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10 eco-friendly tips for keeping your garden pest free

July 20th, 2014

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Growing your own food is rewarding, beneficial to the environment and cost effective. If pests take over your garden it doesn’t take long until your efforts go to waste. In the event of a serious outbreak professional exterminators, such as North London Pest Control, could pest-proof the area to prevent further damage. However, for minor pest problems, these tips may help.

Sacrificial Crops

Slugs are definitely a garden’s worst enemy. Sadly, there’s no easy fix. Kill them and eventually more will turn up in their place. If you’re growing lettuce, plant a few sacrificial crops around them. Growing loose leaf varieties on the edges should stop them venturing into the inner rows.

Vaseline and Rock Salt

Even if you have fruit and vegetables in containers, slugs will find their way inside. To prevent them from touching the pots in the first place, mix together equal amounts of Vaseline and rock salt and smear it over your pots. While the salt will prevent slugs getting inside, the Vaseline will keep it securely in place, even in wet weather.

Enviromesh (garden netting)

To keep away carrot flies, enclose your carrot patch in a 3 foot high cage of enviromesh. Carrot flies can’t get any higher than this; therefore, they won’t be able to gain access to your vegetables.

Peppermint Oil

If you can’t get hold of any garden netting, add a few drops of peppermint oil in your watering can when you next water your carrots. The strong smell is enough to keep carrot flies and bay and won’t affect the taste of your vegetables.

Ultrasonic Repellents

Ultrasonic repellents are often used in gardens to ward off cats and dogs; however, most of them also work against rabbits and like-minded creatures. The high-pitched frequency is inaudible to most humans, but will scare away larger pests when they come within a certain proximity of your area.

Squirrel Traps

Squirrels will dig up bulbs, steal fruit and gnaw bark off trees. Luckily, they’re fairly easy to entice. Set up some humane squirrel traps using fruit as bait. Once caught, let them loose in a nearby wooded area.

Wire Mesh

If you truly want to rabbit and bird proof your garden, encase the whole area in wire mesh. While it’s not particularly pleasing on the eyes, it’s the only sure-fire way to prevent larger pests from eating your food.

Coffee Granules

One of the best things about spreading coffee granules over your compost is that slugs hate them. In addition, they are pH neutral, contain nitrogen and are a great fertilizer! When you start to see the results you’ll never chuck them in the trash again.

Water Sprinklers

Water sprinklers are great at scaring away large pests. Like ultrasonic sound devices they will deter cats, dogs, rabbits and birss, and will only activate when they detect movement within a certain radius.

Egg Shells

Caterpillars are perhaps one of the most annoying garden pests and consume a surprisingly large amount of food. If you regularly find caterpillars on leaves, crush up egg shells and place them at the base of the plant. Most caterpillars hate treading on them.

 

Not all pest control techniques are harmful. There are plenty of eco-friendly ways to stop pests from ruining your garden. Before you start taking drastic measures try out these simple tips.

 

Folks, how do you keep pests from feasting on your garden goodies?

 

About the Author:

This great content was provided by Aaron Hopkins. Aaron is a freelance web designer, his passion is in all things creative. Also a keen gardener who prides himself on growing the best carrots in Hertfordshire and has even won local awards!

 

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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Week Four Tower Garden Fun- Team Ann Arbor

June 29th, 2014

Hi Humble Seeders!

Last month we featured a contest in which we gave away a  Tower Garden. We thought it would be exciting to giveaway such a unique and easy-to-use growing system to one lucky person! We also thought it would be interesting to try the Tower Garden out ourselves here in Ann Arbor, we also had San Francisco-based teammate start one as well. We thought it would be interesting to see how the Tower Garden experience may vary with different locations and differing growing techniqes.

In just under an hour our Tower Garden was fully assembled, filled with water and ready for action. We started our very own Humble Seed utilizing the included seed-starting materials and transplanted our seedlings to the tower the first week of June.  Currently, we spend not more than 10 minutes a day to ensure our plants are growing like weeds! It truly is amazing to witness such rapid plant growth! Well, we can say we haven’t had this much fun gardening in quite a long time!

Check out our Tower Garden photos below:

Week 1 -Jun 12, 2014

The Tower Garden Experiment

Week 4- June 29, 2014

Week 4

Here’s what’s going on inside the reservoir:

Week 4 Root System

Roots extending down through the tower to the reservoir tank.

Roots extending down through the tower to the reservoir tank.

We hope to have more exciting updates next weekend and perhaps even some fruit development!

