A Checklist for Fall Garden Maintenance

Summer is coming to an end — but that doesn’t mean you should give up and let your garden go for the year! The colder season signals that it’s time to prepare your green space for winter and find alternative ways to keep your favorite plants in your life. Keep reading to ensure you’ll be ready when the temperatures drop.

Plant perennials for spring

Don’t dig up your perennials just yet! While it’s true that they’re prone to being taken by frost, if you take enough precautions, you should be able to conserve them and plant seeds for a beautiful spring bloom. Be sure to tackle weeds to preserve the soil and add mulch to protect them from the harsh winter wind. Six months later, you’ll be glad you took these extra steps! For fall-planted bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths, be sure to fertilize with Espoma Organic Bulb-tone.

Care for your lawn

Raking those autumn leaves can sometimes feel like a never-ending chore. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, you should start to look at them as a benefit. You can actually mow the dead leaves and create a makeshift fertilizer for your soil. This will lessen the burden of cleaning up every time there’s a strong wind that knocks a pile of leaves loose and benefit your soil. To show your lawn a little extra love, check out these premium organic lawn fertilizers.

Fluff up your garden with trees and shrubs

Colder weather doesn’t have to mean barren backyards. Fall is actually a great time to plant trees and shrubs! While the weather is cooling off, the soil is still warm enough for the roots to develop in them, which is where Bio-tone Starter Plus might come in handy. After planting, they will go dormant as the soil cools. Just be sure to water them beforehand so they’re ready to jump back to life in the spring.

Bloom your flowers indoors

Contrary to popular belief, the vibrant flower garden of your dreams can still be a reality even during the harshest winter months. A technique that forces bulbs to bloom indoors can help you bring it indoors! So while it may be a pure white winterland outdoors, your windowsill can still brighten up your day.

Take care of your equipment

Before you pack everything up for the season, be sure to give your tools a good cleaning. Wash off any excess dirt to avoid returning to rusty tools in the spring. You can also coat your metal tools in vegetable oil to avoid cracking from the harsh, cold weather. Lastly, sharpening your pruners and loppers so that when you’re ready to use them again, you’ll be pleased to find tools that feel like they’re brand new! 

Do you feel ready to face the coolers months yet? All it takes is some diligence and Espoma knowledge to be prepared for the winter and ready for a strong comeback in the spring. So grab those gardening tools and start today. 

For more about creating leaf mulch, watch this video from Laura at Garden Answer!

 

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Video: Arranging Succulents in an Urn with Garden Answer

Starting a fun new succulent project? Take a tip from Garden Answer and kick things off with Espoma Organic Cactus Mix, which is made specifically for cactuses and succulents.

 

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Should You Join a Garden Club?

Over 100 years ago in Athens, Georgia, 12 friends came together to share their plants and cuttings with each other. Soon enough, these meetings snowballed into a movement for women to share their plants and also advocate for the conservation of natural habitats in their areas.

A garden club is simply a group of people who enjoy all things pertaining to plants, flowers, and horticulture. Many clubs give back to their communities and some may have an emphasis on certain topics like landscaping or wildlife. Overall, garden clubs simply offer a space for individuals with common gardening interests to gather and share tips, ideas, and resources for projects.

A bit removed from its origins, garden clubs now come in all shapes and sizes. Your age and gender are no longer defining factors when you join! These clubs are a great resource for anyone and everyone to unwind and become even more enthusiastic about gardening.

It isn’t difficult to find local garden clubs, and many are affiliated with the National Garden Clubs (NGC) — which is the largest volunteer organization of its type in the world that works to connect communities, teach individuals about horticulture, and promote environmental causes. When your local club is part of your state Garden Club Federation, you’re automatically a member of the NGC! 

Whether you’re only just discovering your green thumb, or you’re a self-proclaimed plant parent, garden clubs can introduce you to new gardening techniques, others in your community with similar interests, and even opportunities to apply for grants. Even if you feel your green space can’t possibly get any better, sharing your expertise with others who are looking for help may be the type of growth you didn’t know you needed!

Among educational opportunities and the social aspect, there are plenty of other benefits to joining your local garden club. Using NGC’s given resources can help you expand on your creative design skills, and you can even become nationally certified as a flower show judge or a landscape, gardening, or environmental consultant.

Many clubs are also heavily involved in their communities. There are often large-scale projects that focus on beautifying town streets, schools, or hospitals. For example, NGC clubs often organize projects like educational garden tours for youth groups and nursery workshops at local libraries. Projects like these easily give you a sense of community, satisfaction, and fulfillment. 

No matter your level of gardening experience, joining a club and befriending new people is always a great way to destress — which we all know is incredibly important right now. Joining is simple and will open endless resources for you and all your budding flowers. If you’re raring to join after reading this, roll up your sleeves, find your local garden club, and get ready to expand your gardening world!

Video: Making Tea Tin Arrangements with Garden Answer

A rainy week calls for an awesome indoor activity like this one! Remember: Anything that contains something is a potential planter. Watch as Laura from Garden Answer makes the most of her old tea tins using Espoma Organic Cactus Mix!

