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Spruce Up Your Garden Before Memorial Day Weekend

As the official kickoff to summer, Memorial Day weekend is the perfect excuse to tidy up the garden. So before you bring out your red, white and blue and get ready for the summer season, spend a little time cleaning up around the yard.

And yes, Memorial Day may be the start of summer fun, let’s not forget the real reason behind the holiday and thank our veterans.

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

Take some time and  follow these simple, inexpensive and necessary gardening tips to get your yard in tiptop shape.

liquid fertilizer, potting soil, container gardening

Five Ways to Spruce Up:

CLEAN.

It’s not the prettiest task but it is one that can have the most impact. First, give lawns a nice clean cut and trim. Next, rake leaves out of garden beds and borders. Shred or leave them whole and place in a compost pile. Finally, remove tools, debris and the uncoiled hose that may be sitting on the patio.

liquid fertilizer, potting soil, container gardening

WEED.

Another task that’s low on the fun list, but necessary for a clean yard is weeding. Pull any weeds and discard. Do not compost weed seeds.

MULCH.

Adding fresh mulch to the garden makes everything look clean. Mulch with shredded bark, compost or other biodegradable mulch.

FEED.

Now is a good time to apply the second application of your annual feeding program for your lawn. It’s also a good time to give your plants a boost with liquid fertilizer Bloom! to ensure they’re looking their prettiest and peppiest for the party.

liquid fertilizer, potting soil, container gardening

DECORATE.

Colorful flowers do a world of wonder for a garden. Buy annuals and plant them along borders. Choose heat-loving flowers that will bloom all summer. Decorate with colorful containers and place by front door and at focal points. Putting a few plants out around the patio will really set the mood.

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend! If you used any of our tips, let us know! Share your pictures with us on our Facebook page!

Plain as Day – Find Your Perfect Hydrangea

Who can resist color-changing blooms as huge as snowballs?!

No one! That’s why no garden is complete until it has at least one hydrangea. With their picturesque foliage and magical blooms, these flower shrubs are a constant delight. Plus, hydrangeas are easy to care for — as long as you pick the right variety for your space.

Before choosing what hydrangea to grow, answer these questions. Then check out our hydrangea varieties guide to pick the best for your garden.

hydrangea care, hydrangea color, growing hydrangas

Couldn’t Ask for More! Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Hydrangea

Growing hydrangeas is easy! Simply answer these questions to find a hydrangea variety that will thrive in your garden.

1. How much sun do hydrangeas need? Most hydrangea varieties like a blast of full sun in the morning followed by a nap in the afternoon shade. Though, be sure to check since there are a few hydrangeas that thrive in full sun.

2. What hydrangea color do you want? While color of hydrangeas may seem important, it’s actually not! You can turn blue hydrangeas pink and vice versa. Hydrangea color and saturation all depend on the soil acidity. The only exception? White hydrangeas don’t change color.

3. What size hydrangea would you like? Hydrangeas come in small, medium or large-size. Larger varieties can grow up to 20’ tall and 18’ wide while dwarf hydrangeas are only 3-5’ tall and wide. No matter the size of your garden, you can find a hydrangea that works — even in container gardens.

4. What type of hydrangea to grow? Depending on what type of hydrangea you grow, it needs to be pruned at different times. Make note of what type of hydrangea you have to make pruning easy later on. Here are a few of the most common hydrangeas: bigleaf, oakleaf, panicle and smooth.

5. Is the hydrangea evergreen or deciduous? Evergreen hydrangeas, as their name implies, stay green all year. Most hydrangeas are deciduous shrubs, so they shed their leaves annually.

 

Easy Does It: Best Hydrangeas for Beginners to Grow

Thyme to Plant an Indoor Herb Garden

Add a dash of delight to your daily routine while keeping winter blues at bay. Start an indoor herb garden today.

Each time you grab sprigs of fresh herbs, you’ll forget all about winter! At that moment, all you’ll think of are the fresh, invigorating flavors of summer.

Plus, starting an indoor herb garden is simple with these tips.

Grow Superb Herbs Indoors

Give savory and sweet herbs these five ingredients, and they’ll flourish inside! Use fresh, flavorful herbs in cocktails, teas and recipes all winter long.

 Ray of Sunshine. Place indoor herbs in the sunniest spot possible. They love natural light and need at least 4 hours of sun every day. Keep herbs warm by avoiding chilly windows.

  1. Heaps of Herbs. Not every herb thrives indoors. Plant these herbs that grow best inside: mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, lemongrass, chives and bay.
  2. Pile of Pots. Choose pots or upcycle containers with drainage holes on the bottom. Or place stones in the bottom of the pot before adding soil. For unique, DIY planter ideas, check out our Pinterest page.
  3. Settle in Soil. Plant herbs in Organic Potting Soil. Pick an organic potting soil that contains earthworm castings and Myco-tone® to ensure herbs grow strong roots.
  4. Feed and Repeat. Indoor! is an organic plant food that helps you grow bigger and better herbs. Continue fertilizing herbs once each month.

