Wait! Before You Plant This Year, Test the Soil!

Healthy Soil is the Secret to a Great Garden

Want to grow bigger tomatoes, taller sunflowers and all-around healthier plants this season?

The secret is in the soil. Read more

Make Landscapes Not Landfills with Compost

Why Compost: Turn Food Scraps Into Garden Gold

Stop! Don’t throw out those leftover vegetables and coffee grinds. Mixing these kitchen food scraps with other ingredients turns ordinary garbage into black gold for the garden.

The secret to creating enriched, organic soil is compost. Compost gives the soil nutrient-rich materials and helps plants resist diseases and grow stronger. Plus composting food scraps keeps organic materials out of landfills and garbage disposals and puts them back into the earth. Best of all, it’s free!

Plus, you’ll make the planet cleaner and greener. The US tossed a whopping 131 billion pounds of food in 2010 alone, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

At Espoma, we are always looking for natural solutions. When we founded our company in 1929, we transformed ordinary ingredients into an extraordinary product for your garden.

So, to make great compost, simply follow the recipe, just like when cooking. The best compost is 50 percent green material made of garden and food scraps and 50 percent brown material, such as paper, straw or dried leaves.

Add Espoma Organic Compost Starter to help speed the composting process, for rich, fertile compost. This 100% bio-organic mix contains microbes cultured for fast, healthy composting.

Toss your compost about every two weeks to help it decompose quicker. Make it even easier by investing in a compost tumbler. Trust us, it’s worth it!

And finally, make sure your compost is getting enough to drink. Squeeze a handful of compost – while wearing garden gloves of course! If water drips, it’s too wet, so add dry brown material. If no water dribbles but the compost crumbles when released, moisten with a bit of water. Or if your area often gets rains, make an indent in the top of the compost to collect rain water.

Spruce up to Jumpstart the Gardening Season

Even though we still need cozy scarves and burly winter coats, we won’t for much longer. Our favorite time of year is almost here! We cannot wait to be outside, gardening, playing and basking in the sun in about two weeks.

Enough dreaming about the warmer days though, it’s time to start the yard and garden prep.

Although we’ve got green lawns on the mind all year long, even when they’re covered by 18” of snow, we’re eager to get outside and start prepping for our best lawn yet. Same for you?

Here are our professional tips for tackling early spring yard prep:

First, remove dead or diseased branches from trees and shrubs by cutting at a 45º angle with pruners.

Armed with your pruners, cut flowering perennials to 4-5” and trim ornamental grasses to 2-3”. Just like haircuts make hair grow faster and healthier, pruning plants does the same!

While walking around the yard, pick up fallen branches, spent annuals, lingering leaves and other natural debris. Doesn’t your yard already look better?

Then if the snow has melted, grab a rake and break up any matted, crunchy or discolored spots in the lawn to renew the area.

Finally, if the ground is thawed, scoop up a small handful of soil to test. Testing soil either with an at-home kit or with help from your extension agency is one of the most beneficial actions you can take.

Soil tests tell you what to add to get the perfect soil. Imagine racking your brain to figure out why your veggies are too small or your flowers look unhealthy. In reality, the problem could be your soil.

Take time to test and amend your soil needs — from soil acidifier or organic fertilizer. Cultivating organic, healthy soil now means your garden will deliver its absolute best later on. Come back to our blog later this month for more specific tips on adjusting your soil for that perfect lawn or plant.

Ah, the garden is gearing up for its comeback. Now, start planning what additions you’ll make to the garden this season.

Start Seeds Indoors in 10 Easy Steps:

Planting seeds inside is the first step toward Spring! Starting now means you’ll be planting seedlings outside in just 4 to 6 short weeks.

Plus, planting seeds is as easy and fun as can be. Gather your kids, family or friends to plant seeds with you for a “think Spring” get-together.

There’s nothing more refreshing or rewarding than crunching down on produce you’ve grown from seed.

How to Plant Seeds Inside:

1. Dream big

Choose your favorite high-quality seeds from a huge selection. Starting hard-to-find or expensive plants from seed will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

2. Stock up

Get plastic trays with holes in the bottom or a seed-starting kit as well as an organic soil starter, such as Espoma’s Organic Seed Starter. An organic soil like this is made specifically to help your seedlings grow strong, sturdy roots in a healthy, safe environment.

3. Get plantin’

Fill seed trays to within ¼” of the top and lightly water. Then, follow seed packet instructions to see how deep and far apart to plant. Cover with soil, press down and label.

4. Water wisely

Water perfectly by placing tray in a larger pan of shallow water for a few seconds or up to a couple of minutes so the water seeps up from the bottom.

5. Find the right spot

Place seeds in a warm, safe place. To warm up a spot, place a space heater nearby or place trays on top of the refrigerator.

6. Take cover and wait

Loosely cover the tray with plastic wrap, or use the cover in your seed-starting kit. Check seeds daily for moisture.

7. Spot a sprout

Once you see sprouts, remove the cover and move seeds to a sunny, south-facing window that is 65-75°F. Then, turn the container a little each day to prevent leaning seeds.

8. Boost plants

When leaves grow, add a bit of fertilizer such as Espoma’s Plant-tone. Plant-tone is an organic fertilizer, so it’s safe to use on edibles and helps plants grow bigger than ever before.

9. Strengthen seeds

Check seed packets to see when to plant after the last frost. Before planting you’ll want to harden off seedlings. Hardening off is a process that gets seeds used to the outdoors. Simply place your tray outside for a few hours a day for 7-10 days. Each day, increase their time outdoors and reduce watering.

10. Plant permanently

Once the last frost date has passed, you’re ready to plant! Gently remove plants from containers without damaging the roots. Plant in a prepared bed and mix in organic starter plant food to keep them strong, such as Bio-tone Starter Plus.

You did it! Spring is just a step away – and so are your crisp, garden-fresh veggies and fruits!

Tell us, what seeds are you starting this year?

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