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Potting SoilGrow! Plant Food

How to start a kid-friendly vegetable garden

There’s a natural connection between children and the outdoors. And there’s nothing more special than caring for the Earth and enjoying Mother Nature in the family backyard. Toddlers, children and teens can explore a new hobby when they get outside and get growing.

This month, we’ve partnered with The Edible Schoolyard to encourage kids and families everywhere to grow their own food.

Here are our 5 tips to get kids growing.

5 Steps to creating a kids vegetable garden

1. Let them pick the plants.

“We’re growing broccoli and cabbage!” said no enthused child ever. Take a trip to your local grocery store or farmer’s market and let the kids pick out their favorite fruits and veggies. Research which ones will grow best in your yard and get ready to plant.

Choose to start seeds or purchase transplants for your new garden bed. Help kids understand what types of plants will thrive in your yard by asking them to pick out the sunniest and shadiest spots in the yard.

2. Prep Your Bed

Before planting, start at the beginning of the process by explaining the uses for different garden tools.  Encourage kids to pick the spots for their new plants. Ask them to check the plant tags for information on spacing and sunlight and then determine the best spot.  Be sure to bring a tape measure.

3. Plant

It’s a well-known fact that most children love digging holes. Once they’ve accomplished that task, it’s time to plant. Demonstrate how to gently remove plants from the container and loosen up the roots before planting.

4. Add nutrients and water

Just like people, plants need healthy nutrients to grow big and strong. Choose an organic fertilizer such Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus  to give plants the boost they need.

5. Create a schedule

Get kids involved in maintaining the garden by creating a monthly chart that includes days to water and feed. Chart when plants should be ready for harvest and create a countdown for your favorite plants.

Want to help? Be sure to Like our Facebook page and follow along!

Top Seeds to Sow in March

It’s our favorite time of year again, spring is here! This marks the start of prime time gardening season as the weather begins to warm up.

Now’s the perfect time to put on some gardening gloves and repot indoor plants or start fresh with new seeds outdoors. Either way, March is the time to get a head start on rejuvenating your outdoor garden to ensure your harvest is ready by mid-spring or early-summer.

Beets

Healthy and delicious, the best time to plant beets is right now. They’ll harvest quickly, leaving us with an early summer treat. Plus, beets are known to lower blood pressure, fight inflammation and they’re rich in nutrients and fiber.

Broccoli

One of our favorite greens, broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse. It contains Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Fiber and Folate. This cool-weather crop can germinate in soil with temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to keep the soil wet, though, because this plant is thirsty.

Cabbage

Whether leafy green or perfectly purple, this annual vegetable is perfect for colder temperatures. Pests love Cabbage, so be sure to keep an eye on it. Try using natural repellant methods instead of harmful chemicals to keep your cabbage healthy and safe.

Carrots

Why plant orange carrots when you can choose from the entire rainbow? Choose from purple, black, red, white or yellow. Not only are they good for eyesight, carrots are also one of the best plants for reducing the risk of Cardiovascular Disease.

Lettuce

This true cool-weather plant is actually stunted by hot temperatures. Perfect for early spring gardens, lettuce requires light watering since its leaves will develop quickly. And, don’t forget to use organic mulch to conserve water. Once true leaves grow, it is time to harvest the crop before it becomes bitter and tough.

Spinach

Perfect for salads and sides, spinach loves the spring weather. This green is extremely sensitive to excessive heat. Spinach is fast-growing, forming flowers and developing seeds in no time at all.

Onions

Onions have disease fighting power and high nutritional value, making them one of the healthiest vegetables to eat. Onions can endure all of the hardships that come with early spring weather. Note that this crop will not be as fruitful if temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Peas

Sweet peas, snow peas and snap peas are perfect for planting in March. They’re easy to grow and so delicious.

Give seeds a boost this spring by using Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus!

Fall is for Planting: Trees

The best time to plant a tree or shrub is in the fall. A well-placed tree will cool your home in summer and block cold winter winds. Not to mention that the aesthetics can increase your home’s curb appeal and add value.

Even though you may be prepping for winter, you can still set your new tree or shrub up for success by planting it in a spot where it can thrive for generations to come.

