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Root vegetable crops can often be planted as soon as the soil has warmed. They’re an easy addition to start your vegetable garden. Start your seedlings now and you‘ll be able to brag about your homegrown root vegetables at the first summer BBQ of the year.
In order to be successful, plant your seeds after springs last frost date according to your region. Stop by your local garden center to pick up your seeds and supplies, soon!
Here’s how to start root vegetable seeds:
- Pick Your Soil
Soil for root vegetables is important as they will grow around anything intrusive buried. That will lead to deformed vegetables. They grow best in a deep, loose soil that retains moisture yet is well-drained, such as Espoma’s Organic Garden Soil. Choosing the right soil from the beginning will set up your crop for success. Prepare bed, loosen compacted soil and mix in Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus, to keep roots strong.
- Start Seeds
Sow your seeds directly into your soil. Follow instructions on the seed packets to see how deep and far apart to plant. Cover with soil, press down and lightly water.
- Water Regularly
Seeds need to stay moist while they germinate. Root crops need about 1 inch of water a week. Light waterings that only wet the surface will cause shallow root development and reduce the quality of crops.
- Feed Me
When the vegetables start to grow bigger, fuller leaves, give them a hand with Espoma’s Garden-Tone to help provide the nutrients needed for delicious vegetables.
- Thin plants
Some root plants like beets or radishes will benefit from thinning. Cut off the tops of weaker seedlings at the soil line when seedlings have 1-2 sets of true leaves.You can use many leaves as a tasty additions to salads. If you pull seedlings out of the ground, it is not recommended to transplant long rooted vegetables, like carrots and turnips, since the disturbance will cause roots to fork.
Want more veggies? Try this DIY vegetable pallet planter.
So you just finished harvesting all of your crops, you have tomatoes in every drawer in your kitchen and your garden is cut back. What now?
With enough time left before the first frost, you can still get another crop in the ground.
Whether you are a planner or a fly by the seat of your pants kind of gardener, succession planting is something to try.
What is Succession Planting?
Succession planting is a way of planting that maximizes your harvest. You plant one vegetable right as another finishes. There are a few ways to do this:
- Harvest Crop – Using the same plot for another set of vegetables after harvest. When a crop is finished, plant another, with a shorter maturity date, in its place. Leafy greens, followed by potatoes, are a great example of harvesting and replanting.
- Companion Crop – Plant two or more crops with varying maturity dates around each other. After the first crop is harvested, your garden will continue flourishing. Radishes next to cucumbers are great companions. Radishes will be harvested before the cucumbers start to produce too much shade.
- Staggered Crop – Plant the same crop every few weeks in order to not be bombarded by the entire crop at once. Tomatoes and peas are crops you’d want in small batches through the whole season.
- Same Crop – Plant the same crop with different maturity dates. Seed packets will display the days to maturity on the packets. Broccoli is an example crop with various maturity dates.
Now you know what succession planting is, here are a few steps to send you in the right direction.
5 Tips for Succession Planting
- Plan Accordingly – Growing based on maturity can be a little tricky if you aren’t planning for your region. Make sure to check the seed packet or plant tag to find out how long the plant will take to mature and what temperature it will grow best in. Make sure you have enough seeds to keep you going through the season.
- Plant Transplants – Speed up the growing process by starting seeds This will allow you to harvest and quickly plant to keep your garden at optimum level all the way up to those winter months. Or, purchase plants as seedlings from your local garden center.
- Feed Regularly – Add Espoma’s Garden Tone to the soil between plantings to keep the soil rich and crops thriving.
- Don’t Hesitate – As you see plants starting to reduce or cease harvest, don’t hesitate to pull them to make room for a new crop.
- Rotate Crops – Try not to plant the same vegetable in the same spot year after year. This causes the soil to lose essential nutrients and increases the likelihood for diseases to develop. Rotate crops every three years.
Succession planting can ensure your garden is in working production all season long. Learn what veggies it’s not too late to plant.
It’s never too late to start an edible garden. Different fruits and vegetables thrive in all types of conditions, so you’re bound to find the perfect fit for your garden, regardless of the season.
In fact, some summer favorites can be planted now for a delicious late summer or early fall harvest. Make sure to use Espoma’s Organic Garden-tone when growing veggies this summer.
Consider these options for late June – early July planting.