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5 Veggies to Plant in August

Have you thought ahead to your fall harvest yet? August is prime time to plant delicious and nutritious vegetables that will come to life in the cooler months. And there’s nothing better than being able to spice up your home-cooked dishes using your very own garden — no need to run to the supermarket! Read on to find out which veggies you should be planting right now.

Lettuce

Did you know  lettuce cannot be frozen, dried, pickled, or canned? That’s why you have to eat it fresh! Luckily, planting it right now means you’ll be able to enjoy it in just a few months. A fall harvest is ideal as lettuce’s sturdiness prevents any frost from destroying it. These leafy greens are a good source of vitamin C, calcium, iron and copper — making it the perfect base for a healthy salad. Keep an eye out for the dark green leaves when harvesting as they’re even healthier than the light green ones. 

Spinach

Spinach is well known for its low calorie count and high levels of vitamin A, C, and iron — making it the perfect addition to that healthy salad. This veggie also gives you the highest turnover out of all the others. If collected in small quantities, you can keep harvesting them late until May! The best time to start planting them is now, at the tail end of summer.

Parsley

Ready for another healthy addition to that salad we’re working on? Parsley is a rich source of Vitamin K, C, and A, and minerals like magnesium, potassium, iron, and calcium. It’s no wonder this veggie has been used in dishes since ancient Rome! It’s also believed to have anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, and antifungal properties. Plant your parsley now to make sure you can reap all these benefits in the fall.

Carrots

If you’re planning on sowing some veggies that aren’t leafy greens, carrots should definitely be your first choice! As this vegetable grows into the fall season, the cool weather turns the starch to sugar, making them extra delicious. This sweet flavor makes them the perfect side or snack — sauteed, roasted, or even raw! Keep in mind that this plant does need a little extra care compared to some of the others on this list, so be sure to use vegetable food like Garden-tone to provide them with the energy they need to grow.

Beets

Last but not least, beets should definitely be on your August to-plant list. Did you know beets are edible from the tip of their green leaves to the bottom of their brown roots? They also help capture some hard-to-catch toxins and flush them out. These same antioxidants provide anti-inflammatory agents that provide a wide array of health benefits. Still not convinced? Since beet juice helps cleanse your liver, it’s thought that it can even help cure hangovers! If you want to make use of the entire plant and enjoy all these delicious benefits, make sure to sow the seeds now — about 8 weeks before the first frost.

Just because summer is winding down, doesn’t mean it’s time to pack up your gardening supplies. August is the perfect time to plant some of your favorite vegetables! Cooking primarily with these veggies straight from your garden will give you some of the freshest and tastiest dishes. So get your family together, head outside, and get planting!

Video: Tying up & Fertilizing Tomatoes with Bloom and Grow Radio!

Are your tomato plants growing out of control? Time to tie them up with Bloom and Grow Radio‘s Tying and Fertilizing Tomatoes video featuring Tomato-tone!

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Video: Tomato Planting Tutorial with Bloom and Grow Radio

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!

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Hoya Plants: Caring for Hoya

Hoya have been popular house plants for decades and with good reason. They are extremely long-lived, have a classic, deep green, vining foliage and produce fragrant, light pink and red star-shaped flowers. Because of their thick waxy, foliage they are often called wax plants or sometimes porcelain flower referring to the unique texture of the flowers.

These tropical vining plants have a few requirements in order to thrive but nothing too hard. Give them bright, indirect light, humidity and a light touch when it comes to watering. Use a potting mix that allows for good air circulation around the roots. Read on for the best recipe for success.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Light

Select a place that gets bright, indirect light. Don’t let their waxy foliage fool you. They are not succulents and can’t take harsh afternoon light. They will grow in lower light situations but it’s unlikely they will bloom. 

Soil and Repotting

Potting soil with good air circulation is very important for Hoya. To create a perfect blend mix equal parts of Espoma’s organic Cactus Mix, Orchid Mix, and Perlite. Hoya like to be pot-bound or crowded in their pots. They will only need to be repotted every two or three years.

Water

Water regularly with room-temperature water, spring through summer. Let the top layer of soil dry between watering. In the fall and winter growth naturally slows down and they won’t use as much water. Water sparingly during fall and winter, give them just enough that the soil doesn’t dry out completely. Too much water can cause flowers to drop.

Humidity 

Hoya are tropical plants that thrive in humid conditions. Use a humidifier to bring the humidity levels up, especially in winter when indoor air tends to be dry. A saucer with gravel and water also provides humidity as the water evaporates. Misting with room-temperature water also helps but avoid spraying the flowers.

Temperature

Keep the room temperature warm year-round, try not to let it drop below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s also best to keep plants from touching cold windows and away from heating and cooling vents.

Pruning

Prune in spring before vigorous growth begins. The stems with no leaves are called spurs and shouldn’t be removed. Flowers are produced on the same spurs year after year. Hoya are vining plants that will happily cascade from a shelf or window sill. Conversely, they are often trained onto trellises that are either vertical or circular, giving the impression of a more robust plant.

