Watch Laura from Garden Answer plant for Fall!
Watch Laura from Garden Answer plant for Fall!
Fall crops already? That’s right! Join Garden Answer and get some great ideas for food crops in the upcoming season.
A little vitamin boost from Bio-tone Plus before amending your soil is key when planting up a fresh tomato path. More great tips from Bloom and Grow Radio in the full video!
In this fall episode of Garden Answer, Laura is making leaf mulch from her fallen leaves. It’s a free resource that will help build healthy soil. Instead of going to all the trouble of bagging leaves, recycle them.
She begins by blowing all of her leaves onto an open grassy area and mulch mowing them. Laura has a large riding lawn mower but you can get the same results with a regular walk-behind model. Just go back and forth until the foliage is fairly small and then attach the bag to suck them up.
Laura wants to enrich the empty raised beds in her vegetable garden. She pours about two inches of shredded leaves on the top of each one. Followed by a sprinkling of Espoma’s organic Blood Meal. She’s creating a mini compost pile. In summer, grass clippings would provide the nitrogen to help break down the leaves. Since she isn’t cutting grass anymore, she uses the blood meal as an organic nitrogen supplement.
Blood meal may keep plant-eating pests away but it can attract meat-eaters like dogs, raccoons, and possums. If that would be a potential problem, put the two inches of shredded leaves down and wait until spring to add Espoma’s organic Garden-tone.
More leaves? Try making leaf mold. It might sound terrible but it’s a fantastic soil conditioner. It improves soil structure, helps the soil retain moisture and creates the perfect habitat for beneficial microbes. Simply take shredded leaves and pile them up in a wire bin or a quiet corner of the yard. The following spring you will have the most beautiful, natural-looking mulch for garden beds. It’s gardeners’ gold.
Here are a few more videos from Garden Answer we hope you will enjoy:
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In this video from Garden Answer, Laura plants a new garden for her sister–in-law. She has already outlined the new beds and removed the sod. The next steps are installing a drip irrigation system by tapping into an old one and marking the spots for the trees she will be planting.
Drip irrigation emits water at the base of the plants, which is better for plants than overhead watering. Hard water can leave damaging build up on foliage and wet leaves can invite diseases. With drip irrigation, all of the water soaks into the ground and doesn’t evaporate. It’s the most efficient method of watering.
Irrigation systems take the work out of watering, but it’s not – set it and forget it. Water needs vary at different times of the year. Laura is using emitters that deliver one gallon of water per hour, a standard-setting. She still waters each newly planted tree with the garden hose to make sure the soil has settled and that there are no air pockets.
Planting in mid-summer isn’t ideal because of the heat, but it can be done with a tiny bit of extra care and water. Laura always recommends using Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus whenever she plants. And, as she points out, it’s even more important when the plants are stressed, in this case by heat. The mycorrhizae in Bio-tone helps stimulate root growth to ensure new plants get maximum water and nutrients from the soil to minimize transplant shock and loss.
These trees will become the “bones” of her design. She has taken into account the mature height of the trees so they do not interfere with the power lines above them or the fire hydrant between them. She has also chosen narrow varieties of evergreens that will not outgrow their allotted space in the garden.
Slim Trees for Small Spaces
Weeping White Spruce
An elegant, straight trunked tree with weeping branches. The needles are green with a bluish tint. A perfect choice for narrow spaces. Hardy in zones 2-7.
Bright lavender-pink flowers bloom in spring before the leaves unfurl. Dark purple, glossy foliage stands up to summer heat. Perfect for smaller landscapes. Hardy in zones 6-9.
‘Baby Blue’ Blue Spruce
Attractive silvery-blue needles make this spruce standout, plus it maintains its color throughout the year. The habit is smaller and narrower than other blue spruce. Hardy in zones 2-8.
‘Hillside’ Upright Norway Spruce
A narrow, upright form growing to just 10 feet tall in the first 10 years. Perfect for smaller urban gardens. Dark green needles are backed by attractive, burnt orange stems. Hardy in zones 3-7.
Columnar Dwarf Mugo Pine
A narrow, upright form of mugo pine, makes a strong architectural statement. Will grow to just 8 feet tall. Produces small, yet ornamental cones. Hardy to zones 2-8.
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Terrariums are beautiful, fun to make and easy to care for. Our favorite Brooklyn plant expert, Summer Rayne Oakes, guides us through the process step-by-step in this episode of Plant One on Me.
Summer covers which plants, tools, containers and soil mix you’ll need. Plus, how to water, the number one reason people kill plants.
If this terrarium seems too large to start with, go with a smaller version.
You don’t need a green thumb for this DIY project, promise.
First of all, choose a glass container. It’s easiest if the container is big enough to fit your hand inside. Next, choose plants that have the same kinds of light and water requirements. Check the plant tags to make sure they’ll be compatible. Generally speaking, terrariums are best in bright, indirect light. Full sun can be magnified by the glass and burn foliage. Base the container size on the number of plants you’d like to include.
Summer uses a set of aquarium tools for her terrariums. It’s a clever idea because they are extra-long. Having said that, it isn’t really necessary to buy this type of set when starting out. A long pair of chopsticks does a great job. She also uses a spoon and a narrow garden trowel. A watering can with a thin spout is handy to direct the water.
The soil for terrariums needs to be a light, free draining mixture. Espoma’s organic Cactus Mix combined with perlite makes the perfect blend. If plants are small you can start with a drainage layer of an inch or so consisting of small rock and or charcoal. In this case, she didn’t use a drainage layer because the plants were relatively large and would have rooted into the drainage layer too quickly.