With your just-plucked herbs, cook up dishes that harness herbs’ intensity. Try a few of our favorite recipes that include herbs here. Bon appétit!

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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!

 

Nothing tastes better than Produce you Grow at Home!

Forget farm-to-table. Back-yard-to-table is the next big thing.

While it’s easy to buy strawberries at the grocery store anytime of the year, if you’ve tasted a freshly picked berry, you 61aa2f93fb6601e0a9691958de00e1d3know fresh is best. In a single bite, you can instantly taste the difference.

Through the rise of farmers markets, we’ve been able to get back in touch with our food and our farmers. These markets not only help us to know where our food comes from, but to also to learn more about nutrition, cooking and agriculture.

Growing your own, organic vegetable garden is easier than you think. And, you’ll save hundreds of dollars on groceries. Plus, it’s so rewarding to taste the food you nurtured and know exactly how it was grown.

If you’re just starting out, try growing organic herbs. They grow like crazy and don’t require much work.

If you’ve got kids, plant tomatoes. Eating them fresh off the vine teaches your children where their food comes from and encourages healthy eating habits. Besides, even the pickiest eaters will be much more likely to eat what they grow.

And, if you just want to get into organics, follow these tips for getting started. It’s the healthiest thing you can do for yourself and your family.

Soon, your family will be eating more organic food. Follow our Pinterest board for easy, fresh and organic recipes, too!

At Espoma Organic, we’ve spent decades sharing the benefits of natural, organic gardening. Believe us, taking care of yourself and the planet is well worth it. After all, food should come from the ground, not from a bag.

Share below why you think organic produce and gardening is important.

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!

Grow Fresh Herbs at Your Fingertips

Forget dried, stale or store-bought herbs. There’s a cheaper, closer and fresher alternative.

Plant an herb container garden near your kitchen or next to the grill.

Having fresh, organic herbs right where you cook makes them easier to incorporate into any meal.

With just a few snips, fresh herbs will invigorate your cooking. With just one bite, you’ll instantly taste the difference. Plus, you can use fresh herbs in unexpected ways, like flavoring olive oil, tea or water

Whether you garden in a large space or a small apartment, an herb container garden is convenient and delicious!

All you need to cook up your next great dish is a sunny spot, a roomy container, the best organic potting mix and your favorite herbs.

First decide which (and how many) herbs to grow. Check old grocery lists or recipes to see which herbs you buy the most but especially spend the most money on. Choose those and grow some just for fun like relaxing lavender and lemon balm!

HerbMost herbs will work in a container but the best herbs to plant in containers are: Basil, Mint, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Cilantro, Parsley, Sage, Chives, Lavender, Tarragon, Lemon Verbena

Now pick a container with drainage holes. With container gardens, you can buy a modern or traditional container or get creative and use found objects.

Grouping herbs together that like the same amount of water, light and soil in the same container.

How many herbs you should plant in one container? There’s no hard and fast rule. Use your judgment and read the plant tags.

Go ahead and arrange containers on your deck, patio or any place that’s easy to access when you’re cooking. The area should get between 6-8 hours of sunlight a day.

Once your containers placed, fill half-way with a high-quality, organic potting mix such as Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix. Since you’ll be eating and serving them, organic potting soil is a must!

Now arrange the herbs to your liking! Try 3 or 4 different placements before planting. Read the plant tags to see how big the plants will get, too. And just like those class photos, the tallest go in the back!Container Garden

Once you’re happy with where the herbs are, fill the rest of the container with Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix. For a two gallon container, add 1 cup of Espoma’s Organic Bio-Tone Starter Plus to the top 4-6” of soil. For a five gallon container, add two cups.

Pat the soil to firm and remove air bubbles.

Feeding herbs with an organic fertilizer regularly promotes bigger plants, so you’ll have a bigger harvest. Bio-Tone Starter Plus is a microbe enhanced all natural plant food that will help your herbs to establish quickly.

Give your herb containers 1” of water a week.

Harvest herbs often! The more you pick, the more they’ll grow. Don’t you just love plants like that?

What herbs are you planting this year? Share your favorites by commenting below!

Mother’s Day Container Garden Ideas

Freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies, homemade sandwiches with the crusts cut off and secret passwords— mom did it all for you. She showered you with love in so many ways, big and small.

Now it’s your turn to remind Mom how much you truly appreciate her.

Since Mom has made so many wonderful treasures for you over the years, take the time to make her a gift she’ll enjoy for months!

From a traditional hanging basket to a funky container garden, select a container that’s just her style, fill it with her favorite flowers and present a homemade gift that will bloom and delight for months!

Watch our video on container gardening for each step of the process, or follow the steps below.

