Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gardening. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Recently, I wrote about my successful experience with growing microgreens, using Hamama Seed Quilts. I thought it would be helpful to also review both the decorative accessories and most helpful extras I use and love for growing these delicious and extremely nutritious microgreens indoors, in the comfort of my living room.

Although the Hamama's bamboo grow tray frame, seed quilt label holder, and other decorative accessories are designed specifically for the company's innovative, patent-pending growing system, the other recommended products I'm reviewing here would be both useful and beneficial to anyone who enjoys gardening, cooking, or both!

Photo of bamboo accessories and other supplies for Hamama micgrogreens growing system, overlaid with title text, "Hamama Seed Quilt Microgreens Growing Accessories"
My favorite accessories and useful supplies for growing microgreens with Hamama's seed quilt growing system
Microgreens are a delicious, nutritious way to add essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to salads, sandwiches, and other dishes for those of us who try to live a healthy lifestyle. Since health was my primary motivation for losing nearly 60 pounds on a keto diet, my new healthier lifestyle focuses quite a bit on healthy eating, and especially on getting more nutrition from food and relying less on supplements, something that is especially important when following a ketogenic approach to eating.

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Growing System Accessories and Helpful Supplies

As I shared in my previous post, the Hamama microgreens seed quilt growing system is so easy, even this “brown thumb” gardening amateur is successfully growing delicious, healthy, nutrient-dense microgreens throughout the year, even here in New England. Now that my husband and I are no longer are at the mercy of the unpredictable and often scant selection of packaged microgreens at our local stores, we use our fresh, home-grown microgreens for more than just garnishes. In fact, they make up half the dark, leafy greens in our large, nightly dinner salads!

Along with Hamama's seed quilts and grow trays, the core of their unique container gardening system, I've also purchased a few accessories and supplies that have made the process of growing my own fresh, nutritious kale, broccoli, clover, daikon radish, zesty salad mix, and other varieties of microgreens more enjoyable and convenient. 

Hamama's Custom Growing System Accessories

Bamboo Grow Tray Frames and Seed Quilt Label Holders

Photo of two side-by-side Hamama seed quilts with decorative bamboo grow tray frames and seed quilt label holders
I love the way the bamboo grow tray frames and seed quilt label holders dress up my microgreens growing setup by our living room windows
Since counter space in our small kitchen is at a premium, I grow my microgreens in our living room, which has a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows (although Hamama microgreens seed quilts don’t require a lot of light). So, I successfully harvested a few different varieties of microgreens using this unique growing system, I decided to spring for Hamama’s proprietary bamboo frames and seed quilt label holders. The bamboo frames fit either style of the company's grow tray. I started with Hamama's white ceramic tray. See how nice the bamboo frame looks with it?
Photo of microgreens growing in white ceramic Hamama grow tray with bamboo frame
The white ceramic grow tray is thicker (and heavier) than the black plastic tray.
Not long after, I decided to switch to the black plastic grow trays, which weigh very little and are much easier to carry back and forth to the kitchen (on the other end of our house) for cleaning. Although I try to avoid buying plastic for disposable items, these trays are reusable, and I plan to be using them for the foreseeable future. The walls are much thinner, allowing a narrow margin around the seed quilt, so it's much easier to check the water level in relation to the coconut coir mat (and to add a bit more water, if it's evaporating faster than expected). The marked fill line is also thinner than on the white ceramic tray, so it's easier to gauge how much water to add for soaking the seed quilt.

Whether you prefer the black plastic or white ceramic grow tray, the simple, sleek and stylish bamboo frames make them much more attractive and blend well with any style of home décor. There is a Hamama logo in the lower left corner of one side of the frame. Usually, I'm not a fan of displaying brand names, especially on decorative items. But in this case, I think the logo has been done quite tastefully and doesn't detract from the look. However, it can easily be hidden by facing that side of the frame toward the window, if you prefer.

Photo of Hamama microgreens germinated seed quilt in tray with decorative bamboo grow tray frame and seed quilt label holder
The Hamama bamboo grow tray frames and matching seed quilt label holders give my microgreens growing setup a more attractive, "finished" look.
The matching bamboo label holders are great for displaying the coated cardstock labels that come with each seed quilt at an easy-to-read angle. These labels provide a useful reminder of which type of microgreens I’m currently growing, as well as the approximate number of days until the paper cover should be peeled, and the total number of days until harvest. Before I got these label holders, I used to tape the cardstock labels to the grow trays. The tape left a sticky residue and wasn’t very attractive. Now, my bamboo seed quilt label holders coordinate perfectly with my grow tray frames.

Each holder is a nicely finished, rectangular block of bamboo the exact length of a Hamama seed quilt label, with a thin slot for the label. Whenever you start a new seed quilt, simply slide the label that comes with it into the slot, which holds it upright and angled slightly back for easy reading. When you finish harvesting your microgreens crop, just remove and discard the label from the holder, so it’s ready for the label from your next seed quilt.

More Matching Bamboo Accessories

Hamama makes a matching seed quilt holder for storing your extra seed quilts, but since I don’t store mine out where people can see them, I didn’t need one. The company has just announced its brand new bamboo "grow shelf," a gorgeous self-standing, five-shelf, open shelving unit to current customers, who can preorder one now. I expect it to be added to the Shop section of the website soon, so everyone who wants will be able to order one.

