Instant Payday Loan Lender Instant Payday Loan Lender

The First-Timer’s Guide to a Successful Garden Layout

July 26th, 2014

Multi_Frame_Vegetable_Gardening-300x289

 

Starting your own vegetable garden is a great way to provide fresh food and health benefits for your family, and what a perk it is knowing it all came from your own backyard. It’s an economical, eco-friendly solution for putting healthy vegetables on your dinner table every day. So as a first-time gardener, your new vegetable garden will take some serious preparation and planning, but the end results will be a thriving garden you’ll enjoy for many years to come.

 

Start Small

As a first-time veggie gardener, we recommend that you start small and plant a garden you can easily manage. Limit the size to 8 feet x 10 feet or smaller just to start. You can always expand your garden later after you gain a little growing experience. When you begin gardening, your hands, knees and back can get a workout, so don’t overdo it with a large garden that you won’t be able to maintain. Raised garden beds can make introductions to edible gardening easier by providing enclosed garden areas with controlled soil and drainage. You can also create higher beds to prevent back problems if you find that this may become an issue. If you don’t really have the spacing to allow these types of garden beds, opting for unique planters for each vegetable or even Tower Garden planters can be a great alternative and in some cases, can add some personality to your backyard or patio.

 

humbleseed-gardenbed (1)

 

Select a Location

Choose a location that gets good sun throughout the day, and in cooler northern climates, opt for full sun if possible. Examine the soil to find out if it’s mostly clay, sand or a sandy loam, which is the best type of soil to have as a default before adding other soil nutrients. If your soil is predominantly clay or sand, you’ll need to add a good topsoil or compost for proper pH levels that provide nutrients like nitrogen, potash and potassium that your veggies will need in order to thrive. Add compost in the spring and in the fall for several seasons until your soil becomes richer.

Select Your Veggies

Start with easy to grow veggies that don’t take up much space such as zucchini squash, green beans, radishes, and if your space does in fact permit, various herbs and salad greens. Avoid corn that will overtake your garden quickly. Start tomatoes, peppers and herbs indoors from seed about six to eight weeks before planting time. Plant tender crops like squash, beans, tomatoes and watermelon after all frost danger has passed. When planting, follow the instructions on seed packets for proper spacing, planting depth and recommended soil type and be sure not to over water your plants and allow proper drainage.

 

humbleseed-seedlings

 

Fertilizers

If you’re not growing organically, a 15-15-15 or 20-20-20 fertilizer will provide good nutrients with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium that’s needed for growth. Use a granular fertilizer several days before planting and work it into the topsoil. Use a water soluble fertilizer every two or three weeks after your plants emerge.

 

Pest Control

Watch for insects in your new garden. If you see evidence of crop damage, identify the insect causing damage as soon as possible and choose eco-friendly pest control. Proper spacing, weeding and fertilizing will help prevent disease and insect infestation without having to resort to harmful insecticides.

 

Cricket

 

Folks, what are your tips in starting a successful garden?

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Sociable, Share!

5 Reasons Why Ordering Seed Now Is Important For Tomorrow

June 19th, 2014

 

HSB_photo_herbs

There is no time better than the present to order seeds. Even if you are not yet ready to plant. Even if it’s too late to plant in your region. Or if you think there’s not enough time for a garden…. (Bah.There’s always time!). Ordering seed is still important. Here are five reasons why you should order seed now rather than later.

1. Seed shortages. Last year’s poor growing season, mostly due to the massive California drought, may make it difficult now and in the future for gardeners to get seeds, especially of the fruit and nut variety. When fewer plants are grown, fewer seeds can be saved. A supply of quality seed at the home can mean a family is less affected by poor growing seasons. 

2. Self-reliance. With growing food prices and an unstable economy, why rely on food from an outside source? Especially in the chance of a disaster that could deplete the nation’s food supply. In the book, Saving Seeds by Marc Rogers, he writes, “any small measure of self-reliance we can recapture in our overly dependent society is a cause for satisfaction.” We agree! Becoming more self-reliant means access to the high-quality food right outside your doorstep. A steady stream of seeds will allow you to do just that. 

