Posts

One, Two, Three – What Soil Tests Numbers Really Mean

With just a tiny bit of water, a handful of seeds and some sunshine, your garden makes its own magic.

Well, almost! Your plants get all their food from the soil, too. After a busy summer, it’s time for your soil’s checkup, so your soil can keep growing its best.

Perform a soil test to see what your soil needs. And, we’ll help you understand what those numbers mean!

Scoop, Snoop and Score Soil.

Your soil’s health is a mystery waiting to be solved. All you need to do is grab a handful of soil and examine it. Send it off to your local extension service. Or, get down and dirty, and DIY it. Here’s how to perform a soil test.

Soil tests measure the nutrients available to plants along with their pH level. Garden soil should be between 6.0-7.0 pH, while the ideal pH for grass is 6.5-7.0.

  1. Low pH? Power the Sour. You’ve got sour, also called acidic, soil with a pH level under 7. Before remedying, remember some plants like this! Raise soil pH levels by adding Espoma’s Organic Garden Lime.
  2. High pH? Treat the Sweet. Soil with a pH level over 7 is known as sweet, or alkaline, soil. To fix, add Espoma Organic Soil Acidifier.

Conclusion Confusion. Understanding Soil Test Numbers

Looking at your soil test, your head may start spinning. What do all those numbers mean? Stick with us, your teacher at Espoma’s Garden School, to learn!

  1. When to N. The “N” on your soil test stands for nitrogen, which helps leaf growth. To raise nitrogen levels, add an organic fertilizer with a higher nitrogen level. Or, use blood meal or fish meal. To lower nitrogen levels, choose a fertilizer with less nitrogen.
  2. Be the P. “P” represents phosphorus, which helps plants flower and grow fruit. Need more phosphorous? Use an organic fertilizer with a higher percentage of P. Or, add bone meal. To lower phosphorous numbers, cut back on the P on the fertilizer bag.
  3. Way of the K. “K” stands for potassium, which helps plants resist diseases and grow healthy roots. If you have too much K, use an organic fertilizer with less potassium. Likewise, if you need more, opt for an organic fertilizer with a higher number K. Or, add sulfate of potash or greensand.

Strong, healthy soil gives way to stronger, bigger and better plants. Talk about a productive day in the garden!

Live on Lawn! Tips for End of Summer Health

From barbecues and summer parties to gardening and endless games of fetch with your pup, your lawn has endured lots of activity this summer.

But, the summer isn’t over yet and your lawn needs some TLC. Go out with a bang by rejuvenating your lawn and prepping for the cooler season ahead.organic

safe paws espomaHelp Your Lawn Hang On All Winter Long

  1. Know How to Mow. When mowing, keep the mower blades high (3” or higher) to encourage healthy roots.
  2. Agree to Reseed. If all of your lawn looks dry and brown, overseed the whole lawn. If only certain areas look bare, reseed only those spots. First, perform a soil test and improve if needed. Then cut grass and remove clippings. Level and rake soil smooth. With a broadcast spreader, apply a seed that best suits your region and weather. Finally, water.
  3. Prepare with Care. Get your lawn ready for the cooler weather ahead by fortifying it with nutrients. An organic fall winterizer promotes growth, helps lawns recover from drought and increases winter hardiness. So apply an organic fall winterizer after you’ve seeded and mowed. Follow instructions here.
  4. Fido First. Always use an organic lawn fertilizer or winterizer. Harsher, chemical lawn products can be eaten, ingested or passed on to your dog. This exposure has been linked with a higher risk of canine cancer. Keep your dog alive longer by making sure their paws are safe thanks to organic lawn products.

And just like that, you’re done with lawn care for the summer! How are you going to celebrate? We foresee a barbecue with fresh herbs and spicy homegrown peppers.

Make a Splash in the Garden for Your Labor Day Bash

Labor Day is about relaxing, having fun and soaking up every last second of summer. And, it’s the perfect time to reflect on all of your summertime garden accomplishments. Need you look any further than your pile of super-ripe tomatoes or your luscious roses

But just because summer is ending doesn’t mean your garden has to! Your garden can look as fabulous as ever for your Labor Day bash or just to head into fall with these late-summer gardening tips.

