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5 Garden Tasks to Complete this June

Summer is finally here! And we can’t wait to spend more time outdoors enjoying Mother Nature. What better way to get in some quality time outdoors than by prepping your garden for the exciting growing season that lies ahead. Check these five simple tasks off your list and prepare to have a picture perfect summer garden in no time.

Be Water Wise

In a short time, you’ll finally start feeling the heat – and so will your plants. As temps increase, be sure to keep an eye on your plants and ensure they’re getting exactly the right amount of water. If you live in an especially hot climate or simply can’t keep up with watering by hand, invest in some sprinklers or an irrigation system.

Last Call for Seedlings

If you haven’t already transferred your indoor seedlings, now is the time. You can also start planting those heat-loving veggies, like tomatoes, squash, eggplant and peppers.

Tidy Up

Tidying up your garden gives you a fresh start for the growing season ahead. Prune plants to encourage healthy growth. Weeds are very persistent, so you should be too. A little bit of weeding here and there will prevent your garden from becoming overrun with invasive weeds.

Welcome Pollinators

Bees and butterflies play an extremely important role in the garden and their pollination provides us with many of our favorite foods. Create a pollinator friendly garden with a variety of native plants. And don’t forget to celebrate National Pollinator Week June 19-25!

Lawn Care

Nothing says summer like the sight of a lush, green lawn. While maintaining a healthy lawn may seem challenging, it’s definitely possible with a little bit of work. With kids and pets playing in the yard all summer long, you’ll want to make sure to stay safe. Choose Espoma’s Organic Lawn Foods for a beautiful green lawn that is safe for the whole family – and the environment.

Five Simple Gardening To-Dos to Complete This May

The start of May brings colorful blooms and lush foliage to your garden. With summer right around the corner, that means there’s only more to come! Now is the best time to prep for your favorite fruits, veggies and flowers.

Here are a few things you can do this month to prep your garden for the summer growing season:

  1. Tidy Your Garden – As always, one of the best ways to prep your garden for a new season is to clean it up. Remove weeds, prune existing plants and rake away old leaves and excess debris. Now you have a fresh start for planting new blooms and crops.
  2. Harvest Early Spring Crops – If your garden is full of cool weather veggies from earlier this year, harvest now and enjoy. Go ahead and enjoy the crisp crunch of radishes and fresh salad greens. Plus, you’ll have more room to grow summer veggies.
  3. Plan Ahead – Before getting started, create a garden plan of what you want to grow and where. Different plants thrive in different climates, so research the best ones for your garden.
  4. Get planting! – Make a trip to your favorite garden center and round up your favorite summer plants. We’re big fans of planting summer veggies like cucumbers, peppers and summer squash. First, check to make sure that you’re clear of frost and then start planting. Use an organic plant food like Espoma’s Garden-tone to encourage healthy growth.
  5. Transfer Seedlings – If you started seeds indoors earlier this spring, transfer them outdoors in May if the weather permits. Be sure to harden off seedlings to get them used to the outdoors. Then gently remove plants from containers without damaging the roots. To keep seedlings strong, plant in a prepared bed and mix in organic starter plant food, such as Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus.

 

Be sure to keep your new plants happy and healthy all summer long with the proper nutrients and water. Then, get ready to enjoy your harvest!

How to Plant Blueberries in Containers

Laura from Garden Answer shows how to plant blueberries in containers and fertilize with Espoma’s Holly-tone. Watch the video below to see just how easy it is!

 

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How to start a kid-friendly vegetable garden

There’s a natural connection between children and the outdoors. And there’s nothing more special than caring for the Earth and enjoying Mother Nature in the family backyard. Toddlers, children and teens can explore a new hobby when they get outside and get growing.

This month, we’ve partnered with The Edible Schoolyard to encourage kids and families everywhere to grow their own food.

Here are our 5 tips to get kids growing.

5 Steps to creating a kids vegetable garden

1. Let them pick the plants.

“We’re growing broccoli and cabbage!” said no enthused child ever. Take a trip to your local grocery store or farmer’s market and let the kids pick out their favorite fruits and veggies. Research which ones will grow best in your yard and get ready to plant.

