Tomato Salsa Recipe

From ‘Ailsa Craig’ to ‘Big Daddy’, home grown Seed Pantry tomatoes are truly the biggest ‘Gardeners delight’ of the summer season. Do a little dance and make a little salsa with your fresh, home-grown goodies.

This salsa recipe is great alongside scrambled eggs, omelettes and frittatas, in tacos or as part of a summer tapas spread for outdoor dining in the summer sun!

Ingredients:

– 500g ripe tomatoes, diced
– ½-1 red onion, finely diced
– 1-2 tablespoons of capers
– A teaspoon of lemon juice
– 2 tablespoons of rapeseed or olive oil
– A handful of parsley and mint, or coriander, chopped
– A pinch of sugar
– A good pinch of sea salt and black pepper
Optional
– ½-1 garlic clove, finely diced

How to do it

  1. Finely chop the tomatoes, red onion, garlic (if using) and combine in a large bowl.
  2. Squeeze in the lemon juice and add 2 tablespoons of oil, season with salt and pepper and add the sugar.
  3. Add the chopped herbs, stalks and all, to the salsa and toss lightly.
  4. Serve right away or cover and set aside to allow the flavours to develop.
Variations

Try replacing the capers with 2 fresh jalapeño or green chilli peppers, deseeded and finely chopped, and substitute lemon juice for lime.

The Seed Pantry team 🌼

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Seed Pantry’s Guide to Edible Flowers

The wonderous florets of cauliflower, broccoli, calabrese and artichokes are only the beginning when it comes to which flowers we’ll happily nibble on! Familiar faces such as pansies and nasturtiums are wonderful adornments for cakes, salads and more . Why not give some of these more unusual edible flowers a whirl too?

Are all flowers safe to eat?

Not all flowers are edible, some can even be poisonous, so stick to the ones on our list below or make sure you do your research thoroughly! Here are our top tips for choosing edible flowers safely:

  1. A lot of flowers look very similar, so only eat flowers if you are certain they are edible.
  2. In this guide the whole of each flower listed is edible, with the exception of calendula where only the petals can be eaten. Make sure you remove the calyx, pistil and stamens of these before consumption.
  3. If you suffer from hay fever, pollen or plant allergies either remove the stamen from the flowers before eating or avoid entirely.
  4. Avoid picking blooms from the side of the road or where they may have been sprayed with fertilisers or pesticides.

Calendula (pot marigold) The petals add a lovely bright-orange dash to plant and cooking pots alike. Sprinkle over salads or try using them with rice, where they bring a taste similar to saffron… for a fraction of the price! Be careful not to confuse them with marigolds (Tagetes species) which is best kept as a companion plant.

Viola Thanks to their fantastically long flowering periods, the pansy-like faces will bring a colourful, sweet and fragrant twist to salads from mid-summer right through to winter. They’re also a stunning addition to baked goodies and desserts.

Pansies Unlike violas, their taste is a quite savoury; slightly salty, peppery but fresh taste. Try adding them to cabbages, carrots and fish dishes in all their rainbowiness.

Borage Eating these beautiful blue flowers is said to make us more courageous by stimulating adrenaline release! Tasting a little like cucumber they’re brilliant in salads or frozen into ice cubes for summertime Pimms. They’re also supposed to help us forget our troubles… which coincidentally is a rather great side-effect of Pimms too.

Nasturtiums Curiously this super easy-to-grow flower is a cousin of the Brassica family, the young leaves, flowers and fresh seeds are edible and have a pleasant, sweet, peppery flavour. The leaves make a great pesto and the fresh seeds are super duper tasty when pickled like capers.

Cornflower With a slightly spicy, clove-like flavour and subtle sweetness their blue petals look especially lovely mixed with calendula in summer dishes. They’re wonderful sprinkled over ice-cream like confetti too!

Sunflower Not only do the large lemon-yellow petals look fab in salads, they also add a mild, nutty, bittersweet flavour. In fact, you can eat everything from root to leaf, sprout to stalk! Steam whole flower heads and eat them like artichokes, crunch on the celery-like stalks with hummus or peanut butter or steep the leaves for sunflower tea. After that there are the seed kernels which can be eaten raw or toasted… or share them with the birds!

Herb flowers The flowers of most herbs are edible; you’ll find they taste very similar to the leaves but usually a little stronger or milder. Fennel, dill, thyme, oregano and chive flowers are all rather delightful.

Courgette If you need a little easing-in to the idea of eating your floral friends, try courgette flowers stuffed with cream cheese, deep fried or simply steamed and marvel at their peppery scrumptiousness.