3. Demand for seeds. The concern over GMO food and chemical-laden ingredients now found in common commercial foods has prompted more people to start their own gardens, thus, more seeds are being sold. Gone are the microwaveable meals! More families are cooking from scratch with vegetables found in their very own backyard. Consequently, it may be worth your time to get the seed you want when it’s available. 

4. Pre-planning your future garden. Planning a garden is a little like homework. From deciding what you’d like to grow and how much, to preparing the soil, researching growing techniques and finding the perfect garden location: there may be some late nights. Luckily, it’s well worth the effort. Planning for the future can mean a more successful growing season, with better yields and more succulent vegetables. Ordering seed ahead of time will ensure you have everything you need when it’s time to implement all those ideas. 

5. Peace of mind. Many people want to know that the food they eat is safe. Having a steady supply of herbs and vegetables is a great way to feel secure about what you’re feeding yourself and your family. You’ll know that quality seed was used, and will gain valuable experiences with organic growing practices. Another aspect of peace of mind is in knowing that you are equipped to live self-sufficiently in cases of natural or man-made disasters. 

Having a supply of high quality seeds available at any given time is becoming more and more mainstream for many people. Why not ordering seed go to the top of your list?

***Friends, we’re curious: What are the reasons you order seed now rather than later? Are there any reasons that weren’t mentioned above? 

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.

 

Be Sociable, Share!

Natural Pest Control That’s Safe For Family And Pets

June 12th, 2014

ladybug

Has this happened to you? Just when you think all is well in your garden, you notice tiny, pear shaped insects clustering on the leaves, sucking out the juices and leaving damage behind.  Before you grab a bottle of synthetic pesticide, consider that natural pest control is not old-fashioned, and are very effective. Furthermore, natural pesticides mean there are no health concerns for your family, pets, or water supply. Check out these common pests that could disrupt your garden, and the natural pest control options to keep them at bay.

Aphids

About this bug: These pear-shaped insects may appear harmless at first glance, but these little guys defy the laws of science and are born pregnant; which can lead to a quick infestation. 

Organic pest control solutions: Try spraying them off with forceful water or using a plant based soap (recipe below). You can also let nature take its course by attracting beneficial insects like ladybugs, lacewings and hoverflies to your garden. Plants like parsley, fennel, coriander, sunflowers and Queen Anne Lace will attract these beneficial insects, and could help keep aphids and other harmful critters out of your garden.

Beetles 

About this bug: There are many varieties of beetles, and many will hide under the leaves and flowers of your plants, chewing away the foliage and leaving your plants looking tattered.

Organic pest control solutions: If you’re not terribly squeamish, pick them (or dust buster them) off the plants, and destroy their eggs that may be hiding just beneath the surface of your plant. While beetles love feasting on starchy plants like potatoes, they tend to loathe horseradish, yarrow, catnip and garlic plants. Keeping these plants nearby along with beneficial insects may prevent beetles from trespassing in your garden.

Caterpillars

About this bug: Caterpillars may look charming, but as they increase in size, their mouths grow even larger; leaving gaping holes in their feasting paths. 

Organic pest control solutions: Once they become butterflies, they will deter harmful pests in your garden. But if their caterpillar stage is wreaking havoc on your garden, a natural pest control option is plucking them off the plants and make your own organic pesticides (see recipe below) to deter them from inching along your favorite vegetables.

Leafhoppers

About this bug: Feeding on plant sap, leafhoppers are another villainous garden pest.  Leafhoppers belong to the Cicadellidae family, and there are numerous species that could damage your garden.  Just as their name implies, these insects hop from plant to plant when disturbed. Ranging in size from approximately ¼ – ½ inch, wedge-shaped leafhoppers feed on plants using their sucking mouthparts, similar to their sidekick; the aphid.  Some species of leafhoppers can transmit a virus particularly harmful to beets, tomatoes and other crops causing crinkled, dwarfed or distorted roots and veins. 

Organic pest control solutions: If you suspect a small leafhopper problem, forceful water makes for natural pest control. For more severe infestations, consider incorporating beneficial insects ladybugs, lacewings, hoverflies and praying mantids in the garden (see Aphids for plants that attract these insects).

Mealybugs and White Flies

About this bug: Common in indoor plants, these critters can weaken your plants while mealybugs leave a sticky substance behind. Normally infestations occur from a new infested plant exposing the others to the insect. 

