Five Things To Do Now For a Great Yard

Fall is truly one of the best times to get outside and to accomplish yard work. Summer’s heat has come and gone and your landscape is ready to be worked. Get your lawn in tip-top shape with this simple checklist.

Cross off these tasks from Hick’s Nurseries before winter to ensure your lawn and garden jump back into shape come spring.

Prep Your Lawn for Winter

Start with a soil test.

Test soil now for pH and nutrient levels so you have time to amend before spring. Grab a stainless steel trowel and dig 4” deep. Use either use a DIY soil test or send your soil sample to the county extension office.

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Compost

Rake or collect leaves in a mower with bagging attachment from the lawn and add to compost. Leaves add great nutrients to compost.

Dethatch Lawns

Thatch is the layer of dead grass, roots and debris that accumulates between the soil surface and the grass. Over time, a thick mat forms that hinders water and air from reaching the soil. It can encourage pests and diseases. Use a thatching rake to break up small areas. For larger lawns, use a power dethatcher.

Reseed Bare Spots.

Fall is the best time to reseed tired and stressed lawns. With a broadcast spreader, apply a seed that best suits your region and weather.

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Prepare with Care.

Get your lawn ready for the cooler weather ahead by fortifying it with nutrients. An organic winterizer promotes growth, helps lawns recover from drought and increases winter hardiness. Follow instructions here.

Your lawn is ready for winter and will surely bounce back in spring. Now it’s time to start planning your garden for next year.

About Hicks Nurseries

Hicks Nurseries is Long Island’s largest and oldest garden center. Family owned and operated since 1853, the nursery offers an exceptional selection of indoor and outdoor plants, casual furniture, garden accents, silk flower arrangements, pond and birding supplies as well as complete landscape design services. The Long Island, NY garden center is located at 100 Jericho Turnpike in Westbury; 516-334-0066. Visit our web site at www.HicksNurseries.com.

   

Test And Amend

A soil test measures how acidic or alkaline your soil might be. If your soil has too much of either, plants won’t absorb the nutrients they need. Most plants grow best when the soil pH is in near-neutral, between 6.0 and 7.0, but there are exceptions. Blueberries and potatoes, for example, love acidic soil, so a pH above 7.0 will not make them happy.

With a soil test, the guess work is gone. You’ll know just what your soil needs. So, you’ll add the right amount of lime or sulfur, and you’ll select the best plant food, too.

While fall is for planting, it’s also about for prepping for next season. McDonald’s Garden Center has the scoop on how to on amend soil for healthier, bigger and better crops come spring!

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Test And Amend Soil’s pH:

1. To solve your soil mystery, grab a stainless steel trowel and get diggin’! Dig 6-8” deep if sampling garden soil, or 4” if testing your lawn’s soil.

2. Either DIY it with an easy to use, at-home soil test from your local garden center, or call in the professionals and send your soil sample to the County Extension Office.

3. Fix soil’s acidity and alkalinity in a way that’s good for the planet and your home. Go organic! Espoma soil amendments are 100% natural, safe to use around pets and children, and contain no fillers whatsoever.

4. Apply Espoma Organic Garden Lime to raise the pH of very acidic soil. Poke holes in the soil’s surface and scatter on the lime. Rake lightly into the top inch of soil.

5. Apply Espoma Organic Soil Acidifier to lower the pH of extremely alkaline soil.

6. Compost also helps push the pH of any soil neutral.

7. Wait until spring to test your soil for positive changes.

Want to turn pink hydrangeas blue? Learn how to amend your soil and work magic in the garden.

Fall Gardening Checklist

September marks the turn of a new leaf. The hot summer weather is fizzling out in favor of cool, crisp fall breezes, prompting bonfires, football games and pumpkin everything.

For gardeners, fall can be one of the busiest seasons. Often, gardeners juggle wrapping up their summer harvests with the responsibilities of preparing for the coming seasons.

With this to-do list from Homestead Gardens, you’ll be ready to fall in love with fall; and with some extra preparation, you’ll be better prepared for winter and spring, too!

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7 Things To Do in the Garden This Fall  

1. Deadhead to get Ahead. Freshen up flowerbeds by deadheading and removing plants that have stopped blooming. Do maintenance in the morning before the weather gets too hot.