Add an inch or two of the soil mixture to your glass container. Play around with the plants until you have an idea of how you’d like them to look. Every plant won’t be blooming all of the time so choose ones with different textures and foliage to create the terrariums subtle beauty. Plant around the edge first, adding soil around the plants as you go. Plant the centerpiece last.
Terrariums create their own humidity which means they’ll need to be watered less frequently than houseplants in pots. Water sparingly and keep an eye on them. If plants seem to be wilting, water them. As time goes by, you’ll find the right watering schedule for your terrarium. Once every two weeks is about average.
Here is a list of the plants Summer used in this video:
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Why does Laura from Garden Answer use Bio-tone Starter Plus? Because it’s the ultimate starter fertilizer. Bio-tone Starter Plus is super charged with microbes and mycorrhizae to help new plants establish quickly, grow more robust root systems and experience less transplant shock. Let’s break it down.
Unlike maintenance fertilizers that are generally spread on the surface of the ground and lightly worked into the soil, Bio-tone Starter Plus is added to the planting hole, where it is in direct contact with the roots. Fun fact: Mycorrhizae literally means “fungus roots.” These specialized fungi act like extensions of the roots themselves, creating hundreds or thousands more entry points for the roots to take up water and nutrients.
Microbes are bacteria that breakdown nutrients to make them available for plants to take up. Bio-tone contains 50 percent more microbes than maintenance fertilizers like Holly-tone, for example. These microbes and mycorrhizae help restore balance to your soil and are a cornerstone of the “Regenerative Gardening” trend.
No Sludges or Fillers
At Espoma, we’re proud to offer products that are organic and do not contain any sludges or fillers. Sand and lime are often used as filler ingredients that don’t add any nutrient for plants. Sludge, or Bio-solids comes from waste treatment plants — it’s never allowed in organic gardening. All ingredient in Bio-tone Starter Plus and all Espoma Organic ‘Tone’ plant foods are helping to feed the plant.
Here are some blog posts we hope you’ll find interesting.
English cottage gardens date back centuries. They were used to grow vegetables, herbs for healing, fruit trees, perhaps a beehive, and common flowers. The informal style went through a renaissance in the late 1800’s when they became somewhat more nostalgic than practical.
The informal aesthetic of dense planting and natural materials is still en vogue today. In this video, Laura outlines 10 design principles to help you design a cottage garden. Before you start, make sure you have plenty of Espoma’s organic Bio-tone Starter Plus plant food to make sure your plants get the best possible start.
No Straight Lines
Cottage gardens are always informal and a touch whimsical. Avoid straight lines. Gently curving edging looks more natural and playful. If your site restricts you to a straight edge, let the plants spill over it to create an unrestrained look.
Large Groups of the Same Plant
White cottage gardens are more relaxed in their design, it is still best to use large sweeps of the same plant. Think of planting in groups of three, five or seven. That is far more restful to the eye than a jumble of onsies and twosies.
Spacing Doesn’t Matter
This is one time you do not have to follow the advice on the plant tag. Cottage gardens are always densely planted and generally grow more densely packed with time. Annuals and biennials are often used in cottage gardens and will self-sow in the border. Biennials are plants that take two years to grow and flower from seed like the foxgloves shown. Another advantage to planting things close together is that there is less room for weeds to grow.
It’s very important to pick a collection of plants that have harmonious colors. Without that the border would look chaotic. Garden Answer uses a collection of soft pinks and peaches with touches of blue and lavender. It needn’t always be soft colors, but they do need to be unified in some way.
Use Varied Heights and Textures
In any planting, it’s a good idea to think about texture, height and foliage color as major design elements. Nothing blooms all the time. Varied foliage forms and colors will create interest even when the flowers aren’t in bloom. Laura uses Heuchera specifically for the silvery foliage color.
Anchor Plants/Structural Elements
This is sometimes referred to as the “bones” of a garden. It’s a structural element that all of the other plants get woven around. In this case, it’s a beautiful shrub rose named Rose ‘The Lady Gardener’, a fragrant beauty with full, apricot blossoms. The rose is repeated three times. Repetition is soothing to the eye. It’s possible to use evergreens for a slightly more formal feel, or whatever peaks your interest.
The first thing everyone does when they pick a flower is to hold it up to their nose. Cottage gardens are known for their fragrance. Try to select varieties that smell good at the garden center. Roses, lavender, sweet peas, and sweet alyssum are all good choices.
Not Perfectly Maintained
Along with relaxed design principles, comes relaxed maintenance. Planting tightly will discourage weeds. Annuals like poppies will self-seed and move around the border, just like the biennial foxgloves. Weeding everything that comes up might mean that you weed out these plants and inhibit their spontaneous movements.
The Look Will Change Over Time
This style of gardening is the exact opposite of a formal border filled with geometric shaped boxwood. By its very nature this is meant to be more random. People often sow cosmos, violas and other plants that have a tendency to move around. Let them surprise you. If you really don’t like where one popped up, it’s easy enough to remove.
Being patient is really what gardening is all about. A garden is never really finished. Enjoy the journey!
Garden Answers Plant List
Nepeta ‘Cat’s Pajamas’ – catmint
Achillea – pink yarrow
Allium ‘Serendipity’ – ornamental onion
Rose ‘The Lady Gardener’
Heuchera Dolce ‘Spearmint’ – Coral Bells
Clematis ‘Brother Stephan’
Digitalis Foxy Hybrids – foxglove
Lobularia ‘Blushing Princess’ – sweet alyssum
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