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Plant Flower Bulbs in Three Easy Steps

Tips for planting bulbs from Longfield Gardens, premium online bulb source

Fall is planting time for spring-blooming bulbs such as tulips, daffodils and alliums. There’s nothing difficult about planting bulbs and you can plant dozens of them in just a few minutes.

Spring bulbs are always the first flowers to bloom each spring,” said Hans Langeveld, co-owner of Longfield Gardens. “You plant them in fall and then forget about them until spring rolls around and your garden is filled with flowers that are ready to bloom.”

Langeveld assures gardeners that creating a colorful spring garden requires just 3 easy steps: choosing your bulbs, knowing when to plant, and following some basic planting instructions.
Longfield Gardens

New Bloom Time Infographic

“There are a lot of bulbs to choose from when you are looking to make selections” says Langeveld. “Our new infographic helps gardeners have success with that process, too.”

Longfield Gardens’ new infographic divides spring bulbs by bloom time — very early, early, mid and late. Choosing a few bulbs from each category ensures a garden that will be filled with color for 60 days or even longer.

Best Time for Planting Bulbs

“You want to get the bulbs into the ground at the proper planting time for your region,” Langeveld said.

As a general rule, spring-blooming bulbs can be planted anytime before the soil begins to freeze. But bulbs will benefit from having a few weeks to establish roots before the ground is frozen.

Gardeners can reference this map for recommended planting times. Light purple areas should plant bulbs from September to October; medium purple from September to November and dark purple areas should plant between October and December.

Planting is as Easy as 1-2-3

Choosing a good planting location is important. “Bulbs will grow almost anywhere,” said Langeveld. “They will do best in Longfield Gardenssoil that drains well.”

The planting part is easy and the same instructions can be applied to all types of bulbs:

  1. Dig a hole 3-4 times deeper than the height of the bulb.
  2. Set the bulbs into the hole, following spacing guidelines.
  3. Cover bulbs with soil and water only if the soil is very dry.

And of course, we at Espoma recommend a fertilizer made for bulbs such as Bulb-tone.

“Remember when planting bulbs to avoid the temptation to plant them in single rows. For the most natural look, group them in a pyramid, rectangle or circular shape,” Langeveld said.

To see the complete selection of fall-planted, spring-blooming bulbs from Longfield Gardens, click HERE.

Growing Blueberries Is Easy With These 4 Tips

Pancakes, tarts, pies, we love adding blueberries to any recipe. And we’re not alone.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recognizes July as National Blueberry Month! If any fruit deserves its own month, it’s the all-American blueberry.

Take advantage of peak fruiting season to celebrate this delicious little berry.

Health Benefits

Not only delicious and popular, blueberries are one of the top 10 healthiest foods.

These nutritional powerhouses are packed with antioxidants that help guard against cancer and heart disease. Blueberries are low in calories, but rich in fiber and vitamins. One serving of blueberries serves up almost 25 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. Plus, blueberries have a favorable impact on blood sugar regulation in persons already diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Convinced?

Grow your own blueberries – It’s easy!

The secret to blueberry success, according to berry expert Amelie Brazelton Aust, at Fall Creek Farm & Nursery who’s been growing blueberries on her family farm since she was a child, is the Four Ps — planting, pruning, picking and protecting.

JELLY BEAN Brazelberries blueberries on bush

‘Jelly Bean’ BrazelBerries blueberries

Simply follow these four simple tips to help bushes flourish season after season!

1. Planting

First, plant the right variety. Compact blueberries, like those from BrazelBerries, are perfect for growing in containers, raised beds or even directly in the garden.

Once you’ve chosen a blueberry bush, plant it in a sunny spot with at least six hours of sun each day.

Next, consider the soil. Blueberries love acidic soils. A pH of 4.5-5.5 is ideal. A simple soil test indicates acidity, which can easily be adjusted with a balanced organic fertilizer. Soil kits and amendments are available at any local garden center.

Give the plant’s roots plenty of growing room when planting in a container.