Extra Hamama Grow Trays

Once I knew I was going to be using this unique microgreens growing system regularly, I ordered two additional grow trays. As of this writing, the price of two black grow trays is only four dollars more than the price of just one. And, since it’s essential to clean each grow tray thoroughly after harvesting one seed quilt and before starting another, it’s nice to have an extra tray so there’s a clean one standing by to start my next microgreens seed quilt as soon as I harvest the previous one. I can soak, scrub, and disinfect the used tray at my leisure (it’s also safe to clean in the top rack of the dishwasher).

Hamama Microgreens Harvesting Kit

The company offers a convenient set of three tools for harvesting the microgreens grown with their proprietary seed quilts and grow trays. The kit contains:

  • 1 reusable Stasher silicone bag (sandwich size)
  • 1 pair of scissors (with the Hamama logo)
  • 1 bamboo scrub brush with natural fiber bristles (for thoroughly scrubbing your grow tray)

It's a very useful kit, particularly if you prefer to harvest your microgreens by trimming them just above the top of the seed quilt, rather than pulling them out, roots and all. Alternatively, you can purchase a Stasher silicone food storage bag, a pair of sharp, stainless steel scissors, and a bamboo scrub brush with natural fiber bristles (or use equivalent items you may already own) to create your own customized microgreens harvesting kit.

Save Money on Your First Hamama Grow Kit, Seed Quilt, or Accessories Order

Helpful tip: Don't miss my Hamama shopping link and discount code at the end of this article to save 10%!

My Favorite, Practical Products for Growing, Harvesting and Storing Fresh Microgreens

Stasher Silicone Food Storage Bags

You don't have to grow microgreens to fall in love with these fabulous food storage and cooking bags

In August 2019, I wrote a review of my favorite silicone kitchen tools and accessories, including silicone food storage bag. But, after trying the Stasher silicone bag in my Hamama Harvesting Kit, I fell in love with it. I purchased three more in larger sizes, and I definitely plan to add more over time. Although they cost more than other silicone bags, they're totally worth the price!

These Stasher silicone bags are a cinch to open and close, unlike any other brand of silicone food storage bags I've tried. Yet, they're also airtight and watertight. Many people use them for sous-vide cooking, placing the sealed bag of raw food in a pot of boiling water. And since these bags are leakproof, They're also perfect for marinating meats, poultry, seafood, fish, or vegetables to infuse them with extra flavor.

Photo of four Stasher silicone food storage bags
The Stasher silicone food storage bags I have purchased to date

The Stasher bag that came with the Hamama Harvesting Kit is the sandwich size (7.5" x 7.5" x 1"), which has a 15 oz. capacity. (It's the smallest one in the photo of my current Stasher bag collection.) However, since I wrap my harvested microgreens loosely in a paper towel before placing them in the bag to store in my refrigerator, I find that I need a larger size if I want to harvest all (or most) of a seed quilt at one time.

The sizes I use to comfortably contain an entire crop of paper towel-wrapped microgreens from a Hamama seed quilt are the tall Stasher Silicone Reusable 1/2 Gallon Food Storage Bag (10.25” x 8.25” x 1.5” with a 64.2 oz. capacity), and the Stasher Silicone Reusable Stand-Up Food Storage Bag (7.75" x 7" x 3" with a 56 oz. capacity) that, true to its name, stands up on its own for easy filling and removal of the contents.

Dedicated Scissors

If you prefer to harvest your microgreens with scissors, it's a bad idea to use your general-use utility scissors that are also used to cut paper, crafting materials, etc. I highly recommend dedicating a pair of scissors exclusively to harvesting microgreens and herbs, and cleaning the blades scrupulously before each use. They don't need to be fancy kitchen shears, but they should be sharp and comfortable and have stainless steel blades. (Who wants specks of rust in their microgreens or herbs?) 

If I were putting together my own harvesting kit, it would include the Fiskars 01-004761J Softgrip Scissors with 8-inch stainless steel blades (or something similar), which are backed by a lifetime warranty. 

Bamboo and Natural Fiber Bristle Scrub Brush

It's important to clean Hamama grow trays very thoroughly before starting each seed quilt. Although the trays are top-rack dishwasher safe, the top rack or our modestly sized dishwasher is usually filled to capacity with glasses, cups, bowls, long-handled spatulas, cooking tongs, etc. So, I prefer to scrub my grow trays by hand.

It can be challenging to clean between the ridges inside the black grow trays, particularly at the corners and around the perimeter. That's why the Hamama Harvesting Kit includes the small, round, bamboo handled scrub brush with natural fiber bristles, which I find invaluable for this purpose.

When I looked for a similar brush, most of them had either synthetic bristles or components made of plastic or other non-biodegradable components. After considerable searching, I finally found a palm-sized, mildew-resistant round bamboo scrub brush with organic, natural fiber bristles, very similar to the one in the Hamama Harvesting Kit. As a bonus, it comes with soap dish that can also be used to store the scrub brush out on the counter, if desired (just make sure both the brush and the dish are completely dry first). 

This versatile brush has medium-hard bristles that can also be used to clean even non-stick pots and pans, dishes, vegetables, and more.

3% Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide and Fine Mist Spray Bottle

Only one of my Hamama seed quilts has ever developed mold, back when I was still a seed quilt "newbie." It was hot and humid in our living room, since we don't have central air conditioning and only turn on each room's A/C unit when we are actively using the room. I made the common rookie mistake of over-watering that one seed quilt, so that the paper covering was wet. When, unsurprisingly, about a third of the sections failed to germinate. I then compounded the problem by covering those water-logged sections with strips of newspaper for two days, after reading a troubleshooting tip for a different problem. (I did say I had a brown thumb!) Of course, when I pulled off the newspaper strips at the end of two days, there were signs of mold, and unfortunately, the seed quilt was unsalvageable at that point.

Before throwing away the moldy seed quilt, I took a couple of photos and shared them in the Hamama Friends group on Facebook and asked how I could prevent a recurrence. The answers were very instructive. One of the best recommendations I got was from a woman who recommended that spraying the surface of the water in the grow tray with food-grade 3% hydrogen peroxide before soaking future seed quilts. She also said she mists the leaves with it after peeling off the paper cover, and hasn't had any mold issues since she started doing that.

I immediately ordered a bottle of food grade 3% hydrogen peroxide. A while ago, I had purchased a dozen small, cobalt blue glass mister bottles. I filled one of them with the 3% hydrogen peroxide and labeled it (since the rest of my cobalt glass misters are also filled with clear liquids), and it now lives next to my Hamama grow trays to remind me to spritz the water before soaking each new seed quilt. And, like the helpful person who suggested I use the 3% hydrogen peroxide for this purpose, I haven't seen a speck of mold since I started following her excellent advice!

I find these pretty and practical cobalt blue glass spritzer bottles useful for many different purposes. They spray a very fine mist, which makes them ideal for evenly and lightly moistening metal clay with distilled water, since this material dries out very quickly when exposed to air while working with it. I keep another filled with isopropyl alcohol for sanitizing makeup brushes, tweezers, manicure implements, etc. in between full soap-and-water cleanings. I also find that they don't leak, so I'm considering keeping another bottle filled with a CDC-approved alcohol-based disinfectant in my purse for when I leave the house. The cobalt glass isn't just pretty; it also helps protect the contents against UV rays.

Save 10% on Your First Hamama Order!

If you haven't ordered directly from the Hamama website before, you can use my Hamama shopping link (or click on the image below), add the products you want to the shopping cart, then use the discount code SUPERGREENS during checkout to get 10% off your product total. And if you're lucky enough to have receive a Hamama grow kit as a gift, you can use this link and discount code to save 10% on the beautiful bamboo accessories made exclusively for the Hamama seed quilt and grow tray system.

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories by Margaret Schindel

Posts In This Series About My Keto Diet Journey

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit Review & Success Tips

Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

My First Year on The Keto Diet


Reviews of the Keto Diet by Barbara C. (aka Brite-Ideas)

My Personal Keto Testimonial

How I Stayed Committed to the Ketogenic Way of Eating


Read More Reviews About Health and Wellness by Our Review This Reviews Contributors

Read More Gardening Reviews by Our Review This Reviews Contributors






Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Thursday, October 15, 2020

Review Of Wolf ByPass Secateurs

 




As an avid gardener, there is a myriad of tools to buy to help with everyday tasks and it can be confusing to know what you really need. You could spend a significant amount of money on dozens of tools. With an experience of your needs and your garden's requirements, you will probably find you settle in to a few that become old friends and you use them all the time. 


Uses Of Bypass Secateurs

One of my most treasured and most used tools is a pair of bypass secateurs. They are so well used I just keep them in my pocket or hang around my waist whenever I venture into the garden. There is always a spent flower head to be snipped off, a stray tendril to be clipped, flowers to be cut for the house, or a shrub that just needs a little neatening around the edges. 

 



We have a  lot of beautiful roses and so there is much deadheading in the summer months. Bypass secateurs give a nice clean cut to snip off the faded flower heads and do not damage the plants. I also love taking cuttings of a variety of plants and find bypass secateurs are great for this job. 

Over the years I have had many secateurs, some good, some awful. There were the ones that hurt my hands due to the jarring action. The ones which broke all too easily, the green ones I lost and never did find and the ones that were just not up to constant use in my garden! The best pair I had I inherited from my Mum, but after years of use, they needed to be retired. 




For those few months I didn't have any secateurs  I felt a little lost walking around the garden and certainly frustrated trying to prune with a large pair of kitchen scissors which did neither my plants nor me any good!! As my most used tool I always coveted Wolf secateurs and this spring my husband gifted me a pair.


Using Wolf Bypass Secateurs

Wolf Bypass Secateurs

I am impressed. They look good and are mainly red in colour and therefore easy for me to see in the garden. This is important as if I get distracted I can and do leave them anywhere, but red is a good colour for me to notice! 

They are light, so carrying them around is not a chore and they are small enough to fit easily in my pocket. The handgrip is good and the correct size for me. I have not yet felt any hand strain from using them and I can be out in the garden for hours at a time.

They are strong! I have so far had no problems with any of the cutting and pruning jobs I needed to do. These have coped admirably with small jobs and the more challenging tasks. For example, I have deadheaded flowers, taking cuttings of shrubs and lightly pruned back a large jasmine plant, ivy and hebes with no issues. They are not for heavy pruning jobs and thick branches though, we need different tools for that task. 

