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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 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:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Reasons to Start a Cutting Garden

The temperature is only getting warmer, which means it’s time to start a cutting garden! From lilies, to dahlias and zinnias, you can have nonstop blooms.

Cutting gardens can include anything from roses and shrubs to perennials, annuals and even bulbs. Cuttings from berry bushes can even make a great complement to fall bouquets. The fun doesn’t stop with just pretty vases and bouquets, you can also grow flowers for dried arrangements in the cutting garden.

You may be wondering why you would want to spend time in the sun and dirt all day. Trust us! The five reasons below are just a few personal favorites of why growing a cutting garden is worth it.

Stop by your local garden center to find out which plants will work best in your yard for your cutting garden.

5 Reasons to Start a Cutting Garden:

1. So Many Blooms

Nothing beats a fresh cut flower arrangement. It’s even better when it’s handpicked from your cutting garden. Enjoy blooms both in your garden and your favorite vase. Feed blooms with Espoma’s Bio-Starter Plus when you plant for extra flower power.

2. The Health Benefits

Digging, planting and working in the garden all benefits your physical and mental wellbeing. Gardening gets your body moving. Unplug from electronics for a bit and enjoy the fresh air. It will help clear your mind.

3. Unlimited Bouquets

There’s no reason to never have fresh flowers for bouquets when your cutting garden is in bloom. Those endless bouquets don’t come with a price tag and there’s no need to tip the delivery person.

4. Bring The Family Together

Gardening brings people together. Whether you are trying to get your family involved or are looking for some help, gardeners are open and honest about everything. If you don’t have a place to garden at home, join a community garden and make friends who also like to get their hands dirty.

5. Boost Curb Appeal

Having a cutting garden will help boost curb appeal. Surround your property with beautiful flowers of all kinds for a look that will make your neighbors green with envy. Proper maintenance and Espoma’s liquid Bloom! will have your house looking picture perfect, and boost your real estate values, too!

Think hydrangeas would be perfect for your cutting garden? Laura from Garden Answer shows you how to plant them.

 

Top Picks for Growing A Cutting Garden:

Bloom! Plant Food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Purple Please – Top Purple Plants for Your Garden

Every year gardeners want to expand their gardens to offer new colors and plants to make it fresh.

This year, Ultra Violet is the color on trend, so we looked for the best purple plants to include. We created this list of a variety of flowers, foliage and pollinators to fit any need. Plus they all smell divine.

When planning to plant, start your new plants off right with Espoma’s Organic Bio-Tone Starter Plus plant food plus mycorrhizae.

Top 5 Purple Plants

  1. Lavender

Not only is lavender a beautiful purple shade, but it has a strong fragrance that helps to alleviate stress. Lavender, with its attractive foliage, purple flowers and scent is the symbol of summer which is a must for every garden. Bloom time is from June to August.

  1. Verbena

Clusters of little purple flowers top the stems of this beautiful plant. Verbena is drought tolerant, so it fits into any climate. Bunched together this plant can pack a punch of color. Bloom time is from summer through fall.

  1. East Friesland Salvia

This plant shines purple through and through. This salvia plant is popular for the long spikes of purple flowers that bloom in the summer and fall. It is a pollinator plant, attracting everything from bees to hummingbirds.

  1. Heliotrope

Perfect for containers near your entryways, Heliotrope is known for its vanilla fragrant flowers. It is a wonderful treat for summer, especially when paired with lemongrass and lavender. These purple flowers are small and dense, but should not be overlooked. Bloom time is summer through fall.

  1. Purple Bee Balm

While the most popular varieties of bee balm is red, there are some beautiful selections that bring purple flowers. They are easy to grow and will bloom from summer through fall. It is a great pollinator plant, loved by hummingbirds and bees.

For even more options, head to your local garden center to see what plants work well for your area.

Once your new plants are established, feed regularly with Espoma’s Organic Grow! liquid fertilizer. It gives them the boost they need to have bright colors and vibrant blooms.

Espoma products in this blog:

 

Grow! Plant Food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Grow Your Own Topiary

Topiaries are plants that have been pruned and trained to grow into distinct decorative shapes. They’re basically slow-growing artistic masterpieces. Whether you grow them geometrically or fanciful like spirals, spheres or even elephants, the options are endless.

