Money is Growing in Your Garden. How to Harvest

Homegrown Meal? Win Big with this Deal

Have you entered yet? The countdown is officially on! Espoma’s “Garden to Table” contest ends Wednesday.

All you need to do is share a picture of your homegrown harvest or a freshly picked and plated meal to win big.

You’re already munching your garden’s goodies, so simply take a picture, upload it and win. First place wins $100, second place wins $50 and third place wins a Container Mix full of Espoma Organic Potting Soil, Tomato-tone and Garden-tone.

Get the scoop on how to enter (and win!) below.

How to Enter Espoma’s “Garden to Table” Contest

  1. Like Espoma Organic on Facebook.
  2. Click the Contest Tab.
  3. Before August 12 @ 9:00 A.M., post a picture of your homegrown produce and share what you’ll make with them. Or reveal the finished dish.
  4. Share your entry with friends and family, ask for likes and get to the final round. A panel of judges will then choose three winners from the photos with the most “Likes”
  5. Like” other entries to connect with fellow organic home-growers.

Espoma Garden to table

Want to enter, but stumped want to make?

We’re here to help! See our favorite recipes that utilize what’s in harvest now below.

After all, shouldn’t you get paid to make dinner every once in a while? Snap a picture, upload it and you could win $100!

Don’t Stall! Start Veggie Seeds for Fall

Today’s garden is bursting full of fresh fruits and veggies! There is nothing better than picking and eating a tomato, bean or pepper fresh off the plant.

Yet – we aren’t always so lucky. With fall around the corner, we are already thinking about how to prolong that never-ending supply of delicious, homegrown produce.

Now is the time to start cool-season seeds indoors.

Reap What You Sow: Starting Cool-Season Seeds Indoors for Fall

organic gardening

  1. Get the Goodies. For fall crops, pick the hardiest and most frost tolerant seeds, so they can survive the first frost. Some of our favorites include broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, beets, carrots and spinach.
  2. Time to Prime. Find your first fall frost date. Look at the number of days to harvest on each seed packet. Use that number to count back from the first frost date, so the seeds have time to mature. Play it safe and add two weeks since plants can grow slower during short fall days.
  3. Awaken the Seeds. Fill seed starting trays within ¼” of the top with a high-quality organic seed starter, like Espoma’s Organic Seed Starter. Read each seed packet to learn how deep and far apart to plant seeds. Cover with soil, press down, label and lightly water.
  4. Store and Cover. Lightly cover the tray with plastic wrap. Keep in a sunny spot near a south-facing window.
  5. Smart Watering. Keep seeds moist by placing the tray in a pan of shallow water until the water seeps up from the bottom. Refill when empty.
  6. Break Out Sprouts. When leaves start to poke from the soil, remove plastic wrap. Feed with an organic fertilizer, like Espoma’s Plant-tone.
  7. A Home Away from Home. Two weeks before planting outside, begin hardening off seeds. Move outside for a few hours a day, increasing time outdoors daily. Also, reduce watering without letting the soil dry out.
  8. All Grown Up! Gently remove plants from see starting tray, and plant in a prepared bed. Mix-in organic starter plant food to help them adjust and grow strong, such as Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus.

Crunch! You’ll be munching on homegrown produce well into fall. How amazing (and tasty!) is that?

Oh Snap! Pick and Serve Fresh Green Beans

The best time of the year is here! Harvest season!

And our green beans have never looked, well, greener. They’re ready to be picked and cooked for a yummy side dish. The best part is you’ll be picking and cooking beans now through late July.

Learning when and how to harvest green beans does take a bit of practice. Hang with us and in a few days, you’ll be a green bean pickin’ pro!

Give Beans the Green Light

  1. Pinch the Pod.  Harvest green beans when they’re 4-7” in length and the width of a pencil. Most importantly, they should be firm to the touch and have no visible bulges.
  2. They’re About to Snap!  With one hand, hold the bean where it connects to the vine. With the other hand, hold the vine. Now pinch off with your thumb.
  3. Cool (Green) Beans. Refrigerate in an airtight container. They’ll keep for about 4 days.

Put the Beans to the Test! Taste Test Green Beans with this Delicious Recipe  

As soon as beans leave the vine, you want to taste them! So, we always have a recipe ready to go ahead of time. Try one of our favorite recipes below.

