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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.

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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

 

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.

 

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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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Seed Starting 101: Outdoor Basics

April 8th, 2014

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We recently asked on our Facebook page what topic you’d like to learn a little more about. Overwhelmingly, many of you responded, “Seed Starting!” Being a seed company and all, we wanted to write a post about this as soon as possible. It may be too late to start seed indoors, but for some of you, it’s perfect timing to start seed directly in the garden.

There are a number of compelling reasons to try seed starting: 1) More plant choices than what’s offered at your local gardening store; including organic, non-GMO, heirloom, and non-hybrid varieties, 2) More control (and fun!) over how your plants are grown, including soil, water, and amendment selecting, 3) A chance to use natural pest and vermin control, 4) To learn more self-reliance skills, 5) Save a great deal of money – we hope this encourages you to take the plunge and try seed starting.

Our Basic Guide For Sowing Directly In Your Garden

Suggested Tools For Seed Starting Outdoors

*Seed of choice (beans, carrots, corn, peas, and radishes are great choices for beginners, and truly do best when sown directly in the garden)
*Soil Thermometer
*Organic (safe) soil
*Organic compost
*Plant labels
*Watering system for gentle watering (“shower” setting on hose or “rose” fitting on watering can, etc.)
*A notepad and pen for jotting down notes

Build Up Your Soil

If you’re starting a new garden bed, remove sod, weeds, roots, and rocks from the area. Vegetable garden soil should be a mix of air and solids, and include clay, silt and loam. Work in 6 inches of compost to enhance the soil structure, and get a soil test, aiming for a neutral pH level. If needed, amend the soil further. You also may want to consider using a raised garden bed, as these will yield more vegetables and save time in the long run. This is because the smaller space shades out competing weeds, and watering/harvesting are more efficiently done.

Plan Ahead 

Ensure your soil is ready to sow seeds by taking the temperature (here’s our guide on how to take soil temperature). When ready, moisten the soil so that it’s the consistency of oatmeal a few days prior to planting. Thoroughly read your seed packet instructions for plant depth and spacing. Most seeds will require planting at a depth 3 times the diameter of the seed. If you’re a visual person, we suggest using a notepad to configure a layout of where seeds will go, and the spacing/depth for each before seed starting.

Sow Your Seeds

First, follow the seed packet instructions for the depth of furrows and spacing between them. Lay out the rows in a north-south direction which will ensure that both sides will receive an equal amount of sunlight during the day. Form the furrows with a rake, hoe, or stick; for perfectly straight rows, we recommend using a board or taut string as a guide. Do your best to sow seeds evenly, spacing them out as the seed packet instructs. If you’re using a large seed packet like we provide, pour the seed in your palm and scatter small pinches of seed as evenly as possible. Some gardeners sow seeds more thickly to guarantee germination, and thin out rows later, while others avoid this chore by spacing seeds out evenly. Tamping the soil (gently pressing on the soil surface after you sow seeds) will help secure the seed for roots to grow.

If you planted different types of seed, some gardeners outline the areas in flour, string, or stakes, while others use garden labels. This will help in recognizing plants as seed germination begins and plants grow, and will reduce the risk of mistaking a plant for a weed.

Water Gently, And Not Too Much

This is essential for guaranteeing high seed germination rates. The soil must stay evenly moist for seed germination, yet you don’t want to spray water forcefully either. The “shower” setting on your hose or the “rose” fitting on a watering can should suit you just fine if you’re a beginner. More elaborate irrigation systems are also wonderfully convenient once you’re ready for this step.

Thinning Out Crowded Seedlings

This is done after seed germination. If you sowed your seeds thickly, or you notice two sets of true leaves, then thinning out the weakest seedling is needed. You can transplant those seedlings into the empty spaces of the bed if available. Here is a great guide on how to do it effectively: How To Thin Out Crowded Seedlings.

Let the fun begin. Lots of luck this year!

***Friends, did you sow seeds directly in the garden this year? How’d it go with seed germination rates? We’d love to hear your success stories too.***

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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Tips On Growing And Supporting Washington Cherry Tomatoes

March 14th, 2014

Cherry Tomato

Peak into a few backyards in the summertime, and you may find gorgeous, cherry tomato’s, ripe on the vine and ready for harvest. You can also grow these gorgeous tomato plants too! Here are some tips to get you started:

Some background:

Our Washington Cherry Tomato’s are organic, will grow all season long, yielding 1 ¼” meaty and flavorful fruits.  They are perfect for appetizers, salads, and snacking. We love to roast our tomato’s at 325 degrees F (until softened) with fresh thyme, salt pepper and olive oil.  After roasting, we pair them with crackers, mozzarella cheese, and basil – it’s a real treat! You can find these seeds in our Veggin’ Out and Producer seed kits.

