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Preparing Your Vegetable Garden For Fall

September 14th, 2014

 

Rotate Crops

Right now, before you forget, mark a few days in your calendar to prep your garden for the fall season. Fall is a wonderful time to enjoy seasonal pumpkins, squash, green beans, broccoli and cabbage. A full weekend is all you need to get everything prepped and ready to go. Here’s how we prepare our garden for Fall.

Clean Out The 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. Remove plants that are diseased, old or damaged by pests – they will most likely never produce abundantly again. Weeds also grow rampant in the summer time, and need to be pulled – or made into a snack. Our guide to preventing and removing weeds can help with this endeavor. Leave all frost friendly veggies if the foliage is still healthy and producing. Remember that disease-free plants can be added to the compost bin. If you’re suspicious they have a problem, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Take it from us, you don’t want the same issues coming back to haunt you while you should be festively decorating for Halloween (been there). 

Loosen Up The Soil 

Using a flat shovel, or a digging fork – begin chopping up the bare soil. Flip over the soil using a “thrust-tilt-flip-chop” rhythm. You’ve got this! Now do it one more time (soil is at its best when tilled twice). 

Amend the Soil & Incorporate Organic Compost 

Amending the soil is vital. Your previous plants have stripped it of its rich nutrients. Adding worm castings or an organic fertilizer with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (potash) can enhance any vegetable in your garden. Also, you may want to incorporate organic compost and smooth it out well. Adding compost will rejuvenate the soil and add vital nutrients for your new plants.

Cover Up Your Soil 

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

Think About Sunlight Take note of the position of your garden and the sun. Decide which plants will require full or partial sun, and re-position your garden accordingly. Use large plants (like sunflowers) to protect plants that require more shade. Remember the saying, “The right plant in the right space”

When To Start Seed 

Most seed needs to start before the nights turn cold. If you live in a climate with early frost dates (zones 1-4), your fall vegetable garden should be started mid-summer, between July and August. Even if your daytime temperatures are still in the 80’s and 90’s, evening temps will start to dip and the length of day light will begin to decrease. Therefore, select seed varieties with a small number of days to maturity and get them in the ground on time. 

Plan What You’ll Need For Fall

Consider making or buying new tags or markers to label fall crops (Check out these super adorable DIY markers that kids can help with!).  If you’re thinking about which plants will do well in the Fall, 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 by using a frost blanket. To learn more, check out our other frost suggestions for keeping your veggies safe. 

A Reminder About Frost Damage: To prevent frost damage, the best method is to move plants in containers or pots inside before the first frost. However, if plants are rooted in the ground, use old blankets, sheets and burlap sacks and lightly drape them over your plants in the evening.  Make sure to remove the covers in the morning so that each plant receives plenty of necessary sunlight.  Stones, stakes or bricks can also be used to prevent covers from blowing off.  Avoid using heavy blankets or place wire around the plant to balance the weight and prevent crushing.

***Friends, we’re curious: What are you planting in your garden this fall? 

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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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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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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Tips and Tricks to Beat the August Heat!

August 14th, 2011

 

During the dog days of summer, when it’s oppressively hot, you and your plants need some TLC. It only takes a few hours for the sun’s rays to damage your plants beyond repair. Here are some quick and easy tips and tricks to help make what’s left of summer gardening more beneficial for your plants and more bearable for yourself.

  • Watering. Depending on what region you live in, you may be experiencing drought. If so, and if you are dealing with water restrictions, you will need to be thoughtful with the day(s) and time(s) you water. If you can, water your plants deeply and early in the morning. If you have drip irrigation, great! If not, you may want to invest in soaker hoses. And if you live in an area where it may be raining every now and then, a rain barrel is a great way to water your vegetables and reduce your water bills.
  • Feeding your plants. Because many vegetables begin to fruit in hot weather it’s important that you continue to provide them with nutrients. One easy way to do this is by side-dressing your plants with compost.
  • Taking note of your plants. When the heat is on, plants will show signs of distress. Look for browning and/or wilted leaves and little to no flowering. You may be able to save your plants for successful harvesting. Make sure to mulch 3 to 4 inches to help conserve water, and when watering, give your plants a good, deep soak. Mulching also cools the soil temperature by shielding it from direct sunlight.
  • Shade. If your plants are showing signs of excessive heat stress, you should provide them with shade during the hottest part of the day, generally between 11am and 3pm. You can purchase shading material at your local garden center or you can construct a shade barrier using old bed sheets and poles.
  • You. Summer’s heat can be brutal and dangerous so it’s important that you protect yourself when you’re tending to your garden during the day. Using sun block and wearing a wide brimmed hat, loose fitting pants and a light-colored long-sleeved shirt or tee shirt will help reduce skin damage due to the sun’s powerful rays. And make sure to have plenty of water with you if you’ll be working in the garden for any length of time. If you can, pull weeds and clean the garden in the evening.

