The Secret to Growing Bigger Plants, Faster

Drum roll please! The start of planting season is here!

After long weeks spent pouring over seed catalogs and admiring Pinterest gardens, it’s time to finally create the garden of your dreams.

If you started seeds a few weeks ago, it’s time to gradually move them outside. And if you didn’t, a trip to your local garden center awaits you.

So now that you’re ready, let’s plant your soon-to-be flourishing garden.

How to know if your garden is ready for planting:

To see if the ground is thawed and warm enough for planting, dig 3-4” deep. Grab a handful of soil and roll into a ball. If the soil won’t take shape, it’s too hard and dry for new plants.

If you can make a ball, drop it to the ground. If it breaks, your soil is ready. If the ball stays together, your soil is too wet, so try again in a few days.

Now comes the fun part, deciding what to plant!

Roses, snapdragons and pansies are some of our favorite flowers to plant in early spring. Plus, they add a pop of color when you need it most.

As far as veggies go; plant peas, spinach, kale, lettuce, broccoli, carrots and onions in early spring. Imagine how much you’ll save on groceries in the upcoming months!

Before you buy your new plants, check the plant tags to make sure you have enough space and sun.

Now time to plant:

If planting a flower bed, mix 4 lbs. (12 cups) of Bio-tone Starter Plus, an organic plant food, per 100 square feet into the top 4-6” of soil.

Adding all-natural, organic plant food enhanced with bacteria is the secret to bigger, better plants of all kinds.

Bio-tone Starter Plus is like a protein shake for your plants. This organic plant food is jam-packed with microbes and mycorrhizae to provide an instant health boost.

Seriously, the proof is in the plants.

Bio tone Starter Plus gives plants everything they need to grow bigger blooms faster. So, you’ll lose fewer plants along the way. You can also add Bio tone when planting bulbs, container gardens, shrubs and even trees. Using this organic plant food on veggies and fruits is a-ok since it’s all natural.

Now, get digging! You can plant in individual holes or a garden bed. Either way, dig holes as deep as the containers the plants came in, and check the plant tag to see how far apart to plant.

Remove plants from containers; loosen roots and pop ‘em in the hole!

Then, replace the soil around the plants and water.

Finally, add the finishing touch of 2-3” mulch — if you haven’t already.

What are you planting this spring? Comment below or better yet, share a picture on our Facebook page!

Gypsum Can Remedy Lawn Damage

As grass emerges after winter, your lawn may not look quite as perfect as you remember!

During cold, snowy winters, lawns take a beating. All that snow, ice and sleet does damage — especially if you live in a colder region where salt is spread to melt ice.

And, pets don’t like the cold winter either! Often, they go to the bathroom in the same spot, so they can dash back inside as quickly as possible.

Both winter salt and pet urine cause ugly, patchy spots in the lawn.

But don’t despair. All your lawn needs to recover is a little help from its friend, Espoma’s Garden Gypsum.

How do you know if gypsum is right for your lawn and garden?

If you see unsightly yellow or brown spots in the lawn, that’s a burn spot that gypsum can restore.

Take a close look at the grass around walkways, sidewalks, roads and driveways. These areas are most likely where you or your county applied winter salt to melt ice. Salt draws moisture from grass roots causing it to turn brown.

Also, check areas where your pets frequently go to the bathroom for damage.

Then, transform those ugly brown spots into lush, green lawn by amending the soil with gypsum.

Gypsum works to replace the salt, heal the grass and encourage new growth. Add all-natural gypsum now and as needed as lawn burns appear throughout the season.

Simply use a drop or broadcast spreader to apply to damage spots in your lawn or garden. No need to work it into the soil.

In the garden, add compost to help with drainage problems, too.

Finally, lightly water. As the pellets dissolve, your soil improves!

Lawn burns are an annoyance, but easily fixed. What’s your biggest pet peeve in the lawn? 

Wait! Before You Plant This Year, Test the Soil!

Healthy Soil is the Secret to a Great Garden

Want to grow bigger tomatoes, taller sunflowers and all-around healthier plants this season?

The secret is in the soil. Read more

Apply Mulch Now for Benefits all Season

Spring is almost here — only eight more days! We are itching to get our hands dirty in the garden.