Choose to start seeds or purchase transplants for your new garden bed. Help kids understand what types of plants will thrive in your yard by asking them to pick out the sunniest and shadiest spots in the yard.

2. Prep Your Bed

Before planting, start at the beginning of the process by explaining the uses for different garden tools.  Encourage kids to pick the spots for their new plants. Ask them to check the plant tags for information on spacing and sunlight and then determine the best spot.  Be sure to bring a tape measure.

3. Plant

It’s a well-known fact that most children love digging holes. Once they’ve accomplished that task, it’s time to plant. Demonstrate how to gently remove plants from the container and loosen up the roots before planting.

4. Add nutrients and water

Just like people, plants need healthy nutrients to grow big and strong. Choose an organic fertilizer such Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus or Start! liquid fertilizer to give plants the boost they need.

5. Create a schedule

Get kids involved in maintaining the garden by creating a monthly chart that includes days to water and feed. Chart when plants should be ready for harvest and create a countdown for your favorite plants.

Want to help? Be sure to Like our Facebook page and follow along!

Top Seeds to Sow in March

It’s our favorite time of year again, spring is here! This marks the start of prime time gardening season as the weather begins to warm up.

Now’s the perfect time to put on some gardening gloves and repot indoor plants or start fresh with new seeds outdoors. Either way, March is the time to get a head start on rejuvenating your outdoor garden to ensure your harvest is ready by mid-spring or early-summer.

Beets

Healthy and delicious, the best time to plant beets is right now. They’ll harvest quickly, leaving us with an early summer treat. Plus, beets are known to lower blood pressure, fight inflammation and they’re rich in nutrients and fiber.

Broccoli

One of our favorite greens, broccoli is a nutritional powerhouse. It contains Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Fiber and Folate. This cool-weather crop can germinate in soil with temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to keep the soil wet, though, because this plant is thirsty.

Cabbage

Whether leafy green or perfectly purple, this annual vegetable is perfect for colder temperatures. Pests love Cabbage, so be sure to keep an eye on it. Try using natural repellant methods instead of harmful chemicals to keep your cabbage healthy and safe.

Carrots

Why plant orange carrots when you can choose from the entire rainbow? Choose from purple, black, red, white or yellow. Not only are they good for eyesight, carrots are also one of the best plants for reducing the risk of Cardiovascular Disease.

Lettuce

This true cool-weather plant is actually stunted by hot temperatures. Perfect for early spring gardens, lettuce requires light watering since its leaves will develop quickly. And, don’t forget to use organic mulch to conserve water. Once true leaves grow, it is time to harvest the crop before it becomes bitter and tough.

Spinach

Perfect for salads and sides, spinach loves the spring weather. This green is extremely sensitive to excessive heat. Spinach is fast-growing, forming flowers and developing seeds in no time at all.

Onions

Onions have disease fighting power and high nutritional value, making them one of the healthiest vegetables to eat. Onions can endure all of the hardships that come with early spring weather. Note that this crop will not be as fruitful if temperatures drop below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Peas

Sweet peas, snow peas and snap peas are perfect for planting in March. They’re easy to grow and so delicious.

Give seeds a boost this spring by using Espoma’s organic liquid Start! plant food.

Create Spring Containers that Wow

What’s better than walking outside in the morning to fresh air and sunshine? Walking outside to find fresh air, sunshine and a beautiful container filled with spring blooms.

Refresh your porch or patio by adding a spring container. Get started by finding the perfect planter. There are tons of fun colors and patterns to choose from. Or get creative and use an unexpected object.

Check to make sure the container has drainage holes at the bottom and you’re good to go. We recommend using Espoma’s organic potting mix to fill the container and then mixing in Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus with the soil to give it that extra oomph.

Once nighttime temperatures remain above freezing, not dipping below, 30°F, you’re reading to plant.

Read on for our top plant choices to fill your containers with this spring.

