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Prep Gardens for Frost

Winter can be hard on any garden, but many plants can be protected from a light frost and continue to grow until your first hard freeze. Now that your garden has transformed for fall, it’s time to shield it.

If the forecast calls for a cold front or frost, it can actually improve the flavor of many cool weather greens, such as spinach, collards, and kale.

While we can’t control the weather, we can protect plants now before they get into trouble.

Winter can be hard on any garden, but many plants can be protected from a light frost and continue to grow until your first hard freeze.

Protect Plants from a Frost:

1. Water your plants the night before a frost. Wet soil releases moisture in the air, which raises the temperature and keeps plants warmer throughout the night.

2. Cover plants with an old sheet, blanket, cardboard boxes or row covers. Row covers can add more than a month to the fall growing season. Use bricks, large stones or landscape pins to anchor covers to the ground. Remove covers as soon as the weather warms up.

Winter can be hard on any garden, but many plants can be protected from a light frost and continue to grow until your first hard freeze.

3. Cover individual plants with an inverted bucket or flower pot. Uncover as soon as the temperature rises above freezing.

4. If you haven’t brought all your container plants inside yet, now is the time to do so. Or, you can simply move large potted plants closer to the house or into direct sun.

If a freeze does do some damage to your garden, don’t fret! Sometimes only a few parts of a plant are injured, and it will continue to grow.

Five Things To Do Now For a Great Yard

Fall is truly one of the best times to get outside and to accomplish yard work. Summer’s heat has come and gone and your landscape is ready to be worked. Get your lawn in tip-top shape with this simple checklist.

Cross off these tasks from Hick’s Nurseries before winter to ensure your lawn and garden jump back into shape come spring.

Prep Your Lawn for Winter

Start with a soil test.

Test soil now for pH and nutrient levels so you have time to amend before spring. Grab a stainless steel trowel and dig 4” deep. Use either use a DIY soil test or send your soil sample to the county extension office.

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Compost

Rake or collect leaves in a mower with bagging attachment from the lawn and add to compost. Leaves add great nutrients to compost.

Dethatch Lawns

Thatch is the layer of dead grass, roots and debris that accumulates between the soil surface and the grass. Over time, a thick mat forms that hinders water and air from reaching the soil. It can encourage pests and diseases. Use a thatching rake to break up small areas. For larger lawns, use a power dethatcher.

Reseed Bare Spots.

Fall is the best time to reseed tired and stressed lawns. With a broadcast spreader, apply a seed that best suits your region and weather.

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Prepare with Care.

Get your lawn ready for the cooler weather ahead by fortifying it with nutrients. An organic winterizer promotes growth, helps lawns recover from drought and increases winter hardiness. Follow instructions here.

Your lawn is ready for winter and will surely bounce back in spring. Now it’s time to start planning your garden for next year.

About Hicks Nurseries

Hicks Nurseries is Long Island’s largest and oldest garden center. Family owned and operated since 1853, the nursery offers an exceptional selection of indoor and outdoor plants, casual furniture, garden accents, silk flower arrangements, pond and birding supplies as well as complete landscape design services. The Long Island, NY garden center is located at 100 Jericho Turnpike in Westbury; 516-334-0066. Visit our web site at www.HicksNurseries.com.

   

Test And Amend

A soil test measures how acidic or alkaline your soil might be. If your soil has too much of either, plants won’t absorb the nutrients they need. Most plants grow best when the soil pH is in near-neutral, between 6.0 and 7.0, but there are exceptions. Blueberries and potatoes, for example, love acidic soil, so a pH above 7.0 will not make them happy.

With a soil test, the guess work is gone. You’ll know just what your soil needs. So, you’ll add the right amount of lime or sulfur, and you’ll select the best plant food, too.

While fall is for planting, it’s also about for prepping for next season. McDonald’s Garden Center has the scoop on how to on amend soil for healthier, bigger and better crops come spring!

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Test And Amend Soil’s pH:

1. To solve your soil mystery, grab a stainless steel trowel and get diggin’! Dig 6-8” deep if sampling garden soil, or 4” if testing your lawn’s soil.

2. Either DIY it with an easy to use, at-home soil test from your local garden center, or call in the professionals and send your soil sample to the County Extension Office.

