5 Summer Edibles it’s not Too Late to Plant

It’s never too late to start an edible garden. Different fruits and vegetables thrive in all types of conditions, so you’re bound to find the perfect fit for your garden, regardless of the season.

In fact, some summer favorites can be planted now for a delicious late summer or early fall harvest. Make sure to use Espoma’s Organic Garden-tone when growing veggies this summer.

Consider these options for late June – early July planting.

Beets

These little red veggies thrive in conditions with warm days and cooler nights, making them perfect for areas with a mild summer climate. They can also adapt to grow in cool weather, making your harvest last through the fall and winter. Beets prefer full sun when possible, but still produce leafy greens in the shade.

Aside from being delicious, beets also have a ton of nutritional benefits. With loads of vitamins A and C, iron, potassium and calcium, beets can help protect you from heart cancer.

Cucumbers

Nothing says summer flavor like a delicious, crisp cucumber. Cucumbers serve as a perfect addition to any summer salad or cocktail, or they can stand on their own as a yummy snack. Cucumbers thrive in warm weather and that hot summer heat will give you delicious sprawling cucumbers in as little as 50 days.

Harvest cucumbers before they get too big to encourage continued growth.

Peas

Sweet, crisp and crunchy – what else could you want from a summer vegetable? Sugar snap peas need at least six hours of full sun every day and thrive in sunny spots. As sugar snap peas grow up, support them with a trellis or stake. They will be ready to harvest within 60-90 days of planting, which will give you a delicious late summer – early fall treat.

Zucchini

Zucchini is definitely a fan favorite when it comes to summer squash. This fast growing vegetable will be ready to harvest within 45-55 days after sowing seeds. Zucchini tastes best when it measures around 4-6 inches. If it grows much bigger, the flavor will become bitter.

Be sure to give your zucchini plants plenty of room to grow as they often produce lots of vegetables very quickly.

Melons

If you live a climate where the hot summer heat lasts well into the fall, try planting watermelons in your vegetable garden. Watermelons are extremely pest and disease resistant, making them perfect for an organic garden. Watermelons typically need 80-100 days of hot, humid weather to develop their delicious sweet taste, so only plant if you live in the right climate.

For those in climates a bit more mild, try planting honeydew or cantaloupe. These melons prefer warm weather but don’t require the same amount of heat as watermelons.

How to Care for the Luckiest Houseplant

Instead of carrying around a rabbit’s foot or a four leaf clover, try adding jade plants to your home for good luck! These plants signify wealth and prosperity, so they make the perfect addition to offices and homes. Like most succulents, they’re low-maintenance and easy to care for.

You don’t need to be lucky to find success, just follow these simple care instructions for your jade plant.

Water

Instead of watering your jade plant on a schedule, water as needed. If the top inch of the soil is completely dry, it’s time to water. Depending on the amount of sun and the room temperature, water needs may vary. If your jade plant starts to lose leaves or develop sun spots, it’s trying to tell you it’s thirsty. Water just enough to moisten the soil.

As with all houseplants, avoid over watering as it can lead to root rot and other diseases.

Sunlight

Jade plants love sunlight. Just four to six hours of direct sun a dat promotes healthy growth also protects against diseases. Place your jade plant on a sunny windowsill at work or at home.

Certain varieties of jade, typically ones with variegated leaves, don’t need as much sun. Look for a variety than can thrive in indirect sunlight to place on your desk or coffee table. Jade plants love mild temperatures, anywhere from 50 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit will do.

Soil

Jade prefers a well-draining soil to avoid becoming water logged. Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix is specialized for succulents. It promotes healthy root growth with its optimum aeration and drainage. Clay pots are great for jade plants because they wick away any excess water and help protect the plant from over watering damage.

Fertilize

Fertilize your jade plant regularly to keep it healthy and growing, try Espoma’s Cactus! Liquid plant food for succulents.

With just a little care, your new jade plant will bring you plenty of luck and prosperity!

Want to be creative with succulents? Try this DIY paint can planter for succulents.

3 Ways to Celebrate National Pollinator Week

National Pollinator Week is a time to give bees, birds, and bats a little recognition. Pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, play a big part in getting our gardens to grow. Honeybees are directly responsible for pollinating one third of the food we eat. They help fertilize flowers, carrying pollen from one plant to another in exchange for food.

This week, we’re helping to educate people on the purposes these pollinators serve. Keep reading for three ways to celebrate pollinators in your garden.

1. Plant a Pollinator-friendly Garden

To keep your garden beautiful, you can attract pollinators by planting flowers that appeal to them. Try adding native plants to an existing garden or creating a whole new garden specifically for pollinators. Choose plants that bloom at different times throughout the year, providing long-term food and shelter. Follow this simple formula. Plant tall flowers 18-20” apart, medium flowers 12” apart and short flowers 8-10” apart and then use Espoma’s Bloom! liquid plant food regularly for a boost.

