Host a Haunted Homegrown Halloween Dinner

Round up the whole gang and dress in your best for a spine-chilling, homegrown Halloween meal.

Start by gathering the fruits of your organic fall gardening efforts, or head to your local farmer’s market to see what’s in season.

Boo! Prepare a Spooky and Scrumptious Homegrown Halloween Dinner (Because even goblins and ghouls prefer homegrown on Halloween.)

halloween decor

Scary Snacks. Cook up a few frightful and finger-licking good snacks.

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Frightening Feast. All the best fall flavors featured in fangtastic dishes.

halloween decor

Daring Decor. Use organic and recycled material to create eco-friendly Halloween decor.

And don’t forget to Post a Pumpkin. Whether you carve, paint or bedazzle your pumpkin, there is still time to show it off in our “Pumpkin Decorating Contest.”

Talk about a hoot of a Halloween party! Imagine how much fun your friends and family will find this homegrown Halloween garden dinner!

Keep Your Lawn Strong – Even in the Dead Of Winter

If you want a greener lawn in spring, did you know the most important time to organically fertilize your grass is the fall? Most people guess spring!

Learn why a fall fertilizer — or winterizer — is so important and how to correctly apply this organic lawn food.

Winter Lawn Care Essentials: Boost Your Lawn with an Organic Lawn Winterizerwinter lawn care

In the fall and winter, your lawn looks like it’s done growing, but it’s actually flourishing underground. Grass roots are absorbing nutrients so long as the ground isn’t frozen.

Applying a slow-release, organic lawn winterizer supplies your grass with nutrients throughout fall and winter.

A lawn winterizer is simply a food formulated to help your lawn survive winter. Lawn winterizers contain nitrogen to promote thicker, fast-growing grass come spring. This organic, winter fertilizer also possesses potassium to help lawns recover from summer droughts.

In spring, your grass then uses this stored energy to grow greener grass fast — usually by mid-March.

Put Your Lawn to Bed with an Organic Winterizer

  1. Give Your Lawn a Look. Check if you have cool or warm-season grass. Most areas with freezing winters grow cool-season grasses, such as bluegrass, ryegrass or fescue. Southern regions have warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, Saint Augustine or Zoysia. Only apply winterizer to cool-season grasses. Warm-season grasses do not get fertilized at this time.
  2. Prime Time. Apply an organic lawn winterizer one week after your final mow of the season. Or if it’s easier to remember, apply around the week of Thanksgiving.
  3. Need to Feed. Spread organic fertilizer onto dry grass. Get step-by-step instructions on applying lawn winterizer here.

Applying a lawn winterizer is like wrapping your lawn up in a cozy blanket and presenting a warm cup of soup.  Your lawn stays warm and well-fed during winter, so it can grow back thicker, greener and faster next spring.

Still looking for more info? Check out our Winter Lawn Care Pinterest board?

Share Your Pumpkin to Win Big

It’s the middle of October but we’ve already had our fair share of pumpkin spice lattes, autumn soup and pumpkin bread. Yet, we haven’t indulged in our absolute favorite pumpkin activity — carving!

Nothing beats picking a pumpkin right from the patch and envisioning how different it will soon look. With so many different pumpkin decorating ideas, each pumpkin is now a true work of art.

We’re inviting you to share your masterpiece pumpkin in our “Pumpkin Decorating Contest.” You could win $250!

Here’s how to enter the Espoma Pumpkin Decorating Contest!

  1. Like Espoma on Facebook.painted pumpkins
  2. Click the Contest Tab.
  3. Before November 3, post a picture of your decorated pumpkin. That’s right, it doesn’t have it be carved. Get funky! Paint your pumpkin, dress it up, or decoupage it! As long as it’s decorated for Halloween, your pumpkin’s ready for its worldwide debut.
  4. Share your photo with friends and family. Encourage your Facebook friends to vote for you. . A panel of judges will then choose the winner from the photos with the most “Likes”
  5. “Like” your favorite entries!
  6. Drumroll please! The winner, selected on November 3rd, wins $250.

Below are a few of our favorite pumpkin and gourd decorating ideas.

While you’re working, save those seeds and pumpkin insides! We see some tasty pumpkin soup and roasted pumpkin seeds in your future.