Green Bean Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Ingredientsgreen bean recipe

  • 1 ½ lb. freshly picked green beans, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO (Extra-Virgin Olive Oil)
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted

Instructions

  1. Boil Water.  Boil a pot of water over high-heat.
  2. Rinse and Trim.  Meanwhile, rinse and cut the stems off your fresh green beans.
  3. Cook. Add 1 tablespoon salt and boil the beans until tender, usually 4-5 minutes. Then drain and run under cool water.
  4. Whisk. Combine mustard, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper.
  5. Drizzle. Place in serving dish and evenly coat with mixture.
  6. Sprinkle. Scatter almonds over beans.
  7. …and Serve!  

Picking green beans is easy – and delicious. Get ready to enjoy fresh green beans all summer.  Yum!

Hip, Hop, Hurray! Grow Hops for Homemade Beer

Homebrewed beer made of homegrown hops takes the craft beer movement to the next level. As you take that first sip, you don’t just taste the beer. You taste the pride, satisfaction and joy of brewing it yourself from scratch. Become a true brewmaster by growing your own hops.

Plus, growing your own hops is cheaper and makes your beer taste incredible.

Let’s plant some hops!homegrown hops

Get Hoppy! Grow Your Own Hops for Homebrews

  1. Which Hop to Crop? Buy hop rhizomes online that match the flavor and type of beer you like. They come in every flavor under the sun. Brewers typically use multiple hop varieties in their beers, so plant several varieties that you can mix and match.
  2. Spot a Spot. Hops need LOTS of sun to thrive — about 6-8 hours daily. Plus, the spot where you plant needs to have vertical space. Hops grow up, not out.

homebrewed beer

 How to Plant Hops for Home Brewing  

  1. Dig a Cozy Home. Dig 4” deep holes and mix in an organic fertilizer like Bio-tone Starter Plus by Espoma. If planting the same hop variety, dig each hole 3’ apart. If planting different hop varieties, plant them 5’ apart.
  2. Get ‘Em Situated. Place the rhizome horizontally in the hole with the root side down, pointy side up. If the rhizome is budding, plant the bud facing up. Fill hole, cover with soil and add mulch to conserve water.
  3. Bursts of Water. When soil is dry, provide a frequent, but short burst of water!
  4. Hungry, Hungry Hops. To grow strong hops, feed them an organic plant food each month. Find out how to apply Espoma’s Plant-tone.
  5. To New Heights. Once your hops are 1’ tall, select the strongest 2-3 vines and wrap them counter-clockwise around an 8-12’ trellis. Prune the remaining vines from the base of the hop. Over the next few days, keep wrapping the vines around the trellis to train them. Hops grow quickly so continue to check your vines regularly and keep wrapping!

Now those tiny hops don’t look like beer. Before long though, you’ll be sipping on their flavors in the most refreshing homebrew yet!

Feed Tomato and Pepper Plants Now

By now you’ve planted your organic tomatoes and peppers! These homegrown veggies should be starting to flower — which means fruit isn’t far behind.

Now, it’s time to sprinkle a little magic.

The trick is to feed veggies monthly with an organic fertilizer. Tomatoes and peppers have big appetites, so they need plenty of organic food. Since plants get all their nutrients from the soil, their all-you-can-eat buffet runs out quick. Feed them right, and they’ll burst full of fresh produce.

how to grow tomatoes

Create a Balanced Diet:

  1. Go Organic. Since you’re eating this food and feeding it to your friends and family, you’ll want to ensure it’s the cleanest and healthiest possible. Choose an organic fertilizer.
  2. Take it slow. Chose a slow-release organic fertilizer. Artificial, rapid growth results in tall, lanky plants. Slow-release, organic fertilizers actually improve the soil as they break down.
  3. Plants need vitamins, too. Find a balanced food with calcium to help prevent blossom rot. Espoma Tomato-tone has 8% calcium! Be careful that you do not use too much nitrogen which will result in a lush, green plant with very little fruit.
  4. More Magic. Tomato-tone also includes Bio-tone®, a blend containing more than 3 million beneficial microbes. Sounds cool, right?

Don’t take it from us — Veggie Gardener had this to say:

“Bio-tone works magic with this fertilizer. These beneficial microbes do the dirty work of creating big and healthy plants which in turn grow large, plump, and juicy tomatoes. Beneficial microbes support good root growth by helping the roots absorb nutrients from the soil. Well producing tomatoes, or any plant for that matter, starts with a healthy and strong root system. Since I started using Tomato-tone, my tomato plants have grown faster, stronger, and produced more tomatoes.”