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Decide on the right tree for your yard and needs before you plant. Choose a tree based on the characteristics you want — shade, wildlife habitat, privacy or to block the wind. Check out the below six steps from Hillermann Nursery and Florist to start planting this fall.

6 Easy Steps to Plant a Tree or Shrub

You’ve found the right tree and the perfect spot, now it’s time for the fun part. It doesn’t take much to plant a tree — just a shovel, tape measure and hose. To help your new tree survive, you’ll need to put in extra effort. Use these tips to help your new tree to grow.

  1. Size up your yard for the perfect spot. Take the amount of sunlight, ground vegetation and hazards like wires or pipes into consideration. Plant at least 15 feet away from your house, sidewalks, driveways and other trees. Allocate enough space in the yard for your new tree to grow. Consider its mature height, crown spread, and root space. A fully grown tree will take up much more space than your tiny sapling. Look up to make sure a fully grown tree won’t interfere with anything overhead.
  2. Start digging. Dig a hole twice as wide and the same depth as the root ball. Then, arrange the tree at the same depth it was growing before and fill half the hole with compost or Espoma Organic All Purpose Garden Soil.
  3. Give trees a boost. Mix in an organic fertilizer such as Bio-tone Starter Plus with the soil. For a trunk diameter up to 1.5 inches, use 4 pounds of Tree-tone. If the trunk is 2-3”, use 4 pounds of Tree-tone per inch. So, if your tree trunk is 2.5 inches, use 10 pounds of Tree-tone. And, for tree trunks over 3 inches, use 5 pounds of Espoma Tree-Tone per inch.
  4. Stake the tree. Use two opposing, flexible ties to stake the tree. Place ties on the lower half of the tree to allow trunk movement.
  5. Help your new tree become established by watering it weekly for the first two years.
  6. Finish with mulch. Use 2 ½ -3 inches of shredded hardwood or leaf mulch around the plant. Do not over mulch up to the trunk or “volcano” mulch. This can kill the tree.

Planting a tree is an investment in your home and your community that will pay off for years to come. To learn about fertilizing established trees, watch this Garden Answer video.

Transplant Hydrangeas in Fall

You’ve had an amazing hydrangeas season. But by now, they may have outgrown their spot in your yard. Or, they might need a new spot to thrive.

Luckily, it’s easy to transplant hydrangeas.

Change the look of your yard or give hydrangeas more space to grow with these simple steps from English Gardens.

Care for hydrangeas by planting them in the right spot.

7 Steps to Transplanting Hydrangeas

1. Transplant at the right time. Plan to transplant before the ground freezes over. Wait until hydrangeas have finished flowering or gone dormant for the year before moving them.

2. Find a new home. Pick a place for the hydrangea that doesn’t receive too much sun. Hydrangeas prefer semi-shade. Make sure your location can accommodate the size of the rootball.

3. Dig carefully. Use your shovel to make cuts around the hydrangea before actually digging it up. When pulling the plant up, remove with it as much of the rootball as possible. The rootball, dense with fibrous roots and soil, may be very heavy, so enlist help if you need it.

4. Plant right. Move the plant to its new home. When digging the hole for the transplant, be sure to leave enough room for the rootball. Add Bio-Tone Starter Plus to help reduce transplant shock and establish roots. After the plant is moved, fill in the hole with Espoma Organic All-Purpose Garden Soil and compost.

hydrangea care, hydrangea color, growing hydrangas

5. Give them a drink. Dormant transplanted hydrangeas need a deep watering. Water thoroughly once transplanted using a hose, rather than a watering can or sprinkler, to quench the hydrangeas’ thirst.

6. Watch closely. After transplanting, pay careful attention to the next two summers. Hydrangeas need plenty of water during these hot months. If the leaves wilt, but the soil seems moist enough, mist leaves. Fertilize hydrangeas twice each year with Espoma’s Holly-tone, once in early spring and a half feeding in fall.

7. Mulch. To prevent the rootball from drying out, apply mulch to the base of the hydrangeas.

Have any tips for transplanting hydrangeas? Let us know in the comment section!

Also, check out the complete hydrangea-growing guide for more information on making the most of your hydrangea garden!

English Gardens ranks as the 13th largest independent garden center in the United States.  The family-owned business was named the 2015 IGC Retailer of the Year from the IGC (Independent Garden Center) Magazine.  The award is presented annually to a garden center demonstrating notable leadership and innovation.  The award was established in memory of Dick Morey, founder of IGC Magazine and an advocate for the independent garden center industry.

Founded in 1954, English Gardens offers top quality products, including plants and flowers for indoors and outdoors, gardening supplies, patio furniture, garden décor, landscape design and installation, as well as the area’s largest selection of Christmas trees and decorations.

July Garden To-Do

Lazy days of summer? Think again! July can be a busy month in the garden.

While watering and deadheading may seem like tedious tasks, harvesting and enjoying the bounty are the reward for months of hard work.

Here are seven things to do in the garden this month.

summer gardening tips, garden checklist, summer garden

1. Follow the Watering Rule

Follow the primary rule of summer watering to ensure garden plants get the right amount of water. Water thoroughly and deeply in the morning by making pools in the soil around the roots. Deep watering allows roots to grow deeper and stronger, making them less likely to dry up and die.

When you water will depend on your weather. Check dryness by touching the soil. It should be moist at least 1” below the surface.

Water containers and hanging baskets daily until water runs from the drainage holes.

2.Pick, Eat and Replant

You can finally enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Harvest tomatoes, peppers, peas, carrots, cauliflower, beans, broccoli, leeks, onions, eggplants, cucumbers, squash, Brussels sprouts, kale, lettuce, melons, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, pumpkins and rutabagas.

Harvest tree and vine fruits when they are able to be gently plucked or twisted from their stems. Berries, apples and stone fruits should all be ready for picking in July.

Pick, dry and freeze herbs for use later in the year.

Sow seeds of cool-season crops such as greens and root vegetables for harvesting throughout August and September. Plant garlic for harvest next season.

Prune tomato suckers weekly and cut off any leaves growing below the lowest ripening fruit trusses to improve air circulation and prevent diseases. Thin fruit trees for a more robust harvest.

3. Plants Need to Eat, too

Continue to feed hanging baskets, container gardens and faded annuals with liquid fertilizer Bloom! every 2 to 4 weeks.

Vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers are heavy feeders. Continue to feed every 2 weeks with organic fertilizers Tomato-tone or Garden-tone.

Feed roses monthly through the summer with Rose-tone.

Houseplants are actively growing now and will benefit from monthly feedings of Grow!.

summer gardening tips, garden checklist, summer garden

4. Continue to Create a Safe Paws Lawn

Using an organic lawn food, as well as organic mulch will eliminate the hazards that chemical fertilizers, pesticides and synthetic mulches present to you, your family and pets. July is the time to feed your lawn with the summer revitalizer from our annual feeding program.

Water lawn regularly, slowly and deeply. Mow to 3″ to protect from summer heat.

5.Keep an Eye out for Pests

Watch for insect or disease damage as the weather gets hotter and plants become more stressed.

Beetles, aphids, slugs, snails and spider mites are just a few of the pests that visit your garden in summer. For best solutions ask your local garden center for suggestions and consider the Earth-tone Controls.

Keep an eye out for powdery mildew. Remove any affected leaves to prevent further spread.

6. Weed, weed, weed

Clear weeds regularly, as they fight your plants for nutrients and water. Plus, you’ll want to pull before they have a chance to flower and go to seed. Otherwise, you’ll fight even more weeds next season.

Cover freshly weeded beds with a layer of compost or mulch to conserve water and blanket weeds reducing their spreading.

summer gardening tips, garden checklist, summer garden

7. Prune and Deadhead

Prune summer flowering shrubs as soon as the blossoms fade. Deadhead annuals to promote more growth. Pinch fall blooming flowers such as coneflower and asters in mid-July to promote a fall garden full of color.

Try to hold off on planting anything new until the fall as the hot temperatures and dry conditions can strain young roots. And you’ll benefit because most stores  offer major end of season sales. If you do plant or transplant, make sure to fill the hole with Bio-tone starter plus and keep well-watered.

Bonus: Enjoy! Take time to slow down and enjoy your garden with friends and family. We sure will be!

Plant Hydrangeas to Get the Best Blooms

Large, beautiful hydrangeas are a great addition to any landscape. Their bold colors make them perfect for freshly cut or dried flowers. Getting off to the right start in the right location is the difference between a hydrangea bush that blooms for years and one that never does.

Get the beautiful blooms you desire with these hydrangea planting tips.

Care for hydrangeas by planting them in the right spot.

Where should I plant my hydrangea? Choose a spot with moist, well-drained soil. Hydrangeas can grow from 4’ to 12’ in height depending on the variety, so plan accordingly. Most hydrangeas benefit from some shade, especially in hot climates. Too much shade means your hydrangea may not grow flowers.

Check the plant tag to find out how many hours of sun your hydrangea should be getting per day. Panicle hydrangeas tolerate more sun than do other species. And if you live in a region where it gets seriously hot, your hydrangea will need more shade than those grown in colder zones. Hydrangeas in southern climates especially need frequent watering to tolerate that stress.

If you’ve noticed your hydrangea has stopped blooming in recent years, it may be time to evaluate the location. Make sure hydrangeas are still receiving enough daily light and check the growth of nearby trees. Consider moving the hydrangea to a sunnier spot.

hydrangea care, hydrangea color, growing hydrangas

Get Ready to Plant. Once you’ve found the perfect spot, dig a hole twice as large as the hydrangea’s container. Mix in an organic starter plant food, such as Bio-tone Starter Plus, to keep roots strong. Add 1” of compost or Espoma Organic All-purpose Garden Soil to help with nutrients and drainage. Place the hydrangea in the hole at about the same height it was in the container, spreading its roots wide. Backfill the hole with soil and top with 2-3” of mulch.

Water Well. After you plant, water the hydrangea until a puddle forms. Water twice a week for a month. Then water deeply once a week until fall.

The Finishing Touch. Feed blue hydrangeas with Holly-tone to keep the soil acidic. Otherwise, opt for Flower-tone. For the best hydrangea care, feed 2-3 times throughout the growing season, which is spring until fall.

Learn all of our hydrangea secrets in our hydrangea growing guide.

Grow Scrumptious Tomatoes in Easy Containers

True love is biting into a juicy tomato you’ve just picked off the vine. Even if space is limited, you can still grow delicious tomatoes in pots.

Tomatoes grown in portable containers are just as tasty and satisfying as garden grown. Plus, containers are versatile and can easily be moved from one spot to another to suite your gardening needs.

It takes just a few minutes to plant and maintain for a summer of delicious fruit.

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Make Space for Tomatoes with These Easy Planting Tips

Growing tomatoes in containers is easy. Tomatoes just need soil, sun and a little care.

Whether you live in an apartment or farm, containers are the perfect solution when space is limited or soil is tough to work.

1. Start by choosing a sunny patio, driveway, walkway, stairway or deck. Tomatoes need 6-8 hours of full sun a day.

2. Pick a pot big enough for your variety. A container 18 inches or larger in diameter with drainage holes will work. Tomatoes can grow 6-8 feet tall and 2 feet across. Place drainage material (like gravel) in the bottom of the pot before you add soil to provide air pockets so roots don’t drown.

3. Select the right tomato variety for containers. While any variety will perform, determinate varieties such as Patio Princess, Baxter’s Bush cherry tomato and Balcony are great choices.

4. Fill container 3/4 full with Espoma’s organic potting mix.

5. Add an organic starter plant food, such as Bio-tone Starter Plus, to keep roots strong.

6. Moisten mix slightly.

7. Add tomato plants. Sit the plant in the hole so its lowest leaves are below the soil level. Pinch off lower leaves.

8. Fill with potting soil.

9. Mix compost into the top few inches of your container.

10. Place container in a sunny spot that’s easy to access so you can regularly monitor plants.

11. Water tomatoes generously for the next few days. Then, give tomatoes about 2” of water at their base each week.

12. Add stakes or cages to your container to keep tomatoes from growing out of control and to help prevent diseases.

In addition to watering, feed tomatoes with Espoma’s Tomato-tone every other week. Organically fertilizing tomatoes with Tomato-tone produces larger, plumper tomatoes all season.

To learn more about choosing, planting and caring for tomatoes, visit our organic tomato guide.

Simple Steps to Planting Tomatoes

Seeing red tomatoes peek through the green leaves in your garden is a true sign that summer is here. The first harvest of the season provides opportunities to finally try those delicious garden-to-table recipes.

Tomatoes are a staple in every organic garden. And growing them doesn’t have to be difficult.

Start planting today and you’ll have a delicious harvest in no time.

tomato-tone, growing tomatoes, organic gardening

Start Growing

1. Choose a few of your favorite tomato varieties and get ready to plant!

2. Choose a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight a day.

3. Check the plant tag to see how far apart plants should be.

4. Dig holes larger than the tomatoes’ original container.

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

6. Mix in an organic starter plant food, such as Bio-tone Starter Plus, to keep roots strong.

7. Fill the hole with amended soil or Espoma’s Organic Garden Soil.

8. Once established, feed tomatoes by mixing in 3 tablespoons of Espoma’s Tomato-tone per plants. Organic 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.

tomato-tone, growing tomatoes, organic gardening

Keys to Success

Stake tomatoes now to increase air circulation and sunlight exposure.

Support plants with a tomato cage, trellis or container. Stakes work, too. Hammer 6-8” stakes into the ground 3-6” away from the plant. When tomatoes begin blooming, tie them to the stake.

Water tomatoes generously for the first few days after planting. Then, give tomatoes 2” of water at their roots per week.

Feed tomatoes with organic Tomato-tone monthly for larger, plumper tomatoes all season.

Add 2-3” of mulch in 3-5 weeks to reduce water consumption.

If you’re looking for more info on tomatoes, such as growing heirloom tomatoeshybrid tomatoes or non-red tomatoes, please visit our Organic Tomato Gardening Guide for more tips and tricks.

Tried and True: The Best Way to Plant Hydrangeas

Lush, lavish blooms you’ll instantly love! Hydrangeas are like the little black dress of the garden. They’re chic and always in style. Though, hydrangeas will deliver way more wow with their color-changing flowers.

Plant one this season to enjoy its bloom in the yard — or in a vase!

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Say Hi to Hydrangeas with These 5 Easy Planting Steps

Beautiful flowers. Many hydrangea colors. Little care. Super disease and pest resistant.

What’s not to love about growing hydrangeas?

Pick Perfect. Big? Small? Low-maintenance? Color-changing, perhaps? There are SO many wonderful hydrangeas to choose from. Find the perfect one for you here. While hydrangeas typically prefer sun in the morning and shade in the afternoon, there are full-sun hydrangeas.

hydrangea care, hydrangea color, growing hydrangas

Dial Mild. While you can plant hydrangeas at any time, the best time is spring or fall. If you plant in the middle of the summer, they’re going to need lots of attention to survive.

Place and Plant. Once you’ve found the perfect spot (ideally with well-draining soil,) dig a hole twice the width of the hydrangea’s container. Mix in an organic starter plant food, such as Bio-tone Starter Plus, to keep roots strong. Add 1” of compost or Espoma Organic All-purpose garden Soil to help with drainage. Then arrange the hydrangea at the same height it was growing, spread its roots wide and fill the hole with soil. Finish by adding 2-3” of mulch.

Water Well. Right after planting, water the hydrangea until a puddle forms. Continue to water your hydrangea twice a week until it’s established. Then water deeply weekly — or when you see its leaves or flowers wilting.

How ‘Bout Holly. If you’re growing blue hydrangeas, feed with Holly-tone to keep the soil acidic. Otherwise, opt for Flower-tone. For the best hydrangea care, feed 2-3 times throughout the growing season, which is from spring until fall.

Say hello to your new hydrangeas! While they look handsome in the yard, they’ll look even finer as cut flowers inside.    

To learn more about hydrangea care, visit our growing guide. Want to change your pink hydrangea blue? Click here.

 

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