Organic pest control solutions: To keep these pests at bay, try creating more air circulation in the area the plants reside in. For severe infestations, spray the leaves with diluted alcohol which acts like organic pesticides (remember to administer a test a patch first). Neem oil, plant based soaps and even natural dish detergent has also been studied to rid your plants of these non beneficial insects. 

Slugs and Snails

About this bug: Similar to caterpillars, these plump pests leave holes in your plants, while leaving behind their trademark sticky trail.  

Natural solutions: Luckily, slugs and snails go wild for a cold brew, and some prefer leaving a container of beer at the base of the plant for the slugs to eventually drown in. If the thought of watching a slug drown in your favorite stout seems hard to swallow (pardon the pun), try attracting lizards and garden snakes to your garden by leaving sunning stones and water nearby.  Your garden will feel like an oasis to these slug-loving reptiles.

*Make your own organic pesticides*

Caffeine Spray: Combine a few tablespoons of used coffee grounds with herbs like: catnip, lavender, yarrow and thyme which acts like organic pesticides. Add 2 cups of water, and allow at least 24 hours for the mixture to steep. Strain, and spray liberally on insects and plant leaves. Combine with organic pesticides soap (below) for a stronger treatment.

Organic pesticides: Add 1-2 tablespoons of castile soap to 2 cups of water. Spray insects as needed. Add boiled garlic cloves to boost the effectiveness.

Beneficial nematodes: Beneficial nematodes are effective microscopic fighters of soil borne pests like gnats, fleas, rootworms, grubs and cutworms. Beneficial nematodes can be applied in mulch with a garden sprayer or watering can. Another benefit? Beneficial nematodes will also reproduce and spread for long lasting organic pest control. Have you tried beneficial nematodes in your garden?

Friends, how have you naturally treated bothersome pests in your garden?

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.  Grow healthy and nutritious food year round!

 

Be Sociable, Share!

Our Tower Garden Growing Plan

June 5th, 2014

1557724_10152471727061204_5763823841989791405_n

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.

Be Sociable, Share!

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!

Be Sociable, Share!

How to Grow Peppers Using Simple Hydroponics

March 18th, 2014

Antohi Romanian

 

For those who aren’t familiar with hydroponics, the method has been around for centuries and the word actually comes from the Greeks and Romans.  Roughly translated it means “working water” but a more practical/modern way to describe hydroponics is gardening without soil. The soil is replaced with an inert medium such as coconut fibers and the plant’s roots are fed directly with a nutrient rich solution.

There are dozens of benefits to hydroponics, but the simple reasons I use hydroponics can be summarized in one sentence.  Hydroponics plants grow faster, in less space, with greater yields all year long.  That’s a pretty great reason, right?

Hydroponics is a very flexible gardening method which can be used inside or outside. As an introduction, I wanted to share a brief guide to growing hot peppers with an indoor hydroponics system.

What you’ll need to get started:

  • Storage tote
  • 2 inch hole saw
  • 2” net pots
  • Clay pellets
  • Rapid Rooter plugs
  • pH Control Kit
  • Hydroponic nutrients
  • Hot pepper seeds – Humble Seed’s Hot Mama’s Peppers and Chiles will give you a nice variety to work with
  • Air stone
  • Air pump
  • Air Tubing
  • Air tube clips

Feel free to improvise your supplies as you can steal a lot of these things from an old fish tank setup!

Step 1: Prepare the grow tray

Arrange the net pots upside down on the lid of the tote.  Leave about 4” between the pots to allow enough growing space for the pepper plants to grow. Draw a line around each pot. Using a 2” hole saw and drill, cut out each circle.  If you don’t have a drill you can use a box cutter and some elbow grease.

Step 2: Prep the reservoir

Fill the storage tote with water.  Leave about 3 inches of headroom at the top.  This will allow the peppers’ roots to touch the water without being flooded.  Add the hydroponic liquid nutrition and pH adjuster. Note: Nutrition and pH kit directions vary by brand but all are very straight forward. 

Step 3: Setting up aeration system

  • Drill a small hole above the water line and thread the air tubing through.
  • Attach the air stone and use the clips to hold the system at the bottom of the reservoir.
  • Attach the check valve and air pump to the other end.