Topiaries can be grown from vines or shrubs, and even some herbs. The amount of time it takes to grow a topiary will depend on the topiary’s size and the number of plants you use. Most gardeners use a topiary frame or form to get the look they desire. Visit your local garden center to find out more about the best plants for your topiary.

Topiaries with vining plants

When using vining plants, you’ll need to get a topiary form to encourage the vines to grow in the shape you’ve chosen. English ivy, Boston ivy and periwinkle are popular choices for vining topiaries. To start, fill the form with sphagnum moss to create a full look. Then, plant the vine around the form, allowing the vines to grow upward. You may need several plants to achieve a full look. As the vines grow, train them by wrapping and attaching them around the form with plant ties or wires and pruning regularly.

Topiaries with shrubs

Start small when making a shrub topiary. Choose a variety such as holly, boxwood or laurel. Look for dwarf varieties that will stay compact and won’t need much pruning. If you’re looking to create a pyramid or geometrical shape, select shrubs with tall growth habits such as yews or hollies. For statuesque spirals and cones, choose arborvitae. Beginners will want to use topiary frames to sculpt their designs, which will also help when deciding what needs to be pruned. To train and prune your topiary, you’ll need a clear vision of how you want the topiary to look. Pruning encourages new and bushier growth, but don’t cut off more than 3 inches in the areas you want to trim back.

Fertilizing topiaries

Help topiaries reach their full potential as quickly as they can by using Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus when planting. Follow-up with Espoma’s Grow! liquid fertilizer. Grow! encourages root growth and deep green foliage that will surely delight. For acid-loving plants like hollies, use Holly-tone for best results.

Remember that topiaries take time and so be patient. Your time, maintenance and patience will pay off!

Nosey Rosy – Guide to a Rose Garden

Rose gardens are one of the most classic pieces you can add to your landscape. With some love and regular upkeep, they can last for years.

Roses bring beauty by either becoming the statement plant or a fine complement to focal point. You can use roses to cover up an unsightly area or introduce a new fragrance, they are incredibly diverse. Roses are offered in a large variety of colors and patterns to match anyone’s need.

When choosing the best rose for you garden, be sure to know how much sun the area gets. Check the tags on the rose plants to ensure you are picking up ones that will thrive in yard. If you aren’t sure what to choose, your local garden center can help choose for your space and your region!

Planting Tips for Rose Gardens:

  1. Plant Time. Wait until after the last frost to get your roses in the ground. Most roses want to establish roots in the spring before the weather gets too hot.
  2. Space is Key. When planting, dig a hole deep and wide enough to accommodate the roots. If you are planting more than one bush, keep at least 3 feet in between each plant. Add Bio-tone Starter Plus to promote bigger blooms.
  3. Feed Often. Give roses Espoma’s Organic Rose Tone to help keep roses vibrant and looking their best. Feed regularly as described.
  4. Watering Deep. Roses don’t do well in drought conditions as they need a good deep drink often. At least once per week water about an inch deep and evenly around the plant. It does better as the soil is even throughout. Try to get the water around the roots and not the leaves.
  5. As your roses start to bloom, be sure to keep up with the maintenance. If the blooms are looking dead, remove the spent flowers. This will give the bush extra energy to produce bigger and fuller blooms. Roses will continue to flower throughout summer, so don’t be afraid to deadhead into August.

Watch as Laura from Garden Answer plants her own roses!

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!

Spring Cleaning for Your Garden

Spring has arrived! Nothing beats walking outdoors to the sunshine and a beautiful landscape. Now is the time to give your lawn and landscape the TLC it needs. After winter, plants might be in rough shape. Don’t worry, your garden will be back up and running in no time!

From weeding to fertilizing, there’s always something to do when spring rolls around.

When updating your landscape, there may be a few things you need to pick up. Head to your local garden center to find everything you need.

5 Ways to Spruce Up Your Spring Landscape:

Prune

Trim back trees or shrubs that need a little push. It’s best to do this early, before new shoots start to come in. Be sure to carefully remove branches and flowers that have been damaged by the winter storms. You don’t want the branch doing more damage later on.

Soil

Prepare your soil for new growth and new plantings. Sometimes that means getting all new soil like Espoma’s Organic Garden Soil or it could mean freshening up the soil you have by adding Espoma’s Organic Bio-Tone Starter Plus.