Plant dwarf blueberry bushes in pots 16” or more in diameter and water deeply and regularly to make sure all of the soil within the pot is moist.

2. Pruning

Cutting branches off any plant can be daunting, but it’s best for the plant. Pruning gives berries more space between branches, allowing air to flow freely and preventing disease.

“It’s best to prune blueberries in late winter when the plants are still dormant,” says Aust, “but I’ve pruned mine in the spring before flowering, and they’ve done great.”

Remove stems that are damaged, old or dead. Take out up to a quarter or even a third of the bush, then trim it up to a neat and tidy look.

Fertilizing is recommended in early spring. “Choose a balanced, organic, slow-release fertilizer for acid-loving plants,” Aust says.

Aust recommends a second application of fertilizer in late spring to give the plants an extra burst of energy for fruit production.

BrazelBerries Jelly Bean in italian pot

‘Jelly Bean’ BrazelBerries blueberries

3. Picking

With planting and pruning in the bag, the next step — picking — is the pay off. Be sure to watch your berries carefully and pick them before the birds do! Aust suggests getting one berry for yourself and one for the birds.

4. Protecting

A little protection ensures your blueberry bush will thrive for another bountiful season. Keep critters away by covering bushes with bird netting in the spring.

Winter weather poses the biggest risk to berry bushes, so be sure to protect roots.

“In very cold regions, apply a deep layer of mulch around the base of the bush to protect the roots,” Aust says. “Blueberries in pots are easiest to protect from the cold — just move the pots into an unheated garage or against a building and cover with thick mulch, burlap or a blanket.”

Spring’s sudden cold snaps endanger emerging growth, as well. Be sure to cover blueberry bushes with burlap or blankets when the forecast calls for frost once buds and flowers are emerging.blueberry pancakes Jamie oliver

Are you growing berries this year? What will you be making with them? Check out this super easy one cup blueberry pancakes recipe from Jamie Oliver:

blueberry pancakes Jamie oliver

Don’t Leave Hanging Baskets Out to Dry…

Hanging baskets make great visual impacts when they are filled to the brim with bright summer blooms. They add instant color to any spot and are a sign of warm weather.

Though as days get hotter and the summer rolls on, hanging baskets can start to look tired: drooping blooms, minimal flowers and straggly plants.

Your hanging basket isn’t doomed. It just needs a good ol’ fashion pick-me-up.

Refresh your hanging baskets to keep them partying all summer long

Get ready to give your hanging baskets a make-over. With these tips, your hanging basket will be back in its prime in no time.

Photo Courtesy Proven Winners

Photo Courtesy Proven Winners

Take the Heat Off Hanging Baskets

  1. Test the Waters Hanging baskets need more water when temperatures rise. During the peak of summer’s heat, water baskets in the morning until water drips from the drainage holes. Check them again in the afternoon to see if they need more water. On windy days, hanging baskets dry out, so they will need even more water.
  2. Food for Thought. Feed hanging baskets  with an organic flower food, like Flower-tone or the new Bloom! liquid plant food. Because of how much water baskets need, nutrients are frequently flushed from the soil. Regular feedings give your hanging baskets the energy they need to shine and bloom continuously.
  3. Drop Dead Gorgeous Blooms. As flowers fade, pinch them off where they meet the stem. Deadheading hanging baskets keeps them producing flowers and prevents them from going to seed.
  4. Which to Switch. Not every flower blooms all summer. If one of your flowers is done blooming for the season, swap it out. Gently remove the flower, replace it with a vibrant plant and fill with an organic potting soil.
  5. What to Cut. When your hanging basket is looking a bit wild or leggy, cut it back by 1-2”.

Look at that! Your hanging baskets already look better. Keep up these tips throughout the summer to keep hanging baskets fresh, beautiful and blooming.

Double your Roses by Feeding and Deadheading

Is there anything better than walking into your garden, smelling the heavenly scent of a rose and seeing a luscious rose bloom?

Believe it or not, we think there is!

More roses!

Once your roses start blooming, all you want is for more roses to grow, too! Stack the odds in your favor by feeding and deadheading your roses now.

