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A Checklist for Fall Garden Maintenance

Summer is coming to an end — but that doesn’t mean you should give up and let your garden go for the year! The colder season signals that it’s time to prepare your green space for winter and find alternative ways to keep your favorite plants in your life. Keep reading to ensure you’ll be ready when the temperatures drop.

Plant perennials for spring

Don’t dig up your perennials just yet! While it’s true that they’re prone to being taken by frost, if you take enough precautions, you should be able to conserve them and plant seeds for a beautiful spring bloom. Be sure to tackle weeds to preserve the soil and add mulch to protect them from the harsh winter wind. Six months later, you’ll be glad you took these extra steps! For fall-planted bulbs such as tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths, be sure to fertilize with Espoma Organic Bulb-tone.

Care for your lawn

Raking those autumn leaves can sometimes feel like a never-ending chore. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, you should start to look at them as a benefit. You can actually mow the dead leaves and create a makeshift fertilizer for your soil. This will lessen the burden of cleaning up every time there’s a strong wind that knocks a pile of leaves loose and benefit your soil. To show your lawn a little extra love, check out these premium organic lawn fertilizers.

Fluff up your garden with trees and shrubs

Colder weather doesn’t have to mean barren backyards. Fall is actually a great time to plant trees and shrubs! While the weather is cooling off, the soil is still warm enough for the roots to develop in them, which is where Bio-tone Starter Plus might come in handy. After planting, they will go dormant as the soil cools. Just be sure to water them beforehand so they’re ready to jump back to life in the spring.

Bloom your flowers indoors

Contrary to popular belief, the vibrant flower garden of your dreams can still be a reality even during the harshest winter months. A technique that forces bulbs to bloom indoors can help you bring it indoors! So while it may be a pure white winterland outdoors, your windowsill can still brighten up your day.

Take care of your equipment

Before you pack everything up for the season, be sure to give your tools a good cleaning. Wash off any excess dirt to avoid returning to rusty tools in the spring. You can also coat your metal tools in vegetable oil to avoid cracking from the harsh, cold weather. Lastly, sharpening your pruners and loppers so that when you’re ready to use them again, you’ll be pleased to find tools that feel like they’re brand new! 

Do you feel ready to face the coolers months yet? All it takes is some diligence and Espoma knowledge to be prepared for the winter and ready for a strong comeback in the spring. So grab those gardening tools and start today. 

For more about creating leaf mulch, watch this video from Laura at Garden Answer!

 

Featured Products

Bio-tone Starter PlusBulb-tone

 

 

Meet the Team: Q&A with David Mountford

It’s time for another installment of our Q&A series with the wonderful folks who make Espoma such a great place to work! Up next is David Mountford, our Senior Logistic Manager. We’re so proud to say he’s been with us for 32 years and still going strong! Read on to find out the details of his backyard oasis and the gardening product he can’t live without.


Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?

A: The collaboration between ownership, management, salesforce, and plant. Everyone across the board communicates very well and has created an awesome culture.

Q: How are you approaching things differently now either at home and with work as a result of COVID-19?

A: I find myself working longer and harder as my computer is always on and easier to access. There are times after dinner that I will just walk by my laptop and check my email. I try to stay in the same routine as if I was waking up to travel to work.

Q: What about your personal life? Any new hobbies and/or habits helping to pass the time?

A: I live in South Jersey with my wife and two daughters, and we spend a lot of time gardening as a family.

Q: Tell us about your personal garden, yard or plants.

A: We have an inground swimming pool and spend a lot of family time there. Our yard is small, but we have utilized a lot of evergreens to create privacy and integrated a lot of perennials to add color. It’s kind of like our vacation oasis.

Q: What is your top gardening tip?

A: Tend to your plants. Make it a habit to walk the property to monitor any issues before they overtake the plant.

Q: What’s one Espoma product you couldn’t live without?

A: I recommend Bio-tone Starter Plus when installing. Using Bio-tone is like an insurance policy for your plants, ensuring that they grow healthy for years. I also feed all my containers with Espoma Bloom throughout the summer.

Q: What made you want to work at Espoma?

