Posts

Plant A Fall Container

Laura from Garden Answer shows you how to plant a fall container that will add beauty to your landscape all season long.

Grab Your Books for a Lesson in Gardening 101

Going back to school is equal parts nervous jitters and genuine excitement for what could be. Remember what it was like to have a new backpack, a fresh outfit that makes just the right statement and your stack of empty notebooks waiting to be filled?

It feels like anything is possible at this time of year!

Molbak’s Garden + Home is here to help teach you gardening basics. Already an experienced gardener? Now is the time brush up on your lessons.

Espoma’s Gardening School 101

1. Build a Foundation for Success. For a garden to be great, superior soil is a must! Perform a quick soil test, study the results and your garden will be A+ in no time!

soil test

2. Back to School Shopping. Examine your garden equipment to see what should stay — and what needs to go. Look for cracked handles, rust and missing or loose parts. Then, go shopping for replacements.

Plan your garden

3. Get a Whole New Look. A new school year means it’s time to reveal your new look. Do you want to be refined? Edgy? Colorful and bold? Sweet and simple? Define your garden look and do your homework — then start pinning!

Espoma Pinterest

4. Make a Plan for Success. The only way to improve this year’s performance is to analyze the successes and failures of last year’s garden. Your assignment: create a new garden plan.

plan your garden

5. Meet the Teacher. Hi! It’s a pleasure to see you! At Espoma, we’ve been teaching organic gardening practices since 1929. Comment with questions below, post them to Facebook or tweet us. We’re here to make you the best gardener you can be.

Espoma Facebook6. Sharpen Pencils. Clean and sharpen your garden tools to get them ready for the new season! You can DIY or take them to your local garden center.

Garden tools

7. Find New Friends. Follow us on Facebook and check out our posts to find gardeners who are just as passionate about organic growing as you are.

Garden Party

Patio Party photo by Proven Winners

Throw your cap (or gardening gloves) up in the air! You passed the Back to Gardening School Class! Your garden will thank you for it later!

A Seed Ahead: Preserving Tomato Seeds

You’ve had a great season tending to your tomato plants! But with the summer winding down and chilly days coming soon, you may be wondering what to do with your tomato plants now.

Get a head start on spring by preserving the seeds from your tomatoes.

Tomato seeds might be available at the store year-round, but saving your own is satisfying and easy. Luckily, September is the perfect time to begin planning for next year!

How do I pick which seeds to preserve?

The general rule of thumb is to only take ‘open-pollenated’ seeds or heirlooms. Hybrid plants often produce sterile seeds. Or, they do not produce seed with the same desirable traits of the parent plant.

Harvest seeds from tomatoes that are healthy and embody the characteristics you’re interested in preserving. For example, you could pick seeds from the juiciest tomatoes, or the ones with the most interesting colors. It’s your choice, but make sure you pick from healthy plants. Unhealthy plants could carry illnesses.

If possible, save seeds from multiple plants.tomatoes-101845_1920

Method 1: Air-dry

This method is pretty simple. Open the tomato and remove the seeds, squeeze them onto a paper towel, wait for the seeds to air dry and then store them in a jar, an envelope or even the same napkin. This method is quick and straightforward.

Method 2: Ferment

It’s not absolutely necessary to ferment your tomato seeds, but fermenting makes it easier to completely separate seeds from the gel that surrounds them. Fermenting also eliminates the bad seeds and reduces the possibility of seed-borne disease for next season.

1. Wash the tomatoes. Slice each in half across the middle (not the end with the stem). Squeeze the seeds and juice into a (labeled) glass or plastic container.

2. Set containers aside when half-full. Place containers in an area that is out of direct sunlight and out of the way, so the fruit flies and odor will not bother you.

3. Let the seeds sit for three to five days or until the surface of the container shows a whitish mold. This is a good thing! The seeds should be floating at this point. In warmer climates, you may need to add some water to keep the seeds afloat.

4. Gently scrape the mold off with a spoon. Do not remove the seeds.

5. Fill container with water and then stir it. The seeds you want will sink to the bottom.

6. Pour off the excess to remove floating seeds and pulp.

7. Repeat the process until the good seeds, at the bottom, are cleaned.

8. Pour the good seeds into a strainer, then rinse and drain them.

Storage

An airtight container works best for storage. When packaged correctly, tomato seeds remain usable for up to six years!

You can place the seeds in the refrigerator or freezer, but the seeds will last even when stored at room temperature. When you’re ready to use the seeds, if they’ve been chilling in a refrigerator or freezer, let them adjust to room temperature first to prevent excess condensation from creating any damage.

For more tomato tips, check out our total tomato growing guide!

Be sure to visit us on our Facebook page or Twitter page and tell us how you plan to preserve your tomato seeds!

Fall is for Planting: Cool-Season Veggies

There is nothing better than the taste of fresh picked produce, except maybe when its fall, and you expected your garden to be put to bed by now!