Tips to Display a Lavish Garden on Labor Day

  1. Aiding the Fading. Walk through the garden and remove any plants that are done for the season. Be sure to compost them!
  2. Love Late-Bloomers. Swap annuals that have stopped blooming or look less than stellar with late-summer blooming flowers. Plant these colorful annuals to end the summer with a bang: celosia, zinnias, salvia, chrysanthemum or pansies. Boost your blooms with organic Flower-tone.
  3. Include Fresh Food. Hosting a Labor Day party? Plan your menu and snacks by seeing what’s ready for harvest in your garden. Guests love hearing that you grew your organic fruits and veggies. Plus, the home grown flavors will blow them away. Here are some of our favorite garden-to-table recipes. Be sure your fall veggies are planted, too.
  4. Pose with a Rose. Pair your homegrown menu with a homegrown tablescape. Cut garden roses. Pop single flowers in unexpected containers and space them along your table. Intersperse with glass ball jars or votives that have a fresh sprig of herbs tied around them.
  5. Plant Permanent. Late summer and early fall are perfect for adding perennials. Plant fall-blooming perennials before your Labor Day party to add a splash of color to your garden. Black-eyed susan, asters, sedum, daylilies, coneflowers and yarrow will wow for years.
  6. A Breath of Fresh Air. The late-summer heat takes a lot out of your favorite plants in the garden. Give them a good watering before the party, so they’ll look their best!

Now, you’re ready to end the summer in style! A table filled with just-plucked edibles, fresh cut roses and friends and family… That’s the essence of summer.

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.  

Dogscape – So Every Dog Has Its Day

In the garden and in life, dogs are our best pals. Plus, they’re the only ones who ever seem to help us weed!

So, thank them by dogscaping and create a yard that’s dog-friendly to keep them happy, healthy and out of trouble.

Create a Landscape of Wagging Tails and Happy Dogs:

1. Safe Paws, Safe Pets. Dogs love your lush, green lawn. The chemicals used in many lawn fertilizers and products aren’t safe for pets or people for that matter. Keep dogs’ paws safe, happy and healthy by opting for a 100% organic lawn program.

Safe Paws, Safe Pets organic lawn program.

2. Munching on Mulch. Since dogs often eat mulch, choose one that’s non-toxic and pet-safe. Avoid cocoa mulch, and any mulch that has essential oils, resins or chemical insecticides. Apply it like this.

safe paws organic lawn

3. Mend the Fence. Whether you choose electric or wooden, fences prevent dogs from running away and keep them safe. Check for holes, gaps, breaks or broken latches. And, fence off pools, ponds and fire pits to prevent injuries.

Safe paws organic lawn

4. Let Them Play! Make a doggy-dream spot by picking an area in the shade and fill it with their favorite toys.

Safe Paws organic lawn

5. Keep them Cool. Add a pool! A kiddie pool is cheap, loads of fun and protects dogs from the summer heat. Want it a bit more hidden? Dig out an area to create a pseudo in-ground pool, so only the top 1-2” is exposed. You can fence in the area if you please.

Safe Paws, organic lawn

6. Dig It. If your dog is frequently digging up your favorite flowers, create a dog-friendly dig spot. Pick a spot and put a border around it using rocks or bricks. Then, fill with loose dirt or sand. Bury a few toys and bones here to introduce the area. Reward your pup with treats when they dig here.

Safe paws organic lawn

Do you hear that? It’s the distant, but unmistakable sound of your dog’s tail wagging! Congrats, your dog officially has the coolest, safest yard in the neighborhood.

Show Off Your Patriotic Pet for a Chance to Win $100

As the biggest celebration of the summer, the Fourth of July is the perfect opportunity to celebrate our independence with friends, family fireworks and…Fido?!

Yes, people aren’t the only ones showcasing their patriotism on the Fourth of July — our pets cannot get enough of the Red, White and Blue.

This year, showcase your star-spangled furry friend in our first ever Patriotic Pet Photo Contest.

From June 26 through July 7, enter our Facebook contest for a chance to win a $100 VISA gift card.

Entering is simple:Patriotic Pet Photo Contest

  1. Please Like Espoma on Facebook.
  2. Click on the contest tab.
  3. Post a picture that best captures the spirit of the Fourth.
  4. Share the link with friends and family and encourage them to vote with a ‘like.’

The photo with the most ‘Likes’ wins at 9:00 A.M. EST on July 7.

One winning pet and their owner will receive a $100 VISA gift card. All entries must have something patriotic in the photo to be eligible to win. Don’t forget to include your pets name on the photo when you submit an entry.

Don’t have a pet to upload? Check our Facebook page regularly from June 26 through July 7 to vote for your favorite patriotic photo. Vote for as many entries as you like. All are welcome to participate so share your favorite posts with family, friends and coworkers.

The contest will end at 9:00 AM on Tuesday, July 7. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, July 8.

Submit Your Patriotic Photo Here! Good luck!

Keep Your Pet Safe During Hot Summer Days

Summertime means the fun doesn’t stop! From barbecues and homegrown veggies to beach trips and sunshine, we bet you’ve got a lot planned for the next few weeks.