A: My father was a salesman for Espoma for 15 years. I was working retail in the garden industry and it was tough. I only had one day off and worked 60+ hours a week. As I started a family, I felt there would be a lot I would miss with my kids. Then the logistics person retired and I knew the company well enough to know there would be stability.

We’re so lucky to have David on our team, and we hope to keep him around for many more years to come. One thing’s for sure — Espoma wouldn’t be the company that it is today without the hard work of people like him! Stick around to learn more about some of our other wonderful team members soon.

Featured Products:

Bio-tone Starter Plus  Bloom!

Video: Planting Fall Crops for Harvest with Garden Answer

Fall crops already? That’s right! Join Garden Answer and get some great ideas for food crops in the upcoming season.

Featured Products

Garden-tone
Bio-tone Starter Plus
Land & Sea Gourmet Compost

Meet the Team: Q&A with Bonnie Satterthwaite

Here at Espoma, our products are only as great as the team behind them. That’s why we’re excited to begin our Q&A series where you’ll get to learn a bit more about the talented folks behind the brand. We want you to see for yourself just how our company is comprised of hard-working people who genuinely care about our customers and everything plant- and garden-related!

First up is our Southeast Territory Sales Manager, Bonnie Satterthwaite. Bonnie has been with us for 14 years! We’d love to tell you about all her and the amazing things she has done for Espoma over the years, but we figured it would be best to hear it straight from the source. So, we sat down with Bonnie and let her put it in her own words.

Q: What’s your favorite part of your job?

A: Developing relationships and often becoming friends with our customers. And, of course, the opportunity to visit all of the fabulous garden centers in my area.

Q: What about your personal life? Any new hobbies helping to pass the time? 

A: I purchased a rowing machine, but have yet to leave the dock…

Q: Tell us about your personal garden, yard, or plants. 

A: I truly love gardening, and I know that passion resonates with my dealers. I maintain a floral cutting garden, a white/night garden, over 150 hydrangeas, and a hydrangea graveyard.

Q: What is your top gardening tip? 

A: Never think you are finally finished and get rid of non-performers!

Q: What’s one Espoma product you couldn’t live without?

A: Without hesitation, BioTone Starter Plus. I do not plant without it. I have seen what it does for plants and transplants. I have seen unsolicited “with and without” trials by garden centers who use the “trust and verify” model. It is an amazing product. I am proud to recommend all of the Espoma line, because of our dedication to quality, the environment, and the safety of children and pets.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of gardening?

A: My favorite aspect is certainly the seasonal outdoor garden beds — just tending the garden beds and the joy of watching things flourish. There comes, for me, great satisfaction from the hard work — and I find the whole process relaxing.  I love a morning and late evening stroll around the garden.

Q: What made you want to enter the gardening industry? 

A: I was a stay-at-home mom and my sister was a grower for a local garden center. She asked me to come and help her plant 10,000 geraniums during school hours. The owner of both the growing operation and garden center told me I talked too much to be in the greenhouse and asked if I would come to his garden shop during the busy season and talk to customers. And there you go….

Q: Tell us what made you want to work at Espoma and what makes it a special place to work?

A: I met Jeremy Brunner on a garden center bus tour and, unbeknownst to me, my Espoma adventure was about to start. I was very happy at my previous job, but Jeremy’s passion and vision for the growth of the Espoma company was something that was missing from my previous job. I wanted to be a part of something that I could see and feel was going to be spectacular. Espoma cares just as deeply for their work family as they do for their products. So, for me, there was just no question on where I wanted to continue my career.

We were so fortunate to have Bonnie join us when she did — and we hope to keep her around for as long as possible! At Espoma, we definitely pride ourselves on being able to congregate hard-working employees who genuinely enjoy the gardening industry the same way our loyal customers do. Thanks for all you do, Bonnie!

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5 Reasons to Start a Cutting Garden

Summer weather brings with it new planting projects. If you love having a fresh bouquet of flowers to keep you happy and refreshed while you’re spending more time than usual indoors, it may be time to start your own cutting garden. And the best part about it is that it’s completely customizable to what you like. You can grow roses, shrubs, perennials, and even bulbs. Try growing berry bushes to add an accent to your next bouquet!

If you’ve always thought growing your own flowers isn’t worth the hassle, take a look at these five reasons for why you should definitely reconsider. And don’t forget to stop by your local garden center to find out which plants will work best in your yard.

