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Fall into Fall. Easy Ways to Transform Garden

Those dog days of summer are hot, hot, hot. But, the end is surely in sight!

Yes, that means cooler weather is on its way. Fall will settle in soon — especially if the “Back to School” ads are any indicator.

Get your garden ready for the coming season. Stick with us, and you could be eating fresh lettuce in October — maybe even November!

Help Your Garden Fall into Fall

  1. Enchant the Plants. Plant fall veggie starts or transplants You can even sow seeds directly into the garden. Choose fast-growing, frost-tolerant plants such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, beets, carrots, green onions, lettuce and spinach.
  2. Do the Can-Can. If your harvest is maturing faster than you can eat it, store it! There are many ways beyond canning to stockpile your fresh produce for winter. Try making jams or pickles. Freeze raw fruit, veggies or herbs. Make tomato sauce, or slow-roast them.Longfield Gardens
  3. Boost your Keep annual flowers blooming as long as possible! The trick? Apply Espoma Organic’s Flower-tone often!
  4. Ahead with Red. Tomato plants not performing anymore? Or have lackluster leaves? Feed ‘em Tomato-tone to help them pull through until the first frost.
  5. Divide in Stride. Divide and transplant spring-flowering and other dormant perennials. To reduce stress, do so during the coolest part of the day, and don’t skimp on the water!
  6. Finish with Gusto. Deadhead flowers to keep them flowering. Also, keep pinching off those suckers on tomatoes! They can create a heck of a mess later on.
  7. Bury the Bulb. While you’re tidying up, plant those dreamy, spring-blooming flower bulbs.

Ah, the garden will soon be ready for fall. For now, though, the summer sun is still shining! Kick back, relax and enjoy every last drop of summer.  

Plant Flower Bulbs in Three Easy Steps

Tips for planting bulbs from Longfield Gardens, premium online bulb source

Fall is planting time for spring-blooming bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and alliums. There’s nothing difficult about planting bulbs and you can plant dozens of them in just a few minutes.

Spring bulbs are always the first flowers to bloom each spring,” said Hans Langeveld, co-owner of Longfield Gardens. “You plant them in fall and then forget about them until spring rolls around and your garden is filled with flowers that are ready to bloom.”

Langeveld assures gardeners that creating a colorful spring garden requires just 3 easy steps: choosing your bulbs, knowing when to plant, and following some basic planting instructions.
Longfield Gardens

New Bloom Time Infographic

“There are a lot of bulbs to choose from when you are looking to make selections” says Langeveld. “Our new infographic helps gardeners have success with that process, too.”

Longfield Gardens’ new infographic divides spring bulbs by bloom time — very early, early, mid and late. Choosing a few bulbs from each category ensures a garden that will be filled with color for 60 days or even longer.

Best Time for Planting Bulbs

“You want to get the bulbs into the ground at the proper planting time for your region,” Langeveld said.

As a general rule, spring-blooming bulbs can be planted anytime before the soil begins to freeze. But bulbs will benefit from having a few weeks to establish roots before the ground is frozen.

Gardeners can reference this map for recommended planting times. Light purple areas should plant bulbs from September to October; medium purple from September to November and dark purple areas should plant between October and December.

Planting is as Easy as 1-2-3

Choosing a good planting location is important. “Bulbs will grow almost anywhere,” said Langeveld. “They will do best in Longfield Gardenssoil that drains well.”

The planting part is easy and the same instructions can be applied to all types of bulbs:

  1. Dig a hole 3-4 times deeper than the height of the bulb.
  2. Set the bulbs into the hole, following spacing guidelines.
  3. Cover bulbs with soil and water only if the soil is very dry.

And of course, we at Espoma recommend a fertilizer made for bulbs such as Bulb-tone.

“Remember when planting bulbs to avoid the temptation to plant them in single rows. For the most natural look, group them in a pyramid, rectangle or circular shape,” Langeveld said.

To see the complete selection of fall-planted, spring-blooming bulbs from Longfield Gardens, click HERE.

How to Water Plants When It’s Hot

When it’s hot, dry and muggy, the only cure is a cold drink. Well, your plants think so, too.