Score More from Your Organic Fall Garden Crops

Organic gardening in the fall always feels like such a treat. Even though the leaves may be changing, your veggie garden is still going strong! While the seasons are transitioning, you’re making the most of every moment — going to football games, bundling up in cozy sweaters, and munching on homegrown produce.

Help your organic garden to produce more veggies than ever this fall with these four tips.

1. Feed to Succeed. Feed your veggies once a month for a bigger, bountiful harvest. This is especially important if you had other crops planted in the same spot earlier. Those crops depleted the garden soil of its nutrients. Luckily, an organic plant fertilizer replenishes the nutrients to keep your produce growing strong.

Step-by-step instructions on adding an organic plant fertilizer here!

2. Pick of the Pack. The more you pick, the more produce you get! Once your crops start ripening, go out and pick every day.

Here’s when to harvest your organic veggies:

  • Lettuce and spinach: Cut outer leaves when young and tender.
  • Kale: Pick when the leaves are as big as your hand.
  • Carrots: Pick when the top of the carrot is 1”
  • Broccoli: Cut broccoli when its head is 4-7”
  • Cauliflower: Cut when its head is between 2-3”

3. A Fresh Feast. Plan your weekly dinners around what’s in harvest in the garden. This is the last hurrah for homegrown meals from the garden, so make the most of it. Of course, save some for winter,

4. Discover the Cover. If the chance of frost arrives earlier than expected, protect your crops. Water and then cover with a sheet, blanket or tarp. Use stakes to keep the cover from touching the plants.

Crunch! How amazing is it that you’re still harvesting veggies from your organic garden in autumn?!

See Spot Go. Tricks to Fix Brown Spots in the Lawn

At summer’s end, your lawn may begin to look less than stellar.

If your entire lawn is brown, no need to worry. Your grass has gone dormant, which happens during heat waves with little rain. Your lawn should bounce back as soon as the weather cools and rain returns.

The real problem is those random, pesky brown spots in the lawn. Luckily, there’s treatment.

  1. Pup Clean Up. Dog urine is one of the most common causes of brown spots. These small, round patches appear in areas where your dog does his business. Repair these spots with organic gypsum. To avoid future mishaps, train your dog to go only in a certain section of the lawn.
  2. Brown Bares. Some brown spots are actually soil peeking out through bare spots. Now is the time to reseed your lawn to fix bare spots.
  3. Learn from the Burn. Chemical fertilizers when spilled, overused or incorrectly applied cause lawn burns. Dilute by watering. From now on, stick to organic lawn fertilizers. Organic lawn food is safer for you and your pets and more cost-effective in the lawn-term.
  4. H2O Flow. Check your lawn after watering. If the surface stays wet while the soil remains dry, the watering is too frequent and superficial. To fix, water deeply
  5. That Thatch Patch. A thatch layer of more than 1/2” decaying grass prevents water from getting to living grass roots. Break up the thatch with a rake. Then, apply an organic lawn fertilizer.
  6. Know the Mower. A dull mower blade tears grass, causing brown spots. So, sharpen your mower blades every fall and spring. Also, if your mower blades are too low, you’re scalping the lawn. Avoid more brown spots by never cutting off more than 1/3 of the grass’s current height.

See spot disappear! Those unpleasant brown spots are on their way out! You’re one step closer to a greener, lusher lawn.

Celebrate National Indoor Plant Week

Indoor plants are the superheroes of the plant world. They have the power to aid in concentration, increase productivity and even boost well-being.

To honor these green heroes, the third week of September is recognized as National Indoor Plant Week. So let’s celebrate!

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks indoor air pollution as one of the top threats to public health. We spend as much as 90 percent of our lives indoors — so it’s time to add some greenery.

Houseplants are surprisingly easy to take care of with these six tips.

1. Bring them indoors. Many people place their houseplants outside in the summer, but when temperatures start to drop below 50º at night, it’s time to bring them in! Check houseplants for pests before moving them. Help houseplants to adjust by bringing them in at night and returning them outdoors during the day. Over the course of two weeks, gradually increase the amount of time plants spend indoors.

houseplant2. New space. Repot houseplants if they’re in need of some additional space. Select a pot that is at least 2” larger than your current container and transfer. Use Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix to fill the rest of the container.

houseplants

3. Pick the right spot. A houseplant lets you know the spot is right by maintaining healthy leaves. If there’s enough light for you to read by, there’s probably enough for a low-light houseplant. Avoid placing plants near heat or air conditioning ducts, on TVs, or between the curtains and a chilly window.