Step 4: Sewing the pepper seeds

  • Soak Rapid Rooter plugs for 30 seconds
  • Place one Rapid Rooter in each pot and place the pots in the pre-drilled holes
  • Put 3 seeds into each plug so you are assured that at least 1 germinates
  • Fill any extra space in the pots with clay pellets but make sure you do not block the hole on the rooter plugs

 

Once you have completed these steps, it’s time to wait and complete some simple weekly maintenance.  You should see the seeds start to sprout in about 7 to 10 days.  Each week you should check water pH, inspect the leaves for healthy growth, and add nutrition supplements as directed. As the pepper plants start producing peppers you will likely need to provide simple trellis support.

I hope this hydroponic introduction and pepper growing tutorial has peaked your interest so you will be incorporating this technique into your gardening this year. 

Readers, have you had success with growing hydroponic peppers? What varieties are your favorites?

 

About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This great content was written by Chris Wimmer. Chris maximizes his 400 square foot downtown Chicago backyard with hydroponics. You can find more hydroponic tips at his hobby blog: healthsmartliving.com/hydroponics/

Be Sociable, Share!

The California Drought, Food Prices & How to Prepare

March 2nd, 2014

dreamstimefree_32926

You may be clear across the country, and have heard little discussion about the current drought California is facing. Yet there is a good likelihood it can and will affect your food prices. Read on to discover why this is, and how you can prepare for it.

Some background: Much of the drought began in 2013, when the state received well below normal rainfall that year. Coupled with this issue, the neighboring Sierra Nevada region had only 10% of it’s average snowfall in December, leaving the reservoir levels at 30% of normal.  Almost immediately, desperate lawmakers passed mandatory water conservation orders across California to cut water consumption. The situation is serious enough for the Sacramento City Council to pass a water restriction forcing residents and businesses to cut usage by 20% or pay a fine up to $1,000.

To give you an image about the severity of this drought, this is what one blogger found as she drove through the farms of Central California, “…the fields were mostly dormant and being “prepared” for planting, but that did not prepare me for their utter NAKEDNESS. Not only were there no weeds or wild plants (even at the edges) but there were no cover crops, no mulches, no PROTECTION for the soil, either. The soil was dry and barren—a dust bowl just waiting to happen!”

How does the California drought affect your food prices?

For one, California is one of the leading food producers in the nation. With over 80,000 farms and ranches spread across the state, there’s a good chance that some of the food in your refrigerator was grown in California. Even more likely is that your olives, almonds, figs, persimmons, pistachios, prunes, strawberries, walnuts, dates and raisins were grown in the state – since California grows 90-100% of these crops distributed world wide.

Unfortunately, when these big farms aren’t getting the water they need, crops aren’t producing and even more troubling – fruit and nut trees take up to two years to recover. Therefore, families must anticipate two years of nation-wide increased food prices and food shortages. So, this begs the question-What you can do now?

Carolyn Nicolaysen, a disaster preparedness expert suggests families do the following before food prices start rising:

-Plan and plant a garden

-Stock up and store produce that is in season now

-Save and store 100% fruit juices

-Store abundant supply of any fruit or vegetable grown in California or any product using these as an ingredient.

-Store foods that contain any California grown produce as ingredients.

-Can or freeze and store produce grown in your garden (find a mentor to help plant and can if needed, help is out there!)

***Friends, what will you do to prepare for the increase in food prices? 

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.

Be Sociable, Share!

New Year’s Resolutions For Gardeners

December 27th, 2013

Saving Money

Brainstorming New Year’s Resolutions for 2014? As you start thinking about the new year, consider these mindful gardening practices that will improve your garden, your wallet, and the planet!

Save More Water:  With the growing concern of water sustainability, many are looking to reduce the need of water use in their own home and garden.  For some, simply trying to use less water is not the answer.  Rather, a new perspective on gardening with water conservation as the leading principal is becoming the new standard for 2014. With this in mind, consider building a Xeriscape garden equipped with water harvesting this year. Xeriscape gardening conserves water by designating three different zones based on water use and encourages the use of native and locally adapted plants.

Passive water harvesting simply directs excess rainwater where it is needed, and includes sloping sidewalks/ terraces and channeling roof water.  Also, by constructing well thought out earth mounds of berms and channels, one can passively water harvest by keeping water on site for plants to take advantage of. If passive water harvesting proves difficult or is simply not your thing – active rain water harvesting is the new trend that involves storing water for later use in rain barrels, cisterns or other storage systems.