1. So many blooms

If you love to spend all day staring at your vase of flowers every time there’s a special occasion, you’re going to love having a cutting garden. When all the flowers are in your backyard, you get to enjoy them inside and outside! Plus, there’s no more waiting around for special occasions. When you use Espoma’s Bio-Starter Plus, your flowers will be ready to be freshly picked every week.

2. Health benefits

Gardening really can be a great workout. All the same, it can be incredibly relaxing and meditative. Take a moment to get some fresh air, move around by digging and planting, and reap the benefits later (physical wellbeing and fresh flowers)!

3. Unlimited bouquets

Who says you have to stop at one bouquet a week? Fill your entire home with color-coated bunches of fresh flowers! Once your garden is fully bloomed, you no longer have to run to the store or tip for delivery.

4. Quality bonding time

There’s no better way to teach the kids how to care for living things and to connect with nature — all while spending quality time together. Even if you don’t have room in your yard, taking a family trip to a community garden can also help expand your circle of friends!

5. Curb appeal

If you do have room in your own yard, your cutting garden will instantly boost your curb appeal! Your home will not only be filled with beautiful flowers but will be surrounded by them too. Proper maintenance with Espoma’s liquid Bloom! will help keep your neighbors green with envy and your plants nice and bright.

Are you convinced yet? As you can see, there are numerous benefits to starting your own cutting garden, and very few cons! Who wouldn’t want unlimited access to fresh flowers? Even when you have to roll up your sleeves and put in the work, you’re still getting a great workout and great payoff. Find your nearest garden center and get started today.

Top Picks for Growing A Cutting Garden:

Drip Irrigation with Garden Answer

In this video from Garden Answer, Laura plants a new garden for her sister–in-law.  She has already outlined the new beds and removed the sod. The next steps are installing a drip irrigation system by tapping into an old one and marking the spots for the trees she will be planting.

Drip irrigation emits water at the base of the plants, which is better for plants than overhead watering. Hard water can leave damaging build up on foliage and wet leaves can invite diseases. With drip irrigation, all of the water soaks into the ground and doesn’t evaporate. It’s the most efficient method of watering.

Irrigation systems take the work out of watering, but it’s not – set it and forget it. Water needs vary at different times of the year. Laura is using emitters that deliver one gallon of water per hour, a standard-setting. She still waters each newly planted tree with the garden hose to make sure the soil has settled and that there are no air pockets. 

Planting in mid-summer isn’t ideal because of the heat, but it can be done with a tiny bit of extra care and water. Laura always recommends using Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus whenever she plants. And, as she points out, it’s even more important when the plants are stressed, in this case by heat. The mycorrhizae in Bio-tone helps stimulate root growth to ensure new plants get maximum water and nutrients from the soil to minimize transplant shock and loss.

These trees will become the “bones” of her design. She has taken into account the mature height of the trees so they do not interfere with the power lines above them or the fire hydrant between them. She has also chosen narrow varieties of evergreens that will not outgrow their allotted space in the garden.

Slim Trees for Small Spaces

Weeping White Spruce

An elegant, straight trunked tree with weeping branches. The needles are green with a bluish tint. A perfect choice for narrow spaces. Hardy in zones 2-7.

Merlot Redbud

Bright lavender-pink flowers bloom in spring before the leaves unfurl. Dark purple, glossy foliage stands up to summer heat. Perfect for smaller landscapes. Hardy in zones 6-9.

‘Baby Blue’ Blue Spruce

Attractive silvery-blue needles make this spruce standout, plus it maintains its color throughout the year. The habit is smaller and narrower than other blue spruce. Hardy in zones 2-8.

‘Hillside’ Upright Norway Spruce

A narrow, upright form growing to just 10 feet tall in the first 10 years. Perfect for smaller urban gardens. Dark green needles are backed by attractive, burnt orange stems. Hardy in zones 3-7.

Columnar Dwarf Mugo Pine

A narrow, upright form of mugo pine, makes a strong architectural statement. Will grow to just 8 feet tall. Produces small, yet ornamental cones. Hardy to zones 2-8.

