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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!

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!

Get More Blooms on Roses with a Monthly Organic Feeding

Imagine growing a rose bush bursting with big, beautiful flowers. It’s easy.

All your roses need is a well-balanced meal. Roses are one of the hungriest plants, so they need to be fed often to perform their best.

You’ll instantly see the difference once you start regularly feeding your roses. Bigger, better and even more roses are on their way! Plus, your plants will look healthier since they’ll fight off disease more efficiently.

It’s amazing how much a healthy, organic meal can improve your roses.

Your roses are waking up now since spring is just beginning. They’ve made it through a long winter and they are starving! Feed them the most nutritious meal you can.

Espoma’s organic Rose-tone includes more nutrients than any other rose food. Most rose fertilizers contain three nutrients — nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (N-P-K). Rose-tone goes far beyond that. This organic rose food contains 12 more micronutrients roses need, including iron, calcium and magnesium.

Feeding roses with Rose-tone is like providing a perfectly balanced meal. Your roses get all the nutrients they need to work as hard as they can.

Another benefit of organic rose foods, such as Rose-tone, is the gradual release of nutrients. Due to its slow-release formula, Rose-tone will never burn or leach plants. Plus, this is the only organic rose food that improves soil structure.

In beds, spread 6 pounds of per 100 square feet. For individual roses, use 1¼ cups of Rose-tone per plant.

Now, let’s boost your roses and soil with an organic feeding.

For established roses in beds, spread 6 pounds of Rose-tone per 100 square feet. For individual roses, use 1¼ cups of Rose-tone per plant.

Sprinkle the granular organic rose food around each plant out to the widest branch. This encourages your roses to stretch their feet and grow a little!

Then, scratch the food into the top 1” of soil.

If you’re planting new roses, add a mixture of peat moss and 3 cups Rose-tone to the planting hole.

Either way, feed your roses monthly from early spring to mid-September to keep them producing beautiful blooms.

Feeding roses with organic plant food is one of the best ways to get bigger, healthier roses. Share another trick to keep roses booming below.

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!

 

 

 

How to Turn Pink Hydrangeas Blue

Picture the bluest hydrangea you’ve ever seen. It’s easy, isn’t it? This vibrant flower is as bright and bold as Elvis’ blue suede shoes.

So, how can you get a blue hydrangea? The secret is in the soil, and the power is in your hands.

Create a blue hydrangea simply by amending the soil. Most hydrangeas, except white ones, change color based on the pH or acidity levels of their soil.

And, it doesn’t stop there.

You can continually tweak the soil pH until you get exactly the shade of blue you’ve been dreaming of.

Transforming your hydrangeas to a jaw-dropping blue does take a bit of time. For especially big hydrangeas, the color conversion can take months. But, it is definitely worth the wait.

Creating breathtaking blue hydrangeas is extremely easy. All you need to do is amend your soil with Espoma Organic Soil Acidifier.

Other soil acidifiers contain Aluminum Sulfate, which can be incredibly harsh on plants, and even toxic to some, such as Rhododendrons. To keep your garden organic, all-natural and safe for people, pets and the planet, lower soil pH levels using an organic soil acidifier like Espoma Organic Soil Acidifier.

Before changing your pink hydrangeas to blue, check two things.

First, are there any other plants growing near your hydrangeas? Make sure they like acidic soil, too.

Finally, are your hydrangeas growing near a concrete walking path or patio? Concrete often contains lime, which can make it tough to turn hydrangeas blue.

Now let’s make magic happen!

To turn new hydrangeas blue, use 1¼ cups of Espoma Organic Soil Acidifier. Or to transform established hydrangeas into blue beauties, apply 2½ cups of Organic Soil Acidifier.

Spread evenly around the hydrangea out to its drip line, or the widest reaching branches.

Then, water well.

Repeat every 60 days until you’ve got the perfect color for you.

The intensity of blue hydrangeas is dependent on your soil’s pH levels. For deep blue blooms, aim for a soil pH of 4.5. For a more muted blue, you want your soil pH to be 5. Finally, if you want violet-blue hydrangea blossoms, your soil pH should be 5.5.

Perform a simple, DIY soil test if you want to discover your soil’s exact pH levels.

Craving hydrangeas super-saturated with blue color? Feed hydrangeas regularly with Espoma Holly-tone. Holly-tone fertilizer for acid loving plants also lowers your soil’s pH. Plus, a well-fed hydrangea will have bigger, better blooms.

Let’s get the word out about this gardening magic trick. Tweet if you’re going to magically turn hydrangeas from pink to blue!

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Start Seeds Indoors in 10 Easy Steps:

Planting seeds inside is the first step toward Spring! Starting now means you’ll be planting seedlings outside in just 4 to 6 short weeks.

Plus, planting seeds is as easy and fun as can be. Gather your kids, family or friends to plant seeds with you for a “think Spring” get-together.

There’s nothing more refreshing or rewarding than crunching down on produce you’ve grown from seed.

How to Plant Seeds Inside:

1. Dream big

Choose your favorite high-quality seeds from a huge selection. Starting hard-to-find or expensive plants from seed will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

2. Stock up

Get plastic trays with holes in the bottom or a seed-starting kit as well as an organic soil starter, such as Espoma’s Organic Seed Starter. An organic soil like this is made specifically to help your seedlings grow strong, sturdy roots in a healthy, safe environment.

3. Get plantin’

Fill seed trays to within ¼” of the top and lightly water. Then, follow seed packet instructions to see how deep and far apart to plant. Cover with soil, press down and label.

4. Water wisely

Water perfectly by placing tray in a larger pan of shallow water for a few seconds or up to a couple of minutes so the water seeps up from the bottom.

5. Find the right spot

Place seeds in a warm, safe place. To warm up a spot, place a space heater nearby or place trays on top of the refrigerator.

6. Take cover and wait

Loosely cover the tray with plastic wrap, or use the cover in your seed-starting kit. Check seeds daily for moisture.

7. Spot a sprout

Once you see sprouts, remove the cover and move seeds to a sunny, south-facing window that is 65-75°F. Then, turn the container a little each day to prevent leaning seeds.

8. Boost plants

When leaves grow, add a bit of fertilizer such as Espoma’s Plant-tone. Plant-tone is an organic fertilizer, so it’s safe to use on edibles and helps plants grow bigger than ever before.

9. Strengthen seeds

Check seed packets to see when to plant after the last frost. Before planting you’ll want to harden off seedlings. Hardening off is a process that gets seeds used to the outdoors. Simply place your tray outside for a few hours a day for 7-10 days. Each day, increase their time outdoors and reduce watering.

10. Plant permanently

Once the last frost date has passed, you’re ready to plant! Gently remove plants from containers without damaging the roots. Plant in a prepared bed and mix in organic starter plant food to keep them strong, such as Bio-tone Starter Plus.

You did it! Spring is just a step away – and so are your crisp, garden-fresh veggies and fruits!

Tell us, what seeds are you starting this year?

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