Combat Pests Naturally: Using chemicals to combat pests and animals in your garden? That’s so 2013! This year opt for more natural methods. A sharp blast of water, plant-based soap, vinegar, and coffee are all useful (and powerful) ways to treat pests in your garden without harming the environment. Try this caffeine-spray for preventing aphids, flies and leafhoppers:  Caffeine Spray: Combine a few tablespoons of used coffee grounds with herbs like: catnip, lavender, yarrow and thyme. Add 2 cups of water, and allow at least 24 hours for the mixture to steep. Strain, and spray liberally on insects and plant leaves. Combine with insecticide soap (below) for a stronger treatment.

Plan Your Garden More Efficiently: Don’t spend 2014 mourning your frost bitten tomatoes or complaining about time wasted in the garden (we’ve been there). Take the time to plan out your garden this year, including what plants grow well in your region, which are most susceptible to frost, and what new plants you’d like to try. We also highly recommend this Garden Planner for both beginning and experienced gardeners.

Start Composting Your Trash: Why begin composting in 2014? For one, it reduces the amount of organic waste that ultimately ends up in landfills.  In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency claims that 14% of food ends up in land mills each year. Secondly, it’s more sanitary. Placing food scraps to rot in your neighborhood garbage can ultimately lead to rodents, raccoons and insects. When done correctly, composting in your home reduces the potential of these nuisances, while also posing less imposition to public health and safety. Most importantly, composting can create a rockin’ fertilizer for your home garden.

Grow Your Own Food (and share it!): Instead of driving to the grocery store to pick up perhaps some not-so fresh vegetables that have traveled great distances, take out the middleman this year. With some planning, you can build a garden with everything you enjoy just a few steps from your kitchen. Another plus? Even if you start small, you can slash your food bill by planting a garden. Be sure to choose seed varieties that are organic and non-GMO to ensure your family is also eating healthfully and sustainably in 2014.

More New Year’s Resolutions Ideas:

Why You Should Add Disaster Preparedness To Your New Year’s Resolutions

Five Reasons To Start A Garden This Year 

** Friends, what gardening New Year’s Resolutions do you have this year? **

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.

Be Sociable, Share!

Tips on Long-Term Storage of Your Homegrown Produce

October 29th, 2013

dreamstimefree_196732

When you grow your own food you know that the season matters. You have a glut of one kind of food on your hands in one season and then a few months later you are yearning to taste that special flavor once again. The winter time is particularly hard on people who are used to growing and eating their own foods. Unless you live in a very tropical climate there is not much you can grow in the midst of the cold and icy winter. However you can save your plenty for these times of want by properly preserving your produce.

While freezing and canning are options that will allow you to make the most of your home grown treats, sometimes we just want something that has not been processed. There are some foods that will successfully store for months in the right conditions. Here are some tips for storing these select items of produce to enjoy all winter long:

Apples

Storing apples is easier than you would think. It all starts out with the proper temperature. Apples continue to ripen at any temperature over forty degrees. However they freeze at temperatures less than thirty. Your ideal storage location would be a cellar or something similar which maintains a constant temperature of between thirty to forty degrees.

Once you have a place in mind, make sure the apples you pick are ripe. Ripe apples store the longest. Some varieties of apples store better than others too. Late ripening apples like Fuji, Rome or Red Delicious tend to store longer. Do not mix the varieties as all apple varieties ripen at their own pace. Make sure the apples are freshly picked and not over ripe before they go into storage. Smaller apples also tend to store for longer than larger ones.

You know the old saying, “One bad apple spoils the bunch”? Well, it is actually true! Make sure that the apples you pick are bruise and damage free. Even one apple that rots can spoil an entire bunch. Check your apples after storage as well to look for signs of rotting. Remove any rotting apples immediately before it spreads.

Apples like plenty of air flow and humidity. Some people even store them with a damp cloth over the top. However your goal should be to keep them at a constant temperature and keep them from bruising.

As apples tend to pick of the flavors of what they are stored near, do not store the apples close to items like onions or garlic. Potatoes are also a bad thing to store near apples as they make the apples ripen faster.