Give Your Roses an Energy Boost!

roses

 

To create those gorgeous, lovely rose blooms, roses need lots of energy! You don’t think those beautiful blooms just happen, do you?

  1. Ohm. Find the Right Balance. Roses need a balanced, organic fertilizer made specifically for roses. A balanced food with the same amounts of NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) keeps the roots, flowers and foliage growing strong and healthy.
  2. Do as the Experts Do. Don’t the experts always know best? That’s what it seems like from those toothpaste commercials at least! The same is true in the garden. Rose-tone by Espoma, an organic plant food, is preferred by professional rose-growers. Follow their lead to grow bigger, better roses! Dare we say, prizewinning?
  3. The 30 Day Phase. Feed your roses once a month during the growing season. When you use a slow-release, organic fertilizer, your roses have enough to eat for 30 days. After that, they’ve consumed all the soil’s nutrients and need their energy source replenished. If the soil is dry, make sure you water roses heavily before feeding them. Find out more here.
  4. Look Dead? Off with their Head. Anyone who grows roses knows the value of deadheading. Roses will bloom all season if you remove spent flowers. Otherwise, the roses focus on seeding – not flowering. Plus, deadheading is easy! With pruners, simply cut dead roses just below the flower to the first set of leaves. Leave the leaves though, since these help plants grow strong. During drought, deadheading also reduces the plants need for water, increasing its chance of surviving this dry spell.
  5. Don’t stop there. Continue to deadhead roses until late August. This will allow the rose to form the important seed bearing hips it needs to produce even more flowers next spring!

Soon, roses will be coming up every which way! Go forth and create big, beautiful blooms with your newfound knowledge.

Feed Tomato and Pepper Plants Now

By now you’ve planted your organic tomatoes and peppers! These homegrown veggies should be starting to flower — which means fruit isn’t far behind.

Now, it’s time to sprinkle a little magic.

The trick is to feed veggies monthly with an organic fertilizer. Tomatoes and peppers have big appetites, so they need plenty of organic food. Since plants get all their nutrients from the soil, their all-you-can-eat buffet runs out quick. Feed them right, and they’ll burst full of fresh produce.

how to grow tomatoes

Create a Balanced Diet:

  1. Go Organic. Since you’re eating this food and feeding it to your friends and family, you’ll want to ensure it’s the cleanest and healthiest possible. Choose an organic fertilizer.
  2. Take it slow. Chose a slow-release organic fertilizer. Artificial, rapid growth results in tall, lanky plants. Slow-release, organic fertilizers actually improve the soil as they break down.
  3. Plants need vitamins, too. Find a balanced food with calcium to help prevent blossom rot. Espoma Tomato-tone has 8% calcium! Be careful that you do not use too much nitrogen which will result in a lush, green plant with very little fruit.
  4. More Magic. Tomato-tone also includes Bio-tone®, a blend containing more than 3 million beneficial microbes. Sounds cool, right?

Don’t take it from us — Veggie Gardener had this to say:

“Bio-tone works magic with this fertilizer. These beneficial microbes do the dirty work of creating big and healthy plants which in turn grow large, plump, and juicy tomatoes. Beneficial microbes support good root growth by helping the roots absorb nutrients from the soil. Well producing tomatoes, or any plant for that matter, starts with a healthy and strong root system. Since I started using Tomato-tone, my tomato plants have grown faster, stronger, and produced more tomatoes.”

Ok, you get it. Fertilizing tomatoes and peppers is like sprinkling them with magic dust that makes them grow bigger, better produce. Now get growing.

how to grow peppers

Tips for Feeding Tomatoes and Peppers:

  1. Measure out the fertilizer according to instructions on bag.
  2. Feed single plants with 3 tablespoons of Tomato-tone. For rows of plants, apply 1 cup on each side per 5 feet. Feed potted plants 1.5 teaspoons per 4” pot diameter. More details here.
  3. Sprinkle Tomato-tone starting approximately 6” from the base of the plant.
  4. After feeding, water well.
  5. Feed tomatoes and peppers every month during the growing season.

