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Let’s all give thanks to the parsnip!

November 19th, 2013

Parsnips

Are we the only ones who love root vegetables in the fall? While we all enjoy our standby potatoes and carrots – we are having a love affair with parsnips lately. Who can deny their sweet flavor and versatility? Here are eleven facts we found pretty darn interesting about our beloved Lancer Parsnips (and here’s where to find them).

1. Cultivated in Europe since ancient times and a relative of the carrot, the ivory-colored, fibrous parsnip offers sweet, nutty flavor and celery-like fragrance.

2. It can be harvested through the end of November, and if you wait until after the first frost of the year, you’ll find that they are delightfully sweeter, because cold temperatures turn the parsnip’s starch into sugar.

3. Because parsnips are so fibrous, they’re generally cooked before eating. Parsnips are the sweetest of all the root vegetables and easy to prepare.

4. Parsnips are chocked full of vitamin C, which is essential for building healthy connective tissues, teeth, gums, and the immune system.

5.  The parsnip is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. It is also rich in vitamin K, folate, and manganese.

6. Prior to planting, soak parsnip seeds in water for 24 hours for optimal germination.

7. Starting the parsnip seed outside is recommended. Plant in late spring or early summer about four months before the first frost. Harvest anytime between June and late November.

8. They can be sliced up or left whole when baked or boiled, and mashed with butter and cream. Try slicing parsnips into big chunks and steam like carrots.

9. These root vegetables are a delicious addition to roasts, soups and stews.

10. Flavors that complement this root vegetable include: allspice, brown sugar, chives, cinnamon, ginger, maple syrup, nutmeg, rosemary, and sage, to name a few.

11. Parsnips are especially wonderful when mashed with butter, cream, and spices – feel free to include potatoes in the mash too. This side dish is perfect for pairing with roasted meats:

Mashed Parsnips

(Serves 4)

  • 2 pounds parsnips, peeled, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • ¼ cup heavy cream

Place parsnips in a large saucepan then cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt to the water. Bring to a boil, lower heat then simmer for about 12 minutes or until parsnips are very tender. Drain parsnips then place in a food processor. Add butter nutmeg, cream, and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt; Process ingredients until smooth.

 

Roasted Parsnips with Cinnamon & Parsley

10 medium parsnips (appx. 1 – 1.5 lbs)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp. coriander

1/2 tsp. paprika

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. sea salt, or more, if desired

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

2 TBS. chopped fresh parsley

2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Peel the parsnips and cut each into 1-inch pieces crosswise, then cut the thicker pieces into halves or quarters to get chunks of roughly equal size. If the core seems pithy or tough, cut it out. You’ll have about 4 cups.

Arrange the parsnips in a single layer in a 9×13-inch baking dish. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat evenly. Combine the cumin, coriander, paprika, salt, and cinnamon in a small bowl and stir to mix. Sprinkle the spices evenly over the parsnip slices and toss until well coated.

Roast until tender and lightly browned on the edges, appx. 35 to 45 min., stirring once or twice during cooking. Sprinkle with the parsley and lemon juice and toss well. Taste and season if necessary before serving.

 

Readers…we’re curious how your parsnips did this year? What are your favorite ways to use them? 

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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How to Transition from a Summer to a Fall Vegetable Garden

September 14th, 2013

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Whenever we tell someone that we’re planting a fall organic vegetable garden, we sometimes hear, “Woh! I thought it was too cold to plant.” But there are quite a few vegetables we recommend planting at the end of the summer because they love the cool weather. Be sure to check off your chores, and you’re ready to go for fall!

Chores For Transitioning From a Summer To a Fall Garden

*First look around and see what’s working in your garden and what’s not. Pull out the plants that are no longer producing, and remove any lingering weeds or debris.

*Consider making or buying new tags or markers to label fall crops. We love this crop marker idea if you want to get your children involved!

*Before sowing in particularly hot climates, shade and water the area for a few days to allow the soil to cool down.