Do check the width you are supposed to cut when buying any secateurs and try to stick to it. You will feel if they are struggling and it's best not to push too hard or you will shorten the lifespan. Get the right tool for the job and you will be fine. I have included two Wolf Bypass secateurs in this review because they cut at different widths and you need to choose the correct one for your garden needs. 

The bypass action makes them precise and neat enough to do more delicate pruning as well and I can now power round all our roses and other flowers deadheading with precision speed and ease!  





Generally, in my experience, these secateurs glide through jobs with no problems. I have noticed occasionally if I am doing a lot of jobs one after the other, where they might become sticky with sap, sometimes the blades clamp together.  I then need to clean them with either just a damp cloth or sometimes WD40 and a cloth. They are easy to keep clean and I have always had to do this with secateurs though, so for me, it's just a part of the process. 

These secateurs also come with a guarantee. This is important to me. I want to know when I buy garden tools now that they are going to last. If I am going to spend money and buy quality, I would like to have them for a long time. Like with any tools, if we want them to have a long life, we do need to look after them, clean regularly and don't leave out in the rain!!
 

As we all have different needs in the garden I also wanted to include this pair of secateurs for if you feel you need a pair of secateurs that will cut greater widths.

Wolf Bypass Secateurs


 

More than all of that I simply enjoy using my Wolf Bypass Secateurs. It is a pleasure, not a chore and so lovely to be able to do those tidying jobs and pruning required with ease to make our plants and gardens look and feel beautiful! 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Hamama Microgreens Starter Kit and Seed Quilts Review

Image: collage of Hamama microgreens photos with superimposed title, "The EASIEST Way to Grow Your Own Microgreens"
With a Hamama Microgreens Starter Kit and the company's proprietary seed quilts, growing and harvesting fresh, delicious, and nutritious microgreens is nearly effortless!

Fresh, crisp microgreens are colorful, refreshing, and extremely nutritious. Since last year, when I committed to making healthy lifestyle changes, including a special focus on healthy food choices, I have been adding microgreens to salads, sandwiches, soups, eggs, and other dishes as often as possible.

Although buying packaged microgreens at our local Whole Foods is an expensive and frustrating proposition, growing my own hadn't seemed like a viable option, given my poor track record with keeping even healthy plants alive, much less growing them from seed.

Then, four months ago, I found out about an innovative microgreens growing system from a company called Hamama, which was designed to be as as simple, effortless, and low-maintenance as possible, so that even container gardening newbies like me could grow these healthy, tasty, nutrient-dense greens year-round.  

The proprietary, patent pending Hamama Seed Quilt Growing System is the brainchild of co-founders Camille Richman and Daniel Goodman, who met when they were mechanical engineering students at the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Following their graduation from MIT, they worked together full-time at the MIT Media Lab, researching high tech indoor agriculture. After growing food both in the lab and at home for several years, they wanted to make it possible for more people to experience the benefits of growing healthy food at home.

In May, I decided to order a Hamama Microgreens Starter Kit, including three seed quilts and a reusable grow tray. I was surprised and delighted by the results, and a few weeks later,  I ordered two more growing trays and 18 more seed quilts. Although I've skipped a week here and there, I've successfully grown and harvested around more than a dozen seed quilts at this point. Now, I'm anxious to share my experience, and perhaps inspire others to try growing their own healthy, delicious, superfood microgreens, even if they have never had any experience, or luck, growing vegetables in the past.

P.S. Make sure to read all the way to the end of this review to find out how to get a 10% discount off the purchase price of your first order of a Hamama Microgreens Starter Kits, Seed Quilts, or other microgreens growing accessories!

Microgreens Are Superfoods That Pack a Powerful Nutritional Punch

Increasing our consumption of nutritious, dark leafy greens is an important part of healthy eating. The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating more fruits and vegetables, including dark leafy greens. For those of us who have chosen a low carb, ketogenic approach to eating, dietary restrictions make it even harder to get enough nutrients from the foods we eat, rather than from supplements.

Adding more microgreens to our diets, in particular, provides even greater health benefits. A 2012 research study found that microgreens contain between four and 40 times higher concentrations of essential nutrients than their mature counterparts!

These nutrient-dense, immature plants can be excellent sources of key vitamins such as C, E, K, and also carotenoids including lutein and beta-carotene (a precursor to Vitamin A aka retinol), two important antioxidants provide a wide range of health benefits, including helping to protect our eyes against macular degeneration. 

Photo of a large, colorful, salad topped with Hamama microgreens
We enjoy a large, colorful, salad with a generous helping of freshly harvested microgreens every day!

Why Not Just Buy Packaged Microgreens Instead of Growing Them?

Unfortunately, many supermarkets and grocery stores either don't sell them, or run out of them quickly. Even when I've been lucky enough to find one or two containers, those commercially grown microgreens have cost a pretty penny. Far too often, the expensive organic microgreens we've bought at our local Whole Foods Market have become not just limp but slimy and inedible after just one or two days in the vegetable drawer of our fridge. Most are also sold in single-use, plastic clamshell packaging, which is bad for the environment. 

Finding organic microgreens or ones that have been grown from non-GMO seeds can also be a challenge. 

Unfortunately, since March, these problems have been further exacerbated by the widespread negative impact of the current, unprecedented health crisis.

