Posts

Seven Steps for a Fantastic Fall Garden

 

Fall: it’s the season of transition. The weather is cooling down, the leaves are changing colors, and the air is getting crisp and breezy. While you might be thinking it’s time to pack up the gardening supplies until Spring, there’s no reason the growing has to stop yet! With this seasonal shift comes perfect weather for establishing new plants, great deals at garden stores, and a decrease in pests. In fact, this special season offers plenty of opportunities for preserving, planting, and preparing. Make the most of this time with these seven tips, and get back in the garden! 

 

     1. Don’t Forget Your Veggies

Don’t let the cooler weather fool you, there’s still time for growth. Broccoli, carrots, lettuce, and kale… fall is the season to plant these beloved vegetables. If your vegetable garden needs a boost, use our famous Organic Garden-tone or Grow!

 

 

2. Success with Succession

Maximize your harvest all throughout fall with succession planting. Harvest one crop, then replant one with a shorter maturity date, plant companion crops, stagger your seeding so harvest arrives in intervals, or plant a crop with varying maturity dates (broccoli, for example). Try out one of these methods and keep growing with our Garden-tone

 

 

     3. Bring in the Big Guys

Looking for a bigger way to upgrade your garden this fall? Plant trees and shrubs while the soil is still warm, use our Organic Tree-tone to nurture their development, and give them a chance to lay roots before winter settles in. Just be sure to keep them well-watered and protect those roots with mulch!

 

     4. Free Fertilizer 

Have you tried using those fall leaves to your advantage? Thick piles of leaves can be a lot for your lawn to tolerate, but mowing over what’s fallen creates smaller pieces that break down in the soil easier. Time to tackle that leaf pile and get your lawn some natural nutrients!

     

     5. Allium On the Way

Patience is a virtue… and so is planting ahead! Give your garlic, onions, and shallots a jump-start by planting them after the fall equinox. With full sun, rich soil, and crisp fall weather, your allium vegetables have plenty of time to get rooted before weathering the frost. Check out this article here for more tips on allium planting! 

     

     6. Take Cover

Mustard, peas, and clover are great cover crops to plant in the fall. Not only do cover crops prevent erosion, they can create better, richer soil for gardening. Let them grow throughout the fall and winter, then turn into the soil in the spring to enjoy the nutritious benefits of your labor.

     

     7. Winterize, Winterize, Winterize

Think of it as a gift to your future self. Keep up with weeding, winterize your watering system, and give your lawn a much-needed refresh with our Organic Fall Winterizer. These little chores make all the difference when getting your garden through upcoming winter frosts.

 

There’s so much in store this season, and with these tips, you can fall in love with fall gardening. Have your own must-do or want to share a photo of autumn in action? 

*****

Can’t get enough? 

Visit our Facebook page

Or hop on our YouTube Page

Tag us on Instagram

 

Featured Products:

 

Beginners Guide to Greenhouses

A Beginner’s Guide to Greenhouses

There comes a time in every plant parent’s life when we start to get curious and excited about having a dedicated space for all of our plants. If you’re an outdoor gardener, the promise of a greenhouse for seed starts and overwintering plants is even more exciting!

If you feel like you’re ready to take the leap of installing a greenhouse – whether it’s a small kit, or a large structure in your backyard – consider this blog a beginner’s guide to building the greenhouse of your dreams!

This blog is inspired by Episode 151 of Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast, where host Maria Failla interviewed Patrick Grubbs, founder of Greenhouse Info

Do Greenhouses Need Permits? 

Before you even begin shopping for greenhouses, you need to consider licensing and permitting. In the US, we have two authorities you should keep in mind when you’re building a greenhouse: zoning regulations and building codes. Almost always, you can simply contact your local government office and they’ll be able to tell you all of the required permits for an accessory building with a permanent foundation. 

The one exception? If you’re getting a small greenhouse (or a cold frame) where you don’t need to set up a foundation, those generally aren’t regulated since they aren’t really considered permanent structures. Usually, these are cheaper greenhouse kits that cost about $500 or less. 

What’s the Best Greenhouse Construction Material?

Here are the pros and cons to each type of greenhouse material to help you choose the best option for your space. 

Glass is a classic greenhouse material. 

  • Pros: it lasts forever and is easy to maintain. It’s a great long-term option for permanent greenhouses.
  • Cons: it’s expensive, fragile, and not a great insulator in general. Insulation is really important for greenhouses, especially if you’re in a Northern climate. 

Polycarbonate is one of the most common greenhouse materials. 

  • Pros: it’s strong, durable, and much lighter than glass. 
  • Cons: it starts to yellow and degrade after about 10 years, reducing the amount of light to your plant. Opt for the UV resistant choice to help it last longer. 

Acrylic is another common greenhouse material (brand names like plexiglass). 

  • Pros: strong and durable
  • Cons: fairly expensive and heavy, contracts with temperature fluctuations so you may need a special mounting solution to attach it. 

Polyethylene is another plastic greenhouse material. 

  • Pros: can buy rolls of plastic to replace material
  • Cons: flimsy plastic, likely only used as a temporary material as it’s really only good for one season

Should I use a Greenhouse Kit or DIY My Own Greenhouse?

For a beginner greenhouse hobbyist, a kit is a great option. It’s more affordable, has instructions, and great to start with. A smaller 6’ x 8’ kit that doesn’t need a foundation is a good option and will take a few hours to put together with a group of helpers. Once you get into more of the reclaimed windows and doors for a do-it-yourself greenhouse, carpentry skills are much more of a necessity. 

If you want a permanent structure with a foundation and electricity, it might be time to look into other options outside of kits. This kind of project could require a backhoe, 6’ holes, and electrical wiring to get it up and running. 

How Much Should I Pay for a Beginner Greenhouse? 

A standard 6’ by 8’ greenhouse kit is one of the cheapest starter greenhouses you can get. These kits will probably run you about $500 to $600 for a new kit. Pro tip: check Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist for used greenhouses–you’ll often find some great options for a fraction of the cost. 

When you consider the extra components you need to buy, like fans and heaters, it’ll probably end up costing you around a thousand dollars for a very entry-level greenhouse that will satisfy.

What Direction Should My Greenhouse Face? 

The point of a greenhouse is to capture the heat from the sunlight and maximize the exposure your plants get. The best way to do that in the Northern hemisphere is to align the roof of your greenhouse going East to West. That will ensure you get the maximum amount of sun in both Winter and Summer. Keep in mind that this is the reverse if you’re in the Southern hemisphere.

 

What Kind of Floor Should My Greenhouse Have? 

The primary consideration for your greenhouse flooring is drainage. If you have a big greenhouse, you might have a foundation underneath like a concrete slab. And in this case, you need to be sure that any water you pour in your greenhouse can get out.

If you don’t have a foundation, you still have the same consideration regarding drainage, it’s just much easier to handle. It can be as simple as concrete pavers with gravel in between. That provides a flat surface, it’s easy to clean and walk on, and it’s stable. Since there’s space in between the pavers, there’s room for water to drain into the ground.

Greenhouse Ventilation Requirements

Greenhouses are super effective at their jobs. They can raise the temperature anywhere from five to 30 degrees Fahrenheit greater than the ambient temperature. You could very easily cook your plants if you don’t have proper ventilation. 

The first thing you need to do for all of your greenhouse air conditioning needs is to calculate the total volume of your greenhouse. Multiply the length times the width times 1.5 of the height, which accounts for the volume that isn’t really there at the top. This number will tell you the cubic feet of air in your greenhouse. 

You’re going to reference this number whenever you’re looking at ventilation or heating options. You want to try to cycle all of the air in your greenhouse in one minute. If you have a 10’ by 10’ by 10’ greenhouse, that equals 1,000 cubic feet of air. You then need to find an exhaust fan that is rated to push 1,000 cubic feet of air per minute. 

Greenhouse Fans

There are a couple types of fans for greenhouses. First is a shop fan or a desk fan, which works for pushing air around, but it’s not the most effective way to cool a greenhouse. 

And second is an exhaust fan that’s set into the walls of your greenhouse and moves air from inside to outside and vice versa. Usually these fans come in pairs so you can put one on each side of the greenhouse to circulate air efficiently. 

Greenhouse Vents

There are many different kinds of greenhouse vents, but the best options are solar vents. They have wax inside of them that expands and contracts when it gets warm, which automatically opens and closes the vents with no electricity. Most greenhouse kits you buy probably won’t have any ventilation built in, so make sure to factor that into the cost of building a greenhouse. 

Ventilation is a necessity for a greenhouse in order to control the humidity, temperature, and air flow. Plan to incorporate fans and vents for proper greenhouse ventilation. 

Managing Humidity and Mold in Your Greenhouse

Ventilation is your number one defense against humidity. A trick to dealing with root rot or mold is to have airflow underneath your pots.

Many greenhouses have plant benches and the bottom of the bench is actually a grate so air and water can freely flow through. This is important because it means the air accesses the plant roots, which is where plants take in most of their oxygen. Having that additional airflow dries out the potting media faster, which will help prevent mold and rot. 

What’s the Ideal Greenhouse Temperature and Humidity?

A good greenhouse temperature is around 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, but it all depends on what you’re growing. Opt for low humidity, especially in Summer, so temperatures are more bearable. 

To really control the temperature in your greenhouse, try a remote thermometer. It makes monitoring the temperature much easier, especially when dealing with snow and freezing outdoor temperatures. You can also plug all of your appliances into a smart plug bar. The bar allows you to connect to Bluetooth using an app, which helps you control temperature, light, and humidity from your phone. 

3 Beginner Greenhouse Tips from Patrick

Tip 1: A greenhouse isn’t necessarily the next step for improving your gardening skills. It’s a whole different category. Unfortunately growing in a greenhouse alone won’t make your plants healthier and happier: there’s a learning curve. Make sure you dial in the right parameters to optimize growth in your greenhouse to get those happy plants. 

Tip 2: You will deal with pests in greenhouses, but you have options. Greenhouses can actually give you enough space for a dedicated quarantine section of insect-ridden plants. You can use a corner shelf with all of your remedy supplies, far away from other plants. Put a sticky note with the date you placed it on the shelf, then transition it to the rest of your plants after about a month. 

You can also implement predatory insects in your greenhouse. Some great examples are ladybugs, praying mantises, lacewings, and parasitic wasps. Just make sure you’re not purchasing the invasive ladybug

Tip 3: If you’re not in a place in your life where you expect to be there for a while, then a greenhouse probably isn’t the best option. It’s a big investment in terms of money, time, and space. Many of them are at least a 10 year commitment unless you have a way to transport it. You still have options, like a cold frame or something a bit smaller like a grow tent.

To learn more about greenhouses, check out Patrick’s website Greenhouse Info.

*****

About Bloom & Grow Radio Podcast

Bloom & Grow Radio Podcast helps people care for plants successfully and cultivate more joy in their lives. Host Maria Failla, a former plant killer turned happy plant lady, interviews experts on various aspects of plant care, and encourages listeners to not only care for plants, but learn to care for themselves along the way.

About Our Interviewee

Patrick Grubbs has a B.S. in Biology, where he fell in love with plants through his first botany class. He’s published aquatic ecology research and authored several books related to succulents and gardening pests. 

Patrick has spent a great deal of his career split between science communication and hands-on permaculture and ecology projects. His passion is teaching other people to enjoy plants and animals the same way he does.

​​Follow Patrick:

Website

Email

 

Video: Reusing Summer Pots for Fall Plants with Garden Answer!

 

Follow along as Laura from @GardenAnswer gives her outdoor plants a fall makeover. Reusing pots for your fall garden is quick and easy with the help of Espoma Organic Potting Mix!

 

 

Featured Products:

 

How to Use Succession Planting in Your Fall Garden

 

Did you finish harvesting your summer crops and find yourself wondering what to do next? There’s still plenty of time to get a fall and winter garden going before the first frost! Try planting one vegetable right as another one finishes. This is a process many gardeners use called succession planting and will maximize your harvest all season long. Here are four different ways to do it!


Harvest and replant


Go ahead and harvest your veggies that are ready to go. When you’re done, plant another set of vegetables with a shorter maturity date in that same plot in your garden. Replacing leafy greens with potatoes is a great example of this method.

 

Be sure to plan accordingly here! Growing based on maturity can be a little tricky if you aren’t planning for your region. Make sure to check the seed packet or plant tag to find out how long the plant will take to mature and what temperature in which it will grow best. Also be sure you have enough seeds to keep you going through the season.

 

Companion crops

 

This method involved planting two or more crops with varying maturity dates around each other. This way, even after you harvest the first crop, your garden will continue to flourish! Radishes next to cucumbers are a perfect example of this since radishes will be harvested before the cucumbers start to produce too much shade.

 

Remember to feed all your crops at their varying stages of growth to keep them moving along. Espoma’s Garden Tone will keep the soil rich in order for your crops to continue thriving as the weather gets colder. And don’t hesitate to pull plants that are reducing or ceasing harvest in order to make room for new crops!

 

Staggered crops

 

Try planting the same crop every few weeks in order not to be bombarded by the entire crop at once. For example, tomatoes and peas would work well in small batches throughout the entire season.

 

Just one crop

 

Lastly, you can always keep things simple by planting the same crop with different maturity dates. Seed packets will often display the days to maturity for you. Broccoli, for example, is a crop with various maturity dates.

 

Don’t forget that you can always start your seeds indoors in order to speed up the growing process outdoors! This allows you to harvest and quickly plant to keep your garden at an optimum level throughout the fall and winter season.

 

Ready to get out there and start succession planting? We can’t wait to see your endless harvests all season long! Get started by making a list of veggies it’s not too late to plant.

 

Featured Products:

 

Contain Your Excitement with 5 Great Annuals!

Download PDF

Gardeners can be Choosers

Let your imagination flow with possibilities, but keep a few things in mind. Think about sun, wind and shade requirements and where you’re going to place your plants. Consider flower color, texture & height – how they look alone and in combination. Ask yourself, is the plant compatible with other plants together in the same pot? It’s best to combine plants with similar needs, but sun-loving plants that grow above shade-loving will sometimes work out. The list of annuals ideal for containers is very long. In case you’re stuck, we’ve named 5 of our favorites to get you started.

5 Flowering Favorites

Fuschia – The name is also the color. This plant with lovely little bell-shaped flowers likes partial shade.

Gazania – Or African daisy. Daisy-shaped flowers come in a vivid color range featuring red, orange, yellow, white and pink and close at night. This annual wants full sun.

Begonias – From full sun to dense shade; flowers from spring to first frost in beautiful white, red or pink!

Portulaca – Can you say “hot and dry”? Those are the perfect full-sun conditions for these small, but fast growing annuals with 1″ flowers in white, red, orange, pink and yellow.

Verbena – These plants reach a size of six to ten inches. But don’t over-pamper them with excesses of anything. Full to partial sun. Verbena blooms in clusters of small flowers in shades of blue, mauve, white, pink or purple.

Growing Beautiful Annuals in Containers

If you think annuals are only for flowerbeds, you’re missing out. Wherever you grow annuals, they will reward you with beautiful colors, bright foliage, and soothing fragrances all season long. But when you plant them in containers, they provide even more benefits.

5 Reasons to Grow Annuals in Containers:

  1. Experiment with different types of plant combinations
  2. Get creative with what you plant them in
  3. Can move containers around to the ideal location
  4. It’s easy to do – even for beginners & kids!
  5. Perfect for those with limited gardening time or space

Choosing Containers:

There’s a lot of latitude when choosing a container for your annuals, but here are a few important things to think about:

  • Containers should complement the plant, not overwhelm or outshine it
  • Containers should be sturdy but not too heavy
  • They must have drainage holes. • In most cases, containers should be at least 6 inches deep. Taller flowers need deeper containers.
  • Cascading plants and vines work well in hanging baskets
  • Get creative – use old boots, wheelbarrows or something else that adds character to your garden

Easy Come, Easy Grow

Follow these friendly tips – and grow with confidence.

  • Make a clean start. Always use a clean container. And use a superior potting mix that drains well and isn’t clumpy like Espoma’s All-Purpose Potting Mix.
  • Watch and learn. Espoma’s Container Gardening videos will give you the planting instructions you need.
  • A different kind of deadhead. Keep annuals blooming throughout the season by “deadheading” them. When flowers begin to die, just pop off the seed head with your fingers to encourage new blooms.
  • Get closer with your plants. Just a side note – remember, you can plant annual combinations closer together in containers (4″), because their roots won’t compete
  • Feed ’em right. Feed plants regularly with high quality organic plant food, like Espoma’s Plant-tone or Flower-tone. Follow the application rates on the package
  • Hold your water. Watering needs vary by plant. In general, don’t flood, but thoroughly soak the soil. Excess water should exit through drainage holes in the pot. You shouldn’t see any puddles at top.

We hope we’ve inspired you to fill your surroundings – and containers – with beautiful annuals. Choosing to grow annuals in containers is the easy part. Deciding on the combination you like best – now that’s the real challenge!

Video: Fairy House Made from the Garden!

This fairy garden house is a fun little project for gardeners of all backgrounds! Can you put your own spin on it?

Featured Products:

 

Video: How to Plant Citrus in Containers

Watch Laura from Garden Answer show you how to grow citrus in containers!

Featured Products:

 

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.

 

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.