Pollinators especially love these flowering plants:

  • Allium
  • Alyssum
  • Basil
  • Bee balm
  • Bergamot
  • Cosmos
  • Geranium
  • Globe thistle
  • Goldenrod
  • Helianthus
  • Lavender
  • Mint
  • Poppy
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Sunflower
  • Thyme
  • Verbena
  • Wild rose
  • Zinnia

2. Build a Bee Hotel

Solitary bees, bees that live alone and not in hives, need a place to make their nests. Welcome these gentle bees to your garden by adding a bee hotel. Solitary bees don’t make honey and rarely sting. Females lay their eggs inside a small hollow tube and then they patch the door with mud. DIY or purchase a bee hotel at your local independent garden center to encourage pollinators to check-in to your garden.

3. Increase Feather Pollinator Population

Insects aren’t the only pollinators around town. Hummingbirds are also great pollinators. Build a Hummingbird feeder in your yard to encourage our furry friends to stop by. Ask kids to help building a feeder that will attract these polite birds. The plants that are pollinated by Hummingbirds tend to produce more nectar than plants pollinated by insects, so penciling in some time to create a feeder will pay off in the long run.

Want to do more? Like Espoma and The Pollinator Partnership on Facebook and follow along for more tips!

Summer Care Tips for Your Favorite Orchid

Orchids have become a houseplant fan favorite, and rightfully so. The indoor plants add a touch of the exotic to any home and bloom for weeks at a time. Plus, orchids are typically easy to care for and relatively low-maintenance once they are established.

Here are three ways to keep your orchid happy and healthy this summer.

3 Summer Secrets to Orchid Success

Light

Orchids love light, but direct sun can often burn their delicate leaves and flowers. Avoid damaging orchids, by placing them near a window with a sheer curtain. Sun rays will seep through the curtain, providing your orchid with just the right amount of light. Or, keep your orchid in a well-lit area in your home to completely avoid risk of sun damage.

Temperature

Orchids love warm temperatures during the day; however, they like to keep cool at night. Let your orchid chill at the end of the day in a cooler room. If the heat breaks and temperatures drop below 65 degrees Fahrenheit at night, you can place your orchid outside to cool. Just be sure to remove it from direct sunlight before morning.

Proper Potting

You won’t need to repot your orchid very often, typically once a year. Start with Espoma’s Organic Orchid Mix and then plant your orchid in plastic growing pots. These containers have great drainage, avoiding problems related to overwatering.

If you’d like a more stylish pot to add to your décor, simply place the plastic container inside the decorative one.

Follow these simple tips and your orchid will produce beautiful flowers you’ll be enjoying for years to come!

Tips for Growing Veggies in a Drought

Summer brings prime-time vegetable growing season and the delicious harvest of our fruit and vegetable gardens. But what happens when that summer heat gets a little too hot and leaves drought-prone areas high and dry?

Don’t stress — even though water is an essential component to vegetable gardening, there are plenty of ways to grow healthy, fresh veggies during dry times.

Try these low-water vegetable gardening tips for success all season long.

Build a Strong Base

When planting in dry conditions, amending your soil is crucial to success. Start with Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus for big, healthy blooms. Then, add rich compost to the soil to increase water retention. After you have a healthy soil as your base, be sure to add mulch. A 3-4” layer of mulch on top of your soil can reduce watering needs up to 50 percent. Mulch keeps the soil cooler and traps moisture in the soil, instead of allowing it to evaporate.

Strategic Planning

When it comes to drought-tolerant vegetable gardens, plan strategically. Raised bed gardens and containers retain moisture better than open gardens.

Instead of planting in straight rows, plant in a zig-zag or diamond pattern. With plants spaced out, their leaves create more shade and keep the soil cooler. Try companion planting, too. Pair plant varieties that work well together and benefit from each other.

6 drought resistant veggies to consider planting during drier times:

  • Eggplant
  • Bell peppers
  • Okra
  • Artichoke
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Swiss chard

Be Water Wise

Some of the water used in overhead watering systems never makes it to the soil. Most of the water evaporates on the leaves before serving its purpose.

Instead, try a drip irrigation system for more efficient watering. Drip watering methods can use upwards of 70 percent less water by avoiding evaporation, runoff and wind. Soaker hoses are another water-saving alternative. Lay the hose across an especially dry patch of soil while small holes in the hose allow water to seep through to the soil.

If all else fails — move your garden indoors! Grow smaller varieties of vegetables in small spaces. While indoor vegetable gardens still need proper watering, the soil won’t dry as fast as it would in the hot summer sun.

Love the heat and the sun? Learn more about succulent gardening here!

4 Ways Gardening Improves Your Well-being

Whether it’s practicing yoga, writing a journal, going on vacation or taking an art class, everyone should have their release – something you can turn to when you feel stressed or need to clear your mind. Well, for us, spending some time in the garden does the trick. The greenery, the sun and the fresh air are just a few of the reasons we love unwinding in the garden.

Here are some of the ways gardening can improve your well-being. 