The Pros and Cons of Using Hamama Seed Quilts vs. Growing Microgreens From Seed

Buying packets of loose seeds and growing them on a bed of moistened potting mix, soil, or coconut coir is, without question, the cheapest way to grow microgreens at home. However, it also requires watering the seeds once or twice a day, and monitoring their progress daily, from the the time they are planted until they are ready to be harvested, usually takes somewhere between 9 days and a few weeks. And they do best with 4–6 hours of direct sunlight, or natural light supplemented by a grow light(s).

While this may be a good option for experienced container gardening enthusiasts, not everyone was blessed with a "green thumb," or enjoys growing things from seed. Some of us just want to have convenient and consistent access to a variety of microgreens and enjoy them when they are at their freshest, tastiest, and most nutritious, and are happy to pay more for an approach that requires significantly less time and effort than growing these immature greens from seed.  

That's why Hamama developed its proprietary seed quilt system, which makes growing fresh, delicious, nutrient-rich microgreens indoors as easy, effortless, and care-free as possible. 

Anatomy of a Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt

Each seed quilt consists of three layers (excluding the seeds):

  1. The bottom layer is a loosely woven coconut coir mat (aka coconut fiber mat or coconut husk pad).
  2. The middle layer is a thin sheet of white felt
  3. The top layer is some type of unbleached paper.

The seeds are sandwiched between the white felt layer and the light brown paper cover, divided into 20 long, narrow, rectangular, "quilted" sections that hold the seeds in place in a fairly even distribution.

Key Benefits of the Hamama Seed Quilt Grow System for Microgreens

  • By combining the seeds, the growing substrates, and the papery cover into a single, compact unit and pairing it with a perfectly-sized growing tray, Hamama has removed as many variables as possible.
  • The Hamama Starter Kit contains everything you need to grow microgreens, except the 24–26 ounces of water for the initial soak. (Depending on the quality of your tap water, I recommend using filtered water.)
  • Starting a new seed quilt takes as little as 1–2 minutes! After that, you can basically ignore it for the next 4–6 days, until the seeds have germinated.
  • This bottom-watering and self-watering growing system is the closest thing to "set-it-and-forget it." Once you pour water inside the grow tray up to the fill line and briefly submerge the seed quilt to get all 20 sections evenly moistened, you shouldn't have to mist the seeds quilt or seedling, or top up the water. (Toward the end of the growing period, I try to check the water level every couple of days, if I remember. just in case it drops below the midpoint of the coconut coir mat.) 
  • The brown paper cover helps to filter the ambient light during the initial 4–6 day germination period, then it peels off easily to provide the seedlings with full exposure to the ambient light.

Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilts Are So Effortless, They Practically Grow Themselves!

Growing a Hamama microgreens seed quilt is as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Do the brief initial "soak." Add water to the growing tray's marked fill line (no higher) and submerge the seed quilt for 10–30 seconds, just until all 20 sections have uniformly changed to a darker shade of brown.
  2. After 3–5 days, when the seeds have germinated, pushing against the paper cover and causing the sections to puff up or balloon, peel the paper cover.
  3. Approximately 7–10 days after the initial soak, harvest your microgreens!

You can harvest the entire seed quilt at once and store whatever microgreens you won't use immediately in the refrigerator, if you wish, or harvest a few sections at a time over the next few days. 

Photo of Hamama Earthy Clover and Super Salad Mix seed quilts and are puffed up and ready to peel
I often grow more than one Hamama seed quilt at a time

What's Included In the Hamama Microgreens Starter Kit?

  • One reusable Grow Tray.
    • Black plastic or white ceramic
  • Your choice of three Hamama Seed Quilts (choose all one variety, or mix and match up to three different types) 

  • Easy growing instructions.

Choose From 10 Different Types of Microgreens Seed Quilts

Hearty Broccoli, Refreshing Cabbage, Spicy Daikon Radish, Super Salad Mix, Sweet Wheatgrass, Zesty Mix, Energizing Kale, Earthy Clover, Hot Wasabi Mustard, and Fragrant Fenugreek. All the seeds in Hamama's microgreens seed quilts are non-GMO Six are also organic (Energizing Kale, Fragrant Fenugreek, Hearty Broccoli, Spicy Daikon Radish, Earthy Clover, and Sweet Wheatgrass). The company is working on making the switch to an all certified organic line.

Save 10% on Your First Hamama Order!

Use my Hamama shopping link (or click on the image below), add the products you want to the shopping cart, then use the discount code SUPERGREENS during checkout to get 10% off your product total.


Hamama Microgreens Starter Kit and Seed Quilts Review by Margaret Schindel


Posts Related to My Keto Diet Journey

My Favorite Hamama Microgreens Seed Quilt Accessories

Hamama Microgreens Growing Kit Review

Good Dee’s Keto Cookie Low Carb Baking Mix Review

Low Carb Keto Chocolate Yogurt Granola Chip Pudding Recipe

Low Carb Muffins & Cupcakes: Treats to Enjoy on a Keto Diet

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part Two

Preparing to Succeed on the Keto Diet, Part One

My First Year on The Keto Diet


Reviews of the Keto Diet by Barbara C. (aka Brite-Ideas)

My Personal Keto Testimonial

How I Stayed Committed to the Ketogenic Way of Eating


Read more Gardening Reviews from our Review This Reviews Contributors




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Plants That Need to Be Brought Indoors Need Special Care

Plants that need to be brought indoors need special care- A Garden Review


Summer is the time when we gardeners are itching to get our indoor plants outdoors for all the growth opportunity that summer sun and warmer temperatures brings.  But come the end of September, gardeners are counting the days until they need to bring all those tender plants back indoors!