These little red veggies thrive in conditions with warm days and cooler nights, making them perfect for areas with a mild summer climate. They can also adapt to grow in cool weather, making your harvest last through the fall and winter. Beets prefer full sun when possible, but still produce leafy greens in the shade.
Aside from being delicious, beets also have a ton of nutritional benefits. With loads of vitamins A and C, iron, potassium and calcium, beets can help protect you from heart cancer.
Nothing says summer flavor like a delicious, crisp cucumber. Cucumbers serve as a perfect addition to any summer salad or cocktail, or they can stand on their own as a yummy snack. Cucumbers thrive in warm weather and that hot summer heat will give you delicious sprawling cucumbers in as little as 50 days.
Harvest cucumbers before they get too big to encourage continued growth.
Sweet, crisp and crunchy – what else could you want from a summer vegetable? Sugar snap peas need at least six hours of full sun every day and thrive in sunny spots. As sugar snap peas grow up, support them with a trellis or stake. They will be ready to harvest within 60-90 days of planting, which will give you a delicious late summer – early fall treat.
Zucchini is definitely a fan favorite when it comes to summer squash. This fast growing vegetable will be ready to harvest within 45-55 days after sowing seeds. Zucchini tastes best when it measures around 4-6 inches. If it grows much bigger, the flavor will become bitter.
Be sure to give your zucchini plants plenty of room to grow as they often produce lots of vegetables very quickly.
If you live a climate where the hot summer heat lasts well into the fall, try planting watermelons in your vegetable garden. Watermelons are extremely pest and disease resistant, making them perfect for an organic garden. Watermelons typically need 80-100 days of hot, humid weather to develop their delicious sweet taste, so only plant if you live in the right climate.
For those in climates a bit more mild, try planting honeydew or cantaloupe. These melons prefer warm weather but don’t require the same amount of heat as watermelons.
Summer gardens filled with fresh fruits and lots of veggies are worth the work. And while gardeners with shady areas may be envious, they can still have plenty of success on their own vegetables.
After, the secret to good crops is really in the soil.
A shady space that gets as little as two hours of direct sunlight a day is still a prime location for a veggie garden filled with root or leafy vegetables. Plus, you’ll have a longer growing period for cool-season crops.
Read on for five vegetables that don’t need to full sun.
5 Vegetables that Grow in Shade:
Easy to grow in almost any space, beets are a shade gardener’s best friend. Beets can be used for both their roots and their greens. Sow seeds directly in the ground in early spring for the best flavor.
- Bok Choy
This cold-weather vegetable can withstand cooler temps and shade. Use in soups, salads and stir-fries. Sow seeds directly in ground in both the fall and spring for two harvests.
Cold-hardy and resilient, kale will grow for months until the weather gets too hot. This plant can be added to stir-fry, salads, omelets and smoothies for a healthy addition. Plant kale about two months before your first frost.
Eat turnips raw or cook and serve in soups, stir-fries or mashes. These plants thrive in cool temperatures and shade. Scatter turnip seeds in your garden two to four weeks before the last frost in spring or from late August to October.
Requiring almost no space, garlic is simple to grow. Break off cloves from a whole bulb and plant in the ground. To harvest big and flavorful bulbs next summer, plant garlic in the fall. Allow garlic to cure after harvesting in an airy, shady spot for two weeks.
Want to get kids involved in vegetable gardening? Learn more about kid-friendly gardening.
Contrary to popular belief, tomatoes are not the only heirlooms out there. Heirlooms are plants that are grown from seeds that have been passed down through the generations for at least the past 50 years. They must also be open-pollinated, which means they’re pollinated by insects or wind without human intervention.
Your organic vegetable garden wouldn’t be complete without some heirlooms. So grab your shovel and get ready to plant.
Here are six heirlooms we love!
1. Armenian cucumber
This cucumber is also known as yard-long cucumbers or snake melon, because of the cantaloupe-like scent that’s released when sliced. It yields large amounts and turns yellow when ripe. They’re also great for slicing and pickling!
2. Black Diamond Watermelon
It has a blackish green rind that covers its bright red flesh. The seeds are black and can grow to be pretty big. This watermelon is drought resistant and prolific, which means that it produces a lot of “offspring.”
3. Clemson Spineless Green Okra
This plant yields large amounts of pods that should be harvested when they reach three inches long. It will keep growing until the weather cools down during the fall, so it’s possible for them to grow up to 6 feet or taller in warmer areas. It is also a traditional favorite for soups and stews.
