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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.

How to Treat Chlorosis

Yellow leaves mean plants aren’t producing enough chlorophyll. This common garden problem is known as chlorosis. Laura from Garden Answer shows you how to turn leaves green again.

 

 

 

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!

Smarty Plants: 5 Easy Planting Tips

Raise new plants that grow as big and mighty as Jack’s Beanstalk with these five tips for planting success. Your new plants will look so perfect your neighbors will think you plucked them right from a fairy tale!

Before you even think about picking up your garden trowel, check out these tips.

Bio-tone starter, potting soil, organic fertilizer

Say Yes to Success: 5 Tricks for Planting New Flowers, Veggies and More  

1. Start with the Best. Make sure you have the right light, space and soil for each plant. Then select plants with shiny, blemish-free leaves that you can easily lift out of the container.

2. Royal Soil. Before planting, test the soil and add necessary amendments. If your soil is lacking, your plants will be too. For an extra oomph, add Espoma Organic Vegetable & Flower Garden Soil or compost to the planting hole. And if direct sowing seeds, mix in an organic seed starting potting soil, so seeds can take root easily.

3. Feed Now… and Later. When planting, mix in an organic starter plant food. Adrianna, an Espoma customer, loves Bio-tone Starter Plus. She can even tell “when the roots begin to take up the plant food because they start to grow MUCH faster.” Bio-tone Starter Plus’ secret is mycorrhizae, which promotes bigger blooms and helps plants get established faster. Continue to feed plants with an organic fertilizer for starter plants. Try our new Start! liquid fertilizer to speed up the process.

Bio-tone starter, potting soil, organic fertilizer

4. Stay Strong Seedlings. Before moving indoor seedlings outside, toughen them up. Otherwise, they may not make it. To help seeds adjust, begin hardening them off two weeks before transplanting. How-to instructions here.

5. Don’t Forget to Water. While still in their nursery containers, water your plants. Then water deeply after planting. Water reduces plants’ stress levels and helps them adjust to their happy, new abode.

Get ready, your organic flowers, veggies and plants are about to be bigger and healthier than ever! You grow, gardener!  

Total Guide to Growing Tomatoes

For good reason, tomatoes are the popular kid in the garden. Everyone wants to grow them, but not everyone knows how! So we have collected everything we know about tomatoes – from choosing which tomatoes to grow to how to harvest – and put it in one place!

Have success with Espoma’s Total Guide To Growing Tomatoes!

Five questions to ask before growing tomatoes

Best Tomato Varieties for Beginners

Should I grow heirlooms?

Hybrid tomatoes

Non-Red Tomatoes

organic tomatoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting tomatoes from seed

How to plant tomatoes

Ensuring soil health

Growing tomatoes in containers

Growing tomatoes upside down

Turn your tomato garden upside down

Growing tomatoes

organic tomatoes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to fertilize tomatoes

3 Ways to Support Tomatoes

How to mulch tomato plants

What to know about pruning tomatoes

What are tomato plant suckers? 

How much water do tomatoes need?

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Blossom end rot

 

Tomato woes – How to solve common tomato diseases

Keep Tomatoes from Cracking and Splitting

Protect your plants – 4 common tomato pests

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Harvesting tomatoes made easy 

Step-by-step Instructions to Can, Save and Preserve Tomatoes

Saving tomato seeds 

Flip, Fill and Feed with Espoma’s NEW Liquid Plant Foods

Organically feeding your favorite plants just got way easier – and faster. Say farewell to messy measuring and that fishy smell of other organic, liquid fertilizers.

And say hello to Espoma’s new line of liquid plant foods. Learn more about our new collection below.

Hello, Healthy! Espoma’s New, Liquid Organic Plant Food

Here are a few reasons our new liquid plant line will become one of your favorite things.

  • Instant Nutrition. Espoma’s new liquid plant foods feed your plants instantly – and organically. With these, you can feed your plants faster than you send a text!
  • Scientifically Magnificent. Our new liquid fertilizers are scientifically proven to grow bigger, better plants with larger blooms. What gives them their mighty power? We’ve loaded them with kelp extracts, humic acids and beneficial microbes.
  • Less Mess. Ready, set, pop! The new Easy Dose cap on our liquid plant foods effortlessly measures each dose of fertilizer! No more messy bottles, measuring mistakes or spills.
  • Flip, Fill and Feed. All you do is pop the lid, hold the bottle upside down and voila! The perfect amount of liquid fertilizer drops into your watering can.
  • Cause for Safe Paws. Our new liquid fertilizers are 100 percent organic and safe to use around children and pets. Safe Paws approved!

espoma organic liquid plant food

Meet the New Liquid Plant Food Trio

Bigger, better plants are only a flip away!

  • Begin with Start! Flip open this starter plant food which helps plants get established fast while growing strong roots.
  • Go with Grow! Add this all-purpose, organic plant fertilizer to promote rapid root growth and encourage green foliage.
  • Boom with Bloom! Call in the super blossom booster which promotes and prolongs flowering while stimulating the growth of more blooms!

Try our new liquid organic plant foods with organic potting soil for super amazing results. Can’t wait to see what big beauties you grow!  

The Easiest Tomatoes to Grow

Depending on what you’re making and where you live, some tomatoes really are better! With more than 7,500 varieties, you have to know exactly what you’re looking for.

So whether you say to-may-to or to-mah-to, we’re here to help you choose the easiest tomato variety for you.

Variety is the Spice of Life – The Easiest Tomato Variety to Grow

Cherry Tomatoes ­­are the easiest tomatoes for beginners to grow. They produce crop after crop and have very few problems! Here are a few of the best.

