Companion Planting for Beginners

Grouping certain plants together will actually help your garden in more ways than you think. Companion planting is planting things together that benefit each other.

Find out how to your plants can help each other in this tutorial with Laura from Garden Answer. She’ll walk you through the basics of what it is, how to get started and how she companion plants in her own garden.

Example One: Growth and Habit Can Benefit Other Plants

Imagine a cucumber. Think about how it vines out all over the ground. If you were to trellis the cucumber to grow somewhat vertically, it will cast shade on the ground and you can plant something underneath — think greens, spinach, or anything that enjoys a bit of shade throughout the day.

If you don’t want to trellis your cukes, you can use this example with anything that grows taller and will cast some shade — such as sunflowers or corn. Hardier, tall plants can also be used like a trellis for peas or beanstalks to wrap themselves around them.

Example Two: Plant to Suppress Weeds

If you decide not to trellis vine crops, but instead allow them to grow over the ground, these can be used to block the sunlight and water from getting into the ground. This will make new growth difficult for weeds.

Example Three: Plant to Attract or Repel Insects

You can plant herbs or flowers to attract or repel insects. It is the same concept of planting herbs on the patio to repel mosquitos. Planting them near other producing plants will help fend off unwanted insects. For example, plant basil next to tomato plants to ward off the tomato hornworm — an insect that can be devastating to tomato plants. In this example, basil will also help the tomato grow and taste better – so it is worth a try!

On the other hand, zinnias will attract ladybugs – which is a good thing! Bring ladybugs into your garden to help keep control of other insects.

Nasturtiums act as a host plant for aphids. If you need to get aphids away from other plants that are producing, plant a nasturtium nearby as a distraction.

Other ideas:

  • Plant Thyme with cabbage to repel cabbage worms
  • Add marigolds to repel pests with strong fragrance

Example Four: Plant with Root Depth in Mind

Be sure to consider what you are planting near each other. If you only plant shallow rooted vegetables together they will be competing for space and nutrients. Before planting, be sure to know how deep the roots will go and mix and match the ones you place together. That way each plant can get the right amount of nutrients.

Planting lettuce, tomatoes and carrots together would work well. Lettuce has shallow roots, tomatoes have medium roots and carrots are a deep root vegetable, so they will not have to compete for the same space. Let’s say you want to add in potatoes – think about where the carrots are and don’t plant them next to each other. They will be much happier next to the lettuce.

When you are considering planting for nutrients, be sure there are nutrients in the soil for your plants to take up. Before planting, add Espoma’s Organic Bio-tone Starter Plus to ensure the plants are getting all the nutrients they need to grow big and tasty. Later in the season, it is best to follow up with Garden-tone to keep plants in close quarters thriving.

Espoma Products For Companion Planting:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Companion Planting for Beginners with Garden Tour

Grouping certain plants together will actually help your garden in more ways than you think. Companion planting is planting things together that benefit each other.

Find out how to your plants can help each other in this tutorial with Laura from Garden Answer. She’ll walk you through the basics of what it is, how to get started and how she companion plants in her own garden.

Example One: Growth and Habit Can Benefit Other Plants

Imagine a cucumber. Think about how it vines out all over the ground. If you were to trellis the cucumber to grow somewhat vertically, it will cast shade on the ground and you can plant something underneath — think greens, spinach, or anything that enjoys a bit of shade throughout the day.

If you don’t want to trellis your cukes, you can use this example with anything that grows taller and will cast some shade — such as sunflowers or corn. Hardier, tall plants can also be used like a trellis for peas or beanstalks to wrap themselves around them.

Example Two: Plant to Suppress Weeds

If you decide not to trellis vine crops, but instead allow them to grow over the ground, these can be used to block the sunlight and water from getting into the ground. This will make new growth difficult for weeds.

Example Three: Plant to Attract or Repel Insects

You can plant herbs or flowers to attract or repel insects. It is the same concept of planting herbs on the patio to repel mosquitos. Planting them near other producing plants will help fend off unwanted insects. For example, plant basil next to tomato plants to ward off the tomato hornworm — an insect that can be devastating to tomato plants. In this example, basil will also help the tomato grow and taste better – so it is worth a try!

