Outdoors Growing basil outdoors does best in warm spring and summer climates (for growing basil in the fall and winter, see Tips On Growing Indoors below).  Sizes of basil varies – the “sweet basil” can grow up to 6”, but many gardeners like to grow it only up to 3″. Since basil loves heat, you should plant it when the day temperatures are higher. Basil also likes rich, moist soil. Plant the seeds about 10” from each other. Once the plants reach about 6” in height, start pinching off the top layer of leaves to encourage better leaf growth and to prevent the plant from getting “leggy.” Keep in mind that basil is sensitive to frost – as soon as autumn comes, you should bring it indoors before frost touches the leaves and turns them black.

Tips On Growing Basil Indoors This method is best in fall and winter climates, as basil can be kept warm and away from frost while indoors. You will need direct sunlight (a south facing window does best) and provide plenty of warmth by either using a heat mat or by keeping plants near a heater. If you cannot provide at least 6 hours of sunlight next to a window, you might want to consider supplementing with artificial light. Using fluorescent grow lights or specially designed high intensity lights can keep basil lush and delicious all year round. Remember to keep artificial lights at least 5 inches away from the top of your plants. High intensity lights need to be two to four feet away from basil plants to ensure vitality. We also like to keep a fan running 2-4 hours a day (we suggest from the time you get home from work to bedtime) to simulate a natural environment. We find that the air does not get too stagnant and the plant thrives even further.

Tips On Preserving Basil’s Flavor Try to prevent the blooming of the basil plant as long as possible. This is to ensure a full, bushy plant with loads of tasty leaves. To stop the blooming process on your basil plant, harvest the top layer of leaves when the plant reaches 6”.  When the plant eventually goes to seed, you’ll notice the plants bright flavors get a little wah-wah. You can still cut them, as well as the flowers, and use them in cooking if you’d like. To preserve your plant when it’s tastiest, either preserve it in a container with olive oil and salt, or store it in an ice cube or herb log. 

Pumpkin Seed Basil Pesto 

1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds or pepitas

1 clove garlic

1 cup fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons parmigiano reggiano

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

Method: Blend all ingredients together in a blender. Add a splash of water if you prefer a smoother texture. Top on pastas and spaghetti squash, drizzle over polenta, and use it as a dip for veggies, bread, and pizza.

***Friends, how is your basil doing this year? We’re curious, what tips would you give to someone who was growing basil for the first time?

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 or message us on Facebook.

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Beginners And Experienced Gardeners Love Growing Herbs!

March 25th, 2012

With gorgeous spring temperatures close to arriving, you may be toying with ideas on what to grow in your garden this year.  If you are new to gardening, growing fresh and flavorful herbs is a great way to begin the journey.  Many herbs found in Uncle Herb’s Favorites are perennial, meaning they last for three or more seasons (think of the “P” as “permanent”). Fresh herbs like chives, fennel, oregano and sage are all perennials found in this herb seed kit, and are easier to maintain without replacing them each season. Stop by and read our informative herb gardening guide for more tips on how to effectively grow your own herbs!

If this isn’t your first rodeo, perhaps you are looking to expand your selection of herbs in your garden.  A steady supply of herbs just a few feet away is naturally more ideal than running to the store for an expensive, commercially packaged herbs.  Uncle Herb’s Favorites has 10 varieties of herbs that can enhance salad dressings, salads, meat, tofu, and even desserts and drinks. You’ll also find that we offer the freshest seeds around! All of our food kits use Myler® bags to keep each seed at its best, and are then placed in a container that is FDA approved for long-term food storage.  You can trust that our kits are unlike the store bought version; they are water and rodent proof, and re-sealable so that seeds stay fresh between plantings.

Looking to dry your own herbs for long terms use? We found this informative article that will guide you through that endeavor. Spring is here, and it’s a great time to get growing!

Click on image below to view Uncle Herb’s Favorites seed varieties.

 

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Dreaming of Dirt (And Pizza): How to Create A Small Herb Garden

September 27th, 2011

 

Pondering the old college days always bring back a good deal of memories. One of which, like most, was practically inhaling copious slices of pizza on a weekly basis. But unlike the typical college student who slathered on ranch dressing to top, or was content with a dash of stale red pepper flakes; I was used to eating some rockin’ pizza. For two years while I lived on Edison Street, my neighbor would allow us to freely use his vast herb garden, and my pizza had freshly cut basil, parsley and oregano to top each slice. Was I lucky or what? Ever since, I have enjoyed the advantages of herb gardening. All the while, maintaining a full time job and going on short vacations without having to worry about my little herby pots. If you’re looking to zest up salads, burgers, dressings, sauces and marinades, dips and sandwiches without having to drive to the store, and pay the ridiculous amount for a small package of herbs; herb gardening is a great way to unleash your green thumb without the commitment. I’d
like to share a few easy tips on how to grow a successful herb garden. You’ll find that with a little insight, you can get started right away!

Finding a Location: Discovering the perfect location is paramount when starting an herb garden. Most herbs prefer filtered sunlight and slightly moist soil. If your kitchen window provides this; build a smaller garden and use small strawberry pots to build your garden in. You will find the kitchen provides easy access to your lush array of herbs! Perhaps your back patio or balcony is the perfect location? If the backyard works best, but you find it is very sunny; plant some large flowers or plants nearby to provide some filtered shade. Sunflowers work very well for this purpose.

Choosing The Right Herbs: Select herbs that have similar needs if you’re placing your plants in the same location. The following herbs can be found in Uncle Herb’s Favorites, and are excellent choices to grow together, especially if you’re combining herbs in large pots.

*Bouquet Dill, Greek Oregano, and Titan Parsley

*Bronze and Green Fennel and Bouquet Dill

*German Winter Thyme and Greek Oregano

*Common Sage and Santo Cilantro, which grows well next to most herbs

Preparing The Soil: Quality soil is generally 50% solids, like small rock materials, and 50% porous soil to allow room for water, air and roots. For larger herb gardens, including organic matter like your own compost pile can greatly enhance your garden. It is also an excellent way to save money and recycle the ends of corn, onions, tomatoes, fruit peels, coffee grounds, grass clippings, and other organic matter. Be sure to exclude any diseased or pest-laden materials, as these will only hinder the garden.

Harvesting: A general rule when harvesting is remembering herbs are most fragrant and taste best right before the leaves are about to bloom. Harvesting is also best done throughout the growing season. Perennials like thyme, sage and rosemary require their active growing branches snipped at 4-6 inch lengths. Whereas it is acceptable to collect a few branches and leaves as needed with basil and other annuals. Freezing or hand drying herbs that you would like to save for later use is a great way to preserve your herbs if they are little blooming idiots. You’ll find that the herbs stay flavorful even if preserved for weeks.

Go Techno! Gardening has never been easier thanks to some fantastic websites that allow you to virtually plan out your garden before you roll up your sleeves. I use Smart Gardener to plan out the design of my garden, view how my location could effect the growing of the herbs, and receive a customized to-do list on what needs to be done. It’s free to join and you get a chance to see some really drool worthy gardens to aspire to.

My own Garden: Currently, I am growing and just planted a variety of herbs from Uncle Herbs Favorites and Hot Mama’s Peppers and Chiles. This includes basil, sage, parsley, cayenne and red peppers.

Happy gardening!!

About the Author:

Jesse Silver-Nattamai lives and gardens in Tucson, Arizona with her herb loving husband and adorable dog. She taught middle school history for five years, and currently runs her own food blog at Happy Go Lucky Vegan. On the side, Jesse enjoys leading tours and workshops at Tucson Botanical Gardens, and writing short stories and articles.

 

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