Surprising Health Benefits:

One serving of fresh cherry tomato’s  will provide Lycopene, Vitamins A, C, K, Potassium as well as Folate.  These nutrients will contribute to strong bones, better skin and vision, a healthy immune system, reduce inflammation, and can even fight cancer. Tomato’s are also low in calories and fat, and are naturally cholesterol and saturated fat free. Even we are amazed that something this tasty can do so much good.

Growing Tips

-You will need a tomato cage or other support system to hold the tomato plants upright – we have a few great ideas below.

-If starting inside, begin 6-9 weeks before the average last spring frost. If sowing outside after the last frost, wait until temps are above 60 degrees. Tomato plants also tend to grow very well in warm summer areas.

-Plant at ¼-1/2” depth and space 1”.

-Washington Cherry Tomato’s require full sun, moderate watering, and perform best when soil is 80-85 degrees F.

-A high yielding plant will produce many 1 ¼” meaty, red cherry tomato’s that can be enjoyed right off the vine!

-Harvest when tomato’s are firm and fully colored.

Two New Ways To Support Tomato’s

Traditionally, gardeners use metal cages or stakes to keep their tomato plants upright. Yet, many are now finding that these methods can be unstable, lead to uneven sunlight exposure, or other nuisances.  Now more than ever, gardeners are trying a new method to grow their tomato plants upright: they are bending and tying the tomato plants’ rubbery stems on a flat plane.  Using a flat plane can offer what stakes and cages cannot: more stability, even sunlight exposure, a decreased likelihood of fungal disease, increased air circulation, less drooping, and an easier time spotting pests.

1. An Arbor or Backyard Archway: a unique and beautiful instrument for growing tomato’s, and can provide plenty of support.

How to:  Much like you would use a trellis, plant the tomato’s at the bottom of the arbor. Gradually train your tomato plant to climb the arbor by weaving the stems in and out of the support bars, and tying and twisting the flexible stems up and over the archway. Be sure to prune or tie loose stems that meander away from the arbor. Trellises and lattices can also make gorgeous arbors during the summer growing season.

2. A Wire Fence: These are already commonly available in many backyards. Using it for a tomato plant is a great way to create a “living wall” for you and your neighbors to admire.

How to:  If you already have a wire fence – you’re set! If you’d like, you can reinforce the fence stability further by attaching “hog wire” or “horse corral panels” commonly found at animal feed stores. To get started, plant the tomato’s at the bottom of the wire fence. As the tomato plant grows, the trick is to weave and tie the branches as wide as possible. This will provide stable support, and even sun exposure. Soft ties, hooks and twine can also help to ensure the tomato plant stays securely on the fence. Feel free to prune or redirect plants up and over the fence if they grow too tall.

Other Flat Plane Ideas:

-Grow tomato’s up a nice lattice or trellis.

-Create a “bridge” by leaning two wire mesh panels against one another (wire the top for stability). Grow tomato’s on the top surface of the “bridge.”

-Weave tomato plants up a gazebo or similar structure for a unique look.

***Friends, will you grow tomatoes this season? What are some tips that have proved successful 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!

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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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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.

 

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Turn A Family Dinner Into Baby Food: Summer Squash Soup

July 3rd, 2013

photo (11)

Move over Gerber, there are some delicious meal options out there that the whole family can enjoy. Here’s the thing: babies can eat real food, and from our experiences, they enjoy it more than what you can find in a jar. Furthermore, if you turn up your nose at bland, over-steamed vegetables, your baby might have the same reaction. Therefore, don’t be afraid to make baby food taste good. Get creative and add fresh cilantro, chopped chives, and dried seasonings to a meal, and serve it to the entire family (just take an additional step to puree or chop into small pieces for your little one).

All over the world, babies are introduced to flavor very early on. In India, curry spices are mixed in with yogurt and rice after 6 months of age. In other parts of Asia, lemongrass, tamarind, and coconut milk are introduced within the first year – and in South American – babies can be seen enjoying food with chili peppers!

A great trick to get the entire family eating one nutritious meal is a creamy, choc-full-of-good-stuff soup. You can make a soup out of just about anything (and we have!). In the summer, seasonal summer squash, carrots and sweet potatoes can turn even a baby who wants to only be fed by a sock puppet (ahem, our baby) into one that grabs the spoon to feed herself. If your baby eats the whole bowl, go ahead and call it a miracle as you ladle another helping for yourself.

Summer Squash Soup With Basil

Serves 4-6

Recommended starting at 8 months of age

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 ¼ pounds yellow squash

2 carrots, thinly sliced

1 sweet potato, peeled, halved and thinly sliced

5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

½ cup julienned basil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Heat oil in a large saucepan, and add the onion and a pinch of salt until it’s translucent. Add the remaining vegetables and vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Bring down to a simmer, and allow the vegetables to soften, partially covered for 20 minutes. Stir in the basil and puree.

Friends, what is your favorite way to turn dinner into baby food? We’d love to hear your recipe ideas and inspiration.

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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