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4. Give them a drink. If the soil is dry about an inch below the surface, add water. But don’t overwater! It’s the number one cause of houseplant death. Collect excess water in a tray or saucer and never allow plants to sit in water.

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5. Stay Comfortable. Houseplants are happiest when temperatures are between 70 and 80ºF during the day and 10-15º cooler at night.

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6. Feed houseplants. Fertilize houseplants with an organic fertilizer such as Indoor! during active periods of growth. This is usually during the spring and summer.

With these tips, your houseplants will be looking their best in no time! Tell us about your favorite houseplant in the comments!

One, Two, Three – What Soil Tests Numbers Really Mean

With just a tiny bit of water, a handful of seeds and some sunshine, your garden makes its own magic.

Well, almost! Your plants get all their food from the soil, too. After a busy summer, it’s time for your soil’s checkup, so your soil can keep growing its best.

Perform a soil test to see what your soil needs. And, we’ll help you understand what those numbers mean!

Scoop, Snoop and Score Soil.

Your soil’s health is a mystery waiting to be solved. All you need to do is grab a handful of soil and examine it. Send it off to your local extension service. Or, get down and dirty, and DIY it. Here’s how to perform a soil test.

Soil tests measure the nutrients available to plants along with their pH level. Garden soil should be between 6.0-7.0 pH, while the ideal pH for grass is 6.5-7.0.

  1. Low pH? Power the Sour. You’ve got sour, also called acidic, soil with a pH level under 7. Before remedying, remember some plants like this! Raise soil pH levels by adding Espoma’s Organic Garden Lime.
  2. High pH? Treat the Sweet. Soil with a pH level over 7 is known as sweet, or alkaline, soil. To fix, add Espoma Organic Soil Acidifier.

Conclusion Confusion. Understanding Soil Test Numbers

Looking at your soil test, your head may start spinning. What do all those numbers mean? Stick with us, your teacher at Espoma’s Garden School, to learn!

  1. When to N. The “N” on your soil test stands for nitrogen, which helps leaf growth. To raise nitrogen levels, add an organic fertilizer with a higher nitrogen level. Or, use blood meal or fish meal. To lower nitrogen levels, choose a fertilizer with less nitrogen.
  2. Be the P. “P” represents phosphorus, which helps plants flower and grow fruit. Need more phosphorous? Use an organic fertilizer with a higher percentage of P. Or, add bone meal. To lower phosphorous numbers, cut back on the P on the fertilizer bag.
  3. Way of the K. “K” stands for potassium, which helps plants resist diseases and grow healthy roots. If you have too much K, use an organic fertilizer with less potassium. Likewise, if you need more, opt for an organic fertilizer with a higher number K. Or, add sulfate of potash or greensand.

Strong, healthy soil gives way to stronger, bigger and better plants. Talk about a productive day in the garden!

Live on Lawn! Tips for End of Summer Health

From barbecues and summer parties to gardening and endless games of fetch with your pup, your lawn has endured lots of activity this summer.

But, the summer isn’t over yet and your lawn needs some TLC. Go out with a bang by rejuvenating your lawn and prepping for the cooler season ahead.organic

safe paws espomaHelp Your Lawn Hang On All Winter Long

  1. Know How to Mow. When mowing, keep the mower blades high (3” or higher) to encourage healthy roots.
  2. Agree to Reseed. If all of your lawn looks dry and brown, overseed the whole lawn. If only certain areas look bare, reseed only those spots. First, perform a soil test and improve if needed. Then cut grass and remove clippings. Level and rake soil smooth. With a broadcast spreader, apply a seed that best suits your region and weather. Finally, water.
  3. Prepare with Care. Get your lawn ready for the cooler weather ahead by fortifying it with nutrients. An organic fall winterizer promotes growth, helps lawns recover from drought and increases winter hardiness. So apply an organic fall winterizer after you’ve seeded and mowed. Follow instructions here.
  4. Fido First. Always use an organic lawn fertilizer or winterizer. Harsher, chemical lawn products can be eaten, ingested or passed on to your dog. This exposure has been linked with a higher risk of canine cancer. Keep your dog alive longer by making sure their paws are safe thanks to organic lawn products.