4. Early Jersey Wakefield Cabbage
This cabbage is dark green and has a smooth, sweet flavor. It usually harvests pretty early, but is slow to split and bolt. After it matures, it’s best to keep it in the garden for another two to three weeks. It is also really rich in vitamins and minerals.
This plant is grown in the cooler seasons and is desired for its root, the Swedish turnip. It is essentially a natural cross between a cabbage and a turnip, but its yellowish root and smooth leaves differentiate it from an actual turnip.
6. Spaghetti Squash
The squash starts off as white and eventually changes colors to a pale yellow once it matures. It can yield up to four or 5 plants and they will last several weeks after harvesting. This plants it known for its double as a healthy substitute to pasta.
Once your vegetable garden gets growing, don’t forget to feed with an organic fertilizer such as Garden-tone.
Now that spring is here, we’re ready to get our hands in some dirt. And what better way to do that than by starting some seeds. All you need is light, heat and an organic seed starting mix.
Before you begin, check the last spring frost date in your area, then count back 4-6 weeks. That’s when you’ll want to start seeds.
First up on our list for planting, is peppers. There’s nothing better than adding a spicy pepper to a garden fresh salsa. Plus, once you’re ready to grow outside, peppers can even be grown in containers.
5 Spicy Peppers for Sowing
1. Cayenne Pepper
This extremely red pepper is long and skinny. It is very spicy, which is why it’s best in a dried, powdered form. Cayenne peppers are known to boost metabolism, aid with digestion, relieve pain caused by migraines, prevent blood clots and relieve joint/nerve pain.
2. Habanero Chili
This pepper is one of the hottest in the world, next to the ghost pepper. It can be found in many different colors ranging from red, light yellow, brown, and orange. The heat of this pepper can be unpredictable, but regardless is always hot.
3. Serrano Pepper
This small pepper has think walls and is commonly used in hot-salsa. It starts out green, but as it ages it turns red then yellow. The best time to pick Serrano peppers is while they’re still green or in the beginning stages of changing colors.
4. Thai Chili Pepper
Also known as the Bird’s eye chile, Thai chilies are relatively tiny, but spicy. It could be either green or red. These plants are commonly grown year-round and can be brought indoors in winter.
5. Tabasco Pepper
This pepper got its name from the Mexican State, Tabasco, where it originated. It starts out as a yellow-green color, turning completely yellow, then orange, and then bright red at its ripest point. This plant can take up a lot of space in gardens being that it has the potential to grow nearly 60 inches high.
Ready to start seeds? Learn how here.
Homegrown Meal? Win Big with this Deal
Have you entered yet? The countdown is officially on! Espoma’s “Garden to Table” contest ends Wednesday.
All you need to do is share a picture of your homegrown harvest or a freshly picked and plated meal to win big.
You’re already munching your garden’s goodies, so simply take a picture, upload it and win. First place wins $100, second place wins $50 and third place wins a Container Mix full of Espoma Organic Potting Soil, Tomato-tone and Garden-tone.
Get the scoop on how to enter (and win!) below.
How to Enter Espoma’s “Garden to Table” Contest
- Like Espoma Organic on Facebook.
- Click the Contest Tab.
- Before August 12 @ 9:00 A.M., post a picture of your homegrown produce and share what you’ll make with them. Or reveal the finished dish.
- Share your entry with friends and family, ask for likes and get to the final round. A panel of judges will then choose three winners from the photos with the most “Likes”
- “Like” other entries to connect with fellow organic home-growers.
Want to enter, but stumped want to make?
We’re here to help! See our favorite recipes that utilize what’s in harvest now below.
- Fresh Tomato and Melon Salad with Scallops and Pink Peppercorns. The colors alone make this dish ripe for an Instagram!
- Blueberry Thai Basil Smoothie by Bushel and Berry™. Super healthy, packed with vitamins and really unique flavors, too.
- Chicken and Okra Gumbo by Food & Wine. This chef-tasted dish is easy and tastes incredible with freshly picked okra.
- Grilled Corn Salsa by Minimalist Baker. Tastes like the essence of summer!
- Cucumber and Onion Salad by Dee Nash. Easy, refreshing and oh so yummy.
After all, shouldn’t you get paid to make dinner every once in a while? Snap a picture, upload it and you could win $100!