I know I am scoping out all the window areas of my apartment for possible "growing spots", for all the plants I took out to my balcony in the spring.  

One of the most important parts of bringing our favorites back to the indoors, is making sure there are no hidden "bugs" hitchhiking their way indoors.

During the summer months outdoors your plants have been visited by many flying, crawling and maybe even jumping insects.  Believe it or not I had a grasshopper on one of my plants and we are on the 18th floor of our building.  So anything is possible.

When I am bringing my plants indoors, I like to un-pot them!  Yes you heard me right.  I take my plants out of their pots, set aside the soil they were growing in and move the plants into by bathroom.  

Then I shower them well with warm water, on both the top sides of the leaves and the bottom sides as well.  I check their roots and if there are roots that look decayed I will snip them back.  

I also check their stems to see if there are any scale insects that may have made their home on my plants.  One of my Ivies is infested with scale, so I will take cuttings from it and treat the cuttings with Safer's Soap spray.  Then I will root these cuttings and start with fresh soil in a few weeks.  They will be potted up only when I am sure they are free of the scale insects and have set new roots.

I do get the pots and clean them out with a good hot soapy water solution, and then let them air dry.  I will use fresh soil in these pots to give the plants and cuttings a good start in their indoor home.

With my plants, especially the orchids, I let them stay outdoors until the temperatures drop to about 10 degrees Celsiusor 50 degrees Farenheit.  Most orchids like a real drop in temperature for a few nights as it signals the plant to set flower bearing stems.  Do NOT let these delicate plants freeze!  If there is a chance of the temperatures going down close to freezing, bring them indoors for the night.  

By January you should be seeing lots of stems on your orchids that will surely lead to some gorgeous flowers.  One of my orchids starts blooming in January and doesn't stop till June or July.  They are truly one of my many joys.



Having said that, orchids do need special care.  Their leaves are tightly figured and can harbor scale or other bugs.  I make sure they are drenched with Safer's Soap Spray before they come in for the winter!  You can spray them once a week on both sides of their leaves.  Better to be safe than sorry.  If one plant comes in with a scale infestation, it can ruin all your plants in very short order.

Bringing our plants indoors is a time consuming endeavor if you are a crazy gardener like me.  If you only have a few plants(3 or 4) outdoors, you should be able to do this in a weekend.  If you are more like me, and have 8-10 plants to bring indoors, you might need a couple of weekends to finish the task.  

You don't need to be in a hurry yet, but don't leave this task till late October or November.  Then you will be scrambling to get it done.  Bringing in the plants without checking them well for pests, could be your downfall.  Take the time while the weather is still relatively nice and do it now.  Check them all closely and if you don't want to start with fresh pots and soil, you can also drench the plants and soil with the Safer's Soap.  It is better to do that then to just bring them indoors without any preventative measures at all.


 
This is the product I use on all my plants and I have never been disappointed in the results. It takes care of all the insect/bug problems you could have with moving your plants indoors.  I use this product on my plants all through the winter months(if I see a problem) and will be using it again in spring and summer of 2021.  Pests are always just waiting to get a hold of something they like and your houseplants could be on their menu.  Don't be disappointed, be prepared and have a great time in the winter enjoying your healthy happy houseplants while the snow flies outdoors.



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Monday, September 21, 2020

Reviewing Baker Creek Seeds: Strawberry Watermelon

 I am excited to have been able to order a packet of Watermelon seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I am very excited about this coming gardening season. This Watermelon variety is the "Strawberry". It is the most delicious watermelon I've ever tasted. 


For the sake of transparency, I have to share that I am not currently gardening. I am in a metro-area apartment. I have grown some fantastic tomatoes on my southwest facing balcony. But I barely remember my last real garden. I own some land in a rural area. While I don't have a garden there yet, I did experiment this summer and was surprised to grow some monster zucchini squash and some very healthy looking cabbage. That experiment made me even more anxious to plant more edible plants this spring.

However, with the current craziness of 2020, including difficulty with the supply chain, I thought I'd buy my garden seeds now. In order to ensure I have seeds when it is time to start them.  This watermelon is one of the plants I am most excited to try to grow.

Watermelon - Strawberry 

I had been hearing, from serious gardeners, that they were extremely pleased about their Strawberry Watermelons. They were happy about the plants, the size of the melons, and the wonderful taste. At that same time, I had the opportunity to taste some of this melon. It was delicious! So flavorful. I love watermelon and eat some about 5 days a week during season. Some from the grocery and some from local farms. But none were as flavorful as the Strawberry Watermelons.  There is a bit of a berry flavor - slightly different than a typical watermelon. But it is not overpowering. And the traditional melon flavor is present.

More about this variety:

  • Name: Citrullus lanatus
  • 85 days
  • sugary sweet pink flesh
  • ripens to within a 1/2 inch of the rind
  • oblong melon, 15-25 lbs.


About Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds


Baker Creek specializes in heirloom seeds.  It is highly recommended by avid gardeners, especially those who like to save their own seeds for future gardens. You can find Baker Creek seeds at their website: rareseeds.com

They carry familiar plants and varieties as well as plants and varieties you have likely never heard of. I have placed two orders and have received both orders without problems and in a timely fashion. 

The headquarters is a place that during normal times (as opposed to during times of quarantines and social distancing) can be visited. Watch for announcements for the re-opening of their village, store, and restaurant near Mansfield, MO. 

In the meantime, you can browse their selections online or request a printed catalog. 

In addition to their vegetable seeds, they offer some gorgeous flowers. I always try to plant some flowers for the pollinators. This year I can't wait to plant these gorgeous Zinnia's along with several varieties of sunflowers.

I have never seen these types of Zinnias, have you? I love "regular" zinnias. I can only imagine how amazing these will be in my "garden". 






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Friday, August 21, 2020

About Raintree Annie On Review This Reviews

About Raintree Annie On Review This Reviews  


Raintree Annie Hi, my writing name is Raintree Annie and I am otherwise known as Jasmine Ann Marie. In life and online I get called any combination of those names! I am really happy to be a part of the Review This Reviews writing group. I started writing many years ago and always love it most when I am part of a creative and enthusiastic writing family. 

I like to write about what I know and experience. From a young age I developed an interest in nature and loved animals, birds and plants. I was given my own little patch of garden by my parents who encouraged me in these interests. 

My interests merge together really. My love of creating a beautiful garden that has wildlife at its heart, has become a passion and I find a great sense of calm, peace and happiness from learning about and nurturing our garden.

I am never happier than when I am immersed in nature and wildlife. I also like to have plants in the house to carry the natural world through into our home. 

I love taking photographs of natural environments, wildlife, flowers, plants and landscapes. I spend hours in the garden and whenever we can my husband and I go out to visit the countryside, beaches, woods and nature reserves so we can exercise and spend time together relaxing in nature. I enjoy making unique cards and gifts from those photographs. 

I gained a significant back issue over a decade ago and now take good care of my back and keep as fit and healthy as I can in order to continue to care for our garden and be out and about in nature. I always take my back into account when I am gardening and choosing products to assist me.

   

Articles By Raintree Annie


Joy of First Snowdrops
When I am not in our garden, the countryside or a nature reserve you can find me online at these places! 

Diary Of A Wild Country Garden, my blog where I write about my reflections of everyday life gardening and looking after wildlife in our wild country garden.


Life With My Pet Back blog covers reflections on life with back pain and the journey to recovery. 


Raintree Earth Designs is my blog where I share my love of photography with cards and gifts made from my photographs of wildlife and countryside with the stories behind them from my Raintree Earth Designs Zazzle Store. 


Essential Wildlife Gardening Gifts where I share practical, fun and beautiful gardening items which make lovely gifts for the gardener.







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Thursday, August 6, 2020

The Garden of Small Beginnings - Book Review

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Let's start with the harvest here.  Lest you think this is going to be a book about a widow who has had a breakdown after her husband's untimely and tragic death, and who is still struggling with that loss, let me assure you that this is a book where the reader reaps joy.  I found The Garden of Small Beginnings, by Abbi Waxman, to be a brilliantly written, and delightfully humorous, take on how we get through the gritty times in life.

It's not often that a book begins with whale genitalia.  This is when you know this is not going to be your grandmother's gardening guide.  No... not at all.  This is where the irreverent humor and quirky cast of characters begin to emerge.  

You see, Lilian Girvan is a textbook illustrator.  And sometimes, though perhaps not every day, you are called upon to draw things like a whale's, ahem, penis.  Am I allowed to use the word penis in a book review?  This is surely a first for this reviewer.  

Anyway, getting back to Lilian.  On the day of her infamous illustrating assignment, she is called up to meet with her boss.  Lilian has been assigned a plum project designing the illustrations for a series of vegetable guides.  In order to garner favor with an important client, Lilian has been volunteered to take a Saturday morning gardening class at the Los Angeles Botanical Garden.  This is where the plot (literally) thickens.

Over the course of six weeks, lives will be changed in beautiful and unexpected ways by an eclectic crew of aspiring gardeners.  Though this is not a gardening book, per se, it is a book about how we grow from loss, and grief, and other heartbreaks into who we will become in the next season of life.

I loved this book's characters and witty banter.  Lilian's young children are sheer delight.  This is my favorite kind of read: so well-written, clever, funny, and full of heart.  Highly recommended.





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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Totally Natural Healthy Ways to Increase Your Garden's Growth - A Garden Review


It's mid-summer and everyone who has a garden is starting to reap the rewards of their spring labor.  Now I must confess, I did not do a whole lot of back breaking labor.  I live on the 18th floor of an apartment building and digging in the ground is not an option for me.  So I have three Rubbermaid Tubs on my balcony.  These are my "garden" and that is my space to grow my tomatoes and cucumbers.  




Don't go feeling sorry for me, I like it this way.  I gave up my "home garden" a few years ago, but missed my fresh tomatoes so much, I had to find a way to grow some higher up.  

