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5 Deliciously Unique Fall Vegetables

Most avid gardeners have planted the veggie essentials in abundance, but what about the forgotten veggies and those varieties that look a little different from the usual choices?

There is a surprisingly long list of what are considered “unusual” veggies, but below are five of the strangest, most delicious ones that you’ll want in your garden.

Romanesco Broccoli

If you’re going for the “wow” factor in your veggie garden, then Romanesco broccoli is the plant for you. Its intense, bright green fractals of broccoli are stunning. It is similar to cauliflower in terms of care. For best results, be sure to keep the soil moist and plant in a spot with full sun. Keep romanesco broccoli fed with Espoma’s Garden-tone. You can eat this stunning broccoli in a number of ways: raw in a salad, steamed, or grilled. Hardy in Zones 3-10.

Kaleidoscope Carrots

Jewel-toned colors like yellow, purple and red make for a fun pop of color for this classic favorite veggie. Choose rainbow carrots to add a variety of color to salads, sides and stir-fries. Plant seeds in late summer for a harvest that can be enjoyed on autumn days and even for Thanksgiving dinner. Straight roots need light, loose soil so sow carrot seeds in deep, well-worked soil in full sun. Grow in any region.

Black Radishes

Radishes are quick and easy to grow. Heirloom varieties of black radishes take about two to three times long to grow than regular radishes and tend to be spicier. Their crisp black skin and snow white flesh will make them an intriguing addition to any veggie platter. If radishes are too pungent, remove the skin before eating. Black radishes do need plenty of sun, so choose a spot where they can get 6-8 hours of direct sunlight. Feed with Espoma’s liquid Grow! for bigger plants. Grow in any region.

Tree Onions (Egyptian Onions)

These onions set their bulbs at the top of the plants. They taste similar to shallots, but with a more intense flavor. Stalks fall over when they get too heavy, allowing the bulbs to “walk” and plant themselves in a new space. One walking onion can travel as far as 24 inches and create six new onions. Plant bulbs in late summer (before the first frost) to harvest next year. Hardy in Zones 3-10.

Blue Potatoes

The vivid bluish-purple hues of Adirondack potatoes make them a stunner for any dish — especially mashed potatoes. They taste like regular potatoes and get their unique coloring from anthocyanin. There are many varieties including some with a marbled blue and white interior. Plant potatoes in fall to get a head start on a spring harvest. Grow in any region.

Espoma products for Unusual Veggies:

Grow! Plant Food

If you’re looking for the basics, learn how to plant veggies in containers!

 

7 Flowers for a Sun-Kissed July Bouquet

Summertime brings plenty of sunshine, relaxing days outdoors, fresh veggies ready for harvest farmers markets — and best of all, fresh flowers from your garden. The season’s hot weather makes it perfect for enjoying outdoor blooms and snipping a few off to create your own sun-kissed bouquet. Check out the below varieties that will add a big burst of color from late summer into fall.

Sunflowers

Nothing says summer quite like a bright and cheery sunflower. Choose dwarf varieties which typically have smaller blooms and reach about 1 foot in height. They are perfect for small space gardening and children love planting these bright flowers. Grow in full sun or partial shade in Zones 1-10. Start sunflowers indoors in Espoma’s seed starting mix for extra flower power.

Dahlias

A classic favorite, dahlias dazzle with blooms from mid-July until September. Available in a variety of sizes, colors and designs, it’s hard to plant just one. These dazzling beauties will add style to your garden anywhere you plant them. While they are technically a tuber, you plant them the same way you would plant a bulb. Dahlias are winter hardy in zones 8-11, but gardeners in zones 2-7 can plant them in the spring.

Zinnias

Find zinnias in a variety of bright and beautiful colors. These heat-tolerant plants bloom quickly from mid-summer until frost and are easy to grow. The more you cut your zinnias, the more flowers the plants will produce. While these flowers are deer resistant, they are monarch butterfly favorites. Grow in full sun in Zones 1-10.

 

Hydrangeas

Hydrangeas embody everything we love about gardening. They have billowy texture, come in bright colors and are easy to care for. With their larger-than-life blooms and immense foliage, they can be planted anywhere from container to flower bed. Check with your local garden center to find the best hydrangea variety for your zone.

Lavender

Perfectly purple lavender is a garden must-have. Their flowering period covers the summer months of June to August. As a bonus, their scent is known to deter pesky mosquitoes. Use lavender in a bouquet just on its own or as filler with other summer blooms. Best suited for zones 5-8.