Fertilizer          

Espoma’s Orchid! liquid fertilizer is perfect for Hoya. The dosing cap eliminates measuring and gives exactly the right amount every time. Feed once a month from spring through fall.

Here are links to other blogs and videos we hope you will enjoy:

Hoya Tips and Propagation from Homestead Brooklyn

A Healthy and Happy New Year with Plants

DIY Terrarium Ideas

Espoma Products for Hoyas

Plant Care Can Also Be Self-Care

Many people wonder when they’ll find the time for self-care. It turns out that plant parents have been doing it all along. Many report their thoughts slow, they breathe more calmly, feel less stressed and they find happiness in the practice of gardening. Caring for another living thing is a positive intention that keeps us grounded in the present.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Plants Improve Our Health and Well-Being

Calming Effect

Plants help to reduce stress and promote feelings of wellbeing. Research in hospitals shows that patients surrounded by plants and flowers recover faster, take less pain medication, and have lower heart rates and blood pressure.

Focus and Productivity

Several studies have shown that keeping plants at work improves focus and productivity. Large plants or large groups of plants at work can also lessen background noise making it easier to concentrate.

Natural Mood Boost

Soil contains microbes called M. vaccae or “outdoorphins”. New science suggests the interaction between the microbes and our immune systems can improve gut health and act as a natural antidepressant.

african violets, espoma liquid african violet fertilizer

New Age Therapy

Horticultural Therapy has been used for centuries and is seeing a revival, especially with people that have experienced trauma or mental health issues. In Scotland, doctors are prescribing long walks in nature.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Memory Booster

A study from Texas A&M shows that being around plants at home or work helps improve memory and attention span by 20 percent and improves accuracy as well.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Heightened Creativity

A 2015 Human Spaces report found that employees whose offices include plants scored 15 percent higher for creativity. Another theory suggests that looking at nature or plants can shift the brain into a different processing mode, making people feel more relaxed.

Self-Care for the Holidays

The winter holidays can be a busy and stressful time. Planting a mini Christmas tree, or Norfolk Island Pine might be a wonderful way to relax, refocus and inhale some stress relievers from the soil. They would also make a lovely, air-purifying holiday gift. These easy-care houseplants can be potted up in Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix and decorated for the season. They like medium to bright light and moist but not wet soil. Make sure to keep them healthy with a dose of Espoma’s Indoor! organic fertilizer every two to four weeks.

Here are some of our other blogs and videos we think you will enjoy.

Give Some Green for the Holidays

Parenting Advice for New Plant Parents

Poinsettia Care Guide from Garden Answer

Products for Happy Houseplants

Plant Parents: Add These Tropical Houseplants to Warm Your Soul

The brightest part of winter may just be decorating your home for the season. While hot cocoa, holiday lights and a cozy fireplace are traditional ways of warming your space, try thinking tropical this year.  Your decorating doesn’t have to be the same every year and holiday houseplants aren’t just limited to poinsettias.

It’s not a secret that many houseplants are tropical by nature. They feel right at home in places with year-round warmth and jungle-like conditions. So, bring some warmth and tropic flair to your space by adding one of these houseplants.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Anthurium

Anthuriums are elegant, easy-care plants with cheery blooms that last a long time. This show-stopping plant is a favorite for any romantic with its glossy heart-shaped, pink leaves. Anthurium stands out of the crowd with blooms on and off all year. This exotic plant loves warmth and humidity.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

Bromeliad

This easy-to-grow houseplant makes for a perfect gift. It provides an exotic touch of red, orange, pink or purple to any home. Even with the thick foliage and wide leaves, it gives off a radiance that anyone will fall in love with. Be sure to use Espoma’s Orchid Potting Mix to allow proper drainage.

Palms

Majesty palms practically whisk you away to somewhere tropical.  They thrive in the humidity and like to be kept evenly moist.  Fertilize regularly with Indoor! Liquid plant food for faster growth. These are easy to grow and don’t require any pruning except for an occasional old frond.

Image courtesy of Costa Farms

Orchids

Orchids can bloom for up to four months, making them great fir add some color and flair to any home. They love indirect light, a little bit of water and to be away from any drafty windows, air vents or ducts.

Plus, they will continue to rebloom every year with a little love and patience and fertilizer.

An organic fertilizer, such as Espoma’s Orchid! liquid plant food, will help keep your blooms looking fresh and colorful year after year.

Photo courtesy of Costa Farms

ZZ plant

This tough houseplant can survive even with the brownest of thumbs. You can put it anywhere in your home or office and it will be happy to see you. It can even survive with only florescent lights and no natural light.  Water when the top two inches of soil are dry. Don’t worry if you forget, it may start to drop some of its leaflets to conserve the water left and will rebloom after a good drink.

Try these lowlight houseplants if you want greenery, but lack light. https://youtu.be/SYXv_EcBdEA

Products for houseplants

Espoma Organic Orchid Mix
Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix