Laura from @Garden Answer is redesigning her yard using some new trees! Watch how she gets it done with the help of Espoma.
The weather is getting warmer, which means it’s time to start thinking about sowing spring veggies and planning ahead! Cool season crops can be directly sown into the ground as soon as the soil temperature is at or above 40˚F, but ensure you’re not working with wet or muddy soil since those are not favorable conditions for plant growth. Don’t forget to include Espoma Organic Garden-Tone to give your new vegetables the nutrients they need to grow big and delicious!
Fresh baby spinach is not only delicious, but it’s also loaded with vitamins and minerals. This vegetable is versatile because you can eat it alone in a springtime salad or mix it into something like a smoothie! Now is a great time to sow spinach since it usually sprouts quickly and is somewhat frost-resistant in the face of unpredictable spring weather.
2. Swiss Chard
You may not be familiar with this beet relative, but it’s another amazing plant that is easy to grow from seed in the early springtime. You can eat chard raw or cooked and feel good knowing it contains 3 times the recommended daily intake of vitamin K and 44 percent of the recommended amount of vitamin A! Remember to harvest only the outer leaves during the spring and leave the inside for a later harvest.
Lettuce may seem simple, but did you know it actually comes in a variety of colors, species, shapes, and sizes? Gardeners love this plant lettuce because harvesting the baby greens is quick and easy — sometimes it can be ready after just 30 days! Lettuce is low in calories, fat, and sodium and is also a good source of fiber, iron, folate, and vitamin C. You can use your lettuce in a traditional salad, or spice things up by putting it in soup, making a wrap, or even grilling it.
Radishes are the quickest vegetable to grow on this list if you truly want an early spring harvest. They’re also rich in antioxidants and minerals like calcium and potassium. Did you know these nutrients can help lower high blood pressure and reduce your risks for heart disease? You can put radishes in salads or even add them to stir fry or tacos.
Kale is the perfect vegetable if you want to produce a lot of food with little effort. It’s known as a “super food” for a reason — because cooked kale actually produces more iron than beef! It grows easily from a seed, so all you have to do is harvest the outer leaves for baby kale and let the rest of the foliage grow to full size. Kale, like spinach, is a great ingredient to add to your next salad or smoothie. Try a kale salad, or add it to a smoothie to make it healthier!
If you want to get your kids interested in gardening, the simplicity of planting peas is a great start. Fresh grown peas are a sweet and delicious side for any dish, or you can use them to make pea soup. They’re a good source of vitamins C and E, zinc, and other antioxidants that strengthen your immune system. You’ll want to read the seed packets closely to see if there are any specific growing directions and to get an idea of how tall this plant will grow. If you don’t want to do all the shelling regular peas require, you should opt for sugar snaps or snow peas.
It’s much easier than you may think to grow delicious and nutritious veggies in your own backyard. Plus, it’s fun and simple enough for the whole family to help! Which ones are you going to include in your early spring garden?
With the arrival of spring just around the corner, it’s time to learn how you can properly prepare your seeds for the best outcome possible! Seed starting is most commonly used by flower and vegetable farmers to get the best variety of plants while saving time and money. By allowing the seeds to germinate inside before transferring them to your outside garden, there is a greater chance of a successful outcome. Read more to learn how to get started!
Photo via @rebeccamaterasso on Instagram
1. Read the Packet
Seed starting allows you to get a head start on your warm weather gardening. When you purchase your desired seeds, the packet will instruct you when you can start your plants indoors and when you must move them outside. If you’re still unsure about specifics, you can double check with Epic Gardening’s guide to seed starting methods. Make sure to only start a project that is achievable within your space!
Photo via @jazzybutterflygarden on Instagram
2. Gather Your Supplies
You can develop a seed starter in any type of container that has drainage (some people even use egg shells!), but there are also kits that can be purchased to help you start. Once you have your seed starter tray, you’re going to need soil. We recommend our Organic Seed Starter Potting Mix.
Photo via @jeradtb on Instagram
3. Plant Your Seeds
Once the starter soil is in the container, the seeds will be pressed down into the soil or placed on top to be able to germinate (the seed packet should indicate how far under the soil the seed needs to be placed). You want to make sure that your seeds aren’t too compact in the tray, so be sure to add Vermiculite to help with loosening heavy soil for better root growth. If you’re a visual learner, check out this step-by-step video!
Photo via @sowinginsuburbia on Instagram
4. Label Your Seeds
You want to make sure that all of the seeds get labeled during the starter process so that you can identify them when it’s time to move them outside. Once the plants develop, it can be difficult to tell them apart while you transfer them. When you’re ready to move them, be sure to add our Bio-tone Starter Plus to the soil to help your new plants stay strong during the transfer process.
Photo via @living.life.zerowaste on Instagram
5. Double Check Everything
Ensure you know which types of seeds can be started indoors and when the correct time will be to relocate them outdoors. It’s important to always read the instructions as different seeds may require different care. For example, vegetable seeds have different care than flower seeds! Consulting The Old Farmer’s Almanac can help you figure out what’s best for your seeds if you’re still unsure.
Everyone loves corn on the cob. It’s a staple of summer picnics and barbeques. Everyone loves popcorn too, but most people don’t realize you can grow your own. This is a fun and easy way to get kids involved in gardening. Seeds are relatively large and easy for kids to handle. It’s fast growing and making your own popcorn is a real treat.
You’ll Need Fertile Seed
No, you can’t open a bag of popcorn from the grocery store and plant it. Most store bought popcorn isn’t fertile because of the heating and sterilization processes it undergoes. You’ll need to buy fertile popcorn from your local garden center and there are plenty to choose from on the internet. There are a few heirloom varieties that make great popcorn and are beautiful too, you’ll want to use them for fall decorating.
One heritage variety named ‘Strawberry’ has short cobs, just 2-4 inches long with ruby red kernels. ‘Dakota Black’ has 6-8 inch long cobs with kernels so deep purple they look almost black. Think Halloween decorations! Perhaps the most beautiful is called ‘Glass Gem’. The kernels are yellow, orange, pink, purple, green and orange with a glossy, glass-like transparency. They are as beautiful to look at as they are to eat!
Choose a Bright, Sunny Spot
Plant corn in full sun, with well-draining soil. Mix in some of Espoma’s All-Purpose Garden Soil and Bio-tone Starter Plus to refresh your soil. While these varieties of corn are somewhat smaller than eating corn, they still need plenty of room. Space the seeds, 2 per hole, eight to ten inches apart with 18-24 inches between rows.
Popcorn is a thirsty plant. They will drink about 2 inches of water a week if it doesn’t rain.
Add a layer of mulch after planting to help hold moisture in the soil. Using soaker hoses is a very efficient way to water, very little evaporates and the water is taken up slowly and deeply. You should begin to taper off watering when you near the harvest time, about 100 days.
Feeding your popcorn is just as important as watering it. All corn needs nitrogen. Using a product like Espoma’s Plant-Tone is a great choice. It’s an organic, long lasting, slow release fertilizer. It’s a good idea to feed popcorn when it’s about knee high, when the silk forms or if the leaves start turning yellow. Or, simply feed plants once a month.
Protect the Kernels
If you garden with kids, making a scarecrow is an absolute must! And, it may actually help to keep the birds away. If birds are overly interested in your sprouting corn, you could try using a chicken wire tunnel over each row.
Let the Corn Dry on the Stalks
In a dry autumn, leave the corn on the stalks until they are dry. The husks should be papery and dry and the kernels should feel hard. If it’s a wet fall, harvest the corncobs and bring them indoors to finish drying. Simply pull back the husks and spread them out on newspaper, out of direct sunlight. Popcorn is generally harvested in October, 85-120 days after planting depending on weather and when it was planted.
If you’re not sure if your popcorn is dry enough, do a pop test. Put a few kernels of corn into a hot pan with a little bit of oil. If it pops, it’s ready. If it sticks to the pan, it’s not ready and needs to be dried longer. You can either pop your corn the old fashion way, in a pan with oil or put one cob in a paper bag and pop it in the microwave. Keep a close eye on your microwave cooking time, until you know how long it takes for your popcorn to cook. Unpopped popcorn can be stored in an air tight container all winter.
For more gardening fun, check out this video on how to plant a vegetable garden.
Espoma Products for Popcorn
Pansies and violas look delicate but are in fact, tough as nails. They liven up our gardens and decorative pots in early spring and late fall, unfazed by cold weather or even snow. The first and last flowers of the year are the most precious and their “faces” shine even on the grayest days. Treat yourself to these little sunshines.
All pansies are violas but not all violas are pansies. Think of the smaller flowered varieties like the good old Jonny Jump Up as violas and the larger flowered varieties as pansies. Some violas are perennial, but they are mostly used as cool season annuals. Whichever you choose, they’ll provide seasonal color for weeks, and even months on end!
Today’s violets are descended from a European wildflower. In the Victorian language of flowers they were used to convey feelings of love and admiration or “I’m thinking of you.” Sentiments not openly shared in that time. The pansy was also the symbol adopted by the Free Thinkers Society, as the word pansy is from the French verb pensée, meaning to think. Wouldn’t you like to send a secret message to someone special?
Another charm of this family of flowers is that they are edible. In the simplest form, you could float one small flower on top of a cocktail. Decorate cakes and salads with their fresh blooms, add them to herb butters or suspend them in honey or jellies. Just one petal of the larger flowered pansies looks heavenly when garnishing appetizers. They even go with grilled meat. When consuming, it’s always best to use your own organically grown flowers and give them a quick rinse before eating.
Both pansies and violas can be planted in the ground, accentuating the edge of borders or growing up together with your spring bulbs. They are marvelous in containers too. An early season container combination could include a closely planted base of violas with pussy willow branches stuck into the soil between them for height. In the autumn, look for the orange and black varieties for a Halloween theme.
When assembling your container, make sure to use good quality organic potting soil like Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix and feed your container plants once a month with a Espoma’s Bloom! Liquid Fertilizer. This foundation will ensure that your plants have everything they need to thrive and bloom and be safe to eat. If you’re planting your violas in garden beds give them a feeding of Plant-tone, an organic, slow release fertilizer.
Violas and pansies will grow in sun or part shade but will do best with about 5-6 hours of light per day. Pansies will bloom longer if they get late afternoon shade. They don’t really like the heat. They both do best in moist but well-drained soil. In general violas tolerate both cold and heat better than pansies. Deadheading spent flowers is well worth your time and will keep plants flowering longer.
Espoma products for pansies and Violas
Spring has sprung and it’s time to get outside and plant up some early spring containers. A trip to the local garden center will surely inspire you. Plant big pots of brightly colored bulbs and annuals to liven up entryways, patios and balconies. Laura from Garden Answer shows you just how easy it is to do.
Laura fills her containers with tulips and violas, true harbingers of spring. Alternatively, you could also use daffodils and other cold hardy annuals like Iceland poppies or nemesia. In cold climates, it’s important to select plans that are hardy enough to withstand a cold snap.
These early spring containers will flower for a month or so, bridging the gap from early spring to the frost free date. When it’s time to plant summer containers, replant the tulips out into the garden where they’ll bloom again next spring. The violas may also be moved to a lightly shaded area of the garden.
Four Easy Steps to Early Spring Containers
Enjoy flowers for even longer by choosing tulips or daffodils that are not yet in full bloom. When finished blooming, just remove the flower stem. The leaves will still provide a vertical accent and the bulbs need the foliage to replenish themselves.
Taking time to deadhead the violas will extend their bloom time. If temperatures are cool, you may only need to water containers once a week.
Check out these videos from Garden Answer about tulips and early spring planting.
Plant Your Window Boxes Like Garden Answer
How to Care For Your Tulips After They’ve Bloomed
While most plants need only need some sunshine throughout the day, others love being in the sun all day. Sun loving plants can fill spots where you need some life or color in the garden. Know where the sun hits the most in your garden before picking plants out and then head over to your local garden center for the best choices.
Sun Loving Plants:
As the name states, this flower was made for the sun. It screams summer the way no other flower can. Since they are native to the United States, they will grow well and easy pretty much anywhere there is sun while bringing along pollinators to help. Your climate will determine how big and tall your flowers get.
2. Black-eyed Susan
Named for their dark brown centers peeking out of the gold or bronze petals, black-eyed susan’s thrive in the sun. These daisy-like blooms are perfect for the long summer days. They tend to grow to about 2 feet tall and handle high heat and drought conditions well. Hardy in zones 3-9.
This perennial is drought tolerant, and has a long flowering period through summer into fall. They can sprawl throughout the garden, which makes this a fun groundcover. It comes in a large variety of colors. It is a powerhouse in the garden and is easy to grow. Hardy in zones 3-9.
Another fan favorite, peonies make the most amazing cut flowers. When growing them in a cutting garden, be sure to get them into full sun. With so much texture, color and fragrance, there is no shortage of reasons no to include them in your garden this year. Hardy in zones 3-8.
5. Dwarf Fountain Grass
Fountain grass is a perfect ground cover anytime you want to add texture to your garden. Planting a dwarf variety will help you add texture in smaller areas. This pant does well in both dry and wet areas, so as long as you give it sun, it will do well. Hardy in zones 5-9.
This is a plant that will keep on giving. Every year, sedums tend to grow bigger, so it is a perfect plant for a border or an area that needs filling. Depending on the variety it will either hug the ground or grow up to 3 feet tall. Hardy in zones 3-10.
Since these plants will be hanging out in the sun all day, be sure to keep them watered and give them a boost they deserve with Espoma Organic’s Bloom! liquid fertilizer. After planting, mix it with water and give them a good drink! See the back of the bottle for directions.
Once you’re done in the garden, try making a hanging basket for your porch.
Espoma Product Featured in this Post
Right about now, daffodils and tulips are in full bloom making even the simplest of streets beautiful.
People are snatching up the blooms and putting them in vases and arrangements. And some are even heading into garden centers to get those flowers for their garden.
But, in most regions, spring blooming bulbs are best planted in fall to be able to bloom in the spring.
Don’t worry! There are many varieties of spring-planted bulbs that are just as beautiful as your traditional favorites.
Keep your garden thriving and plant bulbs now to have amazing summer color. Wait until the last frost date has passed to plant to ensure your bulbs won’t freeze. Check the tags on your bulbs for planting information or head over to your local garden center for specific region information. Don’t forget to mix your soil with Bulb-Tone to create beautiful big blooms!
Our Favorite Bulbs to Plant this Spring
With a variety of sizes, colors and designs, dahlias have become one of the most popular flowers. Be sure to buy a bunch of bulbs though, it’s hard to plant just one. Bloom time is between mid-July and September. These dazzling beauties will showcase your garden anywhere you plant them. They are technically a tuber, but are planted the same way you would plant a bulb.
Stay on trend this year and plant a lily. With the option of Asiatic, Trumpet or Oriental, or a mixture of the three, your garden will be full of color lasting summer through fall. Look for lilies with the color and pattern to add texture and design. Bloom time is between June and September, depending on variety.
Known as a grandmother’s flower, begonia’s are perfect for any garden. Most people don’t know that the begonia family is quite large, with lots of colors, shapes and sizes. Bloom time starts in mid-July. Since there are so many options with begonias, choose something in the double flower, ruffled double flower or the pendulous varieties.
This eye-catching flower will add wonder to your garden. Calla lilies are elegant and timeless and perfect for containers. They come in a large variety of colors and textures to match every style. Bloom time is between July and October. Grab varieties of calla lilies such as Flame, Captain Marrero or Ruby Sensation for the paintbrush affect.
This exquisite flower is a display itself with its layer upon layer of silky petals. It is similar to a rose and is often considered high end delicacy. One thing to remember is to soak the bulb before planting to encourage growth. Bloom time is between June and August.
Watch below as Laura from Garden Answer shows how to plant bulbs!