The trick to keeping your garden hydrated during the hottest days is not to water more. It’s to water smarter. We’ll teach you how to conserve water and keep your garden and lawn looking good with these tips. garden tips

How to Smartly Shower Flowers and Lawns:

  1. Morning Glory. Water before 9 a.m. in summer. As the day heats up, water can evaporate before your plants have a chance to soak it up.
  2. Water Deeply. Deep watering is most effective since it goes right to the roots. Plan on deeply watering your garden frequently with a nice soak. Hold the hose on each plant and count to 20. 30 minutes after watering, ensure the soil is moist 8”
  3. Prep to Step. Step in the lawn before watering. If you leave footprints behind, water. Properly watered grass springs right back up.
  4. Precise Advice. Generally, plants, flowers and lawns need 1” of water a week. Use a rain gauge to make sure you’re not over or under watering. Check the gauge after it rains.
  5. Cool Tools. Add a soaker hose or automated drip irrigation system to save you tons of time and wasted water. Installing them is a project, but one that will pay off for many years to come!
  6. Clean Green. When watering, get right to the roots. Wetting plant leaves just goes to waste. Plus, wet leaves provide the perfect environment for mold and disease to thrive.
  7. Thank You Very Mulch! A garden with 2-3” of mulch can reduce water consumption by 25-50 percent. Since organic mulch decomposes, consistently add more mulch.

Nice! You’re saving water, and keeping your garden blooming! Treat yourself by hopping in the pool or sipping an ice-cold drink in the shade. You’ve earned it!

Don’t Stall! Start Veggie Seeds for Fall

Today’s garden is bursting full of fresh fruits and veggies! There is nothing better than picking and eating a tomato, bean or pepper fresh off the plant.

Yet – we aren’t always so lucky. With fall around the corner, we are already thinking about how to prolong that never-ending supply of delicious, homegrown produce.

Now is the time to start cool-season seeds indoors.

Reap What You Sow: Starting Cool-Season Seeds Indoors for Fall

organic gardening

  1. Get the Goodies. For fall crops, pick the hardiest and most frost tolerant seeds, so they can survive the first frost. Some of our favorites include broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, beets, carrots and spinach.
  2. Time to Prime. Find your first fall frost date. Look at the number of days to harvest on each seed packet. Use that number to count back from the first frost date, so the seeds have time to mature. Play it safe and add two weeks since plants can grow slower during short fall days.
  3. Awaken the Seeds. Fill seed starting trays within ¼” of the top with a high-quality organic seed starter, like Espoma’s Organic Seed Starter. Read each seed packet to learn how deep and far apart to plant seeds. Cover with soil, press down, label and lightly water.
  4. Store and Cover. Lightly cover the tray with plastic wrap. Keep in a sunny spot near a south-facing window.
  5. Smart Watering. Keep seeds moist by placing the tray in a pan of shallow water until the water seeps up from the bottom. Refill when empty.
  6. Break Out Sprouts. When leaves start to poke from the soil, remove plastic wrap. Feed with an organic fertilizer, like Espoma’s Plant-tone.
  7. A Home Away from Home. Two weeks before planting outside, begin hardening off seeds. Move outside for a few hours a day, increasing time outdoors daily. Also, reduce watering without letting the soil dry out.
  8. All Grown Up! Gently remove plants from see starting tray, and plant in a prepared bed. Mix-in organic starter plant food to help them adjust and grow strong, such as Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus.

Crunch! You’ll be munching on homegrown produce well into fall. How amazing (and tasty!) is that?

Growing Blueberries Is Easy With These 4 Tips

Pancakes, tarts, pies, we love adding blueberries to any recipe. And we’re not alone.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recognizes July as National Blueberry Month! If any fruit deserves its own month, it’s the all-American blueberry.

Take advantage of peak fruiting season to celebrate this delicious little berry.

Health Benefits

Not only delicious and popular, blueberries are one of the top 10 healthiest foods.

These nutritional powerhouses are packed with antioxidants that help guard against cancer and heart disease. Blueberries are low in calories, but rich in fiber and vitamins. One serving of blueberries serves up almost 25 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. Plus, blueberries have a favorable impact on blood sugar regulation in persons already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Convinced?