Pets would like to follow us wherever we go. And we love traveling with our dogs, whether it’s to the mountains for a getaway or just to the garden center.

Are you (and your pet) taking a road-trip this summer? Keep the good times rollin’ by keeping pets safe in the hot weather.

During the summer months, never leave your pet alone in the car. Even with the windows cracked, your car’s temperature can rise 19°F in 7 minutes. Let’s avoid those types of hot dogs!summer pet safety

Here are hot weather traveling tips from the ASPCA:

  • Keep a bowl of water outside in the shade, and pack water and a bowl for dogs when traveling. Pets need lots of fresh, cool water in hot weather.
  • Exercise your pet during the coolest parts of the day (dawn and dusk), and never immediately following a meal.
  • Hot asphalt and tar can burn sensitive paw pads. Walk your pet on grass or dirt when possible.
  • Provide shade when your pet is outside on a hot day.
  • Get a veterinary checkup before traveling and make sure you have the necessary vaccination certificates for the area you will be visiting, as well as flea and tick treatments.

Another way to keep your dog cool is to avoid giving them a buzz cut! Get this — keeping your dog’s long hair groomed actually helps circulate air and better regulate body temperature.

Unsure if your dog is over-heating? Go inside, give ‘em water and check for heat stroke. Look for redness around the eyes or excessive panting. Cool them with a refreshing bath. If you’re still concerned, call the vet.

Another way you can keep pets happy and healthy this summer is to make sure the lawn is pet safe.

Did you know most lawn fertilizers contain harmful chemicals that can lead to canine cancer? Most people simply don’t know! Use only organic lawn fertilizers to keep your pets cancer-free this summer and for years to come.

See how we’re keeping dogs safe through Safe Paws — and how you can help.

Share this post to help keep more pets safe this summer!  

Love Your Pet with Safe Paws

SafePaws_Wht_Frame_FNLKeep Pet Paws Safe with Espoma’s Safe Paws Program

It’s hard to match our level of excitement for summer, but there’s somebody who always does!

Our pets!

Dogs love to sprint across green lawns — with tails wagging and eyes set on a prize! Cats are known to bask in the summer sun all day long, too. Our furry friends love lounging on the lawn just as much as we do — which is why pet proofing is so important.

Pet proofing everything from patios and porches to lawns and gardens keeps pets safe and your yard damage-free. Plus, June is National Pet Safety Month, so the timing couldn’t be better!

First thing’s first: the lawn! Pets run through the lawn, roll in it and often eat it. As you well know, any trouble pets can get into, they do.

But, many lawn products contain harmful chemicals, so they’re not safe to use around pets, children or anyone for that matter. Since pets lick their paws when cleaning, they ingest those dangerous herbicides, which can make them sick.

Cancer affects 1 out of every 3 dogs, according to the National Canine Cancer Foundation. Cancer is not as common in cats, but tends to be more aggressive.

Let’s reduce that statistic — together.

Keep pets safe this season by using only organic lawn and garden products like those made by Espoma. We believe the safest, most effective way to reduce canine cancer and help pets live long, healthy lives is to avoid harmful chemicals altogether.

malinois-662784_640

Here are 7 tips for pet proofing your yard that can be done today:

  1. Out of Paws Reach. Store hazardous products such as insecticides, paint, car parts and gasoline on upper shelves.
  2. A close cut. Since fleas and ticks lurk in tall grasses, keep your lawns mowed at 3 – 3.5”.
  3. Begin with the Bin. Food and garden waste make excellent additions to garden soil. But you should compost in closed containers or keep pets out of the compost pile as rotting waste may make your pet sick if eaten.
  4. Go Bare. Using an organic lawn food, as well as organic mulch will eliminate the hazards that chemical fertilizers, pesticides and synthetic mulches present.
  5. Use your Eyes. Look around the patio and yard. Standing water, exposed wires or objects in the ground may cause a hazard. Change or remove them immediately.
  6. Paw-Approved Plants. We’ve found that pets love munching on new things in the yard, especially plants and grasses. Before buying new plants, check if they’re nontoxic.
  7. The Great Escape. Ensure there are no gaps in the fence that your pet could escape through.

Get the full scoop on how our Safe Paws initiative is keeping pets safe.

Now go play! Share a picture of you and your pet enjoying the summer weather on our Facebook page!

Safe Paws for Pets Everywhere

Have you heard about our Safe Paws initiative and April’s Safe Paws Challenge?

The Espoma Company is equipping pet owners with tips to keep pets safe outdoors by avoiding the dangers of common lawn hazards.Safe Paws Espoma Puppies

During the month of April, we used our Facebook page to raise awareness and made a $700 donation to the National Canine Cancer Foundation.

In addition to providing healthy and safe lawn care tips on Facebook and Twitter, we brought our Safe Paws campaign to three garden centers in the Mid-Atlantic.

Primex Garden Center, Homestead Gardens and Bucks Country Gardens welcomed us with open paws for our Safe Paws launch. Our events included on-site adoptions, local vet Q&A’s, a Safe Paws photo booth, treats and more from local pet vendors.

What great events! We had perfect weather and great turnouts. Most importantly, we heard from every pet parent that a healthy lifestyle for their pets in their #1 priority.

We listened to pet parents tell their tales and we heard their concerns. Some of you never considered the damage harsh chemicals could be doing to your animals! But many of you told us stories about your sick pets, and how you’ve stopped using chemicals on your lawn to protect them.

Lawn chemicals are potentially harmful to both cats and dogs that run and play in yards, neighborhoods and parks, and may be a contributing factor in the increase of cancer in pets. According to the National Canine Cancer Foundation, an alarming one out of every three dogs is diagnosed with cancer.

With knowledge, there is power. So we’re working to make sure every home is aware of the benefits of an organic lawn.

Our new Safe Paws guide, which we unveiled at the events, showed guests that

It’s surprisingly easy to do our job when surrounded by puppies!

Baxter Safe Paws

Five tips for keeping paws safe:

  1. Inspect your yard for hazards. Dogs and cats are curious. Keep dangerous chemicals such as fertilizers, insecticides, paint and gasoline out of reach.
  2. Switch to an organic lawn food. Harmful lawn chemicals can easily be ingested or tracked into homes, keep them off of lawns to begin with. Espoma’s annual feeding program features products that provide 2.5x more slow release nitrogen than the leading conventional program. And you don’t have to worry about your kids or pets rolling around in chemicals on the lawn.
  3. Encourage pets to stay away from certain areas in the yard by creating borders using soft materials like cedar mulch.
  4. Provide shade and shelter for pets while they’re hanging out on the lawn. Consider adding a dog house and provide plenty of water.
  5. Fleas and ticks hide in longer grass. Mow your lawn to the proper height to keep fleas and ticks at bay.

Share a photo of your favorite pet on our Facebook page! And let us know where you’d like us to have Safe Paws events next year!

30 Tips in 30 Days to Celebrate Lawn Care Month!

Hello April! In addition to rain, spring blooms and warmer temps, this month is great for growing healthier lawns with Espoma’s 30 days of tips!

Starting today, we’re sharing daily lawn care tips to kick off National Lawn Care month and help people make the switch to organic lawns and create “Safe Paws” environments. Follow along on Facebook or Twitter to learn how to create a lush, green and organic lawn in 30 days.

To show our commitment to chemical free lawns that are safe for pets, we are also hosting a #SafePawsChallenge and donating $500 to the National Canine Cancer Foundation for every 5,000 new likes during the month of April. The foundation funds research and raises awareness to fight cancers that affect dogs.

Creating an organic lawn keeps your family and pets safe. But did you know an organic lawn can save you money and time, too?

According to Environmental Grassroots Education, you’ll save money making the switch to organic lawns in the long-term. Specifically, you can save more than 25% by using organic lawn products. How’s that possible?

With conventional, chemical lawn programs, you spend money every year on products engineered to be short-term solutions. And you leave your lawn craving more.

Organic lawn care is different. 

From all-natural soil amendments to organic lawn fertilizer, they all improve your soil’s health and structure over time. As natural lawn foods break down, your soil becomes stronger on its own and needs less help.

As an added bonus, organic lawns need less watering, fertilizing and mowing all summer long. Yes — that means you get to spend more time enjoying your beautiful lawn and less time caring for it!

Saving money and time are big advantages of organic lawn care. But we haven’t even got to the most important one yet!

Every time you opt for organic lawn care products, you’re creating a safer environment for your pets and family. Plus, you’re taking care of the planet.

Listen to this: Americans spread 90 million pounds of pesticides on their lawns every year according to the EPA.

All those chemicals and pesticides are potentially harmful to kiddos playing barefoot and pets running in the grass.

With organic lawn care products, there’s no need to worry about harmful effects on your family or the planet.

So, spend this spring and summer fully enjoying your outdoor sanctuary.

The first step is to follow Espoma on Facebook. Next, watch for our daily tips using the hashtag #LawnCareMonth. You’ll learn how to create a plush, healthy and organic lawn within 30 days. We’re covering everything from using an organic lawn fertilizer to eliminating weeds and perfecting your soil’s pH levels.

What questions do you have about organically caring for your lawn? Let us know below, and we’ll answer!