August is one of the cruelest months for plants, but with care and caution you can continue to enjoy bountiful summer harvests.

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Readymade Seeds Make Growing Food Simple

July 27th, 2011

Humble Seed kits in sustainable packaging made from up to 75 percent post-consumer recycled content.

Humble Seed was recently featured by Earth911.com.  In case you missed it, here’s the article in it’s entirety. And, in honor of this write-up, we’re extending a 25% discount to all orders placed by September 1st. Enter Earth911 at checkout to lock in the savings.

Readymade Seeds Make Growing Food Simple

According to a 2009 National Gardening Association survey, nearly one-third of Americans planned on growing food that year; that’s a 19 percent increase over 2008.

“There’s definitely a trend back to the basics,” says Kristen Mitchell, who started Humble Seed, an online garden seed company, in 2009 with her husband. “There are several motivators for this; they love to cook and want fresh food. We’re in tough economic times and growing your own food saves hundreds if not thousands of dollars. It’s also a family engagement opportunity, and more than that, people are starting to have concerns about where their food is coming from and safety issues. For all of those reasons, people want to start a garden.”

Humble Seed gives the average person the ability to start garden pretty easily.

The heirloom, certified organic, non-GMO and non-hybrid seeds come in pre-assembled packs – sort of a grab-and-go garden – like Hot Mama’s Peppers and Chiles; Veggin’ Out, complete with cucumber, broccoli, cherry tomato and many other salad staples; and the mother of all kits, The Producer. With everything from cantaloupe to beets, this kit is often donated to community gardens and charity organizations, like the Dinner Garden, because it contains so many basic selections, but it can be utilized at home as well.

“We hope to take the fear out of gardening,” Mitchell says. In addition to creating seed packs, the Humble Seed website offers lots of advice and free recipes. The company strives to create an “excellent gardening community… and be the conduit between the thought and the action,” Mitchell says.

Mitchell also suggests looking up your local permaculture guild, which can answer questions specific to your region and climate. “Working with community gardens helps a lot, too, because usually master gardeners are present, and it’s easy to duplicate at home,” she says.

Humble Seed sets itself apart in another area: packaging.

First of all, the Mylar envelops that hold the seeds are resealable and reusable. In the right conditions of low moisture and light, say in your home refrigerator, these seeds can last years.

Secondly, the paperboard packaging that holds all of the envelops is recyclable and biodegradable. It’s also made from up to 75 percent post-consumer recycled material.

“We’re all about keeping things simple and walking the walk on sustainability, but still providing a value-add, both for the consumer and the seller,” Mitchell says.

More than anything, Mitchell hopes to reinvent the typical garden seed company. “Just kind of elevating something that’s always been there. Like what Starbucks did for the coffee bean. They took a new approach to something that was around forever.”

You can order seed kits and other gardening tools on the Humble Seed website or join the gardening conversation on Facebook.

by Megan Dobransky
Published on July 22nd, 2011

Thanks to Megan Dobransky of Earth 911 for this wonderful feature on Humble Seed.  

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Summer Reading: Gardening Style

July 12th, 2011

During the dog days of summer, when it’s just too hot to completely enjoy the great outdoors—otherwise known as “your yard”—there’s nothing like being indoors in the comfort of air conditioning. It’s during these hazy, lazy days when relaxation is a true treat, like picking up a gardening book and curling up on the couch. From The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader to The Complete Chile Pepper Book: A Gardener’s Guide to Choosing, Growing, Preserving, and Cooking by Dave DeWitt and Paul W. Bosland to a cookbook overflowing with tempting recipes using summer’s finest vegetables, books are inspirational, thought-provoking and hard to put down!

If you love gardening and have yet to pick up a book this summer, here are some great picks to help you get you started on the road to relaxation:

The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader

Product Description

Remember how grandmother’s cellar shelves were packed with jars of tomato sauce and stewed tomatoes, pickled beets and cauliflower, and pickles both sweet and dill? Learn how to save a summer day – in batches – from the classic primer, now updated and rejacketed. Use the latest inexpensive, time-saving techniques for drying, freezing, canning, and pickling. Anyone can capture the delicate flavors of fresh foods for year-round enjoyment and create a well-stocked pantry of fruits, vegetables, herbs, meats, flavored vinegars, and seasonings. The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest introduces the basic technique for all preserving methods, with step-by-step illustration, informative charts and tips throughout, and more than 150 recipes for the new or experienced home preserver. Among the step-by-step tested recipes: Green Chile Salsa, Tomato Leather, Spiced Pear Butter, Eggplant Caviar, Blueberry Marmalade, Yellow Tomato Jam, Cranberry-Lime Curd, Preserved Lemons, Chicken Liver Pate, and more.

