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Turn A Family Dinner Into Baby Food: Summer Squash Soup

July 3rd, 2013

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Move over Gerber, there are some delicious meal options out there that the whole family can enjoy. Here’s the thing: babies can eat real food, and from our experiences, they enjoy it more than what you can find in a jar. Furthermore, if you turn up your nose at bland, over-steamed vegetables, your baby might have the same reaction. Therefore, don’t be afraid to make baby food taste good. Get creative and add fresh cilantro, chopped chives, and dried seasonings to a meal, and serve it to the entire family (just take an additional step to puree or chop into small pieces for your little one).

All over the world, babies are introduced to flavor very early on. In India, curry spices are mixed in with yogurt and rice after 6 months of age. In other parts of Asia, lemongrass, tamarind, and coconut milk are introduced within the first year – and in South American – babies can be seen enjoying food with chili peppers!

A great trick to get the entire family eating one nutritious meal is a creamy, choc-full-of-good-stuff soup. You can make a soup out of just about anything (and we have!). In the summer, seasonal summer squash, carrots and sweet potatoes can turn even a baby who wants to only be fed by a sock puppet (ahem, our baby) into one that grabs the spoon to feed herself. If your baby eats the whole bowl, go ahead and call it a miracle as you ladle another helping for yourself.

Summer Squash Soup With Basil

Serves 4-6

Recommended starting at 8 months of age

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 ¼ pounds yellow squash

2 carrots, thinly sliced

1 sweet potato, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

½ cup julienned basil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Heat oil in a large saucepan, and add the onion and a pinch of salt until it’s translucent. Add the remaining vegetables and vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Bring down to a simmer, and allow the vegetables to soften, partially covered for 20 minutes. Stir in the basil and puree.

Friends, what is your favorite way to turn dinner into baby food? We’d love to hear your recipe ideas and inspiration.

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

October 10th, 2011

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

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

 

                  Vegetables And Herbs That Grow Well Together                                                     

Vegetable

Friends: Companion Plant

Enemies: Non-Companion Plant

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

Herb

Friends: Companion Plant

Effects

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

 

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Themed Gardens for Kids: Pizza Anyone?

June 7th, 2011

 

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

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

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

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

Pizza Garden

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

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

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

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

Stir-Fry Garden

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

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

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

Peter Rabbit Garden

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

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

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

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

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Starting Garden Seeds Indoors

February 10th, 2011

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Parsley Salad (Tabouli)

March 22nd, 2010

2 cups cracked wheat
2 cups very hot water
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1 medium-size cucumber, chopped
2 small tomatoes, chopped
8 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup fresh chopped mint
2 cups fresh chopped parsley
1 garlic clove, minced

Soak the cracked wheat in the hot water for about 30 minutes, until most of the water is absorbed. Drain any excess water then squeeze cracked wheat dry. While cracked wheat soaks, prepare dressing by mixing the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl; set aside. When cracked wheat is ready, add cucumber, tomatoes, green onions, mint, parsley and garlic to a large bowl. Add cracked wheat and dressing; stir to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

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Bay-Thyme Scalloped Potatoes

March 22nd, 2010

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, minced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
5 medium-size russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (shredded)

Adjust an oven rack in center of oven then preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, melt butter. When foam subsides, add onion; cook for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and soft. Add thyme, garlic, salt and pepper; stir and cook for 30 seconds. Add potatoes, cream, broth and bay leaves; bring ingredients to a very light boil. Cover Dutch oven, reduce heat to medium-low then simmer for about 10 minutes, until potatoes are just about tender. Discard bay leaves. Transfer ingredients to a buttered 8-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese then bake for about 15 minutes, until cream is bubbling and top is golden brown. Cool 10 minutes before serving.

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Bean Soup with Fennel

March 22nd, 2010

1 1/2 cups dried navy beans, soaked overnight
1 pound smoked ham hocks
8 cups water
2 large bunches of fennel leaves, stems snipped off
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
3 teaspoons black pepper
3 large potatoes, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped, white parts only
1 cup chopped cabbage
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound ground pork sausage, browned and drained

Place beans, ham hocks and water in a large pot; bring to a boil then reduce heat. Simmer ingredients until beans can be mashed and pork is tender, about 1 hour. Chop fennel until you have about 2 cups; set aside. Add garlic, onion, bay leaf and pepper to pot; simmer 5 minutes. Add chopped fennel, potatoes, green onion, cabbage, olive oil and cooked sausage to pot. Return soup to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaf before serving.

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Cucumber Slices with Dill

March 22nd, 2010

4 large cucumbers, sliced
1 tablespoon dried dill
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, combine cucumbers, dill and onion. In a separate bowl, combine vinegar, sugar, water and salt, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Pour vinegar mixture over cucumbers. Cover then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

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