Petscaping for Mutts

This summer, give your four legged friends a safe and comfortable place to play.  By petscaping, you are showing your pets where they can and cannot play in order to keep your beautiful garden out of harm’s way.

Petscaping will help your mutt have a better relationship with you, your landscape and your neighbors. Keep your pets in mind this season and watch as they stay out of trouble for years to come.

Let Mutts Play:

Keep it Cool. Provide a cool, damp, shady area for your pooch. This will not only keep him away from your garden, but it will also cut down on digging. You can use either sand or grass for this special place for your pup.

Make a Space. Your pets want to be in the spotlight, just like your kids! Make an area for them to run around in where they will be seen. Many dog runs are placed in areas out of the way. Let them have their moment, front and center.

Water Danger. Be mindful of where your pets are in relation to water. While they might have fun splashing in the sprinkler, they should be wearing a life vest when in a lake as they can get tired too.

Gardening for Your Mutts:

Go Organic. Both your lawn and garden are places your pup will explore. By using natural organic materials such as Espoma’s organic lawn care and organic fertilizer, it keeps even hidden dangers away.

Pet Safe Plants. Where do your pets love to go? If they are always sniffing around in certain parts of your garden, plant pet safe plants. This way both your garden and your pets thrive.

Fence them in. The plants we mean! If your pet is constantly getting into your garden beds, set up a fence to keep them out. Just be mindful of sharp edges to protect them from getting hurt.

Want to learn more? Check out our guide on how to get a Safe Paws Lawn!

Espoma Products for a Safe Paws Lawn:

 

How to Re-Pot Houseplants (quick cut)

Your houseplant’s health is extremely important. Laura from Garden Answer clears the air when it comes to re-potting in this step by step tutorial.

This is the safest and best way to re-pot your plants to enjoy them in your home for years.

There are a few tell-tale signs a plant is outgrowing its container. Pick the plant up out of its container. If you see a jumbled mess of roots, it is time to re-pot. Another sign of needing to re-pot is if you are able to see roots coming out of the drain hole. Matted roots near the surface are another sign it is definitely time for a bigger container.

The new container will need to be one to two inches larger in diameter than the original. Be sure your new container has holes for drainage in the bottom. This is important because if the plant roots are sitting in water, they can rot. Laura from Garden Answer typically uses terracotta pots because they are porous and oxygen can flow in and out, which is good for your houseplant’s health. Plants in terra cotta pots tend to dry out faster so be sure to adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

When transferring your plant, you will want to use a good quality potting mix, such as Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix. This mix works for most plants, but there are some such as succulents, African Violets, and orchids that require a specific potting mix. For these plants try Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix, Organic African Violet Mix, or Organic Orchid Mix.

Now you’re ready to re-pot. It’s really simple. First, take your plant out of its original container. You will need to gently break up the tangled roots at the bottom. Next, place the plant in its new container. Fill in around your plant with soil and pack in tightly. Avoid burying your plant too deep by only filling in soil to the level at which the old soil is packed. To finish it off, water it lightly and, voila! You have a re-potted houseplant.

When fertilizing your newly re-potted houseplant, use a liquid fertilizer such as Espoma’s Indoor! Liquid fertilizer. However, plants such as succulents, African Violets, and Orchid require specific fertilizers. For these plants try Espoma’s Liquid Cactus!, Violet!, and Orchid! liquid fertilizers.

Products:

Espoma Organic Potting Soil MixEspoma Organic Orchid Mix

 

7 Flowers for a Sun-Kissed July Bouquet

Summertime brings plenty of sunshine, relaxing days outdoors, fresh veggies ready for harvest farmers markets — and best of all, fresh flowers from your garden. The season’s hot weather makes it perfect for enjoying outdoor blooms and snipping a few off to create your own sun-kissed bouquet. Check out the below varieties that will add a big burst of color from late summer into fall.

Sunflowers

Nothing says summer quite like a bright and cheery sunflower. Choose dwarf varieties which typically have smaller blooms and reach about 1 foot in height. They are perfect for small space gardening and children love planting these bright flowers. Grow in full sun or partial shade in Zones 1-10. Start sunflowers indoors in Espoma’s seed starting mix for extra flower power.

Dahlias

A classic favorite, dahlias dazzle with blooms from mid-July until September. Available in a variety of sizes, colors and designs, it’s hard to plant just one. These dazzling beauties will add style to your garden anywhere you plant them. While they are technically a tuber, you plant them the same way you would plant a bulb. Dahlias are winter hardy in zones 8-11, but gardeners in zones 2-7 can plant them in the spring.