*Since the previous plants have used most of the nutrients from the soil, incorporate organic compost and smooth it out well. Adding compost will rejuvenate the soil when planting something new.

*Adding mulch will retain the seed moisture, and helps to prevent the soil from baking at the end of the summer. Straw or hay works well as an insulator, but there really is a variety of mulch options  you can use. If you’re concerned about keeping the straw down, consider using a floating row on top of the mulch.

What To Plant At The End Of Summer

The Brassica family in particular grows very well in cool weather (think broccoli, arugula, cabbage, lettuce, chard, collards, kale, spinach). Mustard greens also tend to be less bitter when grown in cool weather climates. Root crops like parsnips, turnips, beets, and radishes can also do quite well. Most of them can take a little frost – but you can extend the season up to 30 days (give or take depending on mother nature) by using a frost blanket. To learn more, check out our other frost suggestions for keeping your veggies safe. 

Planting Tips

*Count back from frost date but tack on extra time to the calculation. Remember that the days are getting steadily shorter and cooler as fall plants mature. Don’t expect them to produce as fast as in longer and warmer spring time days.

*You generally don’t want to plant a seed more than 3 times the thickness of the seed. Strive to plant the seed two times the thickness; remembering that any deeper can impose stress, making it an issue for the plant to grow above the soil.

*Sow approximately one seed about every two inches. You don’t want to plant too many together, yet being too skimpy can cause problems too! You will be thinning them out later, so make like Goldilocks when sowing seeds. You’ll find your rows will look “just right” after some practice.

*If you’re trying to conserve water, focus watering activities on the most vulnerable plants – along with the oldest trees and shrubs on the property.

**Fellow gardeners, what are you planting for your autumn 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.

 

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Get Crafty With Your Container Garden

April 16th, 2012

 

If you love quirky art projects, or inventive ways to display your gorgeous garden, then perhaps simple terra pots will seem a little “wah-wah” once you read these makeshift garden alternatives. A makeshift garden uses untraditional containers to display flowers, herbs, vegetables and peppers. The possibilities are endless! Which makeshift garden ideas are your favorite?

1. Decorative Chair – use a decorative dining room or patio chair and refurbish it to display your garden! To make your own garden chair, you’ll need to remove the seat and create a space to display your plants. Plant your favorite herbs, flowers or even small vegetables. (See a full tutorial with pictures here)

2. Vintage Bicycle – Give a vintage bicycle new life and make great use out of the front and back end baskets.  You may also add smaller baskets to the seat or pedals.  Fill each basket with coconut fiber and potting soil.  Plant your favorite herbs, flowers and small vegetables.

3. Picnic Basket – How often do you really use a picnic basket, perhaps twice a year? Give yours a full time job and allow your plants to be beautifully displayed from its openings.  Any sized picnic basket will work just fine, and remember to fill it with a good quality potting soil.  Plant a variety of herbs, flowers, small vegetables or even chilies for larger baskets — how creative is this basket?

4. Bird Bath – Old or unused ceramic birdbaths make wonderful displays for gorgeous herbs and flowers. Be sure to carefully drain holes at the bottom for proper drainage.

5. Dresser Drawers and Crates –  Distressed wood drawers and wine crates can create a unique, vintage feel in your garden or home. Be sure to drill holes at the bottom for proper drainage, and see this example.

6. Wheelbarrow – If you no longer use a wheelbarrow, don’t give it away! They create a quirky, rustic look when flowers, herbs and vegetables are displayed from them. Plant your favorite herbs, flowers or small vegetables. (See this tutorial)

7.  Toolbox – Using toolboxes to display your garden can create a fun conversation piece next time you have guests over.  Remember to drill in drainage holes, and fill the toolbox with potting soil.  This is a great idea for a small herb garden.