First, find the perfect container. There are tons of fun, colorful and patterned containers out there. Or get creative and use an unexpected object. Either way, select the one that screams “Mom!” to you.

Be sure your container has drainage holes at the bottom and be sure it isn’t too big. Once the container is filled with soil, it can get pretty heavy.

Next, look for 3-5 flowers, grasses or greenery. If you already know Mom’s favorite flowers, definitely use those.

Then, choose plants that spill, thrill and fill! You want a plant that cascades, one that mounds and one that stands out among the rest.

You can mix colors, or stick with a monochromatic color scheme. Have fun with it!

Regardless, it’s best to make sure your plants like the same growing conditions. As a final check before checkout, compare plant tags to see if they all need the same amount of sun and water.

While you’re still shopping, grab a bag of the best organic potting mix.

Espoma Organic Potting Mix is not only 100 percent organic, but contains Myco-tone Mycorrhizae, too.

Plants growing in Espoma Organic Potting Mix require up to 30 percent less water than other potting soils. With water restrictions a concern, Mom will use less water for her container.

Plus, Espoma Organic Potting Mix helps your plants adjust to their new home better and grow bigger roots for bigger plants.

Now, get crafty!

  1. Fill the container 3/4 full with Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix.
  2. Mix in 2 tablespoons of Espoma’s Bio-tone® Starter Plus with the soil to give it that extra oomph. This organic plant food encourages bigger and more plentiful blooms!
  3. Remove the plants from their original containers and arrange them in the new planter.
  4. Play around a bit. Move the plants around to see where each plant looks best.
  5. Once the plants look perfect to you, fill in any gaps in the container with organic potting soil.
  6. Water well.
  7. Stick your Mother’s Day card in the soil on a floral pick and tie a bow around the container.

Wait till you see Mom’s face when you arrive on Mother’s Day with a beautiful, homemade container garden!

Share a photo of your Mom with her homemade Mother’s Day container on our Facebook page! And tell her Happy Mother’s Day from Espoma!

Feed Boxwood with Organic Plant Food in Early Spring

Evergreens — the name says it all. These plants and shrubs add color to your garden all year long, even in the dead of winter!

Though, we admit there’s one evergreen we love most: boxwoods.

Boxwood shrubs do it all. They’re super easy to care for, stay green all winter and are deer resistant.

These shrubs add instant definition, structure and privacy to outdoor spaces. Plus, boxwood shrubs morph into any shape when pruned. If an artful topiary isn’t for you though, they look just as beautiful when pruned slightly or left to grow free-form.

As easy as these shrubs are, there’s one BIG mistake people make when growing boxwood.

All too often, people believe that Holly-tone fertilizer is the feeding solution for boxwoods, just like they do with other evergreens. But that’s not the case.

While boxwood is part of the evergreen family, there’s one thing that makes them different. Most evergreens need to be fed Holly-tone, an organic fertilizer for acid-loving plants. But, boxwood — and arborvitaes — are evergreen shrubs that are not acid-loving plants. So, they need an all-purpose plant food.

Avoid the #1 mistake people make when growing boxwood. Fertilize your boxwood with an organic all-purpose plant food to keep them a healthy green. Plus, feeding these shrubs in early spring helps them fight off disease all season.

How to Feed Established Boxwood:

To see how much fertilizer your boxwood needs, measure the width of your boxwood with a tape measure.

For each foot, use 1 cup of Espoma Plant-tone. For example if your boxwood is 4’ wide, use 4 cups of organic plant food.

Then, sprinkle around the boxwood’s drip line, which is a circle formed around the shrub’s widest branch.

How to Feed New Boxwood:

If you want to add a border or line a path, boxwood is just what you’re looking for. Go ahead and get planting.

Boxwood grows best in zones 6-8. As always before planting, make sure the area you’d like to plant matches the plant’s likings. Read that plant tag! Most boxwood need full to partial sun and well-drained soil.

Once you’ve found the perfect spot and the perfect boxwood, it’s time to plant.

Dig a hole as deep and twice as wide as the root ball. Scoop a handful of soil to test, too. Boxwood needs a soil pH between 6 and 7. If your pH is too low, add Espoma Organic Garden Lime. If your soil pH is higher than 7, amend with Espoma Organic Soil Acidifier.

Now, loosen roots and position boxwood in the hole.

Replace 1/3 of the soil with compost or Espoma Organic All Purpose Garden Soil. And, mix in 1-2 cups of Organic Plant-tone. Adding an organic plant food now helps plants thrive in their new home.

Then, fill the rest of the hole with amended soil or Espoma Garden Soil.

Lightly water now, and continue watering once a week during spring and summer.

Finally, make the boxwood look right at home by adding 2-3” of mulch to control weeds and conserve water.

Boxwood transforms any area into a defined, stately space. Soon, these beautiful evergreens will even be dotted with sweet, white blooms.

What’s your favorite evergreen? Comment below to share!