Now, here are a few extra things we  in Ann Arbor are doing that might help you with your Tower Garden.

1. We change out the water in the reservoir every 7-10 days to ensure there is no waste or toxic build-up in the tank. And, to make things easy, we invested in this hose filter that  removes or greatly reduces thousands of common water contaminants and hazards along with 90-percent of chlorine and 98-percent of dissolved metals. In between reservoir turn-overs, we top the tank off daily with water from our hose (we find that about 2.5 gallons of water evaporates daily).

2. Along with the recommended addition of the Tower Garden Mineral supplements (Nitrogen, Calcium, Iron, Phosphate,Soluble Potash, Magnesium, Sulfur, Boron, Copper, Manganese, Molybdenum, and Zinc), we add our own super charged growing juice consisting of 76 trace organically-bound earth minerals. We steep Bloomin Minerals in a food safe- 5 gallon bucket and add this nutrient dense water to the reservoir after every turn-over.

3. By adding these minerals we are raising the Brix level of our plants and ultimately our food.  Not only are we ensuring we are growing nutritionally-dense foods packed with minerals, we are also deterring insects.  Bugs don’t like the taste of high Brix plants. Insects generally target weaker, unhealthy plants. We haven’t seen any bugs messing with our Humble Seed plants!

4. We choose to also invest in a electronic Ph tester for ease and accuracy. We strive to maintain the Ph level around 5.5. It takes a little bit of time after you do a full reservoir change out to get your Ph stabilized but after that its very low maintenance.

5. We tested out some expensive boutique seed along with an eggplant seedling from large gardening chain store to see how they fare against our seed. Well, the eggplant seedling is on life support and the paper pack strawberry seeds were D.O.A. And, as you can see our Humble Seed plants are doing what they do best-GROW!  (Did you know we have some of the highest germination rates out of all the seed companies?)

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Store-bought eggplant seedling was immediately decimated. Could be due to lack of minerals…. Plant was pruned back and is currently doing much better!

6. We rotate our Tower Garden daily to ensure sun exposure is being distributively evenly over time to all of our plants. The dolly really makes this a simple task.

7. Oh, this should have been at the beginning but prior to starting our seed we preconditioned the rockwool with a conditioning solution to stablize and adjust the rockwool ph to a most favorable condition. Outside of rockwool, what have you found that works best in hydroponic growing system?

8. We are staggering our lettuces to ensure succession harvesting. Thus, you may notice empty slots that are on reserve for future kale and lettuce seedlings.

9. HUGE tip- We marked our growing slots with a Sharpie and then made note of what seedling we transplanted where.

So, we have been learning a lot the last few weeks about this type of gardening and we really enjoy it. We think the Tower Garden is the ideal system for those who have limited time, space, and perhaps  limited mobility. We are confident that through the course of a growing season or two, the Tower Garden will be very cost effective and paying for itself in no time at all.

 

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 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.

 

 

 

 

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Week 5 Tower Garden Updates-San Francisco Team

June 29th, 2014

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We’re a little over a month into our Tower Garden experience, and we are thrilled by how well our vegetables are taking shape. We transferred our 3 inch tall seedlings into the Tower Garden 2 weeks ago, and they all have almost doubled in size. Our Black Seeded Simpson Leaf Lettuce, Red Saladbowl, Rose Tomatoes, and Tavera Green Beans have the most growth followed by the Yankee Bell Peppers. (Check out our 1st and 2nd photo for comparison). This is our first time gardening in the fog prone Bay Area, as we’re recent transplants from Arizona. We’ve discovered that finding a sunny location for the suggested 5-6 hours is our biggest challenge. After testing out various locations, we settled on a spot that achieves about 4 hours of sunlight a day, and it does appear to be enough.

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We found that filling the reservoir and adding the nutrients took the most time, but is easy to accomplish. The Tower Garden comes with a Tower Tonic Mineral Blend along with a pH tester kit, and pH adjusters to achieve an optimal range of 5.5-6.5. Twice a week we adjust our pH and water levels if we find they are out of range. This normally takes 10-15 minutes.

photo 1

We also rotate our garden a quarter turn each day because of it’s placement next to a wall. We want to achieve optimal plant uniformity. This task requires two people, or one person with serious biceps!

Transferring our seedlings from the rock wool starter cubes to the Tower Garden was very easy. Though, taking the time to care for the tender roots of each seedling is very important. (Below are our photos showing transferring the seedlings out of the cubes and into Tower Garden. The last photo shows the growth 2 weeks later).

