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Plant Care Instructions

More in-depth instructions on how to care for your Schwarz Family Farm potted plants.

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Potted Basil  

General Care Instructions

  • Keep soil evenly moist
  • Pinch off blossoms to encourage leafy growth
  • Do NOT allow plants to freeze Plants kept outdoors in pots will dry out quicker than plants kept indoors

Harvesting basil leaves

Cut or pick leaves from the top branches of the plant. Leave the bottom leaves so the plant can absorb a consistent amount of sunshine.

Basil Uses

Basil, also known as Saint Joseph's Wart, is used in a lot of Italian and Southeast Asian cuisine. It is most often used fresh. It will taste better if added at the last minute, as cooking basil for too long breaks down the flavor. Basil is the main ingredient in pesto.

Pruning your basil plant

To prune your basil plant, snip off any flowering heads that appear just below the top set of leaves. If plant becomes too leggy, you can also cut lower on the plant, but be sure to cut just above a "joint" where the stem is growing out from between two sets of leaves.                                                                                                                                                         

What if I want to plant my basil outdoors?

Go for it! Just remember that basil plants do NOT like the cold. Once it gets too cold (we're talking lower forties) the plant will turn black and die. If you let it go to seed at the end of the year and the winter isn't too harsh, it is quite possible that it will reseed itself for next year. You can also save the seeds to plant yourself next year.  



Potted Chives  

General Care Instructions

  • Keep soil evenly moist
  • If transplanting outside, wait 30 days to harvest
  • Store or plant in full sun

Harvesting chives

Cut or snip chives at or below ground/soil level.

Chives Uses

Chives, which are a member of the allium family, add a mild oniony flavor to dishes. They are used in a wide variety of dishes, including potato, egg, and meat dishes. They make a particularly nice addition to dishes with sour cream or cream cheese. 

More Chive Advice

  • Chive blossoms make a lovely addition to salads and as a garnish. They can also be used to infuse vinegar.
  • Chives do particularly well when planted next to carrots.
  • Chives are hardy from zones 3-10
  • Divide plants every 3-4 years
  • Chives can be frozen in an airtight bag

What if I want to plant my chives outdoors?

Sounds like a plan to me! Plant them in well-drained soil with full-sun exposure for best results. As stated above, don't harvest them until 30 days or so after planting them. They will come back again and again, and will eventually need to be divided (every 3-4 years). The flowers drop seeds, so if you don't want a yard full of chives, remove them before they get a chance to do that. You can eat the blossoms, remember! Try using them to infuse some white vinegar. The resulting color is a gorgeous violet/red. See the instructions here. 


Potted Mint

General Care Instructions

Keep soil evenly moist.

Harvesting mint leaves

Cut stems near the base of the plant. Pluck leaves off stem to use.

Mint in the kitchen

Mint is used often in Indian cuisine. It can also make a pleasant addition to salads, jellies, hot beverages such as tea, and cold beverages such as mojitos.

What if I want to plant my mint outdoors?

That's a-ok.  A few things to remember: Mint spreads voraciously. Any tendrils that touch the ground will take root. If you don't want it to take over, plant it within a container or bottomless barrier of some kind Preferably one that doesn't break down. Additionally, you must remember that mint will likely overpower any plant you put with it and that if you plant two varieties of mint, one of them will overpower the other. Mint is a perennial, so it will come up again next year. Probably in places you didn't think it could.  



Potted Parsley


General Care Instructions

  • Keep soil evenly moist
  • Transplant to a larger pot or outdoors before plant becomes rootbound

Harvesting Parsley

Pull off stems at the base of the plant, remove leaves from stem and chop them up. If you feel bad for wasting the stems, use them to flavor a broth!

Parsley Uses

The real question is what CAN'T you use parsley for? Parsley goes with everything, right? Wait, was I NOT supposed to put it in that dessert I made? Lol. In all seriousness, parsley goes great with really any meat or fish dish, and can add some va va voom to just about any vegetable you can think of. It's my personal favorite herb, tied with dill.

What if I want to plant my parsley outdoors?

It can definitely be done. In fact, parsley thrives with a little more room to grow. It will also self seed, so don't be surprised if some new parsley pops up next spring. I'd suggest planting curly parsley in a slightly shadier spot than Italian parsley. It tends to be curlier when it is cooler.



Potted Tomatoes

General Care Instructions

Water plant a few times a week, depending on heat. Water enough to keep soil moist but not saturated. Transplant into a larger pot or outdoors before the leaves begin to yellow and before the plant starts to produce fruit. Once the plant is in the ground, it tends to like big waterings followed by a long period of drying out. Watering your tomato too often while the fruit is ripening could cause problems with cracking and splitting.

Pruning your Tomatoes

Tomatoes send out shooters from the crook between the main stem and a secondary stem. These shooters should be removed in order to force the plant to put its energy into making tomatoes, rather than sprawling out. Once your first tomatoes are ripe, you can actually remove all the leaves below the ripe tomatoes, leaving only the main stem. We do this to increase circulation in the greenhouse to prevent disease. We prune our determinates once or twice at the beginning of the summer and then leave them for the remainder of the year.