  1. Let’s Get Physical –Exercising not only improves your physical health, but your mood, too. A healthy body is a contributing factor to a healthy mind. Think about all of the digging, pulling, moving and bending that takes place in the garden. This type of physical activity improves your flexibility, strength and endurance, as well as your immune, respiratory and cardiovascular systems.
  2. Green is Good – Simply being around nature has its proven health benefits, too. So even if you’re not working on the garden, just enjoying its beauty, you are still improving your well-being. Biophilia is the theory that all humans want to have a connection with other living things, and what better place to feel connected to the world than in the great outdoors?
  3. Fresh Produce – If you have fresh food in your own backyard, you are more likely to eat it. Growing your own vegetables not only encourages you to eat more of them, it also provides a sense of achievement. Gardening can be difficult, and nothing boosts your pride like a beautiful, homegrown tomato plant or blueberry bush.
  4. Sensible Sunshine – Gardening often means long hours in the sun. It is extremely important to take care of your skin, so always wear sunscreen and perhaps a hat. That being said, the sun is also a great source of Vitamin D. Sensible sun exposure not only improves your physical health, it can actually help with depression and other mood disorders. Don’t forget the sunscreen!

What benefits – well-being or other – do you receive from your garden? Let us know in the comments below!

Top Five Trees to Plant for Bees

Bees, birds, butterflies and other pollinators are responsible for pollinating 85 percent of the planet’s flowers and more than a third of our fruits and vegetables. Without bees, the shelves at our grocery stores would look pretty sparse.

 

Starting a pollinator garden is easy. But, trees in your landscape are just as important as colorful flowers.

 

Bee sure to plant some of these trees for the bees!

 

5 Top Trees For Bees:

 

Native Oaks

Provide bees with winter shelter and habitat by planting native oaks.  Native plants are one of the best ways to help pollinators, after all. Choose native oaks to support pollinators throughout the year, but especially during winter when these strong trees make for excellent shelter. In fact, more than 500 pollinator species call native oaks home, returning year after year.

 

Magnolias

The nourishing pollen and sweet nectar of magnolia trees supports pollinators year round. However pollinators aren’t the only ones that love magnolias. Known for their vibrant blooms, fruit flies, leafhoppers and more are known to visit these trees, too.

 

Tupelo

Have you heard of Tupelo honey? There’s no doubt that bees love Tupelo trees for food and shelter. Plus, tupelo trees provide colorful pops of foliage to the fall landscape with their yellow, red and orange leaves.

 

Yellow Poplar/Tulip Tree

Not actually a poplar, this tree is actually a member of the magnolia family. It gets its name from the large, tulip-like flowers it produces. Its greenish yellow blooms and sweet nectar attract pollinators to the yellow poplar.

 

Black Cherry

Add this sweet, fruit tree to welcome pollinators to your landscape. Not only are black cherry trees practically irresistible to bees and caterpillars, these trees also look spectacular.

 

Once you have picked the perfect tree, keep pollinators coming back for years by keeping your tree healthy. Fertilize regularly with Espoma’s Tree-tone.

 

What to know more? Watch this video to find out how to fertilize trees.

How to Care for Tulips After They’ve Bloomed

Not sure what to do once tulip blooms are finished? Laura from Garden Answer demonstrates how to care for tulip bulbs so they come back year after year.

 

5 Garden Tasks to Complete this June

Summer is finally here! And we can’t wait to spend more time outdoors enjoying Mother Nature. What better way to get in some quality time outdoors than by prepping your garden for the exciting growing season that lies ahead. Check these five simple tasks off your list and prepare to have a picture perfect summer garden in no time.

Be Water Wise

In a short time, you’ll finally start feeling the heat – and so will your plants. As temps increase, be sure to keep an eye on your plants and ensure they’re getting exactly the right amount of water. If you live in an especially hot climate or simply can’t keep up with watering by hand, invest in some sprinklers or an irrigation system.

Last Call for Seedlings

If you haven’t already transferred your indoor seedlings, now is the time. You can also start planting those heat-loving veggies, like tomatoes, squash, eggplant and peppers.

Tidy Up

Tidying up your garden gives you a fresh start for the growing season ahead. Prune plants to encourage healthy growth. Weeds are very persistent, so you should be too. A little bit of weeding here and there will prevent your garden from becoming overrun with invasive weeds.

Welcome Pollinators

Bees and butterflies play an extremely important role in the garden and their pollination provides us with many of our favorite foods. Create a pollinator friendly garden with a variety of native plants. And don’t forget to celebrate National Pollinator Week June 19-25!

Lawn Care

Nothing says summer like the sight of a lush, green lawn. While maintaining a healthy lawn may seem challenging, it’s definitely possible with a little bit of work. With kids and pets playing in the yard all summer long, you’ll want to make sure to stay safe. Choose Espoma’s Organic Lawn Foods for a beautiful green lawn that is safe for the whole family – and the environment.