2. Don’t stop Planting. After you’ve harvested your remaining summer veggies, you can plant fall crops and begin transplants!

3. Serve… or Preserve. Have more vegetables and herbs than you know how to handle? Preserve your harvest. Experiment with making jams or pickles, and try freezing raw fruit, veggies or herbs. Make sauce out of your tomatoes, or slow-roast them.

4. Flower Power. Keep your annual flowers blooming as long as possible! The key to success? Use Espoma new Bloom! liquid fertilizer.

5. Watch out for Winter! Start winterizing your garden’s watering system. Keep an eye out for the first few frosts of the season, and cover plants when necessary. Gradually transition your summer houseplants back indoors.

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6. Divide and Conquer. Divide and split your perennials, dig and store tender bulbs like dahlias and caladiums, and start planting spring flowering bulbs.

7. Red, Dead Ahead! Are your tomato plants lacking fruit? Producing dull leaves? Sprinkle some Tomato-tone to give them a final boost.

With these tips, your fall landscape will be looking better than ever. Have a picture of your fall garden that you want to share? Drop by our Facebook page!

Grab Your Books for a Lesson in Gardening 101

Going back to school is equal parts nervous jitters and genuine excitement for what could be. Remember what it was like to have a new backpack, a fresh outfit that makes just the right statement and your stack of empty notebooks waiting to be filled?

It feels like anything is possible at this time of year!

Molbak’s Garden + Home is here to help teach you gardening basics. Already an experienced gardener? Now is the time brush up on your lessons.

Espoma’s Gardening School 101

1. Build a Foundation for Success. For a garden to be great, superior soil is a must! Perform a quick soil test, study the results and your garden will be A+ in no time!

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2. Back to School Shopping. Examine your garden equipment to see what should stay — and what needs to go. Look for cracked handles, rust and missing or loose parts. Then, go shopping for replacements.

Plan your garden

3. Get a Whole New Look. A new school year means it’s time to reveal your new look. Do you want to be refined? Edgy? Colorful and bold? Sweet and simple? Define your garden look and do your homework — then start pinning!

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4. Make a Plan for Success. The only way to improve this year’s performance is to analyze the successes and failures of last year’s garden. Your assignment: create a new garden plan.

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5. Meet the Teacher. Hi! It’s a pleasure to see you! At Espoma, we’ve been teaching organic gardening practices since 1929. Comment with questions below, post them to Facebook or tweet us. We’re here to make you the best gardener you can be.

Espoma Facebook6. Sharpen Pencils. Clean and sharpen your garden tools to get them ready for the new season! You can DIY or take them to your local garden center.

Garden tools

7. Find New Friends. Follow us on Facebook and check out our posts to find gardeners who are just as passionate about organic growing as you are.

Garden Party

Patio Party photo by Proven Winners

Throw your cap (or gardening gloves) up in the air! You passed the Back to Gardening School Class! Your garden will thank you for it later!

Fall is for Planting: Cool-Season Veggies

There is nothing better than the taste of fresh picked produce, except maybe when its fall, and you expected your garden to be put to bed by now!

Even though leaves are starting to change, your organic veggie garden has plenty of time left to produce. Help your fall garden thrive with these four tips from Behnke’s Garden Center.

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Fall is For Planting: Four Tips for Growing a Cool-Season Organic Veggie Garden

  1. Start planting. Now is the time to plant fall veggie seedlings. Fast growing, frost-tolerant plants such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, beets carrots, lettuce, spinach and herbs will keep growing even as the temperature drops.
  2. Fertilize. For a bigger harvest, feed veggies monthly with an organic fertilizer. Your soil has been hard at work all summer and is in need of nutrients. Keep your garden growing with a healthy feeding.

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  1. Harvest soon. Once your crops start ripening, go out and pick every day. Here’s when to harvest your organic veggies:
  • Lettuce and spinach: Cut outer leaves when young and tender.
  • Kale: Pick when the leaves are as big as your hand.
  • Carrots: Pick when the top of the carrot is 1” wide.
  • Broccoli: Cut broccoli when its head is 4-7” wide.
  • Cauliflower: Cut when its head is 2-3” wide.
  1. Don’t forget to Cover. If frost arrives sooner than expected have a plan to protect your crops from the cold. Water your bed and then cover with a sheet, blanket or tarp. Keep the cover from touching plants with stakes and use bricks to hold it in place. Remove cover when temperatures warm again.

