Garden to Table. Dinner to Winner. Enter NOW!

“What’s for Dinner?” is always easiest to answer at the height of summer. All you need to do is walk through your garden and use what’s freshly picked.

And now, you can win money in the process!

Espoma is shining its light on your harvest with our new “Garden to Table” contest. We want to see what you’re growing and cookin’ up in your kitchen this summer.

Enter Espoma Organic’s “Garden to Table” Contest to Win $100! 

  1. Like Espoma Organic on Facebook.
  2. Click the Contest Tab.
  3. Before August 12, post a picture of your homegrown fruits or veggies and tell us what you’ll be making with them. Or share a picture of the finished dish!
  4. Share your photo with friends and family. A panel of judges will choose the top three winners from the photos with the most “Likes.”
  5. “Like” your favorite entries!

Three winners will be announced on August 12. First prize is a espoma organic$100 gift card, second prize is a $50 gift card and third prize is an Espoma Container mix that includes organic Potting Soil, Tomato-tone and Garden-tone.

Curious about what others are using from their gardens for dinner? Check out our gallery and “Like” to vote for your favorite!

Now that you’re up to speed on our “Garden to Table” contest, let’s take a look at the top five reasons why growing your own organic produce is so important!

Homegrown Heroes

  1. Know What You Grow. When you grow your own organic fruit and veggies, you know exactly what went into them. No worrying about harmful pesticides or how your food was treated.
  2. Fresh as It Gets. If you’ve ever chomped into a sun-kissed, bright-red tomato plucked right from the vine, you know the enthusiasm that follows. The flavors are out-of-this-world fresh!
  3. Bigger and Better. Homegrown produce always trumps store-bought. They’re often double the size – especially if you used Espoma’s Organic Garden-Tone.
  4. Slash the Grocery Bill. Investing $70 in the vegetable garden can result in a whopping $600 worth of produce. Imagine how much you could save growing blueberries alone!
  5. Create a Legacy. Involving your children in the garden is powerful. You can teach them how important it is to respect the planet, care for it tenderly and grow sustainable, organic produce.

Yum! We can’t wait to see what delicious, homegrown dishes you create. Enter the contest and share your entry for your chance to win!

How to Water Plants When It’s Hot

When it’s hot, dry and muggy, the only cure is a cold drink. Well, your plants think so, too.

The trick to keeping your garden hydrated during the hottest days is not to water more. It’s to water smarter. We’ll teach you how to conserve water and keep your garden and lawn looking good with these tips. garden tips

How to Smartly Shower Flowers and Lawns:

  1. Morning Glory. Water before 9 a.m. in summer. As the day heats up, water can evaporate before your plants have a chance to soak it up.
  2. Water Deeply. Deep watering is most effective since it goes right to the roots. Plan on deeply watering your garden frequently with a nice soak. Hold the hose on each plant and count to 20. 30 minutes after watering, ensure the soil is moist 8”
  3. Prep to Step. Step in the lawn before watering. If you leave footprints behind, water. Properly watered grass springs right back up.
  4. Precise Advice. Generally, plants, flowers and lawns need 1” of water a week. Use a rain gauge to make sure you’re not over or under watering. Check the gauge after it rains.
  5. Cool Tools. Add a soaker hose or automated drip irrigation system to save you tons of time and wasted water. Installing them is a project, but one that will pay off for many years to come!
  6. Clean Green. When watering, get right to the roots. Wetting plant leaves just goes to waste. Plus, wet leaves provide the perfect environment for mold and disease to thrive.
  7. Thank You Very Mulch! A garden with 2-3” of mulch can reduce water consumption by 25-50 percent. Since organic mulch decomposes, consistently add more mulch.

Nice! You’re saving water, and keeping your garden blooming! Treat yourself by hopping in the pool or sipping an ice-cold drink in the shade. You’ve earned it!

Don’t Stall! Start Veggie Seeds for Fall

Today’s garden is bursting full of fresh fruits and veggies! There is nothing better than picking and eating a tomato, bean or pepper fresh off the plant.

Yet – we aren’t always so lucky. With fall around the corner, we are already thinking about how to prolong that never-ending supply of delicious, homegrown produce.

Now is the time to start cool-season seeds indoors.

Reap What You Sow: Starting Cool-Season Seeds Indoors for Fall

organic gardening

  1. Get the Goodies. For fall crops, pick the hardiest and most frost tolerant seeds, so they can survive the first frost. Some of our favorites include broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, beets, carrots and spinach.
  2. Time to Prime. Find your first fall frost date. Look at the number of days to harvest on each seed packet. Use that number to count back from the first frost date, so the seeds have time to mature. Play it safe and add two weeks since plants can grow slower during short fall days.
  3. Awaken the Seeds. Fill seed starting trays within ¼” of the top with a high-quality organic seed starter, like Espoma’s Organic Seed Starter. Read each seed packet to learn how deep and far apart to plant seeds. Cover with soil, press down, label and lightly water.
  4. Store and Cover. Lightly cover the tray with plastic wrap. Keep in a sunny spot near a south-facing window.
  5. Smart Watering. Keep seeds moist by placing the tray in a pan of shallow water until the water seeps up from the bottom. Refill when empty.
  6. Break Out Sprouts. When leaves start to poke from the soil, remove plastic wrap. Feed with an organic fertilizer, like Espoma’s Plant-tone.
  7. A Home Away from Home. Two weeks before planting outside, begin hardening off seeds. Move outside for a few hours a day, increasing time outdoors daily. Also, reduce watering without letting the soil dry out.
  8. All Grown Up! Gently remove plants from see starting tray, and plant in a prepared bed. Mix-in organic starter plant food to help them adjust and grow strong, such as Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus.