3. Fix soil’s acidity and alkalinity in a way that’s good for the planet and your home. Go organic! Espoma soil amendments are 100% natural, safe to use around pets and children, and contain no fillers whatsoever.

4. Apply Espoma Organic Garden Lime to raise the pH of very acidic soil. Poke holes in the soil’s surface and scatter on the lime. Rake lightly into the top inch of soil.

5. Apply Espoma Organic Soil Acidifier to lower the pH of extremely alkaline soil.

6. Compost also helps push the pH of any soil neutral.

7. Wait until spring to test your soil for positive changes.

Want to turn pink hydrangeas blue? Learn how to amend your soil and work magic in the garden.

Grab Your Books for a Lesson in Gardening 101

Going back to school is equal parts nervous jitters and genuine excitement for what could be. Remember what it was like to have a new backpack, a fresh outfit that makes just the right statement and your stack of empty notebooks waiting to be filled?

It feels like anything is possible at this time of year!

Molbak’s Garden + Home is here to help teach you gardening basics. Already an experienced gardener? Now is the time brush up on your lessons.

Espoma’s Gardening School 101

1. Build a Foundation for Success. For a garden to be great, superior soil is a must! Perform a quick soil test, study the results and your garden will be A+ in no time!

soil test

2. Back to School Shopping. Examine your garden equipment to see what should stay — and what needs to go. Look for cracked handles, rust and missing or loose parts. Then, go shopping for replacements.

Plan your garden

3. Get a Whole New Look. A new school year means it’s time to reveal your new look. Do you want to be refined? Edgy? Colorful and bold? Sweet and simple? Define your garden look and do your homework — then start pinning!

Espoma Pinterest

4. Make a Plan for Success. The only way to improve this year’s performance is to analyze the successes and failures of last year’s garden. Your assignment: create a new garden plan.

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5. Meet the Teacher. Hi! It’s a pleasure to see you! At Espoma, we’ve been teaching organic gardening practices since 1929. Comment with questions below, post them to Facebook or tweet us. We’re here to make you the best gardener you can be.

Espoma Facebook6. Sharpen Pencils. Clean and sharpen your garden tools to get them ready for the new season! You can DIY or take them to your local garden center.

Garden tools

7. Find New Friends. Follow us on Facebook and check out our posts to find gardeners who are just as passionate about organic growing as you are.

Garden Party

Patio Party photo by Proven Winners

Throw your cap (or gardening gloves) up in the air! You passed the Back to Gardening School Class! Your garden will thank you for it later!

To-Do List: August Gardening Tips

August is an exciting time. After all, your flower beds are radiant and your vegetable garden is thriving!

Although it may seem like watering and weeding are your only tasks this month, there’s still a lot to do. Help your garden beat the heat and prep for fall at the same time.

Keep your garden beautiful during August:

Maintenance and Preparation

  • Level low spots in your lawn.
  • Remove weeds.
  • Choose your autumn flower seeds and order in advance.
  • Fertilize and fortify your lawn with Espoma’s Summer Revitalizer.
  • Harvest produce regularly and hoe weekly to weaken weeds.
  • Add compost and mulch to keep your garden cool and prepared for fall planting.
  • Plant fall veggie starts or transplants.
  • Remove fallen fruit from fruit trees to limit insect infestations.

Pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, play a big part in getting our gardens to grow. They help fertilize flowers, carrying pollen from one plant to another.

Mind the Flowers

  • Divide and transplant spring and summer-flowering perennials after they bloom.
  • Spray water onto plants to evict seasonal pests like aphids, whiteflies and spider mites.
  • Remove diseased foliage before leaves drop.
  • Deadhead summer-flowering perennials and lightly shear to encourage more blooms.
  • Move houseplants back indoors to acclimate them to limited sun exposure.

Although it may seem like watering and weeding are your only tasks this month, there’s still a lot to do. Help your garden beat the heat and prep for fall at the same time.

Water, Water, Water!

  • Water plants deeply. Avoid getting leaves wet in the direct sun and avoid soaking containers during the hottest part of the day.
  • Water before 9:00am. If you can’t water in the morning, aim for watering in the early evening, to avoid letting the water sit all night. Letting the water sit all night can cause mildew and disease.

Although it may seem like watering and weeding are your only tasks this month, there’s still a lot to do. Help your garden beat the heat and prep for fall at the same time.

Looking Ahead

Congratulations on all your hard work on the August garden!