Never do we appreciate the richness of the soil or the sunshine more than at the start of spring. Plus, our garden seems just as happy to see us.

During these first few weeks, we set ourselves up for success in the season ahead.

And one of the first items on the to-do list is laying a new bed of mulch. Not only does it look great and make your neighbors envious, but mulch provides a world of benefits!

Organic mulch can reduce water use in the garden by 25-50 percent, which saves money on water bills and conserves water. A thick blanket of mulch reduces evaporation, so you don’t have to water as much. Mulch also controls weeds. Plus, your flower beds look polished and complete with a finishing touch of mulch.

Best of all, organic mulch improves soil health as it decomposes throughout the season.

To reap these benefits, mulch has to be organic.

While non-organic mulches, such as plastic film and rubber, are cheaper, they cause major problems later. Inorganic mulches do not break down over time, so they don’t condition the soil. Even worse, they begin to block air and water from plants’ roots. Nine out of ten times, you’ll need to remove non-organic mulches by hand later.

Natural mulches are composed of plant matter and are very popular. From wood chips and pine needles to shredded bark, pick the organic mulch you like best. These mulches decompose over time which helps improve the soil but it also means they must be replaced once or twice a year.

How do you apply it? It’s easy and can be done this weekend.

First, you’ll want to lightly rake the soil to loosen up the surface. Once loose, pull any weeds or dead plant material.

Then, give your mulch the smell test. Mulch should smell woody or earthy; if mulch smells sour like vinegar, replace it entirely.

This is an ideal time to feed evergreen and acid-loving plants such as rhododendrons, azaleas, dogwoods and hollies with Holly-tone. Apply it in a circle around the drip line of shrubs or trees.

Finally, lay 2 – 3” of mulch around established plants. Mulch that’s too deep can actually smother young plants.

When mulching trees, the mulch should extend away from the plant to a little beyond the drip line covering a bit of the roots. But don’t build volcanoes! Never pile up mulch. Instead, keep 2 – 3” away from the stems of woody plants and 6 – 12” away from buildings to avoid pests.

Keep your garden healthy and your home safe this season by choosing organic mulch. Make it a priority on your spring garden to-do list.

Make Landscapes Not Landfills with Compost

Why Compost: Turn Food Scraps Into Garden Gold

Stop! Don’t throw out those leftover vegetables and coffee grinds. Mixing these kitchen food scraps with other ingredients turns ordinary garbage into black gold for the garden.

The secret to creating enriched, organic soil is compost. Compost gives the soil nutrient-rich materials and helps plants resist diseases and grow stronger. Plus composting food scraps keeps organic materials out of landfills and garbage disposals and puts them back into the earth. Best of all, it’s free!

Plus, you’ll make the planet cleaner and greener. The US tossed a whopping 131 billion pounds of food in 2010 alone, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

At Espoma, we are always looking for natural solutions. When we founded our company in 1929, we transformed ordinary ingredients into an extraordinary product for your garden.

So, to make great compost, simply follow the recipe, just like when cooking. The best compost is 50 percent green material made of garden and food scraps and 50 percent brown material, such as paper, straw or dried leaves.

Add Espoma Organic Compost Starter to help speed the composting process, for rich, fertile compost. This 100% bio-organic mix contains microbes cultured for fast, healthy composting.

Toss your compost about every two weeks to help it decompose quicker. Make it even easier by investing in a compost tumbler. Trust us, it’s worth it!

And finally, make sure your compost is getting enough to drink. Squeeze a handful of compost – while wearing garden gloves of course! If water drips, it’s too wet, so add dry brown material. If no water dribbles but the compost crumbles when released, moisten with a bit of water. Or if your area often gets rains, make an indent in the top of the compost to collect rain water.

Spruce up to Jumpstart the Gardening Season

Even though we still need cozy scarves and burly winter coats, we won’t for much longer. Our favorite time of year is almost here! We cannot wait to be outside, gardening, playing and basking in the sun in about two weeks.

Enough dreaming about the warmer days though, it’s time to start the yard and garden prep.

Although we’ve got green lawns on the mind all year long, even when they’re covered by 18” of snow, we’re eager to get outside and start prepping for our best lawn yet. Same for you?

