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Rain, Rain, Come My Way

April showers bring May flowers. The old saying is true. April is full of rain, but there’s no reason you can’t have flowers before May.

During rainstorms, water gushes out of downspouts, across lawns and gardens. It has a tendency to accumulate in one place and can overwater or even flood a garden. Excessive rain saturates soil, suffocates roots, breaks plants and attracts pests.

However, when you’ve strategically planted for rain, gushing downspouts are no longer a problem. A rain garden is a garden that uses water-loving plants, with strong roots. It helps use rain where it lands instead of letting it run-off into streams, lakes and rivers.

How to Build a Rain Garden:

1. Choose your location

Measure out at least 10 feet from your home. Keep your new garden away from septic systems. Find somewhere with a natural downgrade, away from the house, if possible. If your garden is level, then find a place where soil is already absorbing water easily. Stay away from soil that holds moisture for an extended period of time.

2. Create a design

Measure the size and shape of the area. Once you determine what you are working with, you can begin planning what to plant. Plan out what looks best to the eye first, while keeping in mind the plants that do best with wet feet should be in the middle.

3. Choose your plants

Since each region gets a different amount of rainfall, native plants tend to do best. You will want plants that do well in wet and dry conditions. Rainfall will add up occasionally over the year, but the soil can dry out in the warmer months. Choose plants that don’t mind having wet roots for extended periods of time such as blue fescue grass, daylilies, elderberry and tupelo trees. Look for water-resistant natives such as black chokeberry, meadowsweet shrubs, Joe-Pye weed, Colorado blue spruce, bayberry, ferns and winterberry. Check out your local garden center for tips on the best plants for your region.

4. Prepare the soil

As all gardeners know, it starts with the soil. Good drainage is key to prevent water from sitting. If your soil needs a fresh start, or to be amended, add Espoma’s Garden Soil to help set your rain garden up for success. Further improve drainage by using pervious surfaces, edging puddles and creating paths through low-lying areas with sand or stones.

5. Get ready for rain

It’s time to plant! Get your plants in the ground and watered in to stabilize them. Water every other day for two weeks to get it ready for a heavy rainfall and watch your garden grow!

Planning your garden will keep your garden running smoothly.

Prefer a vegetable garden? Here’s how to plan.

 

Spring Cleaning for Your Garden

Spring has arrived! Nothing beats walking outdoors to the sunshine and a beautiful landscape. Now is the time to give your lawn and landscape the TLC it needs. After winter, plants might be in rough shape. Don’t worry, your garden will be back up and running in no time!

From weeding to fertilizing, there’s always something to do when spring rolls around.

When updating your landscape, there may be a few things you need to pick up. Head to your local garden center to find everything you need.

5 Ways to Spruce Up Your Spring Landscape:

Prune

Trim back trees or shrubs that need a little push. It’s best to do this early, before new shoots start to come in. Be sure to carefully remove branches and flowers that have been damaged by the winter storms. You don’t want the branch doing more damage later on.

Soil

Prepare your soil for new growth and new plantings. Sometimes that means getting all new soil like Espoma’s Organic Garden Soil or it could mean freshening up the soil you have by adding Espoma’s Organic Bio-Tone Starter Plus.

Plan

Evaluate your garden. Take the mature size of your plants into account. What holes do you have? If any of your plants need to be caged or staked, planning now will allow you to plant around it without disturbing your growing seedlings later on. Plus it will set top heavy plants up for success, especially tomatoes, which bend easily.

Fix Uneven Ground

Rain, wind and snow can wreak havoc on your landscape. When the ground is wet and people walk through it can even cause compaction, which makes for poor growing conditions. But with a little love it will be ready to host your gorgeous garden once again.

Mulch

After planting, provide beds with a fresh layer of mulch. Mulching is the perfect way to get your garden off to a great start. Not only does it help settle in the roots, but it will provide warmth, hold in moisture, suppress weeds, encourage growth, and make your beds look all around beautiful.

 

Not quite ready to get in the garden? Learn how to fertilize Houseplants with Homestead Brooklyn!

 

These Flowers Will Bring Back Spring

The gardener’s itch has really set in! It’s only days until those beautiful and bright spring flowers pop up. Now is the perfect time to start making a list and planning what to plant.

Start browsing magazines and blogs and coming up with all your favorite plants now. Narrow down your choices so you are ready to pick the moment you enter the garden center. As the soil starts to warm up, give your new flowers a head start with Espoma’s Flower-Tone for bigger, brighter blooms.

When choosing, be sure to look at the plant tag or the back of the seed packet for specific information. Pick up your favorites at your local garden center.

Top 5 Spring Flowers

Creeping Phlox

These flowers carpet any area you put them in. They spill into open areas, filling cracks and crevices with their tiny green leaves. Plant in between rocks, on a wall, or en masse to really make a show stopping display. The flowers come in pastel pink, lavender and white. They love being anywhere from sun to shade. They can grow up to 6” tall and 24”wide in zones 3-9.

Bloodroot

One of the best perennial flowers to plant in spring, these little white flowers hold strong all season. This plant is called bloodroot for the reddish rhizome and bright orange sap that grows at or below the soil’s surface. They love the shade and thrive in moist soil. They can grow up to 12” tall and grow well in zones 3-9.

‘Oakleaf’ Hydrangea

Go big with the oakleaf hydrangea. Its big flowers and oversized foliage will take your garden into spring with full force. It grows vigorously, all while providing a show stopping beauty. They love to be planted in partial shade. They can grow up to 6’ tall and 8’ wide in zones 5-9.

Pansy

This sun-loving flower will brighten your garden. Coming in a variety of colors, the pansy is a gardener’s favorite. For those who don’t have a lot of space, pansies are great for containers and window boxes. They can grow up to 10” tall and 12” wide in zones 4-8

Primrose

Primrose is a unique spring flower, as they look best in clumps. Keeping them close together allows the beauty of the buttery yellow or white florals to really stand out. They love to be anywhere from full sun to partial shade. They can grow up to 12” tall in zones 3-9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Container Plants that Pop

Enjoying fresh air, sunshine and beautiful containers filled with spring blooms is a sure sign warmer days are on their way.  Adding a spring container is an easy way to refresh your porch, patio or outdoor area.

Get started by finding the perfect planter. Once nighttime temperatures remain above freezing, not dipping below, 30°F, you’re reading to plant.

Before planting, check to make sure the container has drainage holes at the bottom. When you’re ready to plant, use 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.

Remember to use a “thriller, filler and spiller” when planting new pots. Put the tallest growing plant in the middle, or at the back. Surround it with smaller plants and finally, those that spill over the edge.

Combine any of the below plants for a look that pops!

Pick 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.

Think bulbs

There’s still a way to get those beautiful tulip and daffodil blooms even if you didn’t plant them in the fall. Just stop by your local garden center to pick up already-blooming bulbs place them into your container for an instant pick me up.

Enjoy Edibles

Choose plants that do double duty. Plant a mix of greens including spinach, kale, red and green lettuce and more. A container filled with spring greens will provide healthy salads while also brightening up the landscape. Add in viola blooms for a fun touch of color and don’t forget that herbs will help to create texture.  Use Espoma’s liquid Grow! to give plants a healthy dose of nutrients.

 

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  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 Bio-tone Starter Plus!

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.