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5 Tips To Keeping Your Garden Surviving (And Thriving!) in August

August 5th, 2014

Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability. ~Sam Keen

The dog days of summer can be a major stressor on your vegetable garden. To combat the heat, plants actually have the capability to cool off just like we do. They do something called evapotranspiration by shedding water from their surface areas. But when temps hit the triple digits (oh hey, Arizona and Texas), this nifty trick won’t help your plant survive on its own. Here are 5 tips to beat the summer heat and keep your garden surviving (and thriving!).

Keep soil moist and cool Soil can act as a sponge, where water absorbs after first spilling outwards. Therefore, if the soil is not retaining water well, it may be necessary to water lightly twice a day, rather than one long soak. Remember to allow time for the water to dry before the next watering, and try your best not to over water, as this may lead to fungi and other problems that kills plants. 

Inspect plants frequently and know the signs of heat stress Keep an eye out for brown, yellow or white areas on the leaves – which could indicate a form of plant “sunburn.” When this happens, find some shade for the plant immediately (we provided some shady ideas below) If plants droop in the daytime but perk back up in the morning, they are probably doing fine. Plants are wise enough to droop down to avoid over exposure from the sun.   

Regularly clean off containers You know when you’re under a lot of pressure at work or have a million chores to do, and suddenly you catch the flu and you’re out for the count? Plants are very similar. When they are battling stress, they are more susceptible to disease and pests. Cleaning off the containers can prevent disease when you’re plants are weak. To care for terra-cotta plants, bake them in an oven set for 225 degrees F. for one hour. Allow them to return to room temperature before use. 

Use mulch to protect soil and roots Mulch insulates soil, stabilizes temperature, helps reduce erosion, and can suppress weed growth. A variety of organic and non-organic materials can be used as mulch in your garden. In a forest, we see dried leaves and twigs become “mulch,” as it forms around tree trunks, protecting the top soil and roots of each tree.  Many gardeners use the same idea as they mulch in their own garden.  Natural falling leaves, twigs, and pine needles all work well (and come at no cost!).  Yet grass clippings, nut shells, plastic mulch sheets, shredded wood, hay, cardboard, bark, sawdust, crushed rocks and aged compost are also commonly used. 

Control sunlight exposure Strategically plant a garden under trees, near a fence or wherever else may create shade. If it’s too late for all that and your plants are suffering, create shade by using sheets, a tarp or a large backyard umbrella. 

**Folks, what are your tips for keeping your garden cool this summer? 

About Humble Seed:

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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5 Easy Ways To Prevent And Remove Weeds

June 17th, 2012

It’s that time of year again.  Summer temperatures are rising, and backyard weeds can grow just as fast as you can pour yourself an ice-cold glass of lemonade. Weeding will most likely be the brunt of the maintenance required in the summer time, as weeds thrive in the dry heat and can inhibit a vibrant garden. Aim to weed about 2-3 times a week, and remove weeds quickly when they are small, as large root systems won’t have the opportunity to form.

But before you run out to buy yourself a tube of Bengay for a future back braking session of weed pulling, we have some tricks to make the process easier.  While prevention is paramount to less grueling summer maintenance, we also have some helpful tips on killing weeds naturally (so you have more time to drink ice-cold glasses of lemonade).

1.  Prevent and control weeds with mulch.  We’ve already discussed the amazing benefits of mulching, and we love that weed control is one of them.  Covering the soil with a layer of mulch blocks weeds from growing, while lowering the soil’s temperature (weeds thrive in hot temperatures). Mulching can be done on the cheap or free, using materials like natural falling leaves, twigs, and pine needles, nut shells, plastic mulch sheets, shredded wood, hay, cardboard, bark, sawdust, crushed rocks or aged compost.

Sheri Blumenthal over at Farmer’s Almanac has this clever tip, “A great mulch combination is to first lay cardboard down and then leaves on top. You can add a layer of compost above the cardboard and then put the leaves on top for an extra nutrient kick. This process is called sheet mulching, and it does a much better job than just leaves alone.”

2.  For further prevention, resist the urge to turn the soil. Unseen to the gardener are a number of dormant weeds underneath the soil that require light and air to surface and thrive. Keeping the weeds underground by minimizing disturbances allows them to remain dormant, and “sleep.”

3.  Spray weeds with vinegar, salt and/or dish soap, a lethal combination that acts like a weed terminator. While salt dehydrates the weeds, vinegar acts as a natural herbicide, allowing plants to decompose in aerobic conditions. The dish soap works to help the solution to “stick” on the plant’s leaves and stalk. The University of Idaho recently conducted a study using vinegar as a weed killer, and found that vinegar had an 80-100% kill rate on selected weeds. To make your own batch, pour 1-quart household vinegar, ¼ cup salt, and 2 teaspoons of liquid dish soap into a spray bottle. Shake well, and spray liberally.

4.  Out of dish soap? Try boiling water and vinegar together.  Then carefully pour it in a heat resistant container. When immediately possible, pour the hot liquid directly over the weeds. The solution must be at boiling or near boiling point for the weed’s roots to “cook” and die.

5.  For acute weed growth, The DIY Network suggests reusing grass clippings by dumping them all over the entire area covered in weeds. The grass clippings acts as a soil amendment, and will stifle light and air from the weeds, until they eventually die.  While unsightly for a few days or weeks, this process can break the weed cycle and improve the overall health of the soil in the long term.

Looking for more maintenance tips to make life easier? Read through our summer guide!

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Mulch Much? Discover Why It’s Important

May 2nd, 2012

Biting into a crisp carrot, or admiring the brilliant red color of a beet has more to do with the quality of top soil than most consider.  With climbing temperatures in the Spring and Summer, soil can easily lose it’s efficiency if not protected and nourished. Mulch is either an organic or non-organic protective cover placed on the top layer of soil.  If you’ve never considered using mulch, simply applying it can enhance your garden’s vitality at a low cost and with little maintenance (seriously, everyone’s a winner).