Here are a few of our other blogs and videos that we think you’ll enjoy:

Top Trees for Fantastic Fall Color

Top Five Trees to Plant for Bees

How to Fertilize Your Trees

How to Plant Hydrangeas

In the video below, Laura from Garden Answer demonstrates how to plant hydrangeas using Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus and Holly-tone.

Can’t wait to learn more about hydrangeas?
Check out our Hydrangea Growing Guide

HYDRANGEA
Growing Guide

 


 

7 Flowers for a Sun-Kissed July Bouquet

Summertime brings plenty of sunshine, relaxing days outdoors, fresh veggies ready for harvest farmers markets — and best of all, fresh flowers from your garden. The season’s hot weather makes it perfect for enjoying outdoor blooms and snipping a few off to create your own sun-kissed bouquet. Check out the below varieties that will add a big burst of color from late summer into fall.

Sunflowers

Nothing says summer quite like a bright and cheery sunflower. Choose dwarf varieties which typically have smaller blooms and reach about 1 foot in height. They are perfect for small space gardening and children love planting these bright flowers. Grow in full sun or partial shade in Zones 1-10. Start sunflowers indoors in Espoma’s seed starting mix for extra flower power.

Dahlias

A classic favorite, dahlias dazzle with blooms from mid-July until September. Available in a variety of sizes, colors and designs, it’s hard to plant just one. These dazzling beauties will add style to your garden anywhere you plant them. While they are technically a tuber, you plant them the same way you would plant a bulb. Dahlias are winter hardy in zones 8-11, but gardeners in zones 2-7 can plant them in the spring.

Zinnias

Find zinnias in a variety of bright and beautiful colors. These heat-tolerant plants bloom quickly from mid-summer until frost and are easy to grow. The more you cut your zinnias, the more flowers the plants will produce. While these flowers are deer resistant, they are monarch butterfly favorites. Grow in full sun in Zones 1-10.

 

Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas embody everything we love about gardening. They have billowy texture, come in bright colors and are easy to care for. With their larger-than-life blooms and immense foliage, they can be planted anywhere from container to flower bed. Check with your local garden center to find the best hydrangea variety for your zone.

Lavender

Perfectly purple lavender is a garden must-have. Their flowering period covers the summer months of June to August. As a bonus, their scent is known to deter pesky mosquitoes. Use lavender in a bouquet just on its own or as filler with other summer blooms. Best suited for zones 5-8.

Roses

Roses are the most classic flower to include in a garden. They’re prolific bloomers, fragrant and colorful. They are hardy in zones 4-9 and with the right care, can come back to thrive year after year. Feed your roses monthly with Espoma’s Organic Rose-tone to ensure proper growth.

 

Gerbera Daisies

With a bright and cheery demeanor, gerbera daisies have quite a bit of flair. They will have single, double or even multiple petals, which can add some texture and contrast to your garden. They will withstand the summer heat with their sturdy stems and big blooms. Feed regularly with Flower-tone to give their stems a boost.

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Best Wildflowers for your Wedding Bouquet

Whether your wedding colors are blush and bashful or burgundy and navy, cut wildflowers from your own garden will go with almost any color pallet.

Did you know growing these bouquets of pastel-hued flowers or fiery reds and yellows can be done right in your own backyard? The important thing is to be creative, maximize your growing abilities and time your blooms with your big day.

5 Wildflowers for Wedding Bouquets

Sunflowers

Choose hybrid, pollenless varieties of sunflowers for bouquets and centerpieces. Varieties that are single-stem will produce one beautiful stem per seed or plant in a short amount of time. Choose from a variety of shapes and colors. Golden yellow sunflowers with dark-centers are classic, but ones with green centers or lemon-hued flowers make for unique looking bouquets. Grow in full sun or part shade in Zones 1-10. Feed blooms with Espoma’s Bio-Starter Plus when you plant for extra flower power.

Zinnias

Find zinnias in a variety of bright and beautiful colors. These plants bloom from mid-summer until frost and are one of the easiest wildflowers to grow. Plus, the more you cut zinnias, the more flowers the plants will produce. While these flowers are deer resistant, they are monarch butterfly favorites. Grow in full sun in Zones 1-10.