A bonus we haven’t mentioned yet is the lovely water trickle sound the Tower Garden makes while on our patio. Our family is constantly commenting that it sounds like we have a garden fountain or babbling brook nearby! I also think it lulls our toddler to sleep on most days. Now that’s priceless.

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**Friends, what are you growing in your garden right now? What else would you like to learn about our Tower Garden experience? 

 

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 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.

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5 Reasons Why Ordering Seed Now Is Important For Tomorrow

June 19th, 2014

 

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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.

 

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The Value Of Humble Seed: We ExSeed Expectations!

April 29th, 2014

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Imagine opening one palm full of conventional, store bought seeds, and the other with Humble Seeds. Would you be able to spot the difference? Most probably not. But is investing in Humble Seeds worth it? Absolutely! While your two hands full of seed may look the same, only conventional leaves the buyer with numerous unanswered questions: For starters….

*How long were the seeds in the store for? 

*Were they exposed to the sun, rain and other elements? 

*Were they seeds genetically modified? 

*Or perhaps inoculated with pesticides? 

*What other chemicals were these seeds treated with?

*Is there a possibility that these seeds were hybrid or pollinated in a controlled environment, and are now unable to regenerate a seed for future planting? 

In essence, life is like a package of store bought seeds, you never know what you’re going to get. We soon begin to realize that all seeds are not alike.

The Difference Humble Seed simply doesn’t leave unanswered questions. It’s a relief for so many of us who care about what ends up on our plate. We do this by ensuring all of our seeds are non- GMO and non-hybrid quality. We also feature numerous organic and heirloom varieties in each seed kit. In addition, all of our products are carefully stored within temperature controlled environments prior to being shipped directly to your home or business, ensuring the most reliable seed available with the highest germination rates.

Furthermore, our seed offers…

*Fresher herbs, fruit, and vegetables with more nutritional value than their store-bought counterparts.

*FDA food-safe containers, along with our re-sealable Mylar® bags, keep seeds fresh in between plantings, allowing you to plant now or later.

*Seed without the direct exposure to chemicals 

*An opportunity to save money by purchasing seeds in bulk and growing your own foods.

*More family engagement around a backyard experience, and an opportunity to educate children on the importance of gardening for a sustainable way of living.

*A chance to learn how to garden using organic growing practices. 

*An opportunity to sustain yourself with garden know-how in case future disasters deplete our nation’s food supplies. 

*Open-pollinated seeds, meaning all seeds are pollinated the way nature intended. 

*We offer our seeds in themed, bundled kits. When you purchase a garden kit, you get to choose from a variety of carefully themed packages that are convenient and wonderful for busy lifestyles. Whether you are a spicy food fan and prefer a variety of hot and spicy chilies, want to grow your own herb garden, or you’re someone who desires the freshest and most nutritious vegetables to choose from; Humble Seed has a package that will suit your gardening needs for all growing regions within North America.

Our Full Line of Themed Seed Kits

Uncle Herb’s Favorites

Hot Mama’s Peppers and Chiles

Veggin’ Out

The Producer

Other Popular Items You Might Like

Haven Brand Natural Brew Tea

Humble Seed Garden Planner

We’d love to know: What are reasons you choose Humble Seed over conventional seed?

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.

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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!

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The California Drought, Food Prices & How to Prepare

March 2nd, 2014

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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.

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Indoor Garden- Essentials for Year-Round Edibles

February 2nd, 2014

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Maintaining a steady stream of vegetables throughout the year can be difficult in some places. Let’s face it, most plants were never built to produce edibles while covered in snow. Although the weather outside may be frightful, your indoor garden can still be delightful. As long as you can provide what they need…let ‘em grow, let ‘em grow, let ‘em grow. Setting all fun aside, you can maintain a good indoor garden that can produce year round edibles. What are the essentials for creating an indoor garden?
1. Temperature Variance - It is important to provide a stable temperature that can allow fruits and vegetables to grow. For most edibles, a temperature between 72 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. This can be harder to maintain in the winter than you may realize, however. Drafts, windows, gaps in the doors and other instances could drop the temperature too low for a plant to flourish. Keep your indoor garden as warm as possible throughout the winter months.

2. Light - While many people believe that only heat lamps and sunlight can be used to grow an effective indoor garden, you should never underestimate the power of a $20 fluorescent ballast and bulb. Although sunlight allows for the production of vitamin D, plants utilize photosynthesis to exist – meaning virtually any light source will do. There have been many gardeners who saved money while providing fruits and vegetables by providing a regular balance of light through CFL and long fluorescent tubes.