Plan

Evaluate your garden. Take the mature size of your plants into account. What holes do you have? If any of your plants need to be caged or staked, planning now will allow you to plant around it without disturbing your growing seedlings later on. Plus it will set top heavy plants up for success, especially tomatoes, which bend easily.

Fix Uneven Ground

Rain, wind and snow can wreak havoc on your landscape. When the ground is wet and people walk through it can even cause compaction, which makes for poor growing conditions. But with a little love it will be ready to host your gorgeous garden once again.

Mulch

After planting, provide beds with a fresh layer of mulch. Mulching is the perfect way to get your garden off to a great start. Not only does it help settle in the roots, but it will provide warmth, hold in moisture, suppress weeds, encourage growth, and make your beds look all around beautiful.

 

Not quite ready to get in the garden? Learn how to fertilize Houseplants with Homestead Brooklyn!

 

Spring Container Plants that Pop

Enjoying fresh air, sunshine and beautiful containers filled with spring blooms is a sure sign warmer days are on their way.  Adding a spring container is an easy way to refresh your porch, patio or outdoor area.

Get started by finding the perfect planter. Once nighttime temperatures remain above freezing, not dipping below, 30°F, you’re reading to plant.

Before planting, check to make sure the container has drainage holes at the bottom. When you’re ready to plant, use Espoma’s organic potting mix to fill the container and then mixing in Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus with the soil to give it that extra oomph.

Remember to use a “thriller, filler and spiller” when planting new pots. Put the tallest growing plant in the middle, or at the back. Surround it with smaller plants and finally, those that spill over the edge.

Combine any of the below plants for a look that pops!

Pick Perennials

English daisies, hellebores, pansies, primroses and bergenia make for good choices for early perennials.  Find out if a plant can’t tolerate the cool temperatures of early spring by referencing the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

Think bulbs

There’s still a way to get those beautiful tulip and daffodil blooms even if you didn’t plant them in the fall. Just stop by your local garden center to pick up already-blooming bulbs place them into your container for an instant pick me up.

Enjoy Edibles

Choose plants that do double duty. Plant a mix of greens including spinach, kale, red and green lettuce and more. A container filled with spring greens will provide healthy salads while also brightening up the landscape. Add in viola blooms for a fun touch of color and don’t forget that herbs will help to create texture.  Use Espoma’s liquid Grow! to give plants a healthy dose of nutrients.

 

Guide to Starting Root Vegetable Seeds

Who’s ready to start digging in the garden? Us too.

Root vegetable crops can often be planted as soon as the soil has warmed. They’re an easy addition to start your vegetable garden. Start your seedlings now and you‘ll be able to brag about your homegrown root vegetables at the first summer BBQ of the year.

In order to be successful, plant your seeds after springs last frost date according to your region. Stop by your local garden center to pick up your seeds and supplies, soon!

Here’s how to start root vegetable seeds:

  1. Pick Your Soil

Soil for root vegetables is important as they will grow around anything intrusive buried. That will lead to deformed vegetables. They grow best in a deep, loose soil that retains moisture yet is well-drained, such as Espoma’s Organic Garden Soil.  Choosing the right soil from the beginning will set up your crop for success. Prepare bed, loosen compacted soil and mix in Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus, to keep roots strong.

Plant seeds after spring’s last frost date according to your region.

  1. Start Seeds

Sow your seeds directly into your soil. Follow instructions on the seed packets to see how deep and far apart to plant. Cover with soil, press down and lightly water.

  1. Water Regularly

Seeds need to stay moist while they germinate. Root crops need about 1 inch of water a week. Light waterings that only wet the surface will cause shallow root development and reduce the quality of crops.

  1. Feed Me

When the vegetables start to grow bigger, fuller leaves, give them a hand with Espoma’s Garden-Tone to help provide the nutrients needed for delicious vegetables.

  1. Thin plants

Some root plants like beets or radishes will benefit from thinning. Cut off the tops of weaker seedlings at the soil line when seedlings have 1-2 sets of true leaves.You can use many leaves as a tasty additions to salads. If you pull seedlings out of the ground, it is not recommended to transplant long rooted vegetables, like carrots and turnips, since the disturbance will cause roots to fork.

 

Want more veggies? Try this DIY vegetable pallet planter.