Share Your Pumpkin to Win Big

It’s the middle of October but we’ve already had our fair share of pumpkin spice lattes, autumn soup and pumpkin bread. Yet, we haven’t indulged in our absolute favorite pumpkin activity — carving!

Nothing beats picking a pumpkin right from the patch and envisioning how different it will soon look. With so many different pumpkin decorating ideas, each pumpkin is now a true work of art.

We’re inviting you to share your masterpiece pumpkin in our “Pumpkin Decorating Contest.” You could win $250!

Here’s how to enter the Espoma Pumpkin Decorating Contest!

  1. Like Espoma on Facebook.painted pumpkins
  2. Click the Contest Tab.
  3. Before November 3, post a picture of your decorated pumpkin. That’s right, it doesn’t have it be carved. Get funky! Paint your pumpkin, dress it up, or decoupage it! As long as it’s decorated for Halloween, your pumpkin’s ready for its worldwide debut.
  4. Share your photo with friends and family. Encourage your Facebook friends to vote for you. . A panel of judges will then choose the winner from the photos with the most “Likes”
  5. “Like” your favorite entries!
  6. Drumroll please! The winner, selected on November 3rd, wins $250.

Below are a few of our favorite pumpkin and gourd decorating ideas.

While you’re working, save those seeds and pumpkin insides! We see some tasty pumpkin soup and roasted pumpkin seeds in your future.

Score More from Your Organic Fall Garden Crops

Organic gardening in the fall always feels like such a treat. Even though the leaves may be changing, your veggie garden is still going strong! While the seasons are transitioning, you’re making the most of every moment — going to football games, bundling up in cozy sweaters, and munching on homegrown produce.

Help your organic garden to produce more veggies than ever this fall with these four tips.

1. Feed to Succeed. Feed your veggies once a month for a bigger, bountiful harvest. This is especially important if you had other crops planted in the same spot earlier. Those crops depleted the garden soil of its nutrients. Luckily, an organic plant fertilizer replenishes the nutrients to keep your produce growing strong.

Step-by-step instructions on adding an organic plant fertilizer here!

2. Pick of the Pack. The more you pick, the more produce you get! 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”
  • Broccoli: Cut broccoli when its head is 4-7”
  • Cauliflower: Cut when its head is between 2-3”

3. A Fresh Feast. Plan your weekly dinners around what’s in harvest in the garden. This is the last hurrah for homegrown meals from the garden, so make the most of it. Of course, save some for winter,

4. Discover the Cover. If the chance of frost arrives earlier than expected, protect your crops. Water and then cover with a sheet, blanket or tarp. Use stakes to keep the cover from touching the plants.

Crunch! How amazing is it that you’re still harvesting veggies from your organic garden in autumn?!

One, Two, Three – What Soil Tests Numbers Really Mean

With just a tiny bit of water, a handful of seeds and some sunshine, your garden makes its own magic.

Well, almost! Your plants get all their food from the soil, too. After a busy summer, it’s time for your soil’s checkup, so your soil can keep growing its best.

Perform a soil test to see what your soil needs. And, we’ll help you understand what those numbers mean!

Scoop, Snoop and Score Soil.

Your soil’s health is a mystery waiting to be solved. All you need to do is grab a handful of soil and examine it. Send it off to your local extension service. Or, get down and dirty, and DIY it. Here’s how to perform a soil test.

Soil tests measure the nutrients available to plants along with their pH level. Garden soil should be between 6.0-7.0 pH, while the ideal pH for grass is 6.5-7.0.

  1. Low pH? Power the Sour. You’ve got sour, also called acidic, soil with a pH level under 7. Before remedying, remember some plants like this! Raise soil pH levels by adding Espoma’s Organic Garden Lime.
  2. High pH? Treat the Sweet. Soil with a pH level over 7 is known as sweet, or alkaline, soil. To fix, add Espoma Organic Soil Acidifier.

Conclusion Confusion. Understanding Soil Test Numbers

Looking at your soil test, your head may start spinning. What do all those numbers mean? Stick with us, your teacher at Espoma’s Garden School, to learn!

  1. When to N. The “N” on your soil test stands for nitrogen, which helps leaf growth. To raise nitrogen levels, add an organic fertilizer with a higher nitrogen level. Or, use blood meal or fish meal. To lower nitrogen levels, choose a fertilizer with less nitrogen.
  2. Be the P. “P” represents phosphorus, which helps plants flower and grow fruit. Need more phosphorous? Use an organic fertilizer with a higher percentage of P. Or, add bone meal. To lower phosphorous numbers, cut back on the P on the fertilizer bag.
  3. Way of the K. “K” stands for potassium, which helps plants resist diseases and grow healthy roots. If you have too much K, use an organic fertilizer with less potassium. Likewise, if you need more, opt for an organic fertilizer with a higher number K. Or, add sulfate of potash or greensand.

Strong, healthy soil gives way to stronger, bigger and better plants. Talk about a productive day in the garden!

Make a Splash in the Garden for Your Labor Day Bash

Labor Day is about relaxing, having fun and soaking up every last second of summer. And, it’s the perfect time to reflect on all of your summertime garden accomplishments. Need you look any further than your pile of super-ripe tomatoes or your luscious roses

But just because summer is ending doesn’t mean your garden has to! Your garden can look as fabulous as ever for your Labor Day bash or just to head into fall with these late-summer gardening tips.

Tips to Display a Lavish Garden on Labor Day

  1. Aiding the Fading. Walk through the garden and remove any plants that are done for the season. Be sure to compost them!
  2. Love Late-Bloomers. Swap annuals that have stopped blooming or look less than stellar with late-summer blooming flowers. Plant these colorful annuals to end the summer with a bang: celosia, zinnias, salvia, chrysanthemum or pansies. Boost your blooms with organic Flower-tone.
  3. Include Fresh Food. Hosting a Labor Day party? Plan your menu and snacks by seeing what’s ready for harvest in your garden. Guests love hearing that you grew your organic fruits and veggies. Plus, the home grown flavors will blow them away. Here are some of our favorite garden-to-table recipes. Be sure your fall veggies are planted, too.
  4. Pose with a Rose. Pair your homegrown menu with a homegrown tablescape. Cut garden roses. Pop single flowers in unexpected containers and space them along your table. Intersperse with glass ball jars or votives that have a fresh sprig of herbs tied around them.
  5. Plant Permanent. Late summer and early fall are perfect for adding perennials. Plant fall-blooming perennials before your Labor Day party to add a splash of color to your garden. Black-eyed susan, asters, sedum, daylilies, coneflowers and yarrow will wow for years.
  6. A Breath of Fresh Air. The late-summer heat takes a lot out of your favorite plants in the garden. Give them a good watering before the party, so they’ll look their best!

Now, you’re ready to end the summer in style! A table filled with just-plucked edibles, fresh cut roses and friends and family… That’s the essence of summer.