If you follow these directions then you can have fresh apples all winter long!

Garlic and Onions

Speaking of stinky produce, garlic and onions are both pungent and practical for long term storage. They both store extremely well and can last a very long time if properly prepared.

First of all, your onions and garlic should be dried before storing. This is best done by laying them out in a dry, well-ventilated area out of the sun. It can take over a week for them to dry completely but you will know when they are dry because the outer layer will become papery and brittle.

Once your onion and garlic are dry you need to store them properly. Onion likes a temperature of around forty degrees. Store them in a cool, dark place and they will last a long time. Mesh bags and crates work well for onion storage. Some people even hang them in pantyhose! Just make sure the onions are not tightly packed and have plenty of ventilation.

Garlic also loves ventilation and darkness; however it should not be stored with onions as they can hasten each other’s spoiling. Since garlic loves to be dry, you can store it at almost any temperature. The best way to store garlic long term is in a brown paper bag. Punch a few holes in the bag for ventilation and then staple or pin it shut. Place the bag in a dry, dark place and your garlic will last you for months.

Beans

Drying and storing beans for the winter is a process that has gone on for ages. Beans naturally dry up and are very easy to store with little effort. However there are some small tips you should be aware of.

First of all, you should let the bean pods dry on the plant. This will allow them to ripen fully and also make the harvesting process easier. Once you remove the dried seed pods from the pant it is a snap to harvest the beans. You will know they are ready to harvest when the pod becomes thin and papery and you can hear the beans rattle when shaken.

Remove the beans from the pod and spread out in a thin layer to dry completely. If you wish to speed up the process of air drying you can place them in a dehydrator or a very low temperature oven. To clean the beans simply blow away any dirt with a hair dryer.

Before storing the bans you should freeze them overnight to kill off any bugs. Then place the beans in an airtight container and store them in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. They are great in soups and meals all winter long!

Potatoes

Storing potatoes is something that many people rely on. As a root crop they can be kept rather easily through the winter. There are a few tricks to preserving them successfully however.

Some varieties of potatoes store better than others. Ones with thick skins usually store the best. Russet, Yukon Gold, and Kennebec are all good potatoes for long term storage.

First of all, when you harvest the potatoes make sure you do not wash them. You should only wash them right before you plan on using them. You can brush off any extra dirt but make sure not to damage the skin of the potato.

Before storing you need to cure the potatoes. This is done by laying them out on newspaper to dry in a cool, dark and well-ventilated location. Let their skins firm up and cure for two weeks before moving on to the next step.

Once they have cured you can move on to storage. The best idea is to get a box or storage container with ventilation. Layer the potatoes with newspaper, allowing for plenty of breathing room. I.e. newspaper, layer of potatoes, newspaper, and so on until the container is full.

Store your potatoes in a DARK, cool and dry location. They like temperatures in the forties. You should not refrigerate potatoes as it takes away from their flavor and nutritional value.

Regularly inspect potatoes for rot or eye formation. Once they start to grow eyes they get bitter. One rotten potatoes can also spoil the whole bunch, so remove it immediately.

Carrots and Beets

Another kind of root vegetable, carrots are commonly grown but less commonly stored correctly. Along with their red brethren, the beet, they are easy to keep all winter long. Here are some tips to keep your beets and carrots tasty through the chilly season:

First, when you harvest the carrots and beets you should cut off the green tops as close as you can without harming the root. Leaving the green part on your produce means that the moisture will be sucked from the root and that leaves your carrots and beets dry, cracked and less than tasty.

Inspect the carrots and beets for imperfections and do not wash them. Just gently brush off any excess dirt. In a box, layer the carrots and beets with slightly damp sand. Make sure there is sand between each layer. Carrots and beets need moisture but not too much or it will cause them to rot. However if it gets too dry they will crack and become inedible.

It is a delicate balance, but you should be able to keep them moist and safe when stored in a cool, dark place. Make sure to check regularly for dampness and rot and to remove any rotting carrots or beets so they do not spoil the rest.

As you can see, it is easy to store a variety of produce through the winter without having to freeze, can or even refrigerate them. Doing things the old fashioned way is often the best and with a little effort you can have great tasting produce all winter long!