Ok, you get it. Fertilizing tomatoes and peppers is like sprinkling them with magic dust that makes them grow bigger, better produce. Now get growing.

how to grow peppers

Tips for Feeding Tomatoes and Peppers:

  1. Measure out the fertilizer according to instructions on bag.
  2. Feed single plants with 3 tablespoons of Tomato-tone. For rows of plants, apply 1 cup on each side per 5 feet. Feed potted plants 1.5 teaspoons per 4” pot diameter. More details here.
  3. Sprinkle Tomato-tone starting approximately 6” from the base of the plant.
  4. After feeding, water well.
  5. Feed tomatoes and peppers every month during the growing season.

Feeding tomatoes and peppers takes just a couple of minutes and drastically increases your harvest.

To feed your family lots of organic, homegrown veggies this summer, you’ll need to first keep your veggies well-fed! Get ready for the biggest, yummiest tomatoes and peppers you’ve ever grown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While you’re at it, take a selfie with your Tomato-tone! Tag us in the picture with @Espoma.

Nothing tastes better than Produce you Grow at Home!

Forget farm-to-table. Back-yard-to-table is the next big thing.

While it’s easy to buy strawberries at the grocery store anytime of the year, if you’ve tasted a freshly picked berry, you 61aa2f93fb6601e0a9691958de00e1d3know fresh is best. In a single bite, you can instantly taste the difference.

Through the rise of farmers markets, we’ve been able to get back in touch with our food and our farmers. These markets not only help us to know where our food comes from, but to also to learn more about nutrition, cooking and agriculture.

Growing your own, organic vegetable garden is easier than you think. And, you’ll save hundreds of dollars on groceries. Plus, it’s so rewarding to taste the food you nurtured and know exactly how it was grown.

If you’re just starting out, try growing organic herbs. They grow like crazy and don’t require much work.

If you’ve got kids, plant tomatoes. Eating them fresh off the vine teaches your children where their food comes from and encourages healthy eating habits. Besides, even the pickiest eaters will be much more likely to eat what they grow.

And, if you just want to get into organics, follow these tips for getting started. It’s the healthiest thing you can do for yourself and your family.

Soon, your family will be eating more organic food. Follow our Pinterest board for easy, fresh and organic recipes, too!

At Espoma Organic, we’ve spent decades sharing the benefits of natural, organic gardening. Believe us, taking care of yourself and the planet is well worth it. After all, food should come from the ground, not from a bag.

Share below why you think organic produce and gardening is important.

Guide to Growing Organic Tomatoes

If there’s one vegetable that needs to be in your organic garden, it’s tomatoes! Juicy, red tomatoes are the taste of summer.

In a salad, drizzled with olive oil, sliced with fresh mozzarella or even eaten like an apple, homegrown tomatoes make every summer meal taste better.

Like all homegrown food, they’re picked when they’re the juiciest and most flavorful. And since you care for tomatoes all season, you appreciate theorganic tomato care and work it takes to ethically raise them. You know without an inkling of doubt that these tomatoes are organic, packed with nutrients and 100% free of harmful pesticides.

Plus when growing your own tomatoes, you get to pick exactly the kind you want! There are over 10,000 different types of tomatoes, in nearly every size and color.

To pick the tomatoes best for you, decide if you’d like to snack on tomatoes throughout summer. These are known as Indeterminate. Or if you’d like your crop to ripen at once at the end of summer, select determinate.

Also, think about how you’d like to use your tomatoes. Will you use them in lots of fresh recipes or can and preserve and save them for winter? See our favorite tomatoes below to pick the one right for you!

Best Tomatoes to Eat All Summer (Indeterminate)

  • Best Tomatoes for Sandwiches: Brandywine– The original scrumptious beefsteak, and all other beefsteaks
  • Best Tomatoes for Early Harvest: Early Girl– Bright red in color and flavor
  • Best Tomatoes for Sun-Drying: Any Cherry tomatoes

Best Tomatoes for Canning and Sauces (Determinate)

  • Best Tomatoes for Sauces – Full-flavored Roma
  • Best Tomatoes for Canning –Viva Italia which are virtually seedless
  • Best Overall Tomatoes: Rutgers– Abundant, uniform tomatoes that are perfectly tasty

tomato successPick one (or a couple) tomato varieties and get planting! Follow along below or check out how not to be a couch tomato with these tips.

Since tomatoes love the sun, they need a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight a day.