When we first moved into the apartment, I tried to grow tomatoes in smaller pots (10 inch diameter), I would water, feed (with fertilizer) and talk to them daily.  I was somewhat successful that first year.  My husband would eat his balcony fresh tomato and say, "that was a lot of work for this tomato, you can buy them cheaper at the farmer's markets now that they are in season!"  

He was right, the first year, even though I did my best at caring for these plants, they did not produce anything that would have made a gardener's heart go pitter-patter!  Our garden produced a few tomatoes that we did enjoy, but overall we were disappointed.

Fast Forward to today:  My balcony garden has been expanded (no more little pots) and I have found the secret (I think it's the difference between the first year and now) to keeping my garden happy, healthy and producing more fruits than ever before.  


So do you want to Know What Made the Difference?

As a gardener (we share what works and what doesn't work) I will tell you!  I have NOT used one ounce, tablespoon, teaspoon or any other measuring device, of fertilizer this year!  Yet, I have already picked, eaten and enjoyed at least 10 cucumbers since the beginning of July, and countless cherry tomatoes!

As you can see in the picture above and the ones below, there is no lack of little tomatoes for us to enjoy in the next little while.



Our balcony garden has been prolific in producing these cherry tomatoes for our enjoyment.  I attribute it all to the help I have procured for my containers.  The "help" is totally organic, pesticide free, natural and abundant.

What is this help that I keep mentioning? 

Red Wigglers (they get all the credit)  have made all the difference in my containers this year.  

As I mentioned earlier, I have used NO chemical fertilizers in my containers this year.  A dear friend of mine (Cheri Kochir Salt (owner and operator of  Mobius8Organics.) and I have been trying our best to minimize our carbon footprint on the earth.  Many people are interested in doing this and have no idea where to start.  If you are a gardener, you could start right here.
 
In many discussions with her, I found that red wigglers can make all the difference in the world to your gardens (whether in the ground proper or in a container). Helping the earth to renew, means (for me anyways) not adding any extra chemicals and getting rid of organic wastes, without adding to landfills.  

When you have red wigglers in your containers you can do both of these things.  Red Wigglers love to eat all your organic waste (peels, cores, egg shells, coffee grounds, tea bags and even your paper products).  Yes you should read that list again (and it's just a small list, there is much more they could eat if you have an outdoor garden and compost heap.)
These are just a few of my "Red Wiggler" family, who are enjoying their home on my balcony!  I have uncovered them for you to see how these guys and gals (actually worms are both male and female scientifically known as hermaphrodites) work.  Their home usually looks more like this picture below:

Red Wigglers and earthworms in general do not like the light!  They work best in a dark, damp environment.  So, I make sure that they are happy by covering the soil surface with damp cardboard or my weekly newsprint flyers!  You can also see coffee filters with the coffee grounds still in them on the surface of the soil.  My worms, like myself,  seem to love coffee.......

Now the only absolute must that you have to maintain is a certain level of moisture in your containers.  You cannot let them dry out, or your earthworms will dehydrate and die as well.  So far in my experimentation this year, that has not been a problem.  I water regularly and sometimes the rain helps too.  My worms seem to be happy and multiplying without any further help from me.  

What do these worms do that makes the garden grow so well?

Earthworms and red wigglers in particular are prolific at eating  organic waste.  When they eat this waste, the worms then expel the waste(worm poop) and if your garden is in a container, this waste becomes part of the soil composition. Vermicomposting is the "proper name" for working with worms in the garden.  For you homesteaders who are looking for a cottage industry growing  worms and selling Red Wigglers for both fishermen and farmers is a growing industry (no pun intended).  Once you have your vermiculture set up, there is nothing more for you to do!  

The worms will provide you with deep rich soil, full of nutrients and depending on how you set yourself up, you may even have worm compost tea to feed your plants.  This worm tea (my version) is the best fertilizer you could ever want.  It's rich in nutrients, has no odor and your plants will thrive. This worm compost tea won't burn the roots of your plants either.  I have a set up on my balcony that allows me to enjoy collecting this worm tea and if you are interested you can do this too. 

Behind the picture of my worm tea, you can see my garden tower.  It has 50 different pockets to plant and a nice tower in the center to add organic waste without disturbing your plants.  There is a drawer at the bottom which collects all the extra water and worm tea (again my version).  The castings remain in the tower for your plants to thrive on.  You can watch a video here and see the difference between this and other vertical gardening options: Garden Tower 2 Project

There will be no need for Chemical fertilizers!  Chemical fertilizers, if they are incorrectly mixed  can sometimes do more harm than good.  Save yourself the time and trouble by using an Earth Friendly Natural Way to fertilize your plants. I know that this has made the difference between my first attempts at gardening 18 stories up and this year's attempt!  We've had a great year so far and I'm sure it will continue to prosper and grow well into the fall.

If you want to know more about Vermiculture or Worm Farming there are several really good websites and YouTube Videos that you can watch. 
Basic Vermicomposting or 
How to Compost are just two of the really good sites to learn from. 

If you want to get started you will need a good bin.  I use these ones for both growing my garden and I will use these for my worm farm too! 

My own experiment will continue in the fall as I try to bring my worms indoors so they won't freeze over the winter months.  I will let you know how it goes come spring of 2021.
 
Stay tuned there is more good sound ecological information coming up!



***All of the pictures in this Post are from my balcony garden, taken August 4, 2020.  




 




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