3. Containment - You need an area that is not going to be trafficked by people and pets that could ruin a plant or a crop. This is especially difficult if you have cats and dogs. However, you can keep your furry friends out of these indoor gardens by using a cheap roll of screen that you would use on windows and doors. As long as you’re not growing anything of consequential interest such as mint or catnip, your pets are easily deterred by the screen mesh.

 

Putting it All Together

Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a shelving unit with built in lighting, you could spend less than half of the cost and build a unit yourself. It doesn’t take a great deal of engineering skill or electronic nuances to build an effective edible producing garden. Must have indoor gardening supplies, include:

-A shelving unit: These can be as high as $60 or more for large plastic shelves from your local hardware store.

-Fluorescent lights: The long tube ones are better for mounting on the shelves lengthwise. Just make sure the ballasts are shorter than the width of the shelving unit.

-Roll of screen mesh: These rolls are usually quite inexpensive at hardware stores. You’ll want to wrap the screen around the openings, but leave a place where you can enter and water your plants.

-Pots and containers for your plants: These are usually inexpensive, too – especially if you pick them up at yard sales throughout the summer.

-Power strip: You’ll need one of these if you plan on using more than two florescent ballasts.

Of course the screen is not necessary if you don’t have pets or children that can mangle the plants. The creation of this garden unit is simple enough and can provide an endless stream of edibles if you time the plantings correctly. As long as you can simulate the ideal growing environment, any plant can flourish indoors. 

 

Folks, what successes have you had with indoor gardening?

 

About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This great article was contributed by Elizabeth Reed. Elizabeth is a freelance writer and a resident blogger at Live in Nanny. She particularly enjoys writing about parenting, childcare, health and wellness. In addition, she is an expert consultant on issues related to household management and kids.

 

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5 Easy Tips For Seed Starting Indoors

January 22nd, 2014

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Starting seeds indoors can sound confusing to beginner gardeners – especially with the extra steps involved.  Yet the benefits make the extra steps worthwhile. For one, plants have a better chance of thriving in harsh weather, and secondly, seeds are more likely to stay organic from the start.

Here are five tips to get your seed underway.

Prep Your equipment Collect the necessary equipment and supplies for seed starting. You can start simple by using good old-fashioned yogurt cups, seed starting potting mix, and sunlight. As you get the hang of it, you may want to invest in seed flats (large containers that can hold many seedlings), peat pots, nutrient-rich potting mix, a grow-light system built for seed starting indoors, heating mats and cables, and organic compost.

Have A Plan Save yourself a lot of time (and heartache) and buy a Garden Planner before seed starting.  The planner will provide all the information your need for starting your seeds indoors – from when to start and frost dates, to planting seed depth and when to transfer outdoors.

Get Your Seed Cozy Prepare your seeds indoors by first gathering your containers and make a few drainage holes. Fill each container with a moistened seed starting mix (either store bought or make your own), and sow in seeds carefully. A good rule of thumb is seeds ought to be at a depth of about three times the thickness of the seed.

Give the seeds a light sprinkle of water and place plastic wrap or a sheet of glass over the containers for a cozy and moist environment. Ideally, you want each plant to be at a humid 70 degrees F. for optimal germination. Keep the soil moist by misting with water, or filling the trays with water below.

Maintain With Attentiveness When you first notice your seed sprouting, go ahead and move your plants to a bright location (after clicking your heels up in the air!). The bright location can be a sunny window, a greenhouse, under fluorescent grow lights, or an alternative steady high-powered light source. Keep in mind that if you live in an area with little sunlight or short days, you may want to consider an alternative lighting system.

Next, seedlings should be moved into a cooler location. Continue composting and lightly water your plants a few days a week. Also, many gardeners practice gently ruffling out seedlings so that roots and stems grow strong. Once the plant is too large for the container, transfer to a larger one without damaging the fragile root system.

Harden Them Off After consulting your planner (see tip 2), determine the date that you will transfer your plants outdoors. One week prior, begin toughening up your plants by exposing them to the outdoors a few hours a day. Start by placing them in a shady location, and gradually allow for more time exposed to the sunlight and weather patterns. When you’re ready, go ahead and transfer your plants outdoors unless you’re experiencing terrible weather.

***Friends, what are your tips for starting your seeds indoors? Let’s hear your successes! Also, what didn’t work?

 

About us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease.  Enter seed15 at checkout to save 15% off your next order.

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Tips on Long-Term Storage of Your Homegrown Produce

October 29th, 2013

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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!

 

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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.

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