Even though leaves are starting to change, your organic veggie garden has plenty of time left to produce. Help your fall garden thrive with these four tips from Behnke’s Garden Center.

rucola-791380_1920

Fall is For Planting: Four Tips for Growing a Cool-Season Organic Veggie Garden

  1. Start planting. Now is the time to plant fall veggie seedlings. Fast growing, frost-tolerant plants such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, beets carrots, lettuce, spinach and herbs will keep growing even as the temperature drops.
  2. Fertilize. For a bigger harvest, feed veggies monthly with an organic fertilizer. Your soil has been hard at work all summer and is in need of nutrients. Keep your garden growing with a healthy feeding.

broccoli-494754_1920

  1. Harvest soon. Once your crops start ripening, go out and pick every day. Here’s when to harvest your organic veggies:
  • Lettuce and spinach: Cut outer leaves when young and tender.
  • Kale: Pick when the leaves are as big as your hand.
  • Carrots: Pick when the top of the carrot is 1” wide.
  • Broccoli: Cut broccoli when its head is 4-7” wide.
  • Cauliflower: Cut when its head is 2-3” wide.
  1. Don’t forget to Cover. If frost arrives sooner than expected have a plan to protect your crops from the cold. Water your bed and then cover with a sheet, blanket or tarp. Keep the cover from touching plants with stakes and use bricks to hold it in place. Remove cover when temperatures warm again.

What are you growing in your fall garden? Let us know in the comments!

Behnke Nurseries garden center in Beltsville, MD has provided plants, ceramic pots, and gardening supplies to gardeners since 1930.  Behnke’s offers a very wide selection of perennials, annuals, shrubs, trees and houseplants, and the experienced staff will advise you on the best options for your garden. The Holiday Shop provides a charming Christmas experience and carefully chosen accents for year ’round, while the selection of bonsai by Ducky Hong is unsurpassed.  Behnke’s welcomes gardeners of all levels of expertise: come and learn at their frequent free lectures.

Fall Is the Best Time for Planting

Every gardener knows it. Fall is for planting. From the cooler weather and heaps of rain to fewer pests, diseases and weeds, fall has distinct planting benefits.

Throughout the fall we will identify some of the best plants and activities to do in fall. Stay tuned for our expert tips, guest blog posts and giveaway’s.

But in the meantime, learn why planting in fall can make spring gardening much, much easier.

pumpkin-1030817_1920

6 Reasons Why Fall is the Best Time to Garden

1. Work is Easier on Plants… And You

The cooler air temperatures are easier on both plants and gardeners. Neither of you need to suffer through the intense summer heat. Yet, in fall, the soil is still warm enough for roots to thrive. They will grow and get established until the ground freezes.

2. There is More Time in Fall

There are more good days for planting in fall than in spring, when bad weather can make being outside impossible. Plus, you have more free time as a gardener than during the spring rush.

Note: The window for fall planting ends six weeks before your average hard frost, usually September or October.

3. Mother Nature Does the Watering for You

In many regions of the country, fall showers happen often. You might not ever have to water new plantings, which means less maintenance for you. However, due to the cooler temperatures, it’s a cinch to water plants if it doesn’t rain at least 1” per week.

garden-980763_1920

4. Easier Weed Control

In the fall, weed seeds are dormant, i.e., they don’t grow. So any weeds that do grow up in your flowers are easily removed when they first appear as sprouts in spring.

5. Bye-Bye Pests and Diseases

Pests and diseases are less prevalent in the fall. Most of the bugs are either dead or preparing to hibernate in fall. Plus, the humidity that promotes many diseases fades away.

6. Fall Planting Results in Earlier Blooms

Like fall-seeded lawns, fall-planted wildflower seed has a chance to “settle” into your site during the winter, and is ready to burst into growth in early spring. This is why fall-planted wildflower seed is up and in bloom about two weeks earlier than spring-planted seed.

While all of these make compelling reasons to garden in the fall, the season also means bargain time at garden centers. Check back often for the best deals.

Have a picture of your fall garden that you want to share? Drop by our Facebook page!

How to Fertilize Trees

 

Laura from Garden Answer demonstrates how to fertilize a tree using Espoma’s Tree-tone. The slow release formula provides a long lasting nutrient reservoir to feed the entire tree, leaves, trunk, and roots.

Step-by-Step: Prep the Garden for Winter

Did you feel that? Jack Frost has flown in for the season. We’ve already felt the first nip of cold weather, which means your garden has, too.

For many, the first frost date arrives in late October or early November.

Help your garden weather the cold this season. Prepare the lawn and garden beds now for an easy, fruitful spring.

Gardening for winter consists mostly of outdoor cleanup, followed by an indoor revival. Cleanup first, though!

winter lawn

Clip, Drip and Equip the Garden before Winter

  • Discard the Deceased. Compost spent annuals and vegetable plants.
  • Protect Perennials. Water perennials (rose bushes included!) once more. Then, after the ground freezes, cut perennials back to 3”, and remove any dead or diseased cane on roses. Finally, mulch.
  • Create a Clean Slate.Remove weeds from garden beds and then create superb soil. Take the soil test and add organic amendments as needed. After a hard freeze, mulch beds.

winter-lawn-care

So Long to the Lawn

winter garden tips

Ta-Ta for Now Trees

  • Leave the Leaves. Turn those golden leaves into garden gold by composting them!
  • Bolster the Bark. Feed trees with an organic tree fertilizer, such as Espoma’s Tree-tone for winter sustenance.
  • Stare at the Bare. After the leaves have fallen, examine your tree for weak spots and problems to prevent damage from fallen tree limbs during snow storms.