Why Mulch?

For one, mulching is a lot of bang for your buck.  Many gardeners find that mulching with a variety of materials can yield a good list of benefits!

To name a few, mulch

*insulates soil and stabilizes temperature, especially in the warmer months.

*provides shade for soil, which reduces evaporation and increases moisture levels.

*helps to reduce erosion from rain and wind. This can also improve the permeability of the soil.

*can suppress weed growth.

*protects soil from solar radiation damage.

*encourages faster growth and a more vital garden

Mulching Materials

A variety of organic and non-organic materials can be used as mulch in your garden. In a forest, we see dried leaves and twigs become “mulch,” as it forms around tree trunks, protecting the top soil and roots of each tree.  Many gardeners use the same idea as they mulch in their own garden.  Natural falling leaves, twigs, and pine needles all work well (and come at no cost!).  Yet grass clippings, nut shells, plastic mulch sheets, shredded wood, hay, cardboard, bark, sawdust, crushed rocks and aged compost are also commonly used.

Which Mulch Is Which?

Start by brainstorming what you would like to accomplish from the mulch. Would you like the mulch to look attractive, or would it serve a more functional purpose? Are you applying in the spring and summer, or are you looking to winterize your plants? Do some research on which mulch is best for the plant(s) in your garden. For example, when mulching around annuals and perennials, small pieces of shredded wood or bark work best. Or, to show off the vibrant colors of your flowers or vegetables, applying dark mulch will heighten their beauty. Also, pine needles can create more acidity in your garden, which can benefit a potato heap.

How To Apply It

It is most beneficial to apply mulch at the beginning of the growing season and then reapplied when necessary. Once you have done further research and selected the right mulch for your garden, clean the area you plan to mulch by weeding or removing unwanted materials. Apply the mulch in a single layer on the surface of the soil, about 2-6 inches thick and wide enough to cover all potential underground roots. Keep in mind that trees require thicker layers of mulch while flower and vegetable beds need only a thin layer to be effective.

If you’re looking to lower the maintenance in your garden, drip irrigation is not a bad idea! It’s less work intensive than manual watering, and normally only needs to be adjusted seasonally. Drip irrigation is the most efficient watering system when mulch is present in your garden, as the water can be applied directly to the root zone. When irrigating, keep the soil bed moist yet never flooded or too dry.  Also, use caution not to over water your plants, as mulch can prevent most water evaporation.

Friends, what types of mulch do you prefer in your garden?


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Tips and Tricks to Beat the August Heat!

August 14th, 2011


During the dog days of summer, when it’s oppressively hot, you and your plants need some TLC. It only takes a few hours for the sun’s rays to damage your plants beyond repair. Here are some quick and easy tips and tricks to help make what’s left of summer gardening more beneficial for your plants and more bearable for yourself.

  • 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 and early in the morning. If you have drip irrigation, great! If not, you may want to invest in soaker hoses. And if you live in an area where it may be raining every now and then, a rain barrel is a great way to water your vegetables and reduce your water bills.
  • Feeding your plants. Because many vegetables begin to fruit in hot weather it’s important that you continue to provide them with nutrients. One easy way to do this is by side-dressing your plants with compost.
  • Taking note of your plants. When the heat is on, plants will show signs of distress. Look for browning and/or wilted leaves and little to no flowering. 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.
  • Shade. If your plants are showing signs of excessive 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.
  • You. Summer’s heat can be brutal and dangerous so it’s important that you protect yourself when you’re tending to your garden during the day. 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. And make sure to have plenty of water with you if you’ll be working in the garden for any length of time. If you can, pull weeds and clean the garden in the evening.

August is one of the cruelest months for plants, but with care and caution you can continue to enjoy bountiful summer harvests.

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Raised Bed Gardening

January 13th, 2011


If you have limited gardening space or poor soil conditions, you should consider raised bed gardening. Even just a small raised bed is ideal for growing herbs and vegetables.

To make a raised bed garden, it only takes a few steps:

1. Pick a flat location that gets at least eight hours of sun per day and is accessible to your water supply.

2. Decide how large the raised bed garden will be, both length and depth. Keep in mind that you will want to be able to easily access the middle of the raised bed from each side. As far as depth goes ten inches is ideal, but many vegetables will grow in a raised bed that is six inches deep.

3. Get your raised bed ready. If you can dig out the existing grass, if any, or loosen the soil to a depth of at least eight inches it will ensure that your plants’ roots have ample room to grow. Build your raised bed with 2 x 6 lumber pieces that are rot-resistant. Cut the lumber then attach the pieces together to build a frame. Place in the determined location. Make sure and use a level to ensure the frame is level on all sides, otherwise, water may run off one part of the raised bed garden. Fill your raised bed with quality top soil, compost and manure. Once filled, level the soil. That’s it! You’re ready to sow seeds!

4. Managing your raised bed garden is easy, but one thing to keep in mind is that raised beds tend to dry out faster, so it’s important that you consider moisture retention; mulching the top of the soil will help. Every spring and fall top dress the soil with fresh compost and manure.

Raised bed gardening is easily manageable and offers great benefits, including:

1. Better soil drainage.

2. Less soil compaction—no one is stepping on the soil!

3. Better soil conditions, because you are controlling what ingredients are in your garden.

4. Earlier planting, because raised beds warm up more quickly in the spring.

5. Raised bed gardening is also a great consideration for anyone who has arthritis or elderly gardeners.

If you have never tried raised bed gardening, or gardening for that matter, this is a great option for the upcoming spring gardening season.

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