Cosmos

A popular cut flower, cosmos will add a pop of color to any bouquet. Their pink, crimson, white or chocolate flowers last until frost and are attractive to both butterflies and hummingbirds. Flowering non-stop, two to three inch blossoms grow on fern-like stems. Feed throughout the growing season with Flower-tone to get fantastic blooms. Grow in full sun in Zones 1-10.

Daisies

With their white rays and yellow centers, daisies brighten up any bouquet. They grow 1-3 feet tall and will not take up too much space in a garden or bouquet. Feed regularly with Bloom! liquid plant food for vibrant whites and beautiful fragrance. Grow in full sun in Zones 3-8.

Black-eyed Susan

Named for their dark brown centers peeking out of the gold or bronze petals, black-eyed susans thrive in the sun. These daisy-like blooms are perfect for a late summer or fall bouquet. They tend to grow to about 2 feet tall and handle high heat and drought conditions well. Grow in full sun in zones 3-9.

Directions

It’s time to make the cut once your wildflowers are in bloom.

Cut stems in early morning or late evening to prevent wilting from the harsh sun and heat. Strip any foliage  that will be placed directly in the water. Leave foliage near top of the stems for added interested and filler in your bouquet.

Thinking bulbs might be a better fit for your wedding bouquet? Find out how Garden Answer gets beautiful blooms.

https://youtu.be/qMDXnGYJUlc

Espoma Products for DIY Bouquets

Bloom! Plant Food

 

Bug OFF: Plants to Repel Mosquitoes

It is that time of year again when those tiny whining noises can be heard buzzing by your ear. Mosquitoes are back! You can keep these pests at bay by using nature’s own recipe for effective mosquito repellents.

It is a matter of comfort to keep the mosquitoes away, but it is also a matter of your family’s safety. By keeping the mosquito population around your house to a minimum, you reduce the risk of being exposed to mosquito-borne diseases.

Tell those mosquitoes to bug off by fighting them naturally. Avoid chemicals by planting a mosquito repellent garden. Read about our top choices for mosquito-repelling plants below.

Geraniums

These bright red and pink blooms have a fragrant lemon and citronella-like scent, which is delightful to humans but extremely repugnant to mosquitos. Geraniums prefer a warm, sunny, and dry climate and work in the garden or in pots. Hardy in Zones 3 through 9. Plant with Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus to give plants the nutrients they need.

 

Basil

Basil is one of the handiest plants around. Add it to your favorite meal, drink or simply enjoy its wonderful smell. One of the biggest perks is that it emits a mosquito-repelling aroma without having to crush the leaves. Prevent mosquito bites by rubbing a handful of basil leaves on exposed areas of the skin. Research in the 2011 Malaria Journal found that basil was discovered to be up to 100% effective in preventing mosquito bites. Hardy in Zones 1 through 10.

 

Marigolds

Marigolds have earned the “most pungent” superlative from the plants on this list. Their smell has not only proven to be offensive to mosquitos, but also to rabbits, deer and some people. Despite the smell, their luminous orange and yellow petals brighten up your garden. They enjoy full sun and fertile soil. A major plus is that marigolds make great companion plants for tomatoes, protecting against other insects that eat the plants. Hardy in Zones 2 through 10. Fertilize with Espoma’s Bloom! liquid fertilizer for great looking marigolds.

 

 

Lavender

Add vibrant purple to your garden by planting lavender. Lavender gives off a sweet aroma that is attractive to humans, but most definitely not to mosquitoes. You can rub lavender on your skin to use as a natural mosquito repellent, too. Lavender prefers full sun with well-drained soil. Hardy in Zones 5 through 9. Feed with Espoma’s Plant-tone throughout the growing season.

Rosemary 

Rosemary, a member of the mint family, will most definitely keep the mosquitoes away. This Mediterranean favorite is one of the most aromatic herbs you can grow. Grow in full sun and water when dry. Although you don’t need to prune, you can cut back branches to help your rosemary bush stay in shape. Both fresh cuts and dry cuts are effective in repelling mosquitoes. Add rosemary to your summer fire pit so when it burns it gives off incense that is offensive to mosquitoes. You can also make rosemary into oils, add it to meals, or even make natural repellents. Hardy in Zones 6 through 9.

 

 

Espoma Products for Plants that Help Repel Mosquitoes:

Bloom! Plant Food