Grow your own blueberries – It’s easy!

The secret to blueberry success, according to berry expert Amelie Brazelton Aust, at Fall Creek Farm & Nursery who’s been growing blueberries on her family farm since she was a child, is the Four Ps — planting, pruning, picking and protecting.

JELLY BEAN Brazelberries blueberries on bush

‘Jelly Bean’ BrazelBerries blueberries

Simply follow these four simple tips to help bushes flourish season after season!

1. Planting

First, plant the right variety. Compact blueberries, like those from BrazelBerries, are perfect for growing in containers, raised beds or even directly in the garden.

Once you’ve chosen a blueberry bush, plant it in a sunny spot with at least six hours of sun each day.

Next, consider the soil. Blueberries love acidic soils. A pH of 4.5-5.5 is ideal. A simple soil test indicates acidity, which can easily be adjusted with a balanced organic fertilizer. Soil kits and amendments are available at any local garden center.

Give the plant’s roots plenty of growing room when planting in a container.

Plant dwarf blueberry bushes in pots 16” or more in diameter and water deeply and regularly to make sure all of the soil within the pot is moist.

2. Pruning

Cutting branches off any plant can be daunting, but it’s best for the plant. Pruning gives berries more space between branches, allowing air to flow freely and preventing disease.

“It’s best to prune blueberries in late winter when the plants are still dormant,” says Aust, “but I’ve pruned mine in the spring before flowering, and they’ve done great.”

Remove stems that are damaged, old or dead. Take out up to a quarter or even a third of the bush, then trim it up to a neat and tidy look.

Fertilizing is recommended in early spring. “Choose a balanced, organic, slow-release fertilizer for acid-loving plants,” Aust says.

Aust recommends a second application of fertilizer in late spring to give the plants an extra burst of energy for fruit production.

BrazelBerries Jelly Bean in italian pot

‘Jelly Bean’ BrazelBerries blueberries

3. Picking

With planting and pruning in the bag, the next step — picking — is the pay off. Be sure to watch your berries carefully and pick them before the birds do! Aust suggests getting one berry for yourself and one for the birds.

4. Protecting

A little protection ensures your blueberry bush will thrive for another bountiful season. Keep critters away by covering bushes with bird netting in the spring.

Winter weather poses the biggest risk to berry bushes, so be sure to protect roots.

“In very cold regions, apply a deep layer of mulch around the base of the bush to protect the roots,” Aust says. “Blueberries in pots are easiest to protect from the cold — just move the pots into an unheated garage or against a building and cover with thick mulch, burlap or a blanket.”

Spring’s sudden cold snaps endanger emerging growth, as well. Be sure to cover blueberry bushes with burlap or blankets when the forecast calls for frost once buds and flowers are emerging.blueberry pancakes Jamie oliver

Are you growing berries this year? What will you be making with them? Check out this super easy one cup blueberry pancakes recipe from Jamie Oliver:

blueberry pancakes Jamie oliver

Don’t Leave Hanging Baskets Out to Dry…

Hanging baskets make great visual impacts when they are filled to the brim with bright summer blooms. They add instant color to any spot and are a sign of warm weather.

Though as days get hotter and the summer rolls on, hanging baskets can start to look tired: drooping blooms, minimal flowers and straggly plants.

Your hanging basket isn’t doomed. It just needs a good ol’ fashion pick-me-up.

Refresh your hanging baskets to keep them partying all summer long

Get ready to give your hanging baskets a make-over. With these tips, your hanging basket will be back in its prime in no time.

Photo Courtesy Proven Winners

Photo Courtesy Proven Winners

Take the Heat Off Hanging Baskets

  1. Test the Waters Hanging baskets need more water when temperatures rise. During the peak of summer’s heat, water baskets in the morning until water drips from the drainage holes. Check them again in the afternoon to see if they need more water. On windy days, hanging baskets dry out, so they will need even more water.
  2. Food for Thought. Feed hanging baskets  with an organic flower food, like Flower-tone or the new Bloom! liquid plant food. Because of how much water baskets need, nutrients are frequently flushed from the soil. Regular feedings give your hanging baskets the energy they need to shine and bloom continuously.
  3. Drop Dead Gorgeous Blooms. As flowers fade, pinch them off where they meet the stem. Deadheading hanging baskets keeps them producing flowers and prevents them from going to seed.
  4. Which to Switch. Not every flower blooms all summer. If one of your flowers is done blooming for the season, swap it out. Gently remove the flower, replace it with a vibrant plant and fill with an organic potting soil.
  5. What to Cut. When your hanging basket is looking a bit wild or leggy, cut it back by 1-2”.

