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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A Seed Pantry Guide to Effective Watering

Water is vital for plant life, but how much to give and when? Here’s our handy guide to effective watering…

Are my plants getting enough water?

Getting to know your plants is key! They’ll tell you when they’re happy and when they’re not, so look out for the following signs of a thirsty plant;

  • Less than expected production of foliage, fruits or flowers.
  • Leaves or stems that look dull, or are darker or even paler than usual.
  • Changes in leaf direction, they may droop downwards or start to curl at the edges.
  • Wilting, the leaves may turn brown and crispy in extreme cases.
  • Pots are lighter than usual, maybe they’re even blowing over in the wind?
  • Signs of powdery mildew (a white coating on leaves, stems and flowers).

Note: Be careful not to overwater, too much love can cause plant leaves to wilt or droop also when overwatered! – a balance is needed.

When should I water?

You may have heard that watering in the mid-day sun can cause the leaves to scorch. Even on the sunniest of days this is no more than a myth! Watering during the middle of the day will still be welcomed by any thirsty plant but is less efficient; more moisture will be lost to evaporation and strong winds are more common.

The best time to water is in the morning and will give your plants a good store of water to get through the days heat. Watering in the cooler evenings will also mean less water is lost to evaporation, however the surface of the soil and foliage will remain damp for longer which can encourage slugs and snails, and the plants may be more susceptible to fungal diseases.

It’s best to keep the soil damp, not wet! Roots need air in order for the plant to grow well.

It’s better to water thoroughly every now and again than it is to water lightly and frequently. By giving them a good soaking low down at the base of the plant (not all over the leaves) the water will get into the deeper soil where it’s needed by the root tips. Light watering can encourage the plants to grow roots closer to the soil’s surface make them more susceptible to drought.

How much water should I give my plants?

Plant Type How much water to give your plants depends on the requirements of individual plants; shade-loving plants and those from cooler, damper, climates will be less adapted to hot and dry weather so will need more water than sun lovers such as alpine plants. Those plants that are actively growing will also need more frequent watering than those that are dormant.

Soil Type If your soil is sandy or chalky you’ll need to water more frequently than soil with a high clay content as they’ll retain less moisture. You can water less heavily than you would need to for clay soil as any excess will drain freely.

Top tip

Digging organic matter into your soil will help it to retain more moisture.

Containers If your plants are in pots, the roots will be drinking any moisture from a smaller soil volume than if they were growing freely in the ground. The soil will dry out more quickly and will need watering more frequently. Try putting potted plants in shade to reduce water loss through evaporation, or water once or twice a day if in full sun and your plants are less drought tolerant.

Soil Dampness Water is absorbed by the root tips so don’t go by the dryness of the soil’s surface as a marker for when to water. Push a finger into the compost to knuckle depth; if the soil is damp you’re OK, if it’s dry, water.

Watering and caring for your plants is a lovely therapeutic activity, so enjoy.

The Seed Pantry team 🌼

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

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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!

How To Grow Micro-greens

This winter – Grow micro-greens! …these teeny leaves are packed with flavour, are rich in potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium and copper! 🤩

What are micro-greens?

Micro-greens is a fancy word for any leaves harvested from the seedlings of leafy salad greens, like rocket and pak choi, or herbs, like basil and coriander. You’ll find plenty of choice in the Seed Pantry food seeds range or in your monthly Grow Club boxes that are suitable, brassicas, salads, sunflowers… the shoots of broad beans, peas, as well as root crops such as radish and carrot are also delicious!

All micro-greens can be grown in the same way, sown into a compost and placed in a sunny windowsill indoors – all year round! Grown in just about anything, from seed trays to old yoghurt pots, they’ll be ready to harvest in just 1-2 weeks. If you plant seeds every few days then you’ll have a supply of tender shoots right the way through winter, so take a leaf out of Seed Pantry’s book and add a bonanza of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals such as iron, folic acid and potassium to your meals!

Which seeds should I sow?

Radish: Quick and easy to grow, the pretty red stems of radish shoots will add colour to your salads as well as a peppery kick. Try them in egg sandwiches and stir fries.

Harvest: 7 days

Spinach: These mild, nutrient packed leaves are ideal for salads, or stirred into a risotto. Tastes brilliant in an omelette with micro broccoli.

Harvest: 10 days

Beetroot: Their red-stemmed leaves add a splash of colour and a mild, earthy flavour to leafy salads. Delicious when sprinkled over grilled fish.