How will you and your garden be celebrating the end of summer? Let us know in the comments!

A Little Lightning Lime Does a Lawn Fine

Refreshing, invigorating and energizing — your lawn loves limes as much as you do!

Lawns also benefit from limestone if their soil pH is too low. Organic Lightning Lime restores patchy areas and helps your lawn get its green glow back.

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Lightning Lime works by correcting soil acidity and adding calcium and magnesium to your soil to help preserve that luscious green color and protect grass from stress caused by heat, drought or traffic. Calcium helps regulate nutrients such as zinc, copper and phosphorus.

Find out if your lawn needs Lightning Lime.

Lawns Like Lightning Lime: How and Why to Apply Lightning Lime in the Lawn

A dash of Lightning Lime can do wonders. It’s one of those organic lawn care tips you’ll wish you always knew!

 The Lawn Stress Test. Perform a soil test to see if your lawn’s soil pH is too low. A low soil pH leads to patchy, yellow spots.

organic lawn care, safe paws, lawn care tips, lawn lime

Lime It or Leave It. Only add Lightning Lime if your soil pH is low. Lawns thrive in soil with a pH between 6 and 7. And if your soil pH is below 5.5, your lawn will suffer since it can’t absorb nutrients properly.

Cool Like a Lime. Only use a pelletized, organic Lightning Lime for a Safe Paws lawn. Espoma’s Lightning Lime contains no hydrated lime, so it’s safe to use around pets and children. And that’s a big deal! Other lawn limes contain hydrated lime, which can be harmful.

Time to Lime! Apply organic Lightning Lime in early spring or fall. See how much Lightning Lime to use here. Then water. Never apply Lightning Lime if the ground is frozen or the grass is wilted.

Wait It Out. This organic lawn care trick takes time to kick in! You’ll see a lusher, greener lawn in a season or two.

You went right to the root of the problem — and solved it! Your lawn thanks you for that revitalizing Lightning Lime. It’ll repay you with lush, green color soon!

The Grass is Always Greener with Lawn Starter

The big reveal. The snow melts, and your grass emerges. But wait a second… are those bare spots?

If you need to repair your lawn this season with seed, early spring is best! Later on, lawn seed won’t survive the summer heat – and you won’t survive that water bill! If you can, wait until fall to seed. That’s when the soil, temperature and sunlight are just right for lawn seed.

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Update old grass and worn-out lawns by reseeding and then encourage strong root systems by feeding it. It’s an easy and quick way to give your lawn the update it needs without starting from scratch.

Can’t bear to stare at those patchy brown spots any longer? Here’s how to reseed successfully in spring.

Hit the Lawn Seed Sweet Spot: Start Seeds with Organic Lawn Starter

 Order Organic. Help lawn seed take root by applying an organic fertilizer made specifically for lawn seed and sod. This used to be impossible to find, but you asked, and we delivered! We made the first and only organic lawn starter. Now you and your pets are free to roam, play and enjoy your Safe Paws lawn. Together, we can keep pets safe with organic lawn care from start to finish.

organic lawn care, safe paws, lawn care tips,

Know How to Mow. If overseeding an established lawn, mow grass to at least 3”. This helps grass to develop strong roots.

Smart Seed Start. After you’ve spread lawn seed or sod, apply organic lawn starter. This helps your lawn seed establish faster and grow stronger roots. The secret is in our Organic Lawn Starter’s powerful Bio-tone microbes. Yes, the same Bio-tone you use to strengthen new plants!

The New Rule. Lightly water new grass seed or sod frequently until you’ve mowed it twice. After that, give your lawn 1” of water a week.

Patchy spots be gone. Go on, green lawn it’s your time to shine! And we’ll be here to share more lawn care tips for your new, fabulous organic lawn.   

Paw-lease Petscape the Yard this Spring

“Paw-lease, let us go outside!” your pets seem to be pleading as they flash you their saddest puppy dog eyes.

After spending most of their winter indoors, pets are springing to life – and pawing at the door.

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Before you let your pets frolic outside this spring, petscape and create a safe and pet-friendly outdoor landscape.

Who Let the Dogs Out?

Pass on Pesticides. The most important way to keep pets safe outside is to use organic lawn care products. It’s scary to hear, but dogs whose owners applied chemical herbicides were 4.4 times more likely to develop bladder cancer, according to research. Remind your friends and families to grow a Safe Paws lawn. Always.