Zinnias

Find zinnias in a variety of bright and beautiful colors. These heat-tolerant plants bloom quickly from mid-summer until frost and are easy to grow. The more you cut your zinnias, the more flowers the plants will produce. While these flowers are deer resistant, they are monarch butterfly favorites. Grow in full sun in Zones 1-10.

 

Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas embody everything we love about gardening. They have billowy texture, come in bright colors and are easy to care for. With their larger-than-life blooms and immense foliage, they can be planted anywhere from container to flower bed. Check with your local garden center to find the best hydrangea variety for your zone.

Lavender

Perfectly purple lavender is a garden must-have. Their flowering period covers the summer months of June to August. As a bonus, their scent is known to deter pesky mosquitoes. Use lavender in a bouquet just on its own or as filler with other summer blooms. Best suited for zones 5-8.

Roses

Roses are the most classic flower to include in a garden. They’re prolific bloomers, fragrant and colorful. They are hardy in zones 4-9 and with the right care, can come back to thrive year after year. Feed your roses monthly with Espoma’s Organic Rose-tone to ensure proper growth.

 

Gerbera Daisies

With a bright and cheery demeanor, gerbera daisies have quite a bit of flair. They will have single, double or even multiple petals, which can add some texture and contrast to your garden. They will withstand the summer heat with their sturdy stems and big blooms. Feed regularly with Flower-tone to give their stems a boost.

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How to Re-Pot Houseplants

Plants can outgrow their homes. And by homes, we mean containers. Here are quick tips on how to re-pot houseplants.

Usually, there are two reasons to re-pot houseplants. The first is that you just bought a plant from a garden center and would like to put it in a more decorative pot. The second is that your houseplant has outgrown its current pot. Either way, the same re-potting rules apply.

There are a few tell-tale signs a plant is outgrowing its container. Pick the plant up out of its container. If you see a jumbled mess of roots, it is time to re-pot. Another sign of needing to re-pot is if you are able to see roots coming out of the drain hole. Matted roots near the surface are another sign it is definitely time for a bigger container.

The new container will need to be one to two inches larger in diameter than the original. Be sure your new container has holes for drainage in the bottom. This is important because if the plant roots are sitting in water, they can rot. Laura from Garden Answer typically uses terracotta pots because they are porous and oxygen can flow in and out, which is good for your houseplant’s health. Plants in terra cotta pots tend to dry out faster so be sure to adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

When transferring your plant, you will want to use a good quality potting mix, such as Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix. This mix works for most plants, but there are some such as succulents, African Violets, and orchids that require a specific potting mix. For these plants try Espoma’s Organic Cactus Mix, Organic African Violet Mix, or Organic Orchid Mix.

Now you’re ready to re-pot. It’s really simple. First, take your plant out of its original container. You will need to gently break up the tangled roots at the bottom. Next, place the plant in its new container. Fill in around your plant with soil and pack in tightly. Avoid burying your plant too deep by only filling in soil to the level at which the old soil is packed. To finish it off, water it lightly and, voila! You have a re-potted houseplant.

When fertilizing your newly re-potted houseplant, use a liquid fertilizer such as Espoma’s Indoor! Liquid fertilizer. However, plants such as succulents, African Violets, and Orchid require specific fertilizers. For these plants try Espoma’s Liquid Cactus!, Violet!, and Orchid! liquid fertilizers.

Products:

Espoma Organic Potting Soil MixEspoma Organic Orchid Mix

 

Best Wildflowers for your Wedding Bouquet

Whether your wedding colors are blush and bashful or burgundy and navy, cut wildflowers from your own garden will go with almost any color pallet.

Did you know growing these bouquets of pastel-hued flowers or fiery reds and yellows can be done right in your own backyard? The important thing is to be creative, maximize your growing abilities and time your blooms with your big day.

5 Wildflowers for Wedding Bouquets

Sunflowers

Choose hybrid, pollenless varieties of sunflowers for bouquets and centerpieces. Varieties that are single-stem will produce one beautiful stem per seed or plant in a short amount of time. Choose from a variety of shapes and colors. Golden yellow sunflowers with dark-centers are classic, but ones with green centers or lemon-hued flowers make for unique looking bouquets. Grow in full sun or part shade in Zones 1-10. Feed blooms with Espoma’s Bio-Starter Plus when you plant for extra flower power.