Roses

Roses are the most classic flower to include in a garden. They’re prolific bloomers, fragrant and colorful. They are hardy in zones 4-9 and with the right care, can come back to thrive year after year. Feed your roses monthly with Espoma’s Organic Rose-tone to ensure proper growth.

 

Gerbera Daisies

With a bright and cheery demeanor, gerbera daisies have quite a bit of flair. They will have single, double or even multiple petals, which can add some texture and contrast to your garden. They will withstand the summer heat with their sturdy stems and big blooms. Feed regularly with Flower-tone to give their stems a boost.

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5 Unusual Containers to Grow Strawberries

There are very few things better than a sweet, juicy strawberry from your garden. Summer and strawberries go hand in hand, so if you aren’t already growing them, get them in the ground now.

But not everyone has a spot in the garden for this berry, so sometimes you need to come up with interesting and unique ways to plant them.

Choose your favorite from our options below and head over to your local garden center to pick up supplies and some Holly-tone. Your fresh strawberries won’t disappoint!

5 Unique Spots to Plant Strawberries:

Bird Bath

If you have a bird bath lying around that you no longer need, plant some strawberries in there! Add large rocks or broken terra cotta to the bottom to ensure proper drainage. Fill it the rest of the way with Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix and plant your berries!

DIY Tower

Follow along with Laura from Garden Answer as she creates her own unique take on a strawberry tower. Need step by step written directions? Check it out here.

Gutter Planters

These planters, which hang on the side of the house, are perfect for anyone who needs a little space. Be sure they are fastened tightly before planting. Leave a little space between plants and the sides so they can have room to drape over the sides. Once planted, water them well with Espoma’s Grow! liquid plant food.

Pallet Planter

We’ve seen Laura from Garden Answer plant a whole vegetable garden in a pallet, but we think it would be a great place for an abundance of strawberries! Gently fill them with Espoma’s Organic Garden Soil to help them grow strong roots.

Flower Box Tower

This is another DIY-type planter. Stacking up flower boxes will help keep the planters off of the ground and away from any curious creatures that might want to eat your strawberries ! Plant a few of them up and watch them grow.

Espoma products to help you grow your best strawberries yet:

Grow! Plant FoodPotting Soil

Looking to learn more about growing strawberries? Check out all we have to say about this delicious berry!

Purple Please – Top Purple Plants for Your Garden

Every year gardeners want to expand their gardens to offer new colors and plants to make it fresh.

This year, Ultra Violet is the color on trend, so we looked for the best purple plants to include. We created this list of a variety of flowers, foliage and pollinators to fit any need. Plus they all smell divine.

When planning to plant, start your new plants off right with Espoma’s Organic Bio-Tone Starter Plus plant food plus mycorrhizae.

Top 5 Purple Plants

  1. Lavender

Not only is lavender a beautiful purple shade, but it has a strong fragrance that helps to alleviate stress. Lavender, with its attractive foliage, purple flowers and scent is the symbol of summer which is a must for every garden. Bloom time is from June to August.

  1. Verbena

Clusters of little purple flowers top the stems of this beautiful plant. Verbena is drought tolerant, so it fits into any climate. Bunched together this plant can pack a punch of color. Bloom time is from summer through fall.

  1. East Friesland Salvia

This plant shines purple through and through. This salvia plant is popular for the long spikes of purple flowers that bloom in the summer and fall. It is a pollinator plant, attracting everything from bees to hummingbirds.

  1. Heliotrope

Perfect for containers near your entryways, Heliotrope is known for its vanilla fragrant flowers. It is a wonderful treat for summer, especially when paired with lemongrass and lavender. These purple flowers are small and dense, but should not be overlooked. Bloom time is summer through fall.

  1. Purple Bee Balm

While the most popular varieties of bee balm is red, there are some beautiful selections that bring purple flowers. They are easy to grow and will bloom from summer through fall. It is a great pollinator plant, loved by hummingbirds and bees.

For even more options, head to your local garden center to see what plants work well for your area.

Once your new plants are established, feed regularly with Espoma’s Organic Grow! liquid fertilizer. It gives them the boost they need to have bright colors and vibrant blooms.

Espoma products in this blog:

 

Grow! Plant Food

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Grow Your Own Topiary

Topiaries are plants that have been pruned and trained to grow into distinct decorative shapes. They’re basically slow-growing artistic masterpieces. Whether you grow them geometrically or fanciful like spirals, spheres or even elephants, the options are endless.

Topiaries can be grown from vines or shrubs, and even some herbs. The amount of time it takes to grow a topiary will depend on the topiary’s size and the number of plants you use. Most gardeners use a topiary frame or form to get the look they desire. Visit your local garden center to find out more about the best plants for your topiary.