Your garden’s been put to bed for the winter and will surely sleep soundly. Now, let’s focus on those incredible indoor plants to keep you gardening all winter long.

Host a Haunted Homegrown Halloween Dinner

Round up the whole gang and dress in your best for a spine-chilling, homegrown Halloween meal.

Start by gathering the fruits of your organic fall gardening efforts, or head to your local farmer’s market to see what’s in season.

Boo! Prepare a Spooky and Scrumptious Homegrown Halloween Dinner (Because even goblins and ghouls prefer homegrown on Halloween.)

halloween decor

Scary Snacks. Cook up a few frightful and finger-licking good snacks.

Capture

Frightening Feast. All the best fall flavors featured in fangtastic dishes.

halloween decor

Daring Decor. Use organic and recycled material to create eco-friendly Halloween decor.

And don’t forget to Post a Pumpkin. Whether you carve, paint or bedazzle your pumpkin, there is still time to show it off in our “Pumpkin Decorating Contest.”

Talk about a hoot of a Halloween party! Imagine how much fun your friends and family will find this homegrown Halloween garden dinner!

Keep Your Lawn Strong – Even in the Dead Of Winter

If you want a greener lawn in spring, did you know the most important time to organically fertilize your grass is the fall? Most people guess spring!

Learn why a fall fertilizer — or winterizer — is so important and how to correctly apply this organic lawn food.

Winter Lawn Care Essentials: Boost Your Lawn with an Organic Lawn Winterizerwinter lawn care

In the fall and winter, your lawn looks like it’s done growing, but it’s actually flourishing underground. Grass roots are absorbing nutrients so long as the ground isn’t frozen.

Applying a slow-release, organic lawn winterizer supplies your grass with nutrients throughout fall and winter.

A lawn winterizer is simply a food formulated to help your lawn survive winter. Lawn winterizers contain nitrogen to promote thicker, fast-growing grass come spring. This organic, winter fertilizer also possesses potassium to help lawns recover from summer droughts.

In spring, your grass then uses this stored energy to grow greener grass fast — usually by mid-March.

Put Your Lawn to Bed with an Organic Winterizer

  1. Give Your Lawn a Look. Check if you have cool or warm-season grass. Most areas with freezing winters grow cool-season grasses, such as bluegrass, ryegrass or fescue. Southern regions have warm-season grasses, such as Bermuda, Saint Augustine or Zoysia. Only apply winterizer to cool-season grasses. Warm-season grasses do not get fertilized at this time.
  2. Prime Time. Apply an organic lawn winterizer one week after your final mow of the season. Or if it’s easier to remember, apply around the week of Thanksgiving.
  3. Need to Feed. Spread organic fertilizer onto dry grass. Get step-by-step instructions on applying lawn winterizer here.

Applying a lawn winterizer is like wrapping your lawn up in a cozy blanket and presenting a warm cup of soup.  Your lawn stays warm and well-fed during winter, so it can grow back thicker, greener and faster next spring.

Still looking for more info? Check out our Winter Lawn Care Pinterest board?

Score More from Your Organic Fall Garden Crops

Organic gardening in the fall always feels like such a treat. Even though the leaves may be changing, your veggie garden is still going strong! While the seasons are transitioning, you’re making the most of every moment — going to football games, bundling up in cozy sweaters, and munching on homegrown produce.

Help your organic garden to produce more veggies than ever this fall with these four tips.

1. Feed to Succeed. Feed your veggies once a month for a bigger, bountiful harvest. This is especially important if you had other crops planted in the same spot earlier. Those crops depleted the garden soil of its nutrients. Luckily, an organic plant fertilizer replenishes the nutrients to keep your produce growing strong.

Step-by-step instructions on adding an organic plant fertilizer here!

2. Pick of the Pack. The more you pick, the more produce you get! Once your crops start ripening, go out and pick every day.

Here’s when to harvest your organic veggies:

  • Lettuce and spinach: Cut outer leaves when young and tender.
  • Kale: Pick when the leaves are as big as your hand.
  • Carrots: Pick when the top of the carrot is 1”
  • Broccoli: Cut broccoli when its head is 4-7”
  • Cauliflower: Cut when its head is between 2-3”

3. A Fresh Feast. Plan your weekly dinners around what’s in harvest in the garden. This is the last hurrah for homegrown meals from the garden, so make the most of it. Of course, save some for winter,

4. Discover the Cover. If the chance of frost arrives earlier than expected, protect your crops. Water and then cover with a sheet, blanket or tarp. Use stakes to keep the cover from touching the plants.

Crunch! How amazing is it that you’re still harvesting veggies from your organic garden in autumn?!