Look at that! Your hanging baskets already look better. Keep up these tips throughout the summer to keep hanging baskets fresh, beautiful and blooming.

Out of Town? Don’t Let the Garden Go Brown

Gardener’s Guide: Hydration while on Vacation

As you pack your bags, finish up at work and plan your vacation adventures, one lingering question remains, “Who will water my plants?

Yes, we’d all like to have a friend or neighbor available to care for our garden while we’re out of town, but that’s not always a possibility.

Luckily, you can prep your garden before you go on vacation. Here are some tricks.

vacation garden tips

While You’re On Vacation, Treat Your Garden to a Stay-cation 

  1. Right on Time. Install a water timer to automate watering. You can opt for a more complex drip irrigation system or simply use a timer with sprinklers. Plan to give plants about 1” of a water a week.
  2. Pack a Snack. Keep your plants well-fed and packed with nutrients while you’re gone. Feeding your veggies, flowers and herbs with the right organic plant food sets them up for success and gives them the strength they need to survive tough situations.
  3. Much Mulch. Mulch helps plants retain 25-50 percent more water, so it’s perfect for vacation use. Make sure all plants have 2-3” of mulch. Water the mulch until it’s wet all the way through.
  4. Cluster Containers. Group containers in a shady spot where they’ll be watered by a sprinkler. Or if going out of town for 1-2 weeks, place containers out of direct sunlight in a kiddie pool filled with a few inches of water.
  5. Take Your Pick. Pick anything and everything from your edible plants. That includes any tomatoes showing color, pint-sized cucumbers and zucchinis and any beans you see. Picking will keep plants producing and provides healthy, organic snacks for your travels, too.
  6. Mow Before You Go. Mow the lawn the day before your trip. Simple!

Now, sit back, relax and get ready for an invigorating vacation! Your plants will surely miss you, but they’ll be just fine while you’re gone.  

Oh Snap! Pick and Serve Fresh Green Beans

The best time of the year is here! Harvest season!

And our green beans have never looked, well, greener. They’re ready to be picked and cooked for a yummy side dish. The best part is you’ll be picking and cooking beans now through late July.

Learning when and how to harvest green beans does take a bit of practice. Hang with us and in a few days, you’ll be a green bean pickin’ pro!

Give Beans the Green Light

  1. Pinch the Pod.  Harvest green beans when they’re 4-7” in length and the width of a pencil. Most importantly, they should be firm to the touch and have no visible bulges.
  2. They’re About to Snap!  With one hand, hold the bean where it connects to the vine. With the other hand, hold the vine. Now pinch off with your thumb.
  3. Cool (Green) Beans. Refrigerate in an airtight container. They’ll keep for about 4 days.

Put the Beans to the Test! Taste Test Green Beans with this Delicious Recipe  

As soon as beans leave the vine, you want to taste them! So, we always have a recipe ready to go ahead of time. Try one of our favorite recipes below.

Green Bean Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette

Ingredientsgreen bean recipe

  • 1 ½ lb. freshly picked green beans, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO (Extra-Virgin Olive Oil)
  • kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted

Instructions

  1. Boil Water.  Boil a pot of water over high-heat.
  2. Rinse and Trim.  Meanwhile, rinse and cut the stems off your fresh green beans.
  3. Cook. Add 1 tablespoon salt and boil the beans until tender, usually 4-5 minutes. Then drain and run under cool water.
  4. Whisk. Combine mustard, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper.
  5. Drizzle. Place in serving dish and evenly coat with mixture.
  6. Sprinkle. Scatter almonds over beans.
  7. …and Serve!  