The Complete Chile Pepper Book: A Gardener’s Guide to Choosing, Growing, Preserving, and Cooking by Dave DeWitt and Paul W. Bosland

Product Description

Chile peppers are hot — in every sense of the word. They add culinary fire to thousands of dishes from a variety of cuisines and inspire near-fanatical devotion in those who have succumbed to their incendiary charms.

In this comprehensive book, world chile experts Dave DeWitt and Paul W. Bosland have assembled all the information that anyone with an interest in chile peppers could ever hope to find. Detailed profiles of the 100 most popular chile varieties include information on how to grow chiles; how to diagnose and remedy problems, pests, and diseases; and post-harvest processing and preservation. The book culminates in 85 mouth-watering recipes that make brilliant use of both the characteristic heat of chile peppers and of their more subtle flavor qualities.

Want to know what the hottest chile pepper in the world is? You’ll find it in the fascinating story of ‘Bhut Jolokia’, acknowledged by Guinness World Records as the fieriest chile on earth. Confused about the identity of those chile peppers you bought? The authors’ clear photographs and precise descriptions will clear up the mystery.

The Complete Chile Pepper Book is the only guide to chiles you’ll ever need. It’s a scorcher.

Gardening When It Counts: Growing Food in Hard Times (Mother Earth News Wiser Living Series) by Steve Solomon

Product Description

The decline of cheap oil is inspiring increasing numbers of North Americans to achieve some measure of backyard food self-sufficiency. In hard times, the family can be greatly helped by growing a highly productive food garden, requiring little cash outlay or watering.

Currently popular intensive vegetable gardening methods are largely inappropriate to this new circumstance. Crowded raised beds require high inputs of water, fertility and organic matter, and demand large amounts of human time and effort. But, except for labor, these inputs depend on the price of oil. Prior to the 1970s, North American home food growing used more land with less labor, with wider plant spacing, with less or no irrigation, and all done with sharp hand tools. But these sustainable systems have been largely forgotten. Gardening When It Counts helps readers rediscover traditional low-input gardening methods to produce healthy food.

Designed for readers with no experience and applicable to most areas in the English-speaking world except the tropics and hot deserts, this book shows that any family with access to 3-5,000 sq. ft. of garden land can halve their food costs using a growing system requiring just the odd bucketful of household waste water, perhaps two hundred dollars worth of hand tools, and about the same amount spent on supplies — working an average of two hours a day during the growing season.

Steve Solomon is a well-known west coast gardener and author of five previous books, including Growing Vegetables West of the Cascades which has appeared in five editions.

The Garden-Fresh Vegetable Cookbook by Andrea Chesman

Product Description

What to do with a basketful of luscious tomatoes? How to prepare an armload of summer squash? Where to turn for new sweet corn preparations? These are the questions vegetable-lovers grapple with as they pick fresh-from-the-garden produce in their own backyards or from the ever-expanding farmers’ markets. Garden-fresh vegetables are so beautiful, yet their freshness so fleeting.

Andrea Chesman is a cook and gardener who knows what it’s like to be staring down pounds of vegetables and panicking about how to use them all before it’s too late. Simple. Delicious. Planned to fit the season. That’s the approach Chesman brings to the 175 recipes she’s developed for The Garden-Fresh Vegetable Cookbook.

The vegetables are organized seasonally by crop-readiness, with attention paid to combining vegetables that ripen together. All the favorites — spring salad greens, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, peas, potatoes, and more — are included, along with the more unusual — artichokes, endive, rutabagas, and edamame, to name a few. Popular techniques such as roasting and grilling accentuate the flavor in recipes such as Grilled Chicken and Asparagus Salad, Soy- Sesame Grilled Eggplant, and Maple Roasted Carrots. There are many vegetarian options, but even when combined with meat, vegetables get top billing. From Egg Rolls to Borscht, Caponata to Sweet Potato Pie, The Garden-Fresh Vegetable Cookbook has dishes destined to please every palate.

To address those nights when the mounds of vegetables are just too overwhelming to try a whole new recipe, Chesman includes fourteen master recipes for simple preparation techniques that can accommodate whatever is in the vegetable basket. Readers need only to learn the basics of preparing a creamy quiche, a bubbly gratin, a basic stir-fry, or a zesty lo mein, and then it’s easy to create new meals every month around the freshest assortments of seasonal vegetables.

The Garden-Fresh Vegetable Cookbook is sure to become a favorite for everyone who wants to enjoy their vegetables fresh, local, seasonal, and simple.

What garden-related books have you read this summer?

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