8. Used Tires – Some prefer using 1 – 2 tires for smaller gardens, while others stack several to create a tower of plants for display. Leave the tires as is for a recycled feel, or spray paint each for a decorative edge. Some studies show that used tires have the potential to release harmful chemicals in warm temperatures.  Therefore, inedible plants are recommended, and never display them in an enclosed area or in-doors. (A beautiful photo here)

9.  Tree stump – Tree stumps can be unsightly and difficult to mask. Why not make lemonade out of a lemon?  They can be quite beautiful with a variety of flowers and herbs rising out. Creating a makeshift garden out of a tree stump is a little more challenging – but well worth the effort.  This how-to gives thorough step-by-step instructions.

10.  Picture Frames – Picture frames filled with small plants can make a boring fence instantly adorable and functional! Window box frames work best, or use any frame with additional width to fit small pots with herbs or flowers. (A gorgeous example here)

 

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Growing Debt and Growing a Victory Garden

September 20th, 2010

 

Humble Seed will often point out reasons why growing your own food is important, from the freshest foods possible to a sense of personal accomplishment, but there’s another necessary reason why so many families today are turning to gardening: debt.

Today’s economy has forced many families into picking and choosing where they will spend their hard earned money, and sometimes, it can come down to what bills will be paid versus what types of meals will be put on the table. There are families feeling the pressure to buy more processed foods, because they are less expensive. Sadly, processed foods can be very unhealthy. There are also families choosing to grow their own foods, because starting from seed is inexpensive, and the yields can be high—with enough vegetables to feed your family and more for an entire growing season. Aside from the expenses of getting your garden ready and maintaining it, growing your own foods can be very economical.

If you do not have the space or yard for your own garden why not partner with a family member, friend or neighbor and create a joint victory garden? Victory gardens were first created during World War I and World War II in order to minimize the pressure on the public food supply that was caused by the wars. They were herb, fruit and vegetable gardens that were planted at families’ residences and public parks. Today, with the slowly recovering economy and continuing frustrations with the way our foods are being produced and processed, the word ‘victory’ can be an inspiration for a better and more sustainable world. With the popularity of victory gardens growing, it’s clear that people are making informed choices about where they will spend their money, how they will manage to stay afloat during the bad economy, and what foods they will feed their families.

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Guest Video Blog: Power Reasons to Grow Power Food

July 10th, 2010

Adam Hart is a nutritional coach, whole foods chef, speaker and author. He been a nutritional researcher for 10 years, studying the ideal foods for attaining optimal health. Make sure to check out Adam’s website, Facebook and Twitter pages.  A ton of great information!
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Big Garden-Small Carbon

June 6th, 2010

To determine your “carbon footprint” means to measure the amount of greenhouse gases that you or your organization is adding to the atmosphere. The term was coined from carbon dioxide, the primary human contributor to climate change. CO2 is a greenhouse gas, which means it traps solar heat in our atmosphere ‘changing’ our climate’s typical patterns.

Everything has a carbon footprint, whether it’s the car you drive, the shoes on your feet or the food at your table. Food requires energy to be grown and is a globally transported commodity. That’s a lot of attention for a tomato.

Whenever you use energy created from fossil fuels, you’re generating carbon emissions. To offset your carbon emissions, or become carbon-neutral, simply means to neutralize your part in the polluting of our environment.

As a green consumer, may people wonder how they can be more sustainable or offset their impact on the planet. Since carbon dioxide emissions are the principal human cause of climate change, carbon offsets are the key to promoting a greener environment. A carbon offset represents the carbon dioxide emissions accounted for in a verified project that reduces CO2 in the atmosphere. Offsetting your lifestyle or business is a great way to market yourself as sustainable, separate yourself from competitors and do your part to combat climate change. Be creative, you can offset nearly anything!

Like EcoAid, Humble Seed’s goal is to show that environmental activism is smart, proactive and part of a good business model. That’s why their product promotes growing locally, skipping the need to transport and grow food away from your backyard. Not everyone has space for an entire farm, but an herb or chili pepper garden is a great start.

Brendan Cook
Brendan is the sustainability director for EcoAid and can help you or your organization start saving money and being sustainable.
Website: http://www.ecoaidnow.com/

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