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VIDEO: Get the Dirt on Ornamental Grass with Garden Answer!

Ready to spruce up your green space? Garden Answer is back to guide you through planting ornamental grass—a low-maintenance way to aesthetically enhance your garden. Plus, with Espoma Organic’s Bio-Tone Starter, your new additions can bloom bigger and lay roots quicker, easily adapting to their new home. Dig in!

 

 

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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? 

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VIDEO: Catch up with Summer Rayne Oakes’ Shade Garden

Wow! Look how much the shade garden bed at Flock Finger Lakes has grown. With the help of Espoma Organic Bio-tone Starter Plus and our Organic Cow Manure Compost Blend, your garden can thrive season after season too. 

 

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VIDEO: Summer Rayne Oakes’ Acid-Loving Groundcover Garden!

Add a little pH pep to your step—your acid-loving plants will really thrive with our Espoma Organic Soil Acidifier. Take it from Summer Rayne Oakes at Flock Finger Lakes as she walks you through her acidic, edible groundcover garden!

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VIDEO: Daylilies for Days with Garden Answer!

Garden Answer’s daylilies certainly brightened our day! Add in some Espoma Organic Bio-Tone Starter Plus and you’ll have every variety blooming and brightening your day in no time too.

 

 

Learn more about Garden Answer here:

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Use These Garden Staples to Avoid Being Bugged at Your Next Barbecue

With Memorial Day in the rearview, summer is officially here once again — and while we wish that meant nothing but sunshine and barbecues, bugs seem to always make an appearance this time of year. But did you know there are ways to avoid getting bitten and bugged every time you want to relax outside?

The fragrance of certain plants can actually block the receptors insects use to find us. It’s just another great reason to get a garden going in your backyard, around your patio, or anywhere you like to enjoy fresh air. All you really need to sustain these helpful plants is some good starter fertilizer like Espoma’s organic Bio-tone Starter Plus and to make sure they’re fed every two to four weeks with Grow! to ensure they get the proper nutrients.

So, if you’re getting some unwanted guests during those summer cookouts, try planting some of these simple staples.

Lemon Grass

Did you know many mosquito repelling candles and sprays are made from citronella oil? Lemon grass naturally produces this ingredient and doubles as a beautiful grassy plant for walkways and around tables. Alternatively, you can plant it in its own pot and use it wherever your local mosquitos tend to congregate.

Other Lemon-Scented Plants

Similar to lemongrass, other plants that give off a strong citrus fragrance — like lemon-scent geraniums, lemon thyme, and lemon balm — work well to repel bugs. These plants use their fresh scent to keep their leaves from being eaten — and in turn can help you keep from being bitten.

Lavender

Despite lavender’s sweet smell being quite popular among people, most insects hate it. Keeping this plant near seating areas will help ward away mosquitos and other pesky flies. A great thing about this plant is that you can use it fresh or dried to get the job done — or even just use the extracted oil. This way you have different options on how you want to decorate while still keeping the pests at bay.

Rosemary

Rosemary is a great addition to your cookout. Throw a few sprigs on the grill as you’re cooking to release its fragrance into the air. It’ll smell wonderful to you and your family but make the bugs fly in the other direction.

Basil

Basil is another herb that will keep the mosquitos away. It’s also toxic to mosquito larvae, so placing this plant near water can help discourage mosquitoes from laying eggs.

Mint

Mint’s fragrance is great at repelling pests like ants, mosquitoes, and even mice. It’s also always a nice addition to any dish, so incorporating it into your barbecue can be beneficial in more ways than one.

Garlic

If cabbage moths are just as pesky as mosquitoes in your backyard, garlic can be your saving grace. When crushed, the garlic bulbs release allicin — an enzyme that produces that classic garlic smell. Your local pests will definitely not enjoy your garlic breath, so go ahead and use it up all weekend long.

Any and all of these plants can be used purely to keep the bugs away, but they’re also beautiful decor for your outdoor area. Be sure to keep up with them all season long in order to reap the benefits whenever your cookouts come around.

Here are some of our other blogs we thought you might enjoy.

BUG OFF – Plants That Repel Mosquitoes

Perk Up Summer Containers with Stunning Annuals

Growing Scrumptious Tomatoes in Easy Containers

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Grow!

 

Winter Garden Plants that Dazzle

Jack Frost is starting to nip at our noses and cold fronts are coming in. Summer and fall colors have come and gone and gardens are left with cut back perennials and the anticipation of spring blooms. But your garden doesn’t have look lack luster due to the cold! Some blooms thrive in the winter.

Plant these hardy, winter thriving plants and watch them dazzle even in the snow. They will add color even in the dreariest months of the year.

6 Dazzling Plants for Winter Months

Hellebore

This winter-loving plant will impress any holiday visitors. Also called Christmas Rose, Hellebore will show off beautiful blooms from mid-December through early spring. It grows tall enough for its blooms to poke out even after a good snowfall. The colors of the flower come in white, green, pink, purple, cream and even spotted. Hellebore grows well in zones 4-9 and in partial shade.