What are you growing in your fall garden? Let us know in the comments!

Behnke Nurseries garden center in Beltsville, MD has provided plants, ceramic pots, and gardening supplies to gardeners since 1930.  Behnke’s offers a very wide selection of perennials, annuals, shrubs, trees and houseplants, and the experienced staff will advise you on the best options for your garden. The Holiday Shop provides a charming Christmas experience and carefully chosen accents for year ’round, while the selection of bonsai by Ducky Hong is unsurpassed.  Behnke’s welcomes gardeners of all levels of expertise: come and learn at their frequent free lectures.

Grateful for Great Gardeners this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is days away, and we’re so excited to gather with loved ones and enjoy a locally-grown, organic feast! Does it get any better? It sure does! Because we have so much to be thankful for. Below we’re sharing what we’re thankful for at Espoma this year.

Our Espoma Community

Each time we package a product, meet with a customer or hear from you, we’re filled with overwhelming gratitude.

We are so incredibly thankful for you — specifically your continued support and enthusiasm for organic gardening over the years.

Everyone who supports Espoma becomes part of our organic gardening community. Just last week, we connected with a customer who has been using Espoma products since 1968.

He reminded us we’re all in this together.

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Three Barks for Safe Paws

This year, we launched Espoma’s Safe Paws. Through Safe Paws, we advocate the importance of using organic lawn and garden products to keep pets safe.

Once we learned that cancer affects 1 out of every 3 dogs, we had to take action.

Since then, we’ve been sharing easy, fun ways to keep your pets’ paws safe!

We’re so thankful we’re able to keep pets safe from harmful pesticides by focusing on using organic lawn products.

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Green Movement Growing

When we started our organic garden company in 1929, we were organic before organic was trendy.

Now, we’re thrilled families across the nation are joining the green movement.

35 percent of all households in America — a mighty 42 million households — are growing fruits and veggies.

Best of all, the largest increase in food gardening is among young families, according to the National Gardening Association.

Thank YOU for growing your own food, using sustainable energy and reducing waste whenever you can.

Pause and appreciate what you’re most thankful for this year. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Unveiled – This Year’s Best-Dressed Pumpkin Winner

How much fun have y’all had admiring the pumpkins in Espoma’s Pumpkin Decorating Contest?

All month long, we’ve been checking our Facebook page to applaud the creative pumpkin designs. Inspired, we must confess we’ve copied a few of the designs for our office! Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all.

Now, it’s time to pick the contest winner, who will score a $250 VISA gift card. Plus, we’re shining the spotlight on a few of our favorite pump-kings!

Drumroll, please!

Congratulations to Catie! Everyone simply adored your cute, cuddly pumpkin critter. That beaming, orange smile brightened our day.

Below are a few more pumpkins that stole a piece of our hearts!

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  1. Heather – With bold royal blues and creamy whites, you created an exquisitely elegant windmill scene!
  2. Cynthia – We loved that your “lawless chickens” got to cluck alongside a freshly-carved chick!
  3. Joy – Your pumpkin village, brimming with magic, looked like a scene out of a Halloween movie!
  4. Susie – A pumpkin pile and a skeleton?! What a creative way to combine two of our favorite Halloween horrors!
  5. Amanda – Halloween décor never looked so chic. Your pumpkin-scape flaunted an amazing array of succulent shapes and pumpkin hues.
  6. Ann – Talk about precise carving! Your wolf looks like a howling Halloween haunting.
  7. Quineka – So fun! Who would have guessed Cookie Monster preferred pumpkin cookies?
  8. Nikita – Your spooky, snarling pumpkins personified that it’s a pumpkin-eat-pumpkin world!
  9. Adrienne – Ahoy! All hands are on deck applauding this action-fighting, patch-wearing pumpkin!
  10. Marlana – We paused for your Safe Paws! Your pumpkin pups looked truly fetching!

Thanks to all for sharing your creative pumpkin masterpieces! We’d pick all your pumpkins from the patch! Be sure to check out our Pinterest page to see all of the pumpkins entered in our contest!