Here are our professional tips for tackling early spring yard prep:

First, remove dead or diseased branches from trees and shrubs by cutting at a 45º angle with pruners.

Armed with your pruners, cut flowering perennials to 4-5” and trim ornamental grasses to 2-3”. Just like haircuts make hair grow faster and healthier, pruning plants does the same!

While walking around the yard, pick up fallen branches, spent annuals, lingering leaves and other natural debris. Doesn’t your yard already look better?

Then if the snow has melted, grab a rake and break up any matted, crunchy or discolored spots in the lawn to renew the area.

Finally, if the ground is thawed, scoop up a small handful of soil to test. Testing soil either with an at-home kit or with help from your extension agency is one of the most beneficial actions you can take.

Soil tests tell you what to add to get the perfect soil. Imagine racking your brain to figure out why your veggies are too small or your flowers look unhealthy. In reality, the problem could be your soil.

Take time to test and amend your soil needs — from soil acidifier or organic fertilizer. Cultivating organic, healthy soil now means your garden will deliver its absolute best later on. Come back to our blog later this month for more specific tips on adjusting your soil for that perfect lawn or plant.

Ah, the garden is gearing up for its comeback. Now, start planning what additions you’ll make to the garden this season.

By Invitation Only – Yappy Hour at the Philadelphia Flower Show Friday 3/6

This week, we welcome one of our favorite months. March marks the start of spring, so cherry blossoms, forsythia and green grass will emerge soon.

Lucky for those of us around Philadelphia, we get to immerse ourselves in the smells, colors and blooms of spring now!

The 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show debuted this past Friday and runs through Sunday, March 8.

At the world’s largest indoor flower show, you’re instantly transported to a red-carpet movie premiere bejeweled with countless flowers. See recreated scenes from your favorite Disney and Pixar movies, such as Frozen, Cars and Cinderella, made from the brightest, biggest blooms.

Still planning when to experience the Technicolor world of floral cinema?

Mark your calendars for this Friday, March 6 – the Flower Show’s first ever Fido Friday and Espoma’s Yappy Hour from 6-9 p.m.!

Join us for the launch of our Safe Paws campaign and learn how to keep pets protected outside by creating a safe, healthy environment.

Naturally, you and your pets have been dreaming about spring and summer’s green grasses. But, did you know many lawn chemicals and pesticides can harm dogs and children?

Learn easy, natural solutions to make your yard and garden as healthy and safe as can be. After all, we know the best kept secrets since we’ve been developing organic lawn care products for over 85 years.

Grab a leash and enjoy the Flower Show with your pup. You can learn about outdoor pet safety, experience a canine fashion show, and meet local gardeners, too.

Join us for Espoma’s first ever Yappy Hour at the Philadelphia Flower Show this Friday, March 6 from 6-9 p.m.

And for great ideas on beautiful container gardening, stop by the Espoma exhibit anytime this week in Show Floor Hall B Front.

Comment below and tell us about your canine companion– and if you’ll be joining us this Friday!

Espoma Makes a Big Entrance at the 2015 Philadelphia Flower Show

We are proud to continue our efforts to support gardening education and culture by continuing to sponsor the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show for the third consecutive year.

Bringing a quarter-million visitors to Philadelphia each year, the show is the oldest and largest indoor flower show in the country. It features incredible large-scale floral displays, elaborate gardens and over-the-top floral creations.

Now, in its 187th year, the 2015 Flower Show will roll out the red carpet and “Celebrate the Movies.” Attendees will experience the magic of Disney Pixar as they walk through floral displays highlighting their favorite films, special events and more in celebration of the silver screen.

Also lighting up the silver screen, our container garden exhibit will inspire stunning designs using organic products. Marvel at how you can grow colorful flowers and nutritious, fresh vegetables in small spaces and containers.

We are excited to once again work with PHS as a Contributing Sponsor of the Philadelphia Flower Show. This truly magical event celebrates the joy and wonder that gardening can bring to everyone regardless of their skill level — novice to Master Gardener.

Attending this show this year? It is open from Saturday February 28th through March 8th at the Philadelphia Convention Center. Visit our exhibit in Show Floor Hall B Front.