Laura from @Garden Answer plants some new roses in her backyard with the help of some Espoma products! Follow along and learn some tips to ensure your roses are in tip-top shape!
Start seeds 4 to 6 weeks before you plant in the garden. Cool-season crops like broccoli or lettuce can go into the garden before the last frost. Warm-season crops like tomatoes & peppers should not be planted until all danger of frost is past. Almost anyone can succeed by following the guidelines below.
1. Fresh is best. Always start with fresh, high-quality seeds.
2. Plastic is fantastic. You can purchase plastic trays and kits designed specifically for starting seeds. They’re clean and free of pathogens, keep the soil uniformly moist and allow for adequate drainage.
3. Use a magical mix. Good mixes, like Espoma Organic Seed Starter, ensure that you’ve got a lightweight, clean and sterile medium without insects, fungus or weeds. Moisten the mix with a little water (damp, not soggy).
4. Packets know best. Plant your seeds according to the depth and spacing directions on the seed packet. Cover the seeds with soil mix and tamp down to ensure that the seeds are held in firm contact with the soil.
5. Bottom’s up. It can be challenging to apply the right amount of water to freshly sown seeds by pouring, sprinkling or spraying. It’s better to water from the bottom. That means placing the planting container into a larger pan of shallow water for a short time (few seconds to a couple of minutes).
6. Take cover. Loosely cover with plastic wrap after watering to retain moisture. Check the moisture daily and watch for germination. As soon as the seeds germinate, remove the plastic wrap.
7. Stay warm. For most seeds, sprouting requires a minimum temperature of about 65° to 75°F. If the ambient temperature is less than that, you can position a space heater nearby. Just make sure that the soil doesn’t dry out.
8. Let the sun shine in. Most seeds need about 12 to 16 hours of sunlight each day. Place your seed containers in a sunny location such as a window with southern exposure. Once the seeds sprout, turn the container a little each day. This will prevent seedlings from overreaching in one direction toward the light.
9. The need to feed. Don’t use fertilizer on seedlings until they have sprouted! In the very early growth stage, the seed provides its own nourishment, but once leaves develop, it’s time for a little liquid fertilizer like Espoma Organic Grow!
10. Harden them off. Your sheltered seedlings need to get ready for the outdoors. For 7 to 10 days, put your plants outside for a few hours each day, increasing their exposure to sunlight & wind. Cut back on watering a bit, too. Your plants will become heartier and better prepared for transplanting.
11. No stripping. Slowly, and gently remove plants from their containers without stripping the roots naked or tearing them. Plant them in the ground and mix in a really good starter plant food like Espoma Organic Bio-tone Starter Plus in with the soil.
Now that the plants are safely in the ground, there’s just one last step. Give yourself a big pat on the back for a job well done—and look forward to enjoying the fruits (or flowers and veggies) of your labor later in the season.
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There are many different types of lettuce, but all of them do best in cool temperatures, between 45 and 75 degrees—well suited for Spring and Fall weather. Many gardeners plant several kinds of lettuce at intervals throughout the growing season to enjoy a steady harvest with variety.
(it’s not ready to pick yet) The type of lettuce you select will fall into one of 5 categories:
This year, give Spring lettuce a try. It’s a great way to spring into the gardening season — and the perfect way to get a head!
Strawberries are perennials (they come up every year). With so many varieties, there’s sure to be a strawberry that thrives in your region. Plant in early Spring. You can also grow them in a container. Obtain plants from your favorite local garden center; they know which varieties do well in your area. Space plants about 18″ apart. Bury the roots, but not the center crown – it needs lots of light and fresh air and add mulch to retain moisture and discourage weeds. Expect ripe berries about 30 days after the blossoms are pollinated by bees. Strawberries multiply by sending out “runners” or long vine-like shoots.
Again, get healthy, vigorous plants from a local garden center. Plant in early Spring, spaced about 3 feet apart. Because raspberries send long canes upward as they grow, they will need support. Plant them next to a fence or create a simple support alongside the row with some stakes and wire.
Feed raspberries and blackberries in the Spring and Fall with a high-quality, organic plant food like Holly-tone. Water at a rate of about an inch per week and spread organic mulch three to four inches deep around plants. Raspberries ripen Summer through Fall and once they get going, raspberries can produce fruit for years – maybe even indefinitely.
Besides being delicious, blueberries are just what the doctor ordered – they’re loaded with healthy antioxidants. Blueberries require soil that is very acidic. You can easily increase the acidity of your soil with safe, non-toxic Espoma Soil Acidifier. Blueberry plants come in high bush, low bush or rabbit eye varieties. Space them 6, 2 and 15 feet apart, respectively. Plant in early Spring. Set each plant slightly deeper than it was in its pot. Right after planting, spread a three-inch layer of organic mulch over the ground. Apply two inches of water weekly. Blueberries ripen mid to late Summer.