Indeterminate vs. Determinate

Indeterminate tomatoes continue to grow for the entire season and become long and spindly, especially if you prune them consistently. You will need to trellis or tie these tomatoes up to get the best results. Our indeterminate varieties include all of our cherry tomatoes, Juliet, Big Beef, Golden Jubilee, Black Krim, and Brandywine heirloom tomatoes.

Determinate tomatoes grow to a specific point and then stop. They are a bushier plant, and require less pruning. You still might want to use a tomato cage to hold them upright in order to keep the fruit off the ground. The only determinate variety we currently offer as a starter plant is Monica (roma).



Potted Peppers

General Care Instructions

Water plant once or twice a week, enough to keep soil moist. Transplant into a larger pot or outdoors before the leaves begin to yellow and before the plant starts to produce fruit. Once transplanted, you may want to stake up your pepper plant depending on where you place it, since we do live in Nebraska and the wind blows 99 out of every 100 days. Then make sure that puppy has water and watch it grow!

Notes about Varieties

We currently grow Sweet Sunrise, California Wonder, and Olympus varieties, which are orange and green to red respectively. Some of the varieties we have grown in the past include Islander (purple or lavender) bell, Chocolate (brown) bell, and Bianca (white) bell. Islander starts off white with a purple tint. As time goes by, the plant becomes a dark purple. If you leave the peppers on long enough, they turn orange and then red. Chocolate bells turn brown fairly early on. They are exceptionally sweet and have a red/brown flesh. When left on the vine, these peppers get a reddish tint to them. Biancas start out white and eventually turn a sherbet orange.  



Potted Sage

General Care Instructions

  • Water plant once or twice a week, enough to keep soil moist.
  • When plant blooms, trim plant back..

Harvesting sage leaves

Pick leaves off plant. You can also cut bunches of leaves just above a leaf node.

Sage in the kitchen

Sage is often used to flavor savory dishes and is a common ingredient in the stuffing of turkeys at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Poultry, rabbit, pork, and fish dishes can all be enhanced using this herb.

What if I want to plant my sage outdoors?

Feel free. Sage is perennial to zone 5. Plant it in full sun in sandy/loamy soil. The leaves get bigger when it’s planted outside, which makes for a perfect opportunity to experiment with frying sage. You should also think about using the blossoms to infuse white vinegar, the same way you might with chive blossoms.



Potted Strawberry Starters

General Care Instructions

  • Water plant once or twice a week, enough to keep soil moist.
  • Transplant to a larger pot or outdoors before plant becomes rootbound and to allow plant to produce fruit.

Harvesting Strawberries

Reach out. Pick strawberry.

Strawberries in the kitchen

Our strawberry varieties are so sweet, they are best consumed directly off the plant. In fact, I didn't realize what strawberries were supposed to taste like until I ate these. But, if you MUST cook with them, they make KILLER pie fillings. I speak from experience.

What if I want to plant my strawberry outdoors?

That's the best idea I've heard all day. Strawberries are perennial in zones 4-8, but should be replaced after 5 or 6 years. This shouldn't be a problem, however, since strawberries send out runners that root to anything that sits still long enough. If you want, you can set a pot of dirt out next to your plant, place the runner in it, wait until it takes root, snip off the runner, and plant the new baby strawberry somewhere else. You could fill your whole yard with strawberries. Because why wouldn't you?



Potted Thyme

General Care Instructions

  • Water plant once or twice a week, enough to keep soil moist.
  • When plant blooms, trim plant back.
  • Transplant to a larger pot or outdoors before plant becomes rootbound.

Harvesting Thyme leaves

Run sprig of thyme between the tines of a fork to remove leaves, or use this method here.

Thyme in the kitchen

Thyme can be used in just about any dish you’d like, but is especially used in beef and pork dishes. I like to throw it into a sachet with rosemary, parsley, and dill and use it to make chicken stock for chicken noodle soup.

What if I want to plant my thyme outdoors?

You just go ahead and do that. Thyme is perennial through zone 5. Plant thyme in full to part sun. Thyme grows well in just about any soil, but it prefers sandy loamy soil. We have a pretty even mix here between sand/clay, and our thyme grows just fine.    


New recipe: Fingerling Potato Salad with Pickled Red Onions and Chive BlossomsApril 26th, 2014

Fingerling Potato Salad with Pickled Red Onions and Chive Blossoms Gluten free and vegan 4 side servings 1 small red onion Seasoned or unseasoned rice vinegar 1 small mesh bag of fingerling potatoes

New recipe: Chive Blossom Infused VinegarApril 26th, 2014

Ingredients:Chive BlossomsAny white vinegarDirections:Fill jar with chive blossoms. The fuller the jar the more \"chive-y\" and colorful the vinegar will be.Then pour vinegar into jar, filling it. Sto

New recipe: Chocolate Mint Infused HoneyApril 26th, 2014

Ingredients:1 1/2 oz pkg chocolate mint1 Pint honey You will also need:Cheesecloth & string Directions:Remove leaves from mint sprigs. Rinse with cold water and pat dry. Place in sachet and roll o

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