Feeding tomatoes and peppers takes just a couple of minutes and drastically increases your harvest.

To feed your family lots of organic, homegrown veggies this summer, you’ll need to first keep your veggies well-fed! Get ready for the biggest, yummiest tomatoes and peppers you’ve ever grown.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While you’re at it, take a selfie with your Tomato-tone! Tag us in the picture with @Espoma.

Prep the Yard + Garden for Memorial Day!

The spring season is just flying by and Memorial Day is already here.  Everyone is excited to have the day off, enjoy the outdoors and chow down on BBQ.

Memorial Day may mark the start of the summer vacation season, but let’s remember what the holiday is really about.

This federal holiday, observed the last Monday of May, is to honor and remember the people who died serving in our country’s armed forces. Formerly known as Decoration Day, the holiday originated after the Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war.

flowers-258415_640To celebrate “decoration day,” bring out your red, white and blue and get ready for the summer season. You’ll want to make sure your lawn and garden is ready, too, by following our tips to prep your outdoor space.

First, get your yard and garden ready for the summer by evaluating your landscape. Make note of any problem areas that simply look messy, empty or that need color.

If your front door entrance looks dull, add containers full of colorful flowers!

Welcome guests by creating an entry way that really pops. Creating colorful, dramatic flower containers is super easy. And, to make it even more festive, use red, white and blue flowers.

Have an awkward, empty spot in the garden bed? If it’s a smaller space, plant a couple more annual or perennial flowers. To fill a large, gaping hole in the garden bed, plant a flowering shrub for a beautiful fix or fill with a container of flowering plants.

Next, refresh your whole yard with new mulch. All your garden beds will look instantly refined. Plus, mulch reduces water and weeds. Add 2-3” of mulch if you haven’t already.

For any unkempt areas in the garden, pick up any debris on the ground. Then, lightly trim any plants that are overstepping their boundary.

Ok, your yard is almost ready. Time for the wow factors! Add decorative lighting along the pathway, hang your American flags and dazzle with festive garland.

How are you celebrating Memorial Day this year? Share your pictures with us on our Facebook page!

Guide to Growing Organic Tomatoes

If there’s one vegetable that needs to be in your organic garden, it’s tomatoes! Juicy, red tomatoes are the taste of summer.

In a salad, drizzled with olive oil, sliced with fresh mozzarella or even eaten like an apple, homegrown tomatoes make every summer meal taste better.

Like all homegrown food, they’re picked when they’re the juiciest and most flavorful. And since you care for tomatoes all season, you appreciate theorganic tomato care and work it takes to ethically raise them. You know without an inkling of doubt that these tomatoes are organic, packed with nutrients and 100% free of harmful pesticides.

Plus when growing your own tomatoes, you get to pick exactly the kind you want! There are over 10,000 different types of tomatoes, in nearly every size and color.

To pick the tomatoes best for you, decide if you’d like to snack on tomatoes throughout summer. These are known as Indeterminate. Or if you’d like your crop to ripen at once at the end of summer, select determinate.

Also, think about how you’d like to use your tomatoes. Will you use them in lots of fresh recipes or can and preserve and save them for winter? See our favorite tomatoes below to pick the one right for you!

Best Tomatoes to Eat All Summer (Indeterminate)

  • Best Tomatoes for Sandwiches: Brandywine– The original scrumptious beefsteak, and all other beefsteaks
  • Best Tomatoes for Early Harvest: Early Girl– Bright red in color and flavor
  • Best Tomatoes for Sun-Drying: Any Cherry tomatoes

Best Tomatoes for Canning and Sauces (Determinate)

  • Best Tomatoes for Sauces – Full-flavored Roma
  • Best Tomatoes for Canning –Viva Italia which are virtually seedless
  • Best Overall Tomatoes: Rutgers– Abundant, uniform tomatoes that are perfectly tasty

tomato successPick one (or a couple) tomato varieties and get planting! Follow along below or check out how not to be a couch tomato with these tips.