Zinnias

Find zinnias in a variety of bright and beautiful colors. These plants bloom from mid-summer until frost and are one of the easiest wildflowers to grow. Plus, the more you cut zinnias, the more flowers the plants will produce. While these flowers are deer resistant, they are monarch butterfly favorites. Grow in full sun in Zones 1-10.

Cosmos

A popular cut flower, cosmos will add a pop of color to any bouquet. Their pink, crimson, white or chocolate flowers last until frost and are attractive to both butterflies and hummingbirds. Flowering non-stop, two to three inch blossoms grow on fern-like stems. Feed throughout the growing season with Flower-tone to get fantastic blooms. Grow in full sun in Zones 1-10.

Daisies

With their white rays and yellow centers, daisies brighten up any bouquet. They grow 1-3 feet tall and will not take up too much space in a garden or bouquet. Feed regularly with Bloom! liquid plant food for vibrant whites and beautiful fragrance. Grow in full sun in Zones 3-8.

Black-eyed Susan

Named for their dark brown centers peeking out of the gold or bronze petals, black-eyed susans thrive in the sun. These daisy-like blooms are perfect for a late summer or fall bouquet. They tend to grow to about 2 feet tall and handle high heat and drought conditions well. Grow in full sun in zones 3-9.

Directions

It’s time to make the cut once your wildflowers are in bloom.

Cut stems in early morning or late evening to prevent wilting from the harsh sun and heat. Strip any foliage  that will be placed directly in the water. Leave foliage near top of the stems for added interested and filler in your bouquet.

Thinking bulbs might be a better fit for your wedding bouquet? Find out how Garden Answer gets beautiful blooms.

https://youtu.be/qMDXnGYJUlc

Espoma Products for DIY Bouquets

Bloom! Plant Food

 

Ripe for the Picking: Blackberry Harvesting Tips and Recipes

The blackberry is an iconic summer berry and right now they are ripe for the picking.

Blackberries, rich with exquisite flavors, are just as good on their own or baked into a pie. Picking blackberries is easy and a great summer activity to enjoy with family and friends. Not to mention, there are endless recipes and ways to enjoy blackberries.

These harvesting tips will ensure that you are berry successful in picking the best blackberries.

The Blackberry Harvest:

Blackberries start to ripen in July and August, but watch for early bloomers in late June. For the best flavors, it is important to pick ripe blackberries — the ones that are dark black in color and look quite plump. If the berry is a light purple or red or is quite firm, it may need a few more weeks to ripen. Not all berries will ripen at the same time so it is important to check before the birds get to them.

The picking part is easy! Most blackberries have thorns so be sure to use caution when reaching deep inside the bush for the perfect blackberry. For the healthiest blackberry bushes, use Espoma’s Holly-tone fertilizer.

When you get home, pour the blackberries on to a shallow pan to pick out any moldy or overly ripe blackberries. Blackberries keep in the fridge for about a week, but it is best to use them as soon as possible. The final step is to pick out your favorite recipe and enjoy the sweet taste of summer blackberries.

See our top recipe picks below!

 Favorite Blackberry Recipes:

Mini Blackberry Pies: Do you need desert ideas for your mid-summer party? Here is a recipe for mini blackberry pies. These delicious mini pies will be a party favorite!

Blackberry Jam: Try this delectable blackberry jam recipe and your peanut butter and jelly sandwiches will never be the same! Not only will you not have to buy jam this summer, but store some away in a cool dry place and you will have homemade blackberry jam all winter.

Blackberry Sorbet: Cool off in the hot summer months with this sweet and savory blackberry sorbet. This recipe is easy to make and easy to store in the freezer for another day.

Blackberry Syrup: Blackberry syrup is a tasty substitute for maple syrup! Try the syrup on your favorite breakfast foods and a smile is guaranteed.

Ready to grow more berries? Learn how Garden Answer grows blueberries in containers!

 

Grow Healthy Berries Using:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bug OFF: Plants to Repel Mosquitoes

It is that time of year again when those tiny whining noises can be heard buzzing by your ear. Mosquitoes are back! You can keep these pests at bay by using nature’s own recipe for effective mosquito repellents.

It is a matter of comfort to keep the mosquitoes away, but it is also a matter of your family’s safety. By keeping the mosquito population around your house to a minimum, you reduce the risk of being exposed to mosquito-borne diseases.