Then, boost your soil. Mix in 3” of homemade compost or organic Garden Soil into the top 6” of your soil.

While you’re at it, mix in 9 cups of Espoma’s Tomato-tone per 50 square feet. For single plants, use 3 tablespoons of Tomato-tone per plant.

An organic plant food like Tomato-tone provides tomatoes the nutrients they need to grow big and plump. Since this is a slow-release, organic fertilizer, Tomato-tone never forces rapid growth, which reduces tomato yield.

Now dig a hole larger than the tomatoes’ original container. Look at the plant tag to see how far apart each tomato plant should be.

Situate the plant in the hole so its lowest leaves are below the soil level. Go ahead and pinch those lower leaves off.

Then fill the hole with amended soil or Espoma’s Organic Garden Soil.

To set your tomatoes up for success, stake them now to increase air circulation and sunlight exposure.

You can support them with a tomato cage, trellis or container. Or hammer 6-8” stakes 1’ into the ground about 3-6” away from the plant. When tomatoes begin blooming, tie them to the stake.

Right now though, all they need is some water! For the next few days, water tomatoes generously. Then, give tomatoes about 2” of water around their base each week.

In addition to watering, feed your tomatoes an organic tomato food each month. Organically fertilizing tomatoes with Tomato-tone produces larger, plumper tomatoes all season.

In 3-5 weeks, add 2-3” of mulch to reduce water consumption.

It won’t be long now until you’re biting into the first, fresh tomato of the season!

Share this post if you LOVE growing tomatoes!

Grow Fresh Herbs at Your Fingertips

Forget dried, stale or store-bought herbs. There’s a cheaper, closer and fresher alternative.

Plant an herb container garden near your kitchen or next to the grill.

Having fresh, organic herbs right where you cook makes them easier to incorporate into any meal.

With just a few snips, fresh herbs will invigorate your cooking. With just one bite, you’ll instantly taste the difference. Plus, you can use fresh herbs in unexpected ways, like flavoring olive oil, tea or water

Whether you garden in a large space or a small apartment, an herb container garden is convenient and delicious!

All you need to cook up your next great dish is a sunny spot, a roomy container, the best organic potting mix and your favorite herbs.

First decide which (and how many) herbs to grow. Check old grocery lists or recipes to see which herbs you buy the most but especially spend the most money on. Choose those and grow some just for fun like relaxing lavender and lemon balm!

HerbMost herbs will work in a container but the best herbs to plant in containers are: Basil, Mint, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Cilantro, Parsley, Sage, Chives, Lavender, Tarragon, Lemon Verbena

Now pick a container with drainage holes. With container gardens, you can buy a modern or traditional container or get creative and use found objects.

Grouping herbs together that like the same amount of water, light and soil in the same container.

How many herbs you should plant in one container? There’s no hard and fast rule. Use your judgment and read the plant tags.

Go ahead and arrange containers on your deck, patio or any place that’s easy to access when you’re cooking. The area should get between 6-8 hours of sunlight a day.

Once your containers placed, fill half-way with a high-quality, organic potting mix such as Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix. Since you’ll be eating and serving them, organic potting soil is a must!

Now arrange the herbs to your liking! Try 3 or 4 different placements before planting. Read the plant tags to see how big the plants will get, too. And just like those class photos, the tallest go in the back!Container Garden

Once you’re happy with where the herbs are, fill the rest of the container with Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix. For a two gallon container, add 1 cup of Espoma’s Organic Bio-Tone Starter Plus to the top 4-6” of soil. For a five gallon container, add two cups.

Pat the soil to firm and remove air bubbles.

Feeding herbs with an organic fertilizer regularly promotes bigger plants, so you’ll have a bigger harvest. Bio-Tone Starter Plus is a microbe enhanced all natural plant food that will help your herbs to establish quickly.

Give your herb containers 1” of water a week.

Harvest herbs often! The more you pick, the more they’ll grow. Don’t you just love plants like that?

What herbs are you planting this year? Share your favorites by commenting below!

How to Plant an Organic Vegetable Garden

Want to always have fresh veggies on hand, taste juicy tomatoes and save $600 annually on grocery bills?

We thought so! Get all that and more by planting an organic vegetable garden.

The veggies will be the best you’ve ever had, hands down. And, you’ll feel incredibly empowered by growing your own food. When you plant and harvest your own vegetables, you know your food.