Super Sweet 100

The name says it all – these are sweet and easy. Just one plant can bear more than 1,000 tomatoes. Super Sweet 100s grow in long strands or clusters of more than 100 tomatoes. You’ll have thousands of tomatoes that are high in Vitamin-C by the end of the season.

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Napa Grape

This classic tomato tastes and looks just like its bigger rivals, but has a higher sugar content than any other grape tomato. Known to be one of the tastiest tomatoes out there, the Napa Grape produces sweet tomatoes that taste yummy in salads or as snacks.

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Golden Nugget

These sweet tasting tomatoes love cool weather and can withstand the heat. Looking more like tangerines than tomatoes, Golden Nuggets ripen early and produce lots of fruit.

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Yellow Pear

Tangy, beautiful and tiny, Yellow Pear tomatoes look charming in salads or as snacks. A favorite of chefs, these dynamic tomatoes love to sprawl, so contain them with a cage or stake.

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Sun Gold

These orange tomatoes taste like tropical fruit and thrive in hot, sultry climates. Grown in long clusters of 10-15 tomatoes, Sun Golds produce fruit well into fall. Plus, these cherry tomatoes can be grown in containers.

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Go forth, and grow! When you’re organic gardening, be sure to feed tomatoes lots of Tomato-tone during the growing season.  

And if you’re looking for more info on tomatoes, such as growing heirloom tomatoeshybrid tomatoes or non-red tomatoes, please visit our Organic Tomato Gardening Guide for more tips and tricks.

Seed to Succeed! Seed Starting Secrets

Step aside houseplants. Not now indoor herbs. There’s a new indoor winter gardening project in town… indoor seed starting!

Find the Prime Time: When to Start Seeds Indoors

One of the biggest mistakes when starting seeds indoors is starting too soon.

Before starting seeds inside, look up the last spring frost date in your area,  then count back 4-6 weeks. That’s the best time to start seeds indoors.

This handy seed starting chart from Organic Life makes it easy to calculate when to start and transplant your seeds.potting soil, starting seeds indoors, organic seed starting mix, growing tomatoes

To Sow or No? Best Veggie Seeds to Start Indoors in Winter

Not all seeds succeed indoors! Save root crops and cold-hardy seeds for when it’s warm enough to plant directly outside. Or, you can grow two crops of broccoli and lettuce. Start seeds indoors now then sow more outside later.

potting soil, starting seeds indoors, organic seed starting mix, growing tomatoes

Here are the best vegetable and herb seeds to start indoors in winter.

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Collard greens
  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Beans
  • Squash
  • Eggplant
  • Cabbage
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • Cilantro
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Parsley 

Seed to Succeed!

There are three secrets to starting seeds indoors: warmth, light and an organic seed starting mix that promotes root growth.

Start with Espoma’s Organic Seed Starter – a gardener’s favorite! But don’t take it from us. One of our customers, Shelia, shared that she used a lot of seed starter in her day, but “this one is just OUTSTANDING!” Her plants came up just perfect, and she “will never use anything else, ever again.”

Fill seed trays to within ¼” of the top and lightly water. Follow the instructions on the seed packets to see how deep and far apart to plant. Cover with soil, press down and label.

Place tray in a larger pan of shallow water for a minute so thewater seeps up from the bottom.

Place seeds in a warm spot between 65-75°. Try the top of the fridge!potting soil, starting seeds indoors, organic seed starting mix, growing tomatoes

Loosely cover tray with plastic wrap or the cover from your seed-starting kit. Check seeds daily for moisture. Find even more detailed instructions here.

Give seeds 12-16 hours of light daily. Supplement sunlight with grow lights if needed.

Once you see sprouts, remove the cover and move seeds to a sunny, south-facing window that is 65-75°F. Then, turn the container a little each day to prevent leaning seeds.

When leaves grow, add a bit of fertilizer such as Espoma’s Plant-tone or liquid Grow!. Both are organic fertilizers, so they are safe to use on edibles, around children and pets and they help plants grow bigger than ever before.

Once you see that first sprout peeking through the potting soil, homegrown veggies are only weeks away!

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.

Step-by-Step: Prep the Garden for Winter

Did you feel that? Jack Frost has flown in for the season. We’ve already felt the first nip of cold weather, which means your garden has, too.

For many, the first frost date arrives in late October or early November.

Help your garden weather the cold this season. Prepare the lawn and garden beds now for an easy, fruitful spring.

Gardening for winter consists mostly of outdoor cleanup, followed by an indoor revival. Cleanup first, though!

winter lawn

Clip, Drip and Equip the Garden before Winter

  • Discard the Deceased. Compost spent annuals and vegetable plants.
  • Protect Perennials. Water perennials (rose bushes included!) once more. Then, after the ground freezes, cut perennials back to 3”, and remove any dead or diseased cane on roses. Finally, mulch.
  • Create a Clean Slate.Remove weeds from garden beds and then create superb soil. Take the soil test and add organic amendments as needed. After a hard freeze, mulch beds.

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So Long to the Lawn

winter garden tips

Ta-Ta for Now Trees

  • Leave the Leaves. Turn those golden leaves into garden gold by composting them!
  • Bolster the Bark. Feed trees with an organic tree fertilizer, such as Espoma’s Tree-tone for winter sustenance.
  • Stare at the Bare. After the leaves have fallen, examine your tree for weak spots and problems to prevent damage from fallen tree limbs during snow storms.

Your garden’s been put to bed for the winter and will surely sleep soundly. Now, let’s focus on those incredible indoor plants to keep you gardening all winter long.