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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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Warm Heirloom Caprese Salad

August 30th, 2011

My version of a Caprese Salad.  Done bruschetta style I top super toasty bread with warm heirloom tomatoes, rich smooth mozzarella, and a drizzle of cool, creamy basil dressing

Warm Heirloom Caprese Salad grown with help from the Humble Seed:

Ingredients for dressing: (Makes extra. I store it a glass jar for later.  I use this dressing for everything from salads, pizzas, pastas, and as a marinade for chicken breast)
2 heaping handfuls of fresh (washed and dried) Superbo Basil
1/4 tablespoons of organic mayonnaise
3 tablespoons of organic sour cream or Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons organic buttermilk
1 clove smashed garlic
A good quality olive oil (I usually add between an eighth and a fourth of a cup depending on the batch and how thick I want the consistency.  The more oil, the thinner the dressing)
salt & pepper to taste
food processor

Other ingredients:
3 Heirloom Tomatoes
6 fat slices of ciabatta or a crusty french bread (you want a type of bread that will get super crunchy)
1/4 pound or 1 large ball of fresh mozzarella cheese cut into six slices

Turn your oven onto broil.

Take your basil, mayo, sour cream or yogurt, buttermilk, and garlic and place them all into the food processor. Using the “pulse”setting on your food processor slowly begin to combine all of the ingredients by starting and stopping every 10-15 seconds. Repeat this process until the mix starts to come together and all of the basil is chopped. Next you want to add the olive oil. Turn the “pulse” setting off and use the food processor on normal for this step.  While the lid is on and the blade is turning slowly begin to incorporate the oil in a steady stream until the basil dressing becomes a smooth vivid bright green.  Adding the olive oil should give the dressing a creamy consistency.  Once its completely come together you can store it in a glass jar in your fridge.

Next step is to toast the bread while the dressing is chilling.  Either brush or drizzle your 6 thick slices of bread with olive oil.  This will help the bread to get super crispy.  The toast needs to be crunchy enough to hold up the warm tomatoes and cheese with out getting soggy. Place the slices of bread on a baking sheet and put under the broiler.  Dont walk away during this step.  It is important to watch food constantly when in the broiler, because it can burn so quickly.  Keep the bread under the broiler until it has started to brown on the edges, and is very crunchy in the middle. About four minutes. You may want to turn the bread over onto its other side after two minutes just to ensure its crispy-nes.   When the toast is done place two slices on each plate and let it cool.

Now take your three washed and dried heirloom tomatoes and slice them in to fourths. Brush the slices of tomato with olive oil on each side and salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet on med heat.  When the pan is hot, add enough oil to the pan just to coat the bottom, then add your slices of tomato.  Sear the tomatos for only about 30 seconds on each side, you want them to get a slight brown crust on the outside with out over cooking them until they turn into mush.  When the tomatoes are done place them onto the toast, then add a slice of mozzarella to each bruschetta, and drizzle with the creamy basil dressing!

The crunchy bread topped with all of these flavors is the most amazing combination of creamy, crunchy, warm, and cool all on one little bruschetta!

About Katheryne:


Sustainability is very important to me because I believe that we should take care of the planet that gives us so much. Love the earth and it will love you back. Know where your food comes from; be informed about what you are consuming. By choosing to eat organically grown produce the impact that you are making on the environment and your own health is a positive one.  Living sustainably to me, is not about  what you are giving up, it’s about all that you get! You can check out my website and please be sure to “like” my Facebook page!

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Spring Garden Succotash with Washington cherry tomatoes and some of Uncle Herb’s favorites!

April 20th, 2011

Spring Garden Succotash

2 tablespoons organic butter
8 cups organic  vegetable broth
2 tablespoon organic tomato paste
2 garlic cloves crushed and minced
1 cup organic kidney beans (soak overnight, then rinse and drain before cooking)
1 cup Washington cherry tomatoes cut in 1/2
2 cups sliced white mushrooms
12 baby corn cut into fourths (fresh or frozen)
1 cup organic green peas (fresh or frozen)
3/4 cup Israeli Cous Cous
juice of one large lemon
1 tablespoon finely minced German Winter Thyme
1 tablespoon finely minced Greek Oregano
6 large Superbo Basil leaves roughly torn in to small pieces not cut
handful of Titan Parsley chopped for garnish
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a large heavy soup pot or dutch oven. Add the garlic, thyme, oregano, and basil. Toast until they become fragrant over low heat.  Once the garlic has slightly browned add the vegetable broth, tomato paste, and kidney beans. Boil on low until the beans become tender. About twenty minutes.  Add the cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, baby corn, peas, lemon juice and bay leaves. Simmer for twenty minutes until the veggies become soft and then add the cous cous and cook for another eight to ten minutes.  You will know when its ready because the small cous cous balls will become larger and soft as they absorb the broth. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve in a large bowl and garnish with freshly chopped titan parsley, shaved Parmesan and some crusty bread.

About Katheryne Phillips:

Sustainability very important to me because I believe that we should take care of the planet that gives us so much. Love the earth and it will love you back. Know where your food comes from; be informed about what you are consuming. By choosing to eat organically grown produce the impact that you are making on the environment and your own health is a positive one.  Living sustainably to me, is not about  what you are giving up, it’s about all that you get! You can check out my website here

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What’s Been Growing with Humble Seed?

August 18th, 2010

Here are some photo’s of what people have been growing this year with their Humble Seed. All seen here were direct seeded and germinated quickly into very healthy and plentiful plants!

Costata Romanesco Zucchini

“Hello All – We thought we would share our recent pics of our wonderful Humbleseed veggies! We live in Michigan and are focused on eating naturally, which is why we have chosen Humbleseed….My husband and I have gardened most of our life, and we have to admit, the zucchini and summer squash plants are the biggest we have ever seen! The veggies are delicious! We are looking forward to the melons and harvesting our seeds! Thank you Humbleseed!”

Crimson Sweet Watermelon

“We tried growing other watermelon and cantelope seeds last year, and all we got was a tiny little melon my children shared for a snack….Not this year! We have at least 24 watermelon and 30 cantelope currently growing on the vines, with many more flowers still blooming. Depending on weather, we are expecting to have our first melon ready in 3 to 4 weeks..”

Marketmore Cucumber

“This weekend was our first pick in which we harvested 40 cucumbers, with many more to come!! I’m looking for a good dill pickle canning recipe if anyone has one to share…”

Superbo Basil

“Mom grew her basil in a container on the porch. The basil was very robust and aromatic! Pesto is the besto!”

Yellow Crookneck Squash

“In this picture you can see the summer squash. We usually grill it with just a touch of olive oil. The kids also love it!”

Sweet Granite Cantaloupe

“A couple of the Cantelope, they look great!!”

Bull's Blood Beets

“We’re very exicted for the beets….One of my favortie summer time veggies! There is nothing like FRESH beets!”

Tavera Green Bean

“We had the Humbleseed beans tonight for dinner, they were wonderful! We usually steam them and serve with just a touch of butter…I like to sprinkle a little steak seasoning on mine!”

Please forward on your Humble Seed harvest pictures-we would love to seem them!

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