And just like that, you’re done with lawn care for the summer! How are you going to celebrate? We foresee a barbecue with fresh herbs and spicy homegrown peppers.

Make a Splash in the Garden for Your Labor Day Bash

Labor Day is about relaxing, having fun and soaking up every last second of summer. And, it’s the perfect time to reflect on all of your summertime garden accomplishments. Need you look any further than your pile of super-ripe tomatoes or your luscious roses

But just because summer is ending doesn’t mean your garden has to! Your garden can look as fabulous as ever for your Labor Day bash or just to head into fall with these late-summer gardening tips.

Tips to Display a Lavish Garden on Labor Day

  1. Aiding the Fading. Walk through the garden and remove any plants that are done for the season. Be sure to compost them!
  2. Love Late-Bloomers. Swap annuals that have stopped blooming or look less than stellar with late-summer blooming flowers. Plant these colorful annuals to end the summer with a bang: celosia, zinnias, salvia, chrysanthemum or pansies. Boost your blooms with organic Flower-tone.
  3. Include Fresh Food. Hosting a Labor Day party? Plan your menu and snacks by seeing what’s ready for harvest in your garden. Guests love hearing that you grew your organic fruits and veggies. Plus, the home grown flavors will blow them away. Here are some of our favorite garden-to-table recipes. Be sure your fall veggies are planted, too.
  4. Pose with a Rose. Pair your homegrown menu with a homegrown tablescape. Cut garden roses. Pop single flowers in unexpected containers and space them along your table. Intersperse with glass ball jars or votives that have a fresh sprig of herbs tied around them.
  5. Plant Permanent. Late summer and early fall are perfect for adding perennials. Plant fall-blooming perennials before your Labor Day party to add a splash of color to your garden. Black-eyed susan, asters, sedum, daylilies, coneflowers and yarrow will wow for years.
  6. A Breath of Fresh Air. The late-summer heat takes a lot out of your favorite plants in the garden. Give them a good watering before the party, so they’ll look their best!

Now, you’re ready to end the summer in style! A table filled with just-plucked edibles, fresh cut roses and friends and family… That’s the essence of summer.

Fall into Fall. Easy Ways to Transform Garden

Those dog days of summer are hot, hot, hot. But, the end is surely in sight!

Yes, that means cooler weather is on its way. Fall will settle in soon — especially if the “Back to School” ads are any indicator.

Get your garden ready for the coming season. Stick with us, and you could be eating fresh lettuce in October — maybe even November!

Help Your Garden Fall into Fall

  1. Enchant the Plants. Plant fall veggie starts or transplants You can even sow seeds directly into the garden. Choose fast-growing, frost-tolerant plants such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, beets, carrots, green onions, lettuce and spinach.
  2. Do the Can-Can. If your harvest is maturing faster than you can eat it, store it! There are many ways beyond canning to stockpile your fresh produce for winter. Try making jams or pickles. Freeze raw fruit, veggies or herbs. Make tomato sauce, or slow-roast them.Longfield Gardens
  3. Boost your Keep annual flowers blooming as long as possible! The trick? Apply Espoma Organic’s Flower-tone often!
  4. Ahead with Red. Tomato plants not performing anymore? Or have lackluster leaves? Feed ‘em Tomato-tone to help them pull through until the first frost.
  5. Divide in Stride. Divide and transplant spring-flowering and other dormant perennials. To reduce stress, do so during the coolest part of the day, and don’t skimp on the water!
  6. Finish with Gusto. Deadhead flowers to keep them flowering. Also, keep pinching off those suckers on tomatoes! They can create a heck of a mess later on.
  7. Bury the Bulb. While you’re tidying up, plant those dreamy, spring-blooming flower bulbs.

Ah, the garden will soon be ready for fall. For now, though, the summer sun is still shining! Kick back, relax and enjoy every last drop of summer.