Witch Hazel

Keeping its fall color through the winter, witch hazel is bright and beautiful against the white snow. This shrub can be massive, growing more than 12 feet tall in some areas. Witch hazel puts out red and yellow clusters that look like little suns. It fits well in woodland gardens or can be used as a focal piece in a garden. Witch hazel grows well in zones 3-9 and in full to partial sun.

Winter Heath

Mounding, soft needle ground covers that provide color in the winter is a must-have in the garden. Winter heath brings dainty purple flowers that bloom in December and last through April. It only grows about a foot tall, but it will spread twice the height. Depending on the variety, winter heath grows well zones 4-8 and in full sun.

Camellia

With sturdy foliage and rose-like blooms, camellias are often found in the South. Some varieties will surprise you with their hardiness in the snow. These varieties come in colors from white to pink. They grow well in acidic soil, using Espoma’s Holly-Tone to fertilize will set them up for success. Camellia grows well in zones 6-9 and in partial sun.

Winterberry

Winterberry provides year-round interest with beautiful greenery in the summer and bright, lipstick-red berries in the winter. Mirroring the traditional holly, the bright berries make the shrub stand out in a winter holiday setting. Winterberry grows well in zones 3-9 and in full to partial sun.

China Blue Vine

This evergreen is hardy and dependable. In the spring, it produces lovely, fragrant bell shaped flowers in a variety of colors ranging from ivory to mauve. The foliage stands out year-round by being thick and shiny. It holds the foliage lower so it will not topple over in the snow.  China Blue Vines grow well in zone 7-9 and in full to partial sun.

Give winter plants their best chance by planting with Espoma’s Bio-Tone Starter Plus.

Need tips on how to prepare your garden for winter? Check out this blog!

To-Do List: August Gardening Tips

August is an exciting time. After all, your flower beds are radiant and your vegetable garden is thriving!

Although it may seem like watering and weeding are your only tasks this month, there’s still a lot to do. Help your garden beat the heat and prep for fall at the same time.

Keep your garden beautiful during August:

Maintenance and Preparation

  • Level low spots in your lawn.
  • Remove weeds.
  • Choose your autumn flower seeds and order in advance.
  • Fertilize and fortify your lawn with Espoma’s Summer Revitalizer.
  • Harvest produce regularly and hoe weekly to weaken weeds.
  • Add compost and mulch to keep your garden cool and prepared for fall planting.
  • Plant fall veggie starts or transplants.
  • Remove fallen fruit from fruit trees to limit insect infestations.

Pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, play a big part in getting our gardens to grow. They help fertilize flowers, carrying pollen from one plant to another.

Mind the Flowers

  • Divide and transplant spring and summer-flowering perennials after they bloom.
  • Spray water onto plants to evict seasonal pests like aphids, whiteflies and spider mites.
  • Remove diseased foliage before leaves drop.
  • Deadhead summer-flowering perennials and lightly shear to encourage more blooms.
  • Move houseplants back indoors to acclimate them to limited sun exposure.

Although it may seem like watering and weeding are your only tasks this month, there’s still a lot to do. Help your garden beat the heat and prep for fall at the same time.

Water, Water, Water!

  • Water plants deeply. Avoid getting leaves wet in the direct sun and avoid soaking containers during the hottest part of the day.
  • Water before 9:00am. If you can’t water in the morning, aim for watering in the early evening, to avoid letting the water sit all night. Letting the water sit all night can cause mildew and disease.

Although it may seem like watering and weeding are your only tasks this month, there’s still a lot to do. Help your garden beat the heat and prep for fall at the same time.

Looking Ahead

Congratulations on all your hard work on the August garden!

How will you and your garden be celebrating the end of summer? Let us know in the comments!

Keep deer and other pests away from plants

You love your garden, and so do the notorious neighborhood deer. They’ll try anything at least once and will come back for more if they like it. Not to mention the rabbits and other critters that think of your yard as their own personal all you can eat buffet.

Get serious about deer proofing your garden before the damage gets out of control.  Early intervention is always best and you can prevent future invasions by taking action now. It’s much easier to deter one deer before the entire herd is grazing on your garden.

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What do deer eat?

More like what won’t deer eat? Deer will eat any vegetation and the hungrier they are, the less picky they get. Growing plants that deer find less attractive is a good starting point, but a desperate deer might still take a bite.

Deer are big eaters. The average adult male consumes about five pounds of food a day.

If you want to keep the deer at bay, try out these tips in your own yard.

deer proof garden, natural ways to repel deer

Deter Deer and Other Animal Pests:

1. Place strong scented plants near entry points such as garlic, rosemary and lavender. Or choose plants with textures like lamb’s ear, thorny roses, barberry or holly.

2. Fences are generally the best force to keep critters at bay, but they can be expensive. Choose an 8’ tall fence or plant tall, thick hedges around borders. If your main concern is rabbits, the fence should be 30” tall and buried 8-12”.

3. Use liquid or granular animal repellant. Spread or spray around the perimeter of your yard. Reapply after rain and as often as directed. Over time, deer can become used to repellents so you may need to switch products if you notice deer near your yard.

4. An element of surprise such as a garden ornament or scarecrow can deter deer. Move it around frequently.

5. Install motion sensors that light up as deer approach.

6. Enlist your pooch. Active and noisy pets can keep deer at bay.

What’s worked for you in the past? Let us know in the comments below!