On the other hand, zinnias will attract ladybugs – which is a good thing! Bring ladybugs into your garden to help keep control of other insects.

Nasturtiums act as a host plant for aphids. If you need to get aphids away from other plants that are producing, plant a nasturtium nearby as a distraction.

Other ideas:

  • Plant Thyme with cabbage to repel cabbage worms
  • Add marigolds to repel pests with strong fragrance

Example Four: Plant with Root Depth in Mind

Be sure to consider what you are planting near each other. If you only plant shallow rooted vegetables together they will be competing for space and nutrients. Before planting, be sure to know how deep the roots will go and mix and match the ones you place together. That way each plant can get the right amount of nutrients.

Planting lettuce, tomatoes and carrots together would work well. Lettuce has shallow roots, tomatoes have medium roots and carrots are a deep root vegetable, so they will not have to compete for the same space. Let’s say you want to add in potatoes – think about where the carrots are and don’t plant them next to each other. They will be much happier next to the lettuce.

When you are considering planting for nutrients, be sure there are nutrients in the soil for your plants to take up. Before planting, add Espoma’s Organic Bio-tone Starter Plus to ensure the plants are getting all the nutrients they need to grow big and tasty. Later in the season, it is best to follow up with Garden-tone to keep plants in close quarters thriving.

Continue to watch for a tour of Laura’s vegetable garden and to see where Laura plants her companions.

Espoma Products For Companion Planting:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DIY Mother’s Day Planter

Calling all moms out there! This Mother’s Day, create a gift any mom will love with the help of your little one. Yes – it is a bit messy, but it is worth every drop of paint. If you don’t have a little one to help, you can make your own classic piece that will go well anywhere you place it.

Laura from Garden Answer is a new mom this year, so she is diving right into this project for her mom – with the help of Benjamin. This project is perfect for any woman out there.

Espoma Products Needed:

Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other Materials needed:

  • Terra Cotta Pots
  • Chalk Paint (Two Colors – One Light and One Dark)
  • Tempera Paint (Various Colors, Black)
  • Photo Paper or Stencils
  • Exacto Knife or Box Cutter for Photo Paper
  • Paint Sponges
  • Smaller Paint Brush
  • Q-Tips
  • Clear Acrylic Sealer
  • Two to Three Plants
  • Wet Ones (For Clean- Up)

Steps for Painting a Monogrammed Planter:

  1. Print off what border and monogram you want to use on photo paper and cut out the design. If you want to skip this step and use a stencil you found at the store instead, feel free to do so. Set this aside.
  2. Paint the outside of the pot with the lighter colored chalk paint so it is one even color. Continue painting the inside rim. This is to ensure uniformity when the plant is inside and the soil doesn’t hit the top. Let dry.
  3. Hold the stencil on the pot carefully, or tape it down where you want it. Using a clean sponge brush dab the inside of the stencil with the darker chalk paint. Let dry and repeat if you have multiple stencils.

*If you want to mute the paint a bit, dab it onto paper or cardboard to lessen the amount of paint on the brush.

  1. Once your pot is dry, spray a clear acrylic sealer the all around the outside and inside of your pot. Since terra cotta is porous and water will seep, you want to ensure your paint isn’t ruined.

Steps for Painting a Butterfly Mother’s Day Planter:

Note: This planter requires the use of small feet, best to ask your little one to help! Grab him or her and let’s get started!

  1. Paint the bottom of your little one’s foot and gently place it on the pot. Use the same color twice in a “V” shape to make the butterfly wings.
  2. Repeat with different colors around the pot.
  3. Take the smaller paint brush and paint black bodies for the butterflies.
  4. Use the Q-Tip to make the ends of the antennae. Repeat step for every butterfly around the pot.
  5. Let dry!
  6. Once your pot is dry, spray a clear acrylic sealer the all around the outside and inside of your pot. Since terra cotta is porous and water will seep, you want to ensure your paint isn’t ruined.