No-No Cocoa. Skip the cocoa mulch when petscaping. While this mulch is a true beauty, dogs can’t resist its chocolatey smell. As you may have guessed, cocoa mulch is dangerous and toxic to dogs when eaten.

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Flower Power. Curious dogs and cats often want to see what those fragrant, colorful flowers taste like. While some plants are fine for pets to sample, others are poisonous. Before adding another plant or shrub to your garden, check if it’s safe for your pets.

Compost Ghost. While composting is great for the planet, it’s not as great for your pets. As food and garden waste breaks down, mold may grow. So if your pets nibble your compost, they can become sick. Symptoms range from excessive drooling or panting to vomiting and seizures. Keep compost bins closed or out of pets’ reach.

Your pups and kittens will want to play fur-ever in their Safe Paws lawn. So, go what’s the harm of one more game of fetch? You did use organic lawn care products after all!

Weed Out Bad Seeds from the Lawn

It’s time to put an end to the weed invasion, for good.

Stop annoying weeds, dandelions and crabgrass from ruining your lawn. They won’t know what hit them, but, you will!

Apply a weed preventer now, in early spring, to stop weeds before they start while greening the grass.

No More Weeds Below: Stop Weed Seeds from Sprouting in the Lawn

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Start your early spring lawn care right. Apply an Organic Weed Preventer now to have more time for organic gardening later.

Tender Offenders. Pre-emergent fertilizers only affect weed seeds, so handpick visible weeds. Compost tip: When composting weeds, discard weed seeds first to prevent germination.

Born to Corn. Espoma’s Organic Weed Preventer is 100 percent corn gluten, which helps your lawn grow faster and greener. Corn gluten also organically prevents weeds from growing roots, according to numerous field trials. That’s right: science shows corn stops weeds.

Say No to Chemicals. When you use an organic weed preventer, there’s no need to worry. You’re growing a Safe Paws lawn, so children and pets can safely walk on the grass. Encourage friends and families to use only organic lawn products, too. Studies found a link between chemical lawn fertilizers and canine cancer.

Spring Fling. Apply Weed Preventer in early spring on a dry, recently mowed established lawn. Instructions here. But don’t do this if you recently seeded the lawn. Corn gluten will stop all seeds from germinating, not just weeds!

Expect to Correct. Greener grass is on the horizon! If this is your first year applying a weed preventer, you’ll see up to 58 percent fewer weeds. In your second year, you’ll see up to 85 percent weed reduction. In year three, you’ll have up to 91 percent fewer weeds, according to Iowa State University research. Plus, you’ll have healthier soil and feel better about what you’re putting into it.

Greener grass and fewer weeds – all while keeping your pets and family safe. Life is g-o-o-d with a Safe Paws lawn.

Make Like a Garden and Grow

This year, let’s grow your best garden yet! All you need is a sturdy pencil, a blank notebook and a vivid imagination. You’ll almost be able to smell wild lavender and delicate roses.

With a detailed garden plan, your organic garden blooms right off the page.

 Grow On! How to Plan Your Dream Garden

1. Reflect to Perfect. Think about last year’s garden. Jot down all your flowers, edibles and shrubs. Mark your favorite and most used plants. Cross off those that didn’t produce, succeed or required too much effort. What plants do you wish you had? What edibles did you spend too much on at the store? Add those to your plant list.

2. Wise Size. Sketch your current garden space. Should you expand or cut back? Consider if and where you’d like to place new garden beds, raised beds, containers or another vegetable garden. If this is your first garden, plan for 50-75 square feet.

garden plan, garden design3. Site for Light. With your garden design sketched, it’s time to color coordinate! Fill in each area with a different color based on how sunny or shady it is.

4. Single or Mingle. Tweak the list of plants you want to add, keep or remove. Then decide which plants you’ll cluster and which to keep separate. Pair plants with similar water, light and soil needs. Plan where to plant them, and circle the plants you’ll start from seed.

start seeds, plan garden5. Pick to Mix. Scrutinize your list to make sure you have a good mix of: plant types, scents, bloom times, beneficial plants, texture, sizes and color. Do the Safe Paws check to make sure all plants are safe for your pets.

Step back and admire your handiwork! In just a few short months, your hands will be in the soil making your garden plan spring to life.