 

About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This great content was provided by:

Blogging for was a natural progression for Allison once she graduated from college, as it allowed her to combine her two passions: writing and children. She has enjoyed furthering her writing career with www.nannyclassifieds.com. She can be in touch through e-mail allisonDOTnannyclassifiedsATgmail rest you know.

Be Sociable, Share!

The Taste of Summer And How to Preserve It By Canning

September 4th, 2013

Olives

Oh, the taste of summer. Who doesn’t love dipping a crisp tortilla chip into fresh tomato salsa, or enjoying a bite of corn on the cob smothered in butter or sprinkled with lime? With memories like that, canning vegetables and fruit is becoming a popular way to preserve the taste of our favorite seasons all year long.

Interested in preserving the taste of summer, but have never canned before?

Essentially, canning the taste of summer requires placing the sweet taste of seasonal fruits and vegetables into prepared jars and heating them to a temperature that microorganisms are unable to survive in (and it’s easier than you think!).  If done effectively, canning vegetables and fruits can prevent unnecessary waste with tasting results, save money, and provide a summer bounty for your family all year long, as well as in an emergency situation.

There are two main options for home canning the taste of summer: one is water bath canning and the other is pressure cooker canning.  While both effective, this post details water bath canning as it is user-friendlier for first time canners. We’re covering everything you need to know in this post, from what you need to get started, to a step-by-step guide to effective canning.

Water Bath Canning

Selecting The Correct Jars Mason and Bell jars are the two safest and most effective jars to use for canning the taste of summer because they are designed to heat at high temperatures, and come with a two-piece self-sealing lid.  Do no use commercial mayonnaise, baby food or pickle jars, as these are not suitable for high temperatures.

Supplies Needed Much like with any hobby, the start up costs for canning the taste of summer can seem daunting.  Yet as each year passes, count on saving money as you can reuse jars, canning racks, and other food preserving tools through the years. There are also several canning kits that are available on the market, but you can also purchase these items separately:

*A large traditional cooking pot, specialized canning pot, or pressure cooker to place jars in. Whichever you choose, be sure it has a secure lid to prevent spills.  The pot should also be large enough to fit in each jar with room at the top for water to flow. Check that it is no more than 4 inches wider than the burner for an even temperature.

*A jar rack works well to guarantee water flow, and to space the jars properly; which will prevent cracking.  If a jar rack is unavailable, some choose to use sanitized cotton cloths to separate and cushion each jar.

*Jar funnels helps to easily ladle food in, and prevents fingers from touching the jar lid.

*Several Mason or Ball Jars with two-piece self-sealing lids.

*Other Useful Supplies: Mixing bowls, saucepans, clean towels, a timer, measuring cups, tongs, a ladle, and a cutting board will all help ensure a smooth canning process.

Basic Step-By-Step Water Bath Canning This process is ideal for canning the taste of summer: pickled carrots, a cucumber-turned-dill-pickle concept, unwashed berries, jams, preserves, jellies, pickles and tomato sauce, and can offer intense flavor even after many months.

1. Sanitize all jars and lids by dishwashing them first, and then adding them to a large pot of boiling water.  Allow all jars to soak for at least 5 minutes.  Remove each jar with sanitized tongs, and place them on a clean towel.

2. Using sanitized tongs for larger pieces of food, or a jar funnel for sauces and jams, gently ladle or funnel the food into each jar.  Leave approximately ¾ of an inch at the top for the lid. Be sure to use fresh and seasonal produce for optimum taste and expiration life.

3. Seal each jar by placing the small metal disc on the lid of the jar, and twisting the circular piece until securely fastened

4. Place the jar rack inside a large pot of boiling water, allowing the handles to come up from the top.  Carefully lower each filled jar into the boiling water, until all jars are set and carefully spaced. Using the jar rack handles, lower in the jars and fold the handles inside the cooking pot.  Allow the jars to soak for approximately 30 minutes.

5. Carefully remove the jars using tongs, and allow them time to cool off.  Jars should be stored in a cool, dark and dry place to preserve the jar’s contents.

Bonus tip: Looking for a great recipe to get your canning off to the right start? Tomato sauces are excellent choices for first time canners.  The Producer includes the Rose Tomato, an heirloom variety with a beautiful, deep rose pink color. Meaty and flavorful, these tomatoes are perfect for tomato sauces.

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.

 

Be Sociable, Share!