Topiaries with vining plants

When using vining plants, you’ll need to get a topiary form to encourage the vines to grow in the shape you’ve chosen. English ivy, Boston ivy and periwinkle are popular choices for vining topiaries. To start, fill the form with sphagnum moss to create a full look. Then, plant the vine around the form, allowing the vines to grow upward. You may need several plants to achieve a full look. As the vines grow, train them by wrapping and attaching them around the form with plant ties or wires and pruning regularly.

Topiaries with shrubs

Start small when making a shrub topiary. Choose a variety such as holly, boxwood or laurel. Look for dwarf varieties that will stay compact and won’t need much pruning. If you’re looking to create a pyramid or geometrical shape, select shrubs with tall growth habits such as yews or hollies. For statuesque spirals and cones, choose arborvitae. Beginners will want to use topiary frames to sculpt their designs, which will also help when deciding what needs to be pruned. To train and prune your topiary, you’ll need a clear vision of how you want the topiary to look. Pruning encourages new and bushier growth, but don’t cut off more than 3 inches in the areas you want to trim back.

Fertilizing topiaries

Help topiaries reach their full potential as quickly as they can by using Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus when planting. Follow-up with Espoma’s Grow! liquid fertilizer. Grow! encourages root growth and deep green foliage that will surely delight. For acid-loving plants like hollies, use Holly-tone for best results.

Remember that topiaries take time and so be patient. Your time, maintenance and patience will pay off!

Hellebore Care Guide

These long-blooming, low-maintenance flowers really brighten up winter landscapes. Laura from Garden Answer shows how to care for winter hellebores using Espoma’s liquid fertilizers.

 

 

Help Local Pollinators Survive the Winter

October has arrived and with it comes fall flavors. Pumpkin spice pops up practically wherever you go. And there’s nothing like a freshly picked apple or glass of apple cider.

Pollinators know it‘s fall too and they could use some help from your garden. This time of year is known as nectar flow, where many major nectar sources are blooming. They want their own fall fixes as they prepare to hibernate or migrate.

You’ve probably added perennials and trees to your garden for pollinators, now add fall flowers to bring pollinators to your garden.

6 Fall Blooming Plants for Pollinators

Aster

All kinds of pollinators are attracted to this fall-blooming plant — bees, butterflies, native birds and other insects. This double duty plant will bring vibrant colors to your garden while providing nectar from summer into late fall. Asters are appealing to pollinators due to their friendly flower structure. They grow 2-3 feet tall in zones 4-9 and are happy in both sun and partial shade.

Goldenrod

The fall color scape isn’t complete without the goldenrod’s vibrant color. This easy-to-grow plant brings butterflies and bees to your garden. Being a native to North America, it will adapt to the climate it is set in. They grow 2-3 feet tall in zones 4-9 and are happy in sun or partial shade. Pollinator Tip: Goldenrods do well when paired with Asters.

Purpletop Vervain

Bring the fall colors to your garden with this deep purple plant. The flowers cluster at the top of a long slender stem, which butterflies and bees adore. Purpletop Vervain responds better to late fall sowing as it likes cold temperatures. They grow 2-4 feet tall in zones 7-11 and are happy in full sun.

Joe Pye Weed

Joe Pye Weed is perfect for gardeners looking to add some height. It may be called a weed, but it brings the classic fall mauve to play with large dinner plate-sized blooms. They are loved by butterflies and will bloom late summer into the fall. They can grow up to 5 feet tall in zones 4-9 and are happy in full sun.

Autumn Joy Sedum

If you know the classic sedum for the large pink blooms, you will be in for a surprise with Autumn Joy. This variety offers burnt red blossoms on top of tall gray-green stalks. The vibrant fall color complements your garden this season. Butterflies are a frequent visitor to this plant. It will last through the fall, until the flowers dry in the winter. They grow 2 feet tall in zones 3-9 and are happy in full sun.

Bugbane

Known for being a dramatic addition to any garden, Bugbane is popular among gardeners.  Bugbane is a host plant and source of nectar for butterflies. On top of long stalks, wispy white flower spikes bring sweet smells. Other fall colors are offered in various varieties of this plant. They grow up to 6 feet tall with 12-18 inch spikes of color in zones 3-9 and are happy with partial sun to full shade.

Be sure to keep fall blooms big and vibrant with Espoma’s Grow! Liquid Plant Food.

Fall Foliage that adds Spark

Gardens full of life and color are the best gardens to have around. It is easy to bring colors to life during spring and summer when everything is blooming.