Step-by-Step: Prep the Garden for Winter

Did you feel that? Jack Frost has flown in for the season. We’ve already felt the first nip of cold weather, which means your garden has, too.

For many, the first frost date arrives in late October or early November.

Help your garden weather the cold this season. Prepare the lawn and garden beds now for an easy, fruitful spring.

Gardening for winter consists mostly of outdoor cleanup, followed by an indoor revival. Cleanup first, though!

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Clip, Drip and Equip the Garden before Winter

  • Discard the Deceased. Compost spent annuals and vegetable plants.
  • Protect Perennials. Water perennials (rose bushes included!) once more. Then, after the ground freezes, cut perennials back to 3”, and remove any dead or diseased cane on roses. Finally, mulch.
  • Create a Clean Slate.Remove weeds from garden beds and then create superb soil. Take the soil test and add organic amendments as needed. After a hard freeze, mulch beds.

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So Long to the Lawn

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Ta-Ta for Now Trees

  • Leave the Leaves. Turn those golden leaves into garden gold by composting them!
  • Bolster the Bark. Feed trees with an organic tree fertilizer, such as Espoma’s Tree-tone for winter sustenance.
  • Stare at the Bare. After the leaves have fallen, examine your tree for weak spots and problems to prevent damage from fallen tree limbs during snow storms.

Your garden’s been put to bed for the winter and will surely sleep soundly. Now, let’s focus on those incredible indoor plants to keep you gardening all winter long.

Host a Haunted Homegrown Halloween Dinner

Round up the whole gang and dress in your best for a spine-chilling, homegrown Halloween meal.

Start by gathering the fruits of your organic fall gardening efforts, or head to your local farmer’s market to see what’s in season.

Boo! Prepare a Spooky and Scrumptious Homegrown Halloween Dinner (Because even goblins and ghouls prefer homegrown on Halloween.)

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Scary Snacks. Cook up a few frightful and finger-licking good snacks.

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Frightening Feast. All the best fall flavors featured in fangtastic dishes.

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Daring Decor. Use organic and recycled material to create eco-friendly Halloween decor.

And don’t forget to Post a Pumpkin. Whether you carve, paint or bedazzle your pumpkin, there is still time to show it off in our “Pumpkin Decorating Contest.”

Talk about a hoot of a Halloween party! Imagine how much fun your friends and family will find this homegrown Halloween garden dinner!

Keep Your Lawn Strong – Even in the Dead Of Winter

If you want a greener lawn in spring, did you know the most important time to organically fertilize your grass is the fall? Most people guess spring!

Learn why a fall fertilizer — or winterizer — is so important and how to correctly apply this organic lawn food.

Winter Lawn Care Essentials: Boost Your Lawn with an Organic Lawn Winterizerwinter lawn care

In the fall and winter, your lawn looks like it’s done growing, but it’s actually flourishing underground. Grass roots are absorbing nutrients so long as the ground isn’t frozen.

Applying a slow-release, organic lawn winterizer supplies your grass with nutrients throughout fall and winter.

A lawn winterizer is simply a food formulated to help your lawn survive winter. Lawn winterizers contain nitrogen to promote thicker, fast-growing grass come spring. This organic, winter fertilizer also possesses potassium to help lawns recover from summer droughts.

In spring, your grass then uses this stored energy to grow greener grass fast — usually by mid-March.

Put Your Lawn to Bed with an Organic Winterizer

  1. Give Your Lawn a Look. Check if you have cool or warm-season grass. Most areas with freezing winters grow cool-season grasses, such as bluegrass, ryegrass or fescue. Southern regions have warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, Saint Augustine or Zoysia. Only apply winterizer to cool-season grasses. Warm-season grasses do not get fertilized at this time.
  2. Prime Time. Apply an organic lawn winterizer one week after your final mow of the season. Or if it’s easier to remember, apply around the week of Thanksgiving.
  3. Need to Feed. Spread organic fertilizer onto dry grass. Get step-by-step instructions on applying lawn winterizer here.

Applying a lawn winterizer is like wrapping your lawn up in a cozy blanket and presenting a warm cup of soup.  Your lawn stays warm and well-fed during winter, so it can grow back thicker, greener and faster next spring.

Still looking for more info? Check out our Winter Lawn Care Pinterest board?