Harvest: 10 days

Mustards: Varieties such as mizuna, mibuna and mustard red frills all pack a spicy punch. The pretty, frilly or red-leaved varieties to add a sprinkling of interest to your stir-fry.

Harvest: 10 days

Basil: Much easier to grow than the adult plant, these highly flavoured micro-greens can be used in exactly the same way. Look out for purple varieties, such as the Seed Pantry Basil ‘rubin’ for extra colour.

Harvest: 10 days

Pea shoots: Tasting just like fresh peas, these sweet little tendrils are good in salads and stir fries, and they look lovely!

Harvest: 14 days

Sunflower shoots: With a slightly nutty taste and a pleasing crunch, sunflower shoots will make a great addition to almost any salad.

Harvest: 14 days

Coriander: A little slow to germinate, but these tiny flavour-packed leaves are well worth the rate. Fantastic as a garnish for curries, noodles and stir fries.

Harvest: 14 days

How to do it

  1. Cover the bottom of your container with an inch or two of compost, firming it lightly with your hand.
  2. Scatter a dense layer of seeds, evenly spaced, over the op of the soil; try to avoid clumps of seeds.
  3. Place your tray on a windowsill and keep them lightly watered using a mister or a fine watering can rose.
  4. Your greens should be ready to harvest in about a week, although it’ll be a little slower in the winter. To harvest, either snip them with a pair of scissors or pull them up from the base of the stem.

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!

Once you’ve made your planter, we’d love to see it! – please tag us in your success stories (and heroic failures too!) on Instagram and Facebook.

Spinach and Onion Puff Pastry Tart Recipe

The Seed Pantry Spinach ‘Perpetual’ has certainly lived up to it’s name, but we’re not complaining! We’ve been devising new and delicious ways to use up our continuous supply of fresh leafy greens…including this tasty pastry!

Ingredients:

– 350-400g spinach
– 2 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
– 1 onion, diced
– 1 garlic clove, chopped
– 1 tsp fresh thyme or parsley, chopped
– A packet of ready-rolled puff pastry
– 75g cheese (cheddar and feta work brilliantly)
– Freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sea salt

How to do it

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a baking tray with a little of the oil.

– 350-400g Spinach

Tear out any tough stalks of Spinach and wash thoroughly. Place it into a saucepan with a tablespoon of water, cover and put over a medium heat to wilt the spinach for a few minutes. Drain and allow to cool.

When the Spinach has cooled enough to handle, squeeze as much liquid as possible out with your hands before chopping.

– 2 tbsp oil
– 1 onion, diced
– 1 garlic clove, chopped
– 1 tsp thyme, parsley, or both

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and cook for a further 3-4 minutes before adding the fresh herbs and chopped spinach. Remove the pan from the heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

– Ready-made puff pastry

Roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface into a rectangle shape, about 4mm thick, before lifting onto the baking tray. Spread the spinach mix over the pastry (leave a small margin along the edges). Scatter over the cheese and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden. Delicious!

Variations

Spinach and Pesto Tart

Try spreading a layer of Pesto over the puff pastry before piling on your spinach mixture, top with parmesan cheese and halved cherry tomatoes before cooking for a Mediterranean take! If you’ve been growing Basil in your Seed Pantry Grow Pod, you might even make the pesto yourself with our simple recipe!

Spinach and Ricotta Rolls

For a creamy dinner time favourite, add 75g each of ricotta and feta cheese to your spinach and onion mixture. Spread over the pastry, leaving a 2cm margin along one of the long edges and roll into a long sausage shape. Cut the roll into 4 equal pieces and pop into the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden.

Enjoy!

The Seed Pantry team 🌼

BUY your own Seed Pantry Grow Pod 2 here…

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A Seed Pantry Guide to Growing Flower Bulbs Indoors

Grow your Seed Pantry bulbs indoors to enjoy those spring-time blooms inside at Christmas and over the winter period.

Autumn is the time for planting bulbs in the garden, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, iris and crocus are all popular in Grow Club boxes now. Whilst you’ve been busy planting bulbs outdoors in the garden, it’s a great idea to pot up and ‘force’ some indoor bulbs too!

So what is ‘forcing’ and what are ‘prepared’ bulbs?

A ‘prepared’ bulb is one that has already been pre-chilled so that it will flower indoors out of season, only 8-10 weeks after being planted. The cold period mimics winter time and the chilling that they need to grow, so that they are triggered into thinking it’s Spring time out of season! Time the planting right, and you can use your flowers as a stunning, fragrant home-grown Christmas centrepiece!

‘Forcing’ a bulb into flower sounds rather mean, but when you think about it you’re actually putting your bulbs up in a 5 star hotel complete with central heating and a watering-on-demand sort of room-service. Asking for a bloom out of season in return seems rather reasonable, don’t you agree?

Narcissus papraceus

Grow Narcissus papyraceus – ‘Paperwhite’

Perfect for newbie gardeners Narcissus papyraceus (a.k.a. the ‘Paperwhite’ daffodil) is a fast and easy, fragrant indoor pot plant with delicate white flowers. They’ll make a beautiful centrepiece for Christmas, or cheer up any windowsill on a dark winters day.

How to do it

  1. Plant several bulbs in each pot, pointy end up, with the tip of the bulb just below the surface. Any multi-purpose compose will do.
  2. Water well and leave in a cool, shady room for 3-4 weeks. There’s no need to cover these.
  3. After 3-4 weeks place on a warm, sunny windowsill and wait. They should bloom 8 weeks after first planting.
  4. If the plants get a bit lanky, lend them a hand (or stick) to keep them upright.

Once your ‘Paperwhites’ have flowered, allow them to die down in a frost-free place and then plant them in the garden in a sheltered, sunny spot. Narcissus ‘Paperwhite’ aren’t hardy in some parts of the UK, so if you’re a Northerner you may want to allow them to dry off and store them to be replanted in containers later in the year.

Hyacinthus orientalis ‘China Pink’

Grow prepared Hyacinthus orientalis

Otherwise known as ‘Grape hyacinths’, orientalis will also only take a short while to bloom. Planting these beautifully fragrant flowering bulbs during October or early November will see you with flowers for Christmas and New Year!

How to do it

  1. Select a container deep enough to hold single or multiple bulbs and add a 3/4cm layer of well-watered bulb fibre or Seed Pantry grow medium to the pot. 
  2. Then plant and gently firm down the bulb/s and fill around them with growing medium, leaving the tip of the bulb showing by 1cm. 
  3. Place pots somewhere cool and exclude any light: a garage, shed, dark cool cellar, cupboard, or a place on cool floor inside in a box. 
  4. Inspect the bulbs each week to ensure the grow medium isn’t drying out or the bulbs haven’t pushed themselves out – firm back in if so.
  5. Your first leaves should be visible early December. Then place pots in a cool shady room. Leaves will green up and start to reveal the flower bud too!
  6. Wait until the flower bud is clear of the leaf tips and place wherever you want to display them! 

You can also grow hyacinths using a glass vase, known as a bulb vase. The bulb should be slightly smaller in diameter than the vase so that it sits snugly in the vase, and the steps are just as easy this way too!

  1. Fill your hyacinth glass with water to the neck, just below where the bottom of the bulb’s base will sit. Place the bulb tip side up in the top, being careful that it’s base doesn’t quite touch the water.
  2. Leave your vase in a cool, shady place for 6 weeks until the roots start to form.
  3. When the main shoot is around 7-10cm tall, move the glass into a sunny position.
  4. Turn the glass a little every few days to prevent the plant growing lopsided as it grows towards the light, topping up the water every now and again to keep the water level stable.

After flowering

Once your hyacinths have flowered, allow them to die down and then plant them in the garden at a depth of twice their own height.

Here at Seed Pantry we’ve made life easy and sourced only the best prepared indoor bulbs for you… available in the Grow Club now!

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!

How To Store Your Excess Harvest

Stock Up The Pantry With Your Seed Pantry Crops!

It’s easy to get a little carried away when sowing your veg seeds and now you’ve got a wonderful bumper crop to deal with! If, like us, you’ve ended up with so much Courgette that the thought of another Ratatouille doesn’t tickle your taste buds, it might be time to turn them into something different!

There’s plenty of ways to preserve your produce if you can’t use them right away, and it’s really satisfying to see your belly, cupboards and freezer stocked up with home-grown produce for the winter months. Here’s a round up of the ways to store your excess bounty.

Freezing

Quick and easy, freezing your produce in Tupperware or bags is great way to store even small quantities. Simply blanch or steam your crop, which helps to kill bacteria and maintain the vitamin content, allow to cool and bag up. Label your freezer-bags with the date and you’re ready to freeze! Some vegetables, like tomatoes and french beans can even be frozen after picking after just a good rinse.

Suitable crops: Root veg, onions, sweetcorn, tomatoes, courgette, all types of beans, brassicas, soft fruits and tree fruits (on their own or in sugar or syrup) and herbs too!

Dehydrating

Britain isn’t exactly known for it’s tropical climate, but whilst drying in the sun might not be feasible, the drying process is still easy to do indoors. If you’re a seasoned Grow Your Own-er then you might even consider buying a dehydrator!

How to do it

Apples: Core and slice into rings and soak in slightly salted water (1tsp of salt to 1litre of water) to prevent them from browning. Dry the rings and thread them on a string, hang them indoors, well spaced, for 3-5 days. You can also dry Chillies or Mushrooms this way, although it may take a little longer.

Tomatoes: Cut in half, cover with a little salt and dry in a cool oven. Store in air-tight containers or olive oil (you can add a little dried Basil or Oregano).

Peas and beans: Blanch or steam before rinsing in cold water. Lay on a clean tea towel and dab off any excess moisture, dry on trays in a cool oven or airing cupboard until hard. Allow to cool before packing into air-tight containers and store in a cool, dry place.

Suitable crops: Onions, tomatoes, chillies, mushrooms, apples, pears, plums, raspberries, strawberries … the list goes on, I’ve even been known to make cucumber crisps this way.

Chutneys and Pickles

Sugar and spice and all things nice, who doesn’t relish a little chutney with cheese and crackers? This classic preserving method is a great way to store onion, cabbage, beetroot, cucumber or any other random assortment of surplus you might have – even plums and pears make a great addition!

How to do it – Any-Veg Chutney

1kg seasonal fruit or vegetables, diced into 1cm cubes
500g cooking or eating apples, peeled and diced
250g onions, peeled and diced
375ml white wine (or cider) vinegar
250g light soft brown sugar
250g dried fruit, chopped
1-3 tsp dried chilli flakes (or ginger)
1/2 tsp salt

Place the vegetables and fresh fruit into a large pan, with the dried fruit and sugar. Add the vinegar and 250ml water to the pan with the chilli/ginger and salt.

Heat the mixture gently, stirring occasionally until all of the sugar has dissolved before slowly bringing to the boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 1-2 hours, stirring regularly so that it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan. When the chutney is rich, thick and reduced it is ready (you can test this by dragging a wooden spoon through the mixture: it should part enough to reveal the base of the pan). If it seems a little dry before this stage, add a little boiling water. Allow to cool a little.

Pot the chutney while warm into sterilised jars. Seal with plastic-coated screw-top lids and leave to mature for at least 2 weeks before using.

Flavoured Oils and Vinegars

Chilli vinegar makes a great fiery accompaniment to any BBQ

Used as salad dressings or flavourings for steamed puddings, flavouring vinegar with fruit, vegetables or herbs is a delightful and simple way of using up small quantities of surplus garden produce. Fruit, vegetables or herbs are steeped in vinegar over a period before straining the liquid and heating with sugar. Even Violas, Lavender and Rose petals can be used to add a delicate flavour.

Suitable Crops: raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, strawberries, apples or vegetables such as cucumber, celery, horseradish, peppers, Chillies, garlic, mint, thyme, tarragon, basil, marjoram (singly or in combination).

How to do it

For Herbs, half fill a 1L jar with fresh herb leaves, or clean petals (for Violas, Lavender or Rose flavours) and top up your jar with white wine vinegar. For Fruits and vegetables, use roughly 500g to every 600ml of vinegar with the exception of Garlic or Chilli where you should use around 50g.

Cover and allow the mixture to steep for 7-10 days in the fridge. Stir or shake each day. Herb and Vegetable vinegar can then be strained into a bottle and sealed, ready to use. You can even mix the vinegar with a little oil for a richer dressing. For Fruit vinegar, after steeping, strain the mixture and place the liquid into a pan with 350g of sugar.

Bring to a boil, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool a little, then bottle and seal into sterilised jars.

So there you have it – a rough and ready guide to reap the rewards of your Grow Club success! We’d love to hear about your GYO journey – please tag us in your success stories (and heroic failures too!) on Instagram and Facebook.

Seed Pantry Team 🌼

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