Crunch! You’ll be munching on homegrown produce well into fall. How amazing (and tasty!) is that?

Dogscape – So Every Dog Has Its Day

In the garden and in life, dogs are our best pals. Plus, they’re the only ones who ever seem to help us weed!

So, thank them by dogscaping and create a yard that’s dog-friendly to keep them happy, healthy and out of trouble.

Create a Landscape of Wagging Tails and Happy Dogs:

1. Safe Paws, Safe Pets. Dogs love your lush, green lawn. The chemicals used in many lawn fertilizers and products aren’t safe for pets or people for that matter. Keep dogs’ paws safe, happy and healthy by opting for a 100% organic lawn program.

Safe Paws, Safe Pets organic lawn program.

2. Munching on Mulch. Since dogs often eat mulch, choose one that’s non-toxic and pet-safe. Avoid cocoa mulch, and any mulch that has essential oils, resins or chemical insecticides. Apply it like this.

safe paws organic lawn

3. Mend the Fence. Whether you choose electric or wooden, fences prevent dogs from running away and keep them safe. Check for holes, gaps, breaks or broken latches. And, fence off pools, ponds and fire pits to prevent injuries.

Safe paws organic lawn

4. Let Them Play! Make a doggy-dream spot by picking an area in the shade and fill it with their favorite toys.

Safe Paws organic lawn

5. Keep them Cool. Add a pool! A kiddie pool is cheap, loads of fun and protects dogs from the summer heat. Want it a bit more hidden? Dig out an area to create a pseudo in-ground pool, so only the top 1-2” is exposed. You can fence in the area if you please.

Safe Paws, organic lawn

6. Dig It. If your dog is frequently digging up your favorite flowers, create a dog-friendly dig spot. Pick a spot and put a border around it using rocks or bricks. Then, fill with loose dirt or sand. Bury a few toys and bones here to introduce the area. Reward your pup with treats when they dig here.

Safe paws organic lawn

Do you hear that? It’s the distant, but unmistakable sound of your dog’s tail wagging! Congrats, your dog officially has the coolest, safest yard in the neighborhood.

Growing Blueberries Is Easy With These 4 Tips

Pancakes, tarts, pies, we love adding blueberries to any recipe. And we’re not alone.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recognizes July as National Blueberry Month! If any fruit deserves its own month, it’s the all-American blueberry.

Take advantage of peak fruiting season to celebrate this delicious little berry.

Health Benefits

Not only delicious and popular, blueberries are one of the top 10 healthiest foods.

These nutritional powerhouses are packed with antioxidants that help guard against cancer and heart disease. Blueberries are low in calories, but rich in fiber and vitamins. One serving of blueberries serves up almost 25 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. Plus, blueberries have a favorable impact on blood sugar regulation in persons already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Convinced?

Grow your own blueberries – It’s easy!

The secret to blueberry success, according to berry expert Amelie Brazelton Aust, at Fall Creek Farm & Nursery who’s been growing blueberries on her family farm since she was a child, is the Four Ps — planting, pruning, picking and protecting.

JELLY BEAN Brazelberries blueberries on bush

‘Jelly Bean’ BrazelBerries blueberries

Simply follow these four simple tips to help bushes flourish season after season!

1. Planting

First, plant the right variety. Compact blueberries, like those from BrazelBerries, are perfect for growing in containers, raised beds or even directly in the garden.

Once you’ve chosen a blueberry bush, plant it in a sunny spot with at least six hours of sun each day.

Next, consider the soil. Blueberries love acidic soils. A pH of 4.5-5.5 is ideal. A simple soil test indicates acidity, which can easily be adjusted with a balanced organic fertilizer. Soil kits and amendments are available at any local garden center.

Give the plant’s roots plenty of growing room when planting in a container.

Plant dwarf blueberry bushes in pots 16” or more in diameter and water deeply and regularly to make sure all of the soil within the pot is moist.

2. Pruning

Cutting branches off any plant can be daunting, but it’s best for the plant. Pruning gives berries more space between branches, allowing air to flow freely and preventing disease.

“It’s best to prune blueberries in late winter when the plants are still dormant,” says Aust, “but I’ve pruned mine in the spring before flowering, and they’ve done great.”

Remove stems that are damaged, old or dead. Take out up to a quarter or even a third of the bush, then trim it up to a neat and tidy look.

Fertilizing is recommended in early spring. “Choose a balanced, organic, slow-release fertilizer for acid-loving plants,” Aust says.

Aust recommends a second application of fertilizer in late spring to give the plants an extra burst of energy for fruit production.

BrazelBerries Jelly Bean in italian pot

‘Jelly Bean’ BrazelBerries blueberries

3. Picking

With planting and pruning in the bag, the next step — picking — is the pay off. Be sure to watch your berries carefully and pick them before the birds do! Aust suggests getting one berry for yourself and one for the birds.

4. Protecting

A little protection ensures your blueberry bush will thrive for another bountiful season. Keep critters away by covering bushes with bird netting in the spring.

Winter weather poses the biggest risk to berry bushes, so be sure to protect roots.

“In very cold regions, apply a deep layer of mulch around the base of the bush to protect the roots,” Aust says. “Blueberries in pots are easiest to protect from the cold — just move the pots into an unheated garage or against a building and cover with thick mulch, burlap or a blanket.”

Spring’s sudden cold snaps endanger emerging growth, as well. Be sure to cover blueberry bushes with burlap or blankets when the forecast calls for frost once buds and flowers are emerging.blueberry pancakes Jamie oliver

Are you growing berries this year? What will you be making with them? Check out this super easy one cup blueberry pancakes recipe from Jamie Oliver:

blueberry pancakes Jamie oliver