Top tiPS For using edible flowers
  • Harvest young buds and flowers in the morning to keep their intense colours and flavours, before the midday sun can dry them out.
  • When harvesting edible flowers, make sure you wash them thoroughly before use. Dip them in a bowl of water and gently shake to remove any stubborn insects that may be hiding inside.
  • Flowers taste and look their best on the day of picking but you can pop them in the fridge in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

The Seed Pantry team 🌼

#SeedPantryGrowClub

For a chance to win a lucky-dip addition to your next box, share your plant pictures with us on Instagram by using the hashtag #SeedPantryGrowClub or tagging @seedpantry

Subscribe to the Grow Club box for flowers, food and herb seeds ready to sow each month… Curious? Come check out all of this month’s options!

A Brief History of Tulip Mania: Broken Bulbs that Broke the Bank!

Tulip Mania, Tulip Craze, Dutch Tulpenwindhandel… When tulips came to the Netherlands, the world was struck! But how did a bulb virus affecting the Tulipa genus make them so desirable?

One winter morning in 1637 a sailor was offered a breakfast of red herring at a Dutch merchant’s counting house. Taking the chance to add a little relish to his sandwich he swiped an onion seen lying on the counter. Little did he know that his ‘onion’ had actually been a valuable Semper Augustus Tulip bulb, whose cost might have fed his whole ship’s crew for 12 months! He was promptly charged with a felony and thrown in prison.

So, Seed Pantry, what is a ‘broken bulb’?

Spread by aphids, the Tulip Breaking virus alters pigments in the petal cells, causing the flower to ‘break’ its lock on a single colour. The flowers bloom with intricate, multicoloured feathering and flamed petals. Like nothing anyone had ever known in the flower world, the distinct so-called “broken bulbs” captured the eyes and hearts of the world. The cause of these striking floral patterns was also it’s curse. Once a bulb is infected, it’s daughter bulbs will be too. With each generation the virus weakens the bulbs, they become smaller, weaker, and less likely to reproduce until they wither away completely. Some varieties, such as the Semper Augustus tulip, have now become extinct as a result of the disease.

Luckily we now have “Modern Rembrandts” – un-broken tulips such as Tulipa ‘Rem’s Favourite’ that have been bred to display multiple colours and wonderful streaked and flared patterns.

How did these bulbs cause financial ruin?

The wonderfully unpredictable, vividly coloured flowers quickly became a popular commodity; their weakness a trait that only made them more rare and desirable. As demand quickly exceeded supply the prices for these bulbs began to soar. Until 1633 the tulip trade in Holland had been restricted to professional growers, but the rising prices tempted many ordinary families to enter into the market until, in 1636, demand really took off. Homes were mortgaged so that bulbs could be bought and resold at higher prices, and a single bulb became acceptable as dowry for a bride!

In the depths of winter, with the bulbs still frozen beneath the ground, traders exchanged promises to buy the tulip bulbs in the springtime with high hopes that the flowers would fetch even higher prices. The Semper Augustus bulb with it’s flame-like white and red petals, relative to the wages of the time, would sell for the equivalent worth of £770,000 today!

Alas, tulip mania collapsed before the arrival spring of 1637, before the first blooms. Tulip traders struggled to find new buyers who were willing to pay increasingly inflated prices for the bulbs and the market crashed, sweeping away fortunes and leaving traders in financial ruin.

We hope you enjoyed the brief history lesson and learning about Tulip mania. Look out for a wonderful range of tulips in October and November Grow Club boxes!

The Seed Pantry team 🌼

Subscribe to the Grow Club box for flowers, food and herb seeds ready to sow each month… Curious? Come check out all of this month’s options!

If you have already embarked on your GYO journey, we’d love to hear about it! – please tag us in your success stories (and heroic failures too!) on Instagram and Facebook.

A Seed Pantry Guide To Vegetable Gardening In Containers

Potty for home-grown, but lack the space? Contain your excitement – we have the answer.

Whether you haven’t a lot of space or prefer your vegetable crops close at hand, container gardening is a great way to grow your own food! Beetroot, Potatoes, Carrots, Herbs, Peas, Salad leaves, Peppers, Aubergines and Tomatoes are all great pot-dwellers – and it’s not too late to start planting! You can also plant edible flowers like Nasturtiums, Calendula or Violas to encourage beneficial insects and add colour or double up with companion planting some plants love growing in the same container! (We think tomatoes taste sweeter when they’re planted with basil)

What can I plant in my container garden?

The answer is… anything! Some seeds, such as tomatoes and onions, are a little more delicate and should be started off in seed trays indoors as the seeds are at risk of rotting before being given the chance to sprout, but if you let them grow for up to 2 months they’ll happily be transplanted into outdoor containers. If you opt to grow beans, remember that they climb so lend them a stick for support.

Here is our quick guide on how to plant your own container garden!

You will need

– Containers (tin cans, old margarine cartons, milk cartons…)
– Multi-purpose compost
– Seed Pantry seeds!