Time to fill both planters with Espoma Organic Potting Mix and plant them up! Laura puts a Peachberry Ice Heuchera in the monogrammed pot to give it the classic farmhouse feel. She plants a Superbells Yellow and a Superbells Grape Punch in the butterfly pot to keep the bright fun colors feel.

Every mom – or grandma – will love these custom made planters. Happy Mother’s Day! Watch the extended version here.

How to Repot a Bromeliad

Summer Rayne Oaks of Homestead Brooklyn demonstrates the ins and outs of repotting bromeliads. Follow along as she explains the difference between the pup and mother plant and what happens when you remove the pup vs leaving it on to continue growing. Utilizing her expansive collection of plants, she shows us what both scenarios look like in the repotting process.

Three takeaways from this video:

Summer Rayne teaches you how to get a brand new bromeliad from a plant that is about to expire. With the right care, she was able to get new life from the plant.

The best soil to use for bromeliads is a barky airy mix, such as The Espoma Company’s Organic Orchid Mix, that’s full of nutrients.

Once the pup is either 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the mother plant, you can decide to remove the pup for the mother to grow another or keep it on and watch it grow from the mother until it expires.

5 Steps for Repotting a Bromeliad:

  1. Grab some gloves. Some of the leaves are going to be prickly, so you want to protect yourself.
  2. Grab scissors or sheers. If the mother plant is desiccated or if you want to remove the pup before repotting, you will need something sharp to remove them.
  3. Remove the bromeliad from the container and separate it from the mother plant, if possible.
  4. When placing the bromeliad into the new container, center it and fill with Espoma’s Orchid Mix. You don’t need to tuck it in too hard, as it likes having room to breathe.
  5. Water it in well to help it settle into its new home.

*Remember, if you have a healthy mother plant and a healthy pup, you can plant them together or separately. You won’t harm it either way.

Build Your Own Vertical Strawberry Planter (Quick Version)

Have a minute? Laura from Garden Answer shows us how to make vertical strawberry planters. She walks you through step by step, showing what materials to use, what potting soil and fertilizer is needed and how to hang the finished product.

This wind chime inspired planter will add life to your garden while adding an element of design to your home.

But, be sure to keep the materials in mind – even Laura almost used toxic tubing for the project.

Pro Tip: Mixing Espoma Organic Potting Mix with the Organic Bio-Tone Fertilizer allows the strawberries to get a boost in their new container while releasing nutrients slowly to ensure the edibles are being fed for a long time.

Want to watch the extended version? View it here!

Materials she used includes:

  • Galvanized Duct Work and Cap
  • Self-Tapping Sheet Metal Screws
  • Drill, Bits and 2.5″ Bi-Metal Saw
  • 1/8 inch Quick Links (x6 pieces)
  • Chain (x3 pieces)
  • 1.5 inch Ring
  • Espoma Organic Potting Mix
  • Espoma Organic Bio-Tone
  • Strawberries of your choice
  • Moss
  • Hook

Step-By-Step Instructions:

Construction

  1. Connect your galvanized tubing. There is a rivet on where they should connect – be sure to work from one end to the other to make sure it is secure.
  2. Drill a drainage hole in the bottom of the cap with a metal drill bit. Place the cap on the corrugated end and use 5 self-tapping screws to secure.
  3. Measure your planting holes. Start an inch away from the seam to keep the integrity of the tubing. Each hole should be 7.5″ away from each other. Use a pencil to mark where to drill. This will be your starting place.
  4. Drill your holes with a 2.5″ bi-metal hole saw. Ask one person to hold the tubing while the other saws. You will end up with about 15-16 holes. Safety tip: Wear long sleeves, gloves and eye protection to protect yourself from the metal.
  5. Keep your gloves on while handling the tube as it is sharp.
  6. Drill 3 holes in the top to get it ready to hang.
  7. Attach 1/8″ quick links to each of the holes. Connect your chain to the quick links. Add one more quick link to the end of each chain and each of those will go into one 1.5″ ring.