Tell those mosquitoes to bug off by fighting them naturally. Avoid chemicals by planting a mosquito repellent garden. Read about our top choices for mosquito-repelling plants below.

Geraniums

These bright red and pink blooms have a fragrant lemon and citronella-like scent, which is delightful to humans but extremely repugnant to mosquitos. Geraniums prefer a warm, sunny, and dry climate and work in the garden or in pots. Hardy in Zones 3 through 9. Plant with Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus to give plants the nutrients they need.

 

Basil

Basil is one of the handiest plants around. Add it to your favorite meal, drink or simply enjoy its wonderful smell. One of the biggest perks is that it emits a mosquito-repelling aroma without having to crush the leaves. Prevent mosquito bites by rubbing a handful of basil leaves on exposed areas of the skin. Research in the 2011 Malaria Journal found that basil was discovered to be up to 100% effective in preventing mosquito bites. Hardy in Zones 1 through 10.

 

Marigolds

Marigolds have earned the “most pungent” superlative from the plants on this list. Their smell has not only proven to be offensive to mosquitos, but also to rabbits, deer and some people. Despite the smell, their luminous orange and yellow petals brighten up your garden. They enjoy full sun and fertile soil. A major plus is that marigolds make great companion plants for tomatoes, protecting against other insects that eat the plants. Hardy in Zones 2 through 10. Fertilize with Espoma’s Bloom! liquid fertilizer for great looking marigolds.

 

 

Lavender

Add vibrant purple to your garden by planting lavender. Lavender gives off a sweet aroma that is attractive to humans, but most definitely not to mosquitoes. You can rub lavender on your skin to use as a natural mosquito repellent, too. Lavender prefers full sun with well-drained soil. Hardy in Zones 5 through 9. Feed with Espoma’s Plant-tone throughout the growing season.

Rosemary 

Rosemary, a member of the mint family, will most definitely keep the mosquitoes away. This Mediterranean favorite is one of the most aromatic herbs you can grow. Grow in full sun and water when dry. Although you don’t need to prune, you can cut back branches to help your rosemary bush stay in shape. Both fresh cuts and dry cuts are effective in repelling mosquitoes. Add rosemary to your summer fire pit so when it burns it gives off incense that is offensive to mosquitoes. You can also make rosemary into oils, add it to meals, or even make natural repellents. Hardy in Zones 6 through 9.

 

 

Espoma Products for Plants that Help Repel Mosquitoes:

Bloom! Plant Food

 

7 Ways to Drink a Strawberry

Summer is in full swing and it is HOT!

With the heat, comes sitting on the porch enjoying a nice, cold drink. While some enjoy sweet tea and others enjoy lemonade, we love to use freshly grown strawberries for a special treat.

We walked you through planting strawberries in the spring and how to fertilize regularly with Espoma’s Holly-tone to give your plants proper nutrients. Now it’s time pick your juiciest freshest strawberries and enjoy them in a new way.

Check out this vertical strawberry planter:

7 Ways to Drink a Strawberry                                            

Strawberry Iced Tea via Divas Can Cook

This summer drink is a great alternative to a traditional sweet tea by adding the perfect amount of strawberry sweet to add a hint of flavor. It is genuinely a Yin and Yang moment.

Strawberry Shortcake Milkshake via A Spicy Perspective

Strawberry Shortcake in a glass? This decadent sweet treat will have your friends asking for seconds all summer long!

Sparkling Strawberry Lemonade via Life’s Ambrosia

Give your Lemonade a twist this summer by giving it a little sparkle. Sparkling drinks are a great way to cool down by keeping it light!

Strawberry Rosé via Tammilee Tips

For all the folks that want to Rosé all Day, this take on a traditional rose is delicious. Just try to keep your guests from staring in on a strawberry wine serenade.

Strawberry Mojito via Vanilla and Bean

Everyone loves a pink drink! Take a spin on the classic mojito and add in fresh strawberries. Not only does it change the color, but it will change how you drink mojitos.

Frozen Strawberry Daiquiri via Delish

Summertime classic, made fresh.  This sure-fire classic will have everyone asking for the recipe. The flavors really come out with the freshness only a home grown strawberry can provide.

Strawberry Basil Soda via The Kitchn

The soda craving is real. Replace the syrupy sweet soda with a refreshing fresh strawberry basil soda. You will be surprised on how well the two complement each other.