You can be confident you’re feeding your family the absolute best. No worrying about the freshness of the produce, or any applied pesticides. Your veggie garden will be organic from start to finish.

And you’ll slash your grocery bills. The average family spends $70 to make a vegetable garden and grows an estimated $600 worth of vegetables, according to the National Gardening Association. Think about all you could do this summer with that extra money.

The first step to creating a veggie garden like that is deciding what to grow.

To save the most, grow veggies that are expensive at the store —tomatoes, salad greens, herbs and onions, etc. Plus, plant what you love to eat!

Next, strengthen your soil. Improving soil creates big, healthy roots, which absorb more nutrients and water. Before planting, ensure success by performing a quick soil test.

Then, make sure your soil is jam-packed with the nutrients your veggies need, so they will always have something to eat.

An organic fertilizer like Espoma Organic Garden-tone, provides vegetables with nutrients they need to grow big and strong. When fed with an organic plant food regularly, you’ll have a bigger veggie crop than you ever thought possible.

Created for professionals, Garden-tone also helps improve the soil as it feeds the veggies.

So, when preparing your vegetable bed, use 3.5 pounds of Espoma Garden-tone per 50 square feet. Then, pair with either compost or Espoma Organic Garden Soil. Mix both into the top 4-5” of soil.

Once your soil is ready, plant either cool-season or warm-season crops depending on what your weather is like.

We know this winter and spring have been cold for many regions. If a hard frost is still possible, plant cool-season crops like broccoli, salad greens and herbs. If the threat of frost is gone, feel free to plant warm-season crops too, such as peppers, tomatoes and beans. Get the lowdown on frost dates here.

Now here comes the fun part – planting.

Remove plants from their containers. Dig a hole as deep and an inch wider than the container they were growing in. To see how far apart to plant them, check the plant tag!

Arrange them in the hole and fill with soil. Remove any pesky air pockets by pressing down on the soil.

All that’s left to do now is lightly water them since vegetables need about 1” of water a week.

In 7-10 days, feed your new veggies another helping of Garden-tone.

What’s the best (or most memorable) vegetable you’ve ever grown? Comment below to share your story.

The Secret to Growing Bigger Plants, Faster

Drum roll please! The start of planting season is here!

After long weeks spent pouring over seed catalogs and admiring Pinterest gardens, it’s time to finally create the garden of your dreams.

If you started seeds a few weeks ago, it’s time to gradually move them outside. And if you didn’t, a trip to your local garden center awaits you.

So now that you’re ready, let’s plant your soon-to-be flourishing garden.

How to know if your garden is ready for planting:

To see if the ground is thawed and warm enough for planting, dig 3-4” deep. Grab a handful of soil and roll into a ball. If the soil won’t take shape, it’s too hard and dry for new plants.

If you can make a ball, drop it to the ground. If it breaks, your soil is ready. If the ball stays together, your soil is too wet, so try again in a few days.

Now comes the fun part, deciding what to plant!

Roses, snapdragons and pansies are some of our favorite flowers to plant in early spring. Plus, they add a pop of color when you need it most.

As far as veggies go; plant peas, spinach, kale, lettuce, broccoli, carrots and onions in early spring. Imagine how much you’ll save on groceries in the upcoming months!

Before you buy your new plants, check the plant tags to make sure you have enough space and sun.

Now time to plant:

If planting a flower bed, mix 4 lbs. (12 cups) of Bio-tone Starter Plus, an organic plant food, per 100 square feet into the top 4-6” of soil.

Adding all-natural, organic plant food enhanced with bacteria is the secret to bigger, better plants of all kinds.

Bio-tone Starter Plus is like a protein shake for your plants. This organic plant food is jam-packed with microbes and mycorrhizae to provide an instant health boost.

Seriously, the proof is in the plants.

Bio tone Starter Plus gives plants everything they need to grow bigger blooms faster. So, you’ll lose fewer plants along the way. You can also add Bio tone when planting bulbs, container gardens, shrubs and even trees. Using this organic plant food on veggies and fruits is a-ok since it’s all natural.

Now, get digging! You can plant in individual holes or a garden bed. Either way, dig holes as deep as the containers the plants came in, and check the plant tag to see how far apart to plant.

Remove plants from containers; loosen roots and pop ‘em in the hole!

Then, replace the soil around the plants and water.

Finally, add the finishing touch of 2-3” mulch — if you haven’t already.

What are you planting this spring? Comment below or better yet, share a picture on our Facebook page!