Planting:

  1. Starting from the bottom hole, add in Espoma Organic Potting Mix and Bio-Tone Fertilizer. Pro Tip: Mixing Espoma Organic Potting Mix with the Organic Bio-Tone Fertilizer allows the strawberries to get a boost in their new container while releasing nutrients slowly to ensure the edibles are being fed for a long time.
  2. Plant each hole with a strawberry and move your way up! You can also add a plant at the very top!
  3. Take little pieces of moss and add them around the strawberry plant. This will help keep the plant inside of the planter and help clean up your project.
  4. Hang your planter with a hook (Laura uses an S-hook).
  5. Slowly water in your new planter – watering too fast can make the plants fall out since their roots haven’t been established yet.

Enjoy!

 

Build Your Own Vertical Strawberry Planter (Extended Version)

Need a new and updated way to grow your strawberries? Try growing them vertically!

This windchime inspired planter will add life to your garden while adding an element of design to your home. Watch as Laura from Garden Answer shows us how to make vertical strawberry planters.

Be sure to keep the materials in mind – even Laura almost used toxic tubing for the project.

Materials she used includes:

  • Galvanized Duct Work and Cap
  • Self-Tapping Sheet Metal Screws
  • Drill, Bits and 2.5″ Bi-Metal Saw
  • 1/8 inch Quick Links (x6 pieces)
  • Chain (x3 pieces)
  • 1.5 inch Ring
  • Espoma Organic Potting Mix
  • Espoma Organic Bio-Tone
  • Strawberries of your choice
  • Moss
  • Hook

Step-By-Step Instructions:

Construction

  1. Connect your galvanized tubing. There is a rivet on where they should connect – be sure to work from one end to the other to make sure it is secure.
  2. Drill a drainage hole in the bottom of the cap with a metal drill bit. Place the cap on the corrugated end and use 5 self-tapping screws to secure.
  3. Measure your planting holes. Start an inch away from the seam to keep the integrity of the tubing. Each hole should be 7.5″ away from each other. Use a pencil to mark where to drill. This will be your starting place.
  4. Drill your holes with a 2.5″ bi-metal hole saw. Ask one person to hold the tubing while the other saws. You will end up with about 15-16 holes. Safety tip: Wear long sleeves, gloves and eye protection to protect yourself from the metal.
  5. Keep your gloves on while handling the tube as it is sharp.
  6. Drill 3 holes in the top to get it ready to hang.
  7. Attach 1/8″ quick links to each of the holes. Connect your chain to the quick links. Add one more quick link to the end of each chain and each of those will go into one 1.5″ ring.

Planting:

  1. Starting from the bottom hole, add in Espoma Organic Potting Mix and Bio-Tone Fertilizer. Pro Tip: Mixing Espoma Organic Potting Mix with the Organic Bio-Tone Fertilizer allows the strawberries to get a boost in their new container while releasing nutrients slowly to ensure the edibles are being fed for a long time.
  2. Plant each hole with a strawberry and move your way up! You can also add a plant at the very top!
  3. Take little pieces of moss and add them around the strawberry plant. This will help keep the plant inside of the planter and help clean up your project.
  4. Hang your planter with a hook (Laura uses an S-hook).
  5. Slowly water in your new planter – watering too fast can make the plants fall out since their roots haven’t been established yet.

Enjoy!

DIY Easter Rabbit Garden

 

Laura from Garden Answer shows you how to make a spring Easter basket! It’s the perfect decor to add to any spring festivities. In just a few minutes, you can create your own Easter rabbit garden to use as a centerpiece for your holiday dinner or decor accent.

For this project, you’ll need:

  • Spring basket
  • Removable basket liner
  • Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix
  • French lavender
  • Celosia
  • Branches
  • Spray paint
  • Reindeer moss
  • Seasonal fairy gardening elements

DIY Indoor Cat Tower Garden with Instructions

Even cats need a garden! Watch as Laura from Garden Answer explains how she selected the materials for and built her cat tower garden. Watch as she uses The Espoma Company’s organic seed starting mix to grow a quick batch of cat grass.

DIY Cat Tower Garden

Find out how Laura from Garden Answer makes this clever indoor cat tower garden! Laura uses Espoma’s Organic Seed Starter to get her seeds off to a great start.