While summer is known for its vibrant colors, fall also brings bold colors to the garden.

Flaming fall foliage will bring spark life to your garden even when everything else seems to be dulling. Show off with foliage to bring life back into your garden.

Our Top Fall Flaming Foliage Picks:

Virginia Creeper – This creeping vine brings beautiful colors that can expand in every direction. The best variety for fall would be the “Red Wall” vine. With colors that range from dark green in the spring and summer to bright red and orange when autumn rolls around, this foliage will make your neighbors stop and stare.

 

Height: 20-25 ft
Width: 6-8 ft
Hardiness Zone: 3 to 9

Sun Requirement:  Part Shade to Shade

Itea – Dramatic is one way to describe the transformation of colors in this plant. Going from clusters of little white flowers to daring red-purple foliage is truly incredible. The “Henry’s Garnet Sweetspire” is the perfect fall variety to include in your garden. It has a surprise for every season.

Height: 3- 4 ft

Width: 4-6 ft

Hardiness Zone: 5 to 9

Sun Requirement: Full sun to part shade

Gro-low’ fragrant sumac – Described as a crazy quilt of yellows, reds and oranges, this sumac is exactly what your garden needs this fall. The small-leaved shrub makes it easier to manage, but still provides the same visual experience of a larger sumac. Its berries are edible and you can even brew them into a drink.

 

Height: 1.5- 2 ft

Width: 6-8 ft

Hardiness Zone: 3 to 9

Sun Requirements: Full sun to part shade

Red Switch Grass – This classic adds color to any part of your garden, but it is most often used as a border plant. The “Rotsrahlbusch” variety brings a beautiful blend of purple and red all year long. This variety is known for being slim but straight which makes it a perfect backdrop to some of those amazing blooming florals.

 

Height: 3-4 ft

Width: 3/8 in

Hardiness Zone: 3 to 9

Sun Requirements: Full sun

Coral Bells – This plant will go with anything you put around it! It is the perfect plant to add into an empty place in your garden. The Heuchera “Autumn Leaves” variety is one to look to for amazing reds, caramel and ruby colors. They can last for years, bringing vibrant colors. Coral Bells are great at attracting hummingbirds, too.

 

Height: 1- 1.5 ft

Width: 1-1.5 ft

Hardiness Zone: 4 to 8

Sun Requirements: Full sun to part shade

 

Remember to fertilize regularly with Espoma’s GROW! Liquid Fertilizer to keep the foliage looking vibrant and lush.

6 Fall Veggies to Plant Now

August is here, summer is coming to an end, and you are just weeding and waiting. You’re in the summer slump.

Time to snap out of it! Get your garden thriving with fresh fall vegetables in your succession garden. You have a time left before the first frost comes around and you hang up your gardening tools. Don’t know what to plant? We can help with that! Give veggies a head start by planting seeds indoors.

6 Fall Vegetables for Succession Gardening

1. Collards – As one of the most cold-hardy plants, collards are great for fall weather. Collards are able to handle temperatures as low and the high teens. For a fall harvest, count back six to eight weeks before your first frost. This allows for sweeter leaves during a fall and winter harvest.

2. Kale – As part of the Brassicafamily, kale grows well in cool weather. Count back six to eight weeks before the first frost to start planting for a fall harvest. Depending on your USDA zone, you can continue planting into the fall. Maintain moisture in the leaves to ensure they are tender. Packed full of nutrients, kale is a great fall vegetable.

3. Lettuce – With different varieties, you can mix and match the lettuce in your garden. Count six weeks before the first frost to start planting. You can sow every two weeks up to the first frost for an extended crop. You can continue after the frost by using a hardier variety, such as romaines or butterheads.

4. Mustard Greens – Mustard greens have seeds that are easy to plant straight into your garden. They germinate well and grow quickly. Count back three weeks before the first frost to start planting. If you want a more successive harvest, plant every three weeks starting mid-summer. They do not grow well in summer, so starting them now is perfect for your fall flavors.

5. Beets – Beets love cold weather. In the southern states, they can be grown all winter long. In the northern states, make sure the soil is cooler (around 41F). Thinning your rows allows your beets to spread out and grow fuller. You can use the greens you thinned for a good salad mixing.

6. Turnips – Planting turnips in the fall makes the plant tenderer and sweeter than the spring. Sow your seeds in the late summer, early fall months to get a fall harvest. Start your turnips with seeds as they do not transplant well.

Remember to keep your plants watered well and fertilize regularly with Espoma’s GROW! Liquid Fertilizer.