Primrose container

Pick Lovely Perennials

English daisies, hellebores, pansies, primroses and bergenia make for good choices for early perennials.  Find out if a plant can’t tolerate the cool temperatures of early spring by referencing the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

Splendid indoor floral arrangement at botanical garden in spring

Go for Classic Spring Blooms

It’s OK if you didn’t plant spring-blooming bulbs such as tulips and daffodils in the fall. Just stop by your local garden center to pick up already-blooming bulbs and pop them into your container for an instant pick me up.

Hydrangea container

Stock up on Hydrangeas

Certain dwarf varieties of hydrangeas can really pack a punch when paired with a decorative container. Scroll through our Hydrangea Variety Guide to find the right dwarf hydrangea for you. Then, find a spot that matches the amount of light they need.

If you want to grow blue hydrangeas, mix in Espoma Organic Soil Acidifier. For pink hydrangeas, add Espoma’s Organic Garden Lime. Then fill planter with potting soil, and plant the hydrangea at the same height it was previously growing.

 

Looking for a different spring project? Learn how to make these easy paint can succulent containers.

Your Fall Planted Bulb Questions Answered

This month we’ve covered how to plant cool-season veggies. If flowers are more your thing, then it’s time to plant spring-blooming bulbs. Favorites such as tulips, daffodils, hyacinth and alliums are planted in fall but burst forth with color in spring.

There’s nothing difficult about planting bulbs and you can plant dozens of them in just a few minutes. Here are three easy steps for planting fall bulbs.

Today, the experts at North Haven Gardens answer the top 10 most common questions about planting bulbs.

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Top 10 Burning Bulb Questions

1. When should I plant spring flowering bulbs?

Spring-flowering bulbs such as tulips and daffodils are planted September to November. They need several weeks underground to grow roots before the ground freezes.

Check your hardiness zone to be sure when the best time is to plant. Usually, Zones 1 – 4 can plant late August through late September and Zones 4 – 7 can plant mid-September through early November.

2. How far apart and how deep should I plant?

The bulb package should tell you how deep and wide to plant bulbs. If you’ve lost your package, follow the 3×3 rule. Plant bulbs three times as deep as their height and keep 3x the diameter of the bulb between plantings.

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3. Which end is up?

Bulbs with pointy ends make it easy: plant the pointed end up. Corms and tubers should have roots attached. Plant those down.

4. When should I feed my bulbs?

Bulbs do store their own food, but a little extra nutrition will help them last years. Add a sprinkle of Bulb-tone to the hole of each newly planted bulb. Come spring, sprinkle a little more Bulb-tone on top of the soil to give them an extra boost.

5. Should I water the flower bulbs after I plant them?

We call spring-flowering bulbs drought-tolerant. While they’re not exactly, you only need to water immediately after planting them.

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6. Should I mulch bulbs?

We are huge advocates of mulch as long as it’s applied correctly. In cool climates you can mulch after the soil freezes. In warm climates, Zones 8 and above, mulch after planting and watering.

7. What should I do with the leaves after the flowers have faded?

Give leaves at least 8 weeks of growing, after the flowers fade. You can cut the stem, but the foliage provides energy for next year’s blooms. This is also a good time to feed bulbs, as they’re building up reserves.

One solution is to camouflage the fading foliage. Plant perennials or cool-season annuals. They will emerge right as unsightly foliage is fading.

8. Are there any bulbs deer don’t eat?

Daffodils are the most pest free spring bulbs you can grow. Alliums, in the onion family, are also unappealing to deer. However, if they’re really hungry, they’ll eat anything.

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9. What about other pests?

There are measures you can take to keep unwanted visitors from eating your bulbs. Lay a small layer of hardware cloth or chicken wire over the top and around the sides of the new plantings. Just don’t forget to remove it come spring.

10. Will my flower bulbs come up again next year?

Flower bulbs are divided into three groups: annuals, perennials and naturalizing. Annual bulbs such as tulips produce their most beautiful display during the first year and if you’re lucky, may also emerge the following year. Perennial bulbs such as daffodils and hyacinth emerge and continue to bloom year after year. Naturalizing bulbs such as muscari, snowdrops and crocus will emerge every year and better yet, increase in number.

Have a question we didn’t answer? Visit our Facebook page and ask us!

How to Fertilize Trees

Laura from Garden Answer demonstrates how to fertilize a tree using Espoma’s Tree-tone. The slow release formula provides a long lasting nutrient reservoir to feed the entire tree, leaves, trunk, and roots.

 

 

No Way Blue Jay! Keep Birds from Eating Berries

 

Sun-kissed, slightly tart blueberries. Sweet, juicy raspberries. Scrumptious strawberries as sweet as candy. Sugary, tart blackberries.

Who can resist such delightful, fresh flavors right from the garden?

Certainly not local birds! Crows, blackbirds, robins, jays and more swoop in and eat your berries right from under you!

If you’re growing blueberries (or any berries!), you want to make sure you get to enjoy them, not the birds. Here are our tips for protecting your berries from those hungry birds — while still being kind.

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If you’re growing blueberries, make sure you get to enjoy them, not this sparrow. Here are our tips for protecting your berries from those hungry birds — while still being kind.

Take Back the Patch — How to Protect Fruit from Birds, Naturally and Organically

1. Location, Location, Location. Plant or move berries away from hedges and larger shrubs since birds like to rest there.

2. Take Cover! When your berries are immature, add a row cover or bird netting. Make sure the netting is secure, so the birds can’t undo it. This is, hands down, the best way to protect berries.

3. A Sprinkle of Sparkle. Tie a shiny bird scare tape, or foil tape, around your berry bushes or plants to deter birds. Birds don’t like the movement or the tape’s bright reflection.

4. A Dash of Pepper. Sprinkle cayenne pepper around your berry plants as they begin to ripen. This method is super easy, but makes it hard to enjoy eating berries as you pick! You have to wash off the berries before eating to remove any remaining pepper.

5. Snack Attack! Install a few bird feeders to encourage birds to eat there — and not your berry bushes!

Victory! Now, make sure your blueberries continue to thrive by feeding with Holly-tone. Keep the soil acidic, too, with Espoma’s Organic Soil Acidifier.

Learn more about growing organic blueberries in our berry guide. You’ll be a pro in no time!

Plant Hydrangeas to Get the Best Blooms

Large, beautiful hydrangeas are a great addition to any landscape. Their bold colors make them perfect for freshly cut or dried flowers. Getting off to the right start in the right location is the difference between a hydrangea bush that blooms for years and one that never does.

Get the beautiful blooms you desire with these hydrangea planting tips.

Care for hydrangeas by planting them in the right spot.

Where should I plant my hydrangea? Choose a spot with moist, well-drained soil. Hydrangeas can grow from 4’ to 12’ in height depending on the variety, so plan accordingly. Most hydrangeas benefit from some shade, especially in hot climates. Too much shade means your hydrangea may not grow flowers.

Check the plant tag to find out how many hours of sun your hydrangea should be getting per day. Panicle hydrangeas tolerate more sun than do other species. And if you live in a region where it gets seriously hot, your hydrangea will need more shade than those grown in colder zones. Hydrangeas in southern climates especially need frequent watering to tolerate that stress.

If you’ve noticed your hydrangea has stopped blooming in recent years, it may be time to evaluate the location. Make sure hydrangeas are still receiving enough daily light and check the growth of nearby trees. Consider moving the hydrangea to a sunnier spot.

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Get Ready to Plant. Once you’ve found the perfect spot, dig a hole twice as large as the hydrangea’s container. Mix in an organic starter plant food, such as Bio-tone Starter Plus, to keep roots strong. Add 1” of compost or Espoma Organic All-purpose Garden Soil to help with nutrients and drainage. Place the hydrangea in the hole at about the same height it was in the container, spreading its roots wide. Backfill the hole with soil and top with 2-3” of mulch.

Water Well. After you plant, water the hydrangea until a puddle forms. Water twice a week for a month. Then water deeply once a week until fall.

The Finishing Touch. Feed blue hydrangeas with Holly-tone to keep the soil acidic. Otherwise, opt for Flower-tone. For the best hydrangea care, feed 2-3 times throughout the growing season, which is spring until fall.

Learn all of our hydrangea secrets in our hydrangea growing guide.