No matter which berry is your favorite, all of them like rich, well-drained, acidic soil (very acidic for blueberries), full sun, organic mulch and about 2″ of water per week. Even if you haven’t decided which berry to grow yet, getting started is as easy as one-two-three. Four and five, too.
That covers the basics – but there is one more thing. Remember, you’re not the only one who likes berries. You can keep birds away by hanging shiny objects like foil strips or old CDs nearby. When it comes to neighbors and family, you’re on your own.
img class=”alignright size-medium wp-image-22203″ src=”https://www.espoma.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/early-girl-cropped-300×244.jpg” alt=”early-girl-cropped” width=”300″ height=”244″ />There are more than 700 kinds of tomatoes to choose from, so let’s just review the basic types. Take a look at this short list of just a few to see how many you know and love (and are in your garden):
Globe: Big, round and oh, so red. These are the all-purpose tomatoes that most people think of for slicing. Tasty varieties like Beefsteak, Rutgers and Brandywine range from typical palm-size up to two pounds.
Plum Tomatoes: The name describes shape and size. These “saucy” beauties offer a tangy taste, fewer seeds, and meatier texture. Try good old Roma, the classic sauce and paste tomato. You won’t be disappointed.
Cherry (or Pear): Roughly cherry size, sweet and juicy, these tomatoes are aptly named and produce clusters of delicious fruit that’s almost like candy. Try the Sweet 100 variety!
Heirloom or Hybrid? It’s not too complicated. Heirloom tomatoes are old varieties that produce viable seeds you can grow more of the same tomatoes from. Some say they have the absolute best flavor when picked at the right time. Hybrid varieties have been specially developed for desirable characteristics. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
Vine or Bush? It’s a matter of space – vines ramble. What suits your garden?
Early or Late-Season Varieties? Heartier plants that can go into the ground sooner, let you harvest earlier. Choose both kinds and harvest well into Autumn!
Know the line-up? Start the rotation. Like baseball, except this part: don’t plant tomatoes over and over in the same spot. It tends to promote plant diseases.
Bright is right. Don’t skimp on the sun – you won’t have it made in the shade. Tomatoes need sun all day.
Start with a healthy appreciation. Buy plants that are healthy. Not ones that are slightly yellow, partially withered, overgrown or stunted. Things typically get worse, not better.
Plant in succession. Unless you like getting buried with ripe tomatoes all at once. Plant at three week intervals in the Spring. You’ll get a longer, more controlled harvest.
Pinch off those little suckers. Get rid of useless little shoots at the base of the plant that won’t flower or produce. They just sap the plant.
Feed ’em right. Some chemical fertilizers blast your tomatoes with super doses of nitrogen. This will produce overgrown, spindly plants with fewer fruit. Use a safe, slow-release, organic plant food with the right blend of essential nutrients to promote growth and resistance, such as Espoma Tomato-tone®.
Be O.K. with an occasional drink. Directly and fully soak the soil when you water – not the foliage. And not at night, which can foster disease. Don’t water every day if the soil is staying too wet or mushy.
Raise the stakes. Support is good. It keeps stems and vines from kinking or collapsing, lets air circulate and provides better access to fruit. Put stakes or cages in early when it’s easier and safer for the plant.
Pick when it’s just ripe. Not too green and not beyond fully red. That’s the key to real flavor.
Thanks for reading our “best tomato” tips. It’s time to choose yours and hard to go wrong. No matter how you slice it, nothing tastes as great as tomatoes from your own garden.
There are very few plants that you, the gardener, can actually choose the color you want them to be in your garden. Hydrangeas happen to be one of them. With some simple amendments to our soil, you can choose between making the blooms blue or pink. And while it doesn’t happen overnight, the magical blooms are well worth the wait!
The most important thing that influences the color of hydrangeas is soil pH – that’s the level of soil acidity. That means you may want to start with a soil test. You can either get a soil test kit from your favorite garden center or you can send your soil to your local cooperative extension office.
In general, more acidity makes hydrangeas turn blue, less acidity (or more alkaline soil) promotes pink – that is, unless we’re talking about white hydrangeas, which alas, are limited to white.
Take a look at our pH color guide to get closer to the color you prefer.
To lower pH and turn hydrangeas blue, we recommend adding Espoma Soil Acidifier to the soil. It’s safe, long-lasting, and approved for organic gardening. Use 2 1/2 cups around the plant’s drip line every sixty days, until you reach the desired shade of blue.
Prefer pink? Then use Espoma Garden Lime. Sprinkle about 21⁄2 to 5 lbs. per 100 sq. ft. in the Spring or the Fall.
We hope this information about hydrangeas serves you well. Yes, changing soil pH takes a little time and effort, but the satisfaction it delivers will add beautiful color and variety to your hydrangeas – and your garden!
Nothing tastes more delicious than home grown tomatoes. If you’ve never grown your own, now is the time. It’s easy, fun, saves you plenty of money, and it’s a great way to introduce kids to gardening.