1. Choose your container, and don’t be scared to get inventive! Anything from tin cans to old sinks will work – you may just need to drill/poke a few drainage holes. Aim for a depth and width of at least 45cm, although salads and herbs will thrive in containers as shallow as 15cm.

2. Fill your pot a couple of inches short of the top with multi-purpose compost.

3. If you are sowing your seeds directly into the container, scatter the seeds and cover with a thin layer of compost, about 2cm deep. If you started your seeds off indoors, prick out the seedlings and transplant into the compost (lift the seedlings carefully by the leaf as the stems bruise easily).

You can start off any of your Seed Pantry food seeds in recycled pots – simply transplant later on!

4. Give your seeds a good drink!

If you’re growing between April-September containers can dry out quickly, especially if the weather is good, so aim to water your plants 1-2 times every day. ☀️ During the winter months, reduce the watering schedule as plants won’t be expending as much energy for their growth. If it’s really cold either cover your plants or move them indoors to protect them from freezing.

The Seed Pantry team 🌼

Subscribe to the Grow Club box for flowers, food and herb seeds ready to sow each month… Curious? Come check out all of this month’s options!

If you have already embarked on your GYO journey, we’d love to hear about it! – please tag us in your success stories (and heroic failures too!) on Instagram and Facebook.

Pot Buddies – A Seed Pantry Guide to Companion Planting

Enrol on a free Organic pest protection programme with companion planting and claim a few hundred complimentary gardeners by encouraging pollinators to your fruit and vegetable plot!

Plants thrive in communities, some plants have mutual benefits, and some really don’t get on well at all! Here at Seed Pantry we’ve compiled an easy list of which plants make the best pot buddies to help you keep your home-grown Seed Pantry vegetables happy. 👨‍🌾

PlantCompanionWhy plant together?
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, KaleNasturtiumCabbage white butterflies will happily lay their eggs on Nasturtium leaves. Once the eggs hatch, the caterpillars will nibble your Nasturtiums and not your crops!
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Kale, Onion, Radish, TomatoesMintTo deter flea beetles, aphids, and to confuse carrot root fly/Onion fly, who find their host through scent. Keep the Mint in a pot if possible, as it quickly spreads and will smother your crops!
CarrotLeek, Spring Onion, OnionsThe smell of Leeks deters carrot root fly from Carrot, and the smell of Carrots deters Leek moth and Onion moth from Leeks and Onions!
Asparagus, Courgette, TomatoesCalendula (Pot Marigold)Calendula is very attractive to pollinators as it’s long flowering period means it can provide nectar over the whole growing season. It can also repel Asparagus beetles and unwanted soil nematodes.
Aubergine, Lettuce, Pepper, TomatoesBasilBasil is known to improve the flavour when grown with these vegetables. The scent also helps to deter aphids.
TomatoesFrench MarigoldThe Marigold scent will help deter whitefly.
TomatoesChivesThe Onion smell will deter aphids.
Flowers Mint, Chives, ThymeThese smelly plants will help deter aphids and blackfly from nibbling your blooms.
Runner BeansSweet PeasSweet Peas will attract pollinators to your Runner Bean flowers.
All vegetablesTansyThe smell of Tansy deters ants.
All vegetablesYarrowYarrow is a great ‘green manure’, use it to fertilise your vegetable plot by planting amongst your crops or composting it and adding as mulch.
Mint, Calendula and Nasturtiums (L-R) are all great companion plants!

Here’s a few other tips and ideas that will help you make the most of your planting:

  1. Create partial shade for shorter crops by planting tall plants, such as peas or sweetcorn. Some plants, namely coriander, lettuce and spinach are prone to bolting. This is when a plant produces a flowering stem before harvesting, as a natural attempt to produce seeds as a means of survival and happens when the plant is stressed (including high temperatures).
  2. Plant herbs throughout the plot, their strongly scented leaves will help repel the less useful of insects and their flowers will encourage pollinators.
  3. Utilise your space! Plant fast-growing crops such as lettuce and radish between slower-growing crops like root vegetables and Brussels Sprouts. Not only does this make your yield per square inch larger, they’ll help prevent weeds growing!
  4. Encourage wildlife into your garden. Butterflies, moths, beetles, birds, bats and millions of other insects all play an important role in keeping your garden happy. Sow lots of wildlife friendly seeds to bring natural predators that will help keep slugs and aphids at bay, to encourage pollinating insects, or simply to bring a little bit of life into your space.

You’ll be amazed by the variety of colourful veg you can grow when starting from seed, and we hope that you’ll be bringing better nutrition and outstanding homegrown flavour to your table all year round using these handy tips! If you’ve already begun your GYO plot – please tag us in your success stories (and heroic failures too!) on Instagram and Facebook.

Seed Pantry Team 🌼

Subscribe to the Grow Club box for flowers, food and herb seeds ready to sow each month… Curious? Come check out all of this month’s options!