Check out our dinner recipes using homegrown strawberries to impress any guest.

For the juiciest strawberries use:

Plant America – Red, White and Blue Plants

While getting ready to decorate and hang the flag high for the Fourth of July, think of your garden. Show off your patriotic colors with red, white and blue plants for your garden or containers.

Don’t worry though, patriotic colors stay in season all year long. Red hues will make your garden look bigger, white plants are perfect for a moon garden and blue plants bring a peace of mind for relaxation.

Plants for Fourth of July

Rocket’s Red Glare – picks for red plants:

Photo courtesy of Star® Roses and Plants

Red Roses

Red roses are one of the most traditional plants to grow in the garden. They either become the statement plant or are a fine complement to a focal point. You can use roses to cover up an unsightly area or add fragrance. Feed regularly with Rose-tone to ensure bright colors and thriving blooms.

Red Gerbera Daisies

With a bright and cheery demeanor, gerbera daisies have quite a bit of flair. They will have single, double or even multiple petals, which can add some texture and contrast to your garden. They will withstand the summer heat with their sturdy stems and big blooms. Feed regularly with Flower-tone to give their stems a boost.

Broad Strips and Bright Stars- picks for white plants:

Ox-Eye Daisies

Ox-Eye daisies’ will be in full bloom by the Fourth of July. With their white rays and yellow centers, they will be sure to brighten up a patriotic space. They grow 1-3 feet tall so they will not take up too much space. Feed regularly with Bloom! liquid plant food for vibrant whites and beautiful fragrance.

White Dahlias

With a variety of sizes and varieties, dahlias can add a lot to a garden. As one of the most popular summer flowers, dahlias live up to their reputation. Whether you choose a ball or a collerette, the dahlia will be the talk of the neighborhood. When planting, feed with Bulb-tone for full, bulbs that will last all summer.

Twilight’s Last Gleeming – picks for blue plants

hydrangea care, hydrangea color, growing hydrangas

Photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries

Blue Hydrangeas

Large, beautiful blue hydrangeas are a great addition to your patriotic garden. Their bold blooms make them perfect for freshly cut or dried flowers. Getting off to the right start in the right location is key to keeping your hydrangeas blue. If you are having a little trouble keeping your blooms blue, feed with Holly-tone to keep the soil acidic.

Brazelberries jelly bean, Espoma soil acidifier, Holly-tone, growing blueberries

Photo courtesy of Bushel & Berry

Blueberries

A quirky take for your patriotic garden, but perhaps one of the most American fruits, blueberry is another great choice. With their red insides and blue exteriors, they would be perfect with red and white companions. Plus when you are itching for a holiday snack, head right outside and pick one off! Be sure to feed with Holly-tone to give it the nutrients it needs.

 

Products Used:

Bloom! Plant Food

 

 

 

 

Fixer Upper: Chicken Coop Edition

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to Brooklyn’s newest chicken coop!

Summer Rayne Oakes from Homestead Brooklyn crowdsourced funds and donations to build a new chicken coop and garden for Los Sures, a non-profit senior citizen service center. Summer currently fosters Kippee, a Rhode Island hen, in her Brooklyn apartment and embarked on this project in an effort to build Kippee a new home.

Summer is an environmental scientist and entomologist by training. She’s changing the way we think about everything from how to care for houseplants to how we connect our community.

Los Sures’ mission is to develop and preserve sustainable communities in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. They build affordable housing, participate in community service, and even have a food program. The organization originally started to help improve the borough in the seventies.

Summer worked alongside Zach Williams, the food access manager at Los Sures, to purchase tools and equipment for the chicken coop. With the help of the community, the chicken coop was erected in a single day. The Espoma Company was happy to help by donating Sani-Care animal bedding, Sani-Care Odor Control, Bio-tone Starter Plus fertilizer, and Garden Soil.

Sani-Care animal bedding is an all-natural product, manufactured using a blend of NIH approved premium hardwoods that includes beech, birch and maple. Sani-Care Odor Control helps to mitigate the odor of chicken feces.

Summer and Los Sures built a top-notch chicken coop! The chicken coop and garden will serve a variety of purposes for the organization. The chickens provide eggs which contribute to Los Sures’ food program and pantry.

Want to see more about the chickens at Los Sures? See how Homestead Brooklyn creates a garden just for the chickens to enjoy!

Espoma Chicken Coop Essentials