Picking green beans is easy – and delicious. Get ready to enjoy fresh green beans all summer.  Yum!

Repurpose on Purpose: Trash Transforms into Beautiful Containers

Container gardening adds a whole new element of style and flair to your outdoor space. Not only do you get to showcase DIY containeryour style through plants, but also in the unique pots you choose. It’s twice the fun!

And you can do it for the planet, too. Growing herbs, veggies and flowers already makes the world a greener place. Now reuse and repurpose a forgotten item into an invigorated planter. Upcycling creates less waste and saves money, too.

Create a repurposed container for a beautiful (and thrifty!) container garden.

Your soon-to-be favorite container may already be in your house. Almost any vessel can be repurposed into a garden container! You’ll be amazed by what you discover (and by what containers you didn’t even know were hiding in your cupboards).

Up for Grabs: Upcycled Containers

  1. Pin Your Style. Create a look that is truly all your own. Decide if you want a rustic, modern, country or bold look. Then browse Pinterest for inspiration.
  2. Start the Search. Browse your kitchen, closet, garage and cupboards for items you no longer use. Any size works! Branch out to yard sales, thrift stores and flea markets for more unique looks.
  3. Add a Special Touch. Personalize your container by painting it, covering it in old wallpaper, or even turning it into a mosaic. Get crafty!
  4. Show Them the Drill. Then Fill. Drill holes in the bottom of your repurposed container to provide drainage. Without drainage holes, soil becomes too wet and causes roots to rot. When ready, fill with the ideal potting soil, Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix, and your favorite plants.
60bc838855263aa8a8875fd58e171bca

These upcycled tires are stacked and painted- as seen by Ellen Wells at Syngenta

Colander-planter_wm

A colorful, retro colander makes a great hanging container

Toy-truck-planter

Think outside of the (toy)box

bra-planter

And, of course, the bigger the better for this container…

Other Types of Repurposed Containers:

Get inspired by some of our favorite items to turn into garden planters below.

  • Teacups and teapots
  • Pitchers
  • Tires
  • Boots and shoes
  • Colanders
  • Desk drawers
  • Buckets
  • Wine crates and whiskey barrels
  • Wheelbarrows and wagons
  • Clothes and lingerie
  • Toolboxes
  • Suitcases
  • Watering cans

Creating repurposed containers is a quick, affordable and fun way to expand container gardens. Once you start, the possibilities are endless!

*thank you MicroGardener for the photos!

 

Prep the Yard + Garden for Memorial Day!

The spring season is just flying by and Memorial Day is already here.  Everyone is excited to have the day off, enjoy the outdoors and chow down on BBQ.

Memorial Day may mark the start of the summer vacation season, but let’s remember what the holiday is really about.

This federal holiday, observed the last Monday of May, is to honor and remember the people who died serving in our country’s armed forces. Formerly known as Decoration Day, the holiday originated after the Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war.

flowers-258415_640To celebrate “decoration day,” bring out your red, white and blue and get ready for the summer season. You’ll want to make sure your lawn and garden is ready, too, by following our tips to prep your outdoor space.

First, get your yard and garden ready for the summer by evaluating your landscape. Make note of any problem areas that simply look messy, empty or that need color.

If your front door entrance looks dull, add containers full of colorful flowers!

Welcome guests by creating an entry way that really pops. Creating colorful, dramatic flower containers is super easy. And, to make it even more festive, use red, white and blue flowers.

Have an awkward, empty spot in the garden bed? If it’s a smaller space, plant a couple more annual or perennial flowers. To fill a large, gaping hole in the garden bed, plant a flowering shrub for a beautiful fix or fill with a container of flowering plants.

Next, refresh your whole yard with new mulch. All your garden beds will look instantly refined. Plus, mulch reduces water and weeds. Add 2-3” of mulch if you haven’t already.

For any unkempt areas in the garden, pick up any debris on the ground. Then, lightly trim any plants that are overstepping their boundary.

Ok, your yard is almost ready. Time for the wow factors! Add decorative lighting along the pathway, hang your American flags and dazzle with festive garland.

How are you celebrating Memorial Day this year? Share your pictures with us on our Facebook page!