Since tomatoes love the sun, they need a spot that gets at least 6 hours of sunlight a day.

Then, boost your soil. Mix in 3” of homemade compost or organic Garden Soil into the top 6” of your soil.

While you’re at it, mix in 9 cups of Espoma’s Tomato-tone per 50 square feet. For single plants, use 3 tablespoons of Tomato-tone per plant.

An organic plant food like Tomato-tone provides tomatoes the nutrients they need to grow big and plump. Since this is a slow-release, organic fertilizer, Tomato-tone never forces rapid growth, which reduces tomato yield.

Now dig a hole larger than the tomatoes’ original container. Look at the plant tag to see how far apart each tomato plant should be.

Situate the plant in the hole so its lowest leaves are below the soil level. Go ahead and pinch those lower leaves off.

Then fill the hole with amended soil or Espoma’s Organic Garden Soil.

To set your tomatoes up for success, stake them now to increase air circulation and sunlight exposure.

You can support them with a tomato cage, trellis or container. Or hammer 6-8” stakes 1’ into the ground about 3-6” away from the plant. When tomatoes begin blooming, tie them to the stake.

Right now though, all they need is some water! For the next few days, water tomatoes generously. Then, give tomatoes about 2” of water around their base each week.

In addition to watering, feed your tomatoes an organic tomato food each month. Organically fertilizing tomatoes with Tomato-tone produces larger, plumper tomatoes all season.

In 3-5 weeks, add 2-3” of mulch to reduce water consumption.

It won’t be long now until you’re biting into the first, fresh tomato of the season!

Share this post if you LOVE growing tomatoes!

Grow Fresh Herbs at Your Fingertips

Forget dried, stale or store-bought herbs. There’s a cheaper, closer and fresher alternative.

Plant an herb container garden near your kitchen or next to the grill.

Having fresh, organic herbs right where you cook makes them easier to incorporate into any meal.

With just a few snips, fresh herbs will invigorate your cooking. With just one bite, you’ll instantly taste the difference. Plus, you can use fresh herbs in unexpected ways, like flavoring olive oil, tea or water

Whether you garden in a large space or a small apartment, an herb container garden is convenient and delicious!

All you need to cook up your next great dish is a sunny spot, a roomy container, the best organic potting mix and your favorite herbs.

First decide which (and how many) herbs to grow. Check old grocery lists or recipes to see which herbs you buy the most but especially spend the most money on. Choose those and grow some just for fun like relaxing lavender and lemon balm!

HerbMost herbs will work in a container but the best herbs to plant in containers are: Basil, Mint, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Cilantro, Parsley, Sage, Chives, Lavender, Tarragon, Lemon Verbena

Now pick a container with drainage holes. With container gardens, you can buy a modern or traditional container or get creative and use found objects.

Grouping herbs together that like the same amount of water, light and soil in the same container.

How many herbs you should plant in one container? There’s no hard and fast rule. Use your judgment and read the plant tags.

Go ahead and arrange containers on your deck, patio or any place that’s easy to access when you’re cooking. The area should get between 6-8 hours of sunlight a day.

Once your containers placed, fill half-way with a high-quality, organic potting mix such as Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix. Since you’ll be eating and serving them, organic potting soil is a must!

Now arrange the herbs to your liking! Try 3 or 4 different placements before planting. Read the plant tags to see how big the plants will get, too. And just like those class photos, the tallest go in the back!Container Garden

Once you’re happy with where the herbs are, fill the rest of the container with Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix. For a two gallon container, add 1 cup of Espoma’s Organic Bio-Tone Starter Plus to the top 4-6” of soil. For a five gallon container, add two cups.

Pat the soil to firm and remove air bubbles.

Feeding herbs with an organic fertilizer regularly promotes bigger plants, so you’ll have a bigger harvest. Bio-Tone Starter Plus is a microbe enhanced all natural plant food that will help your herbs to establish quickly.

Give your herb containers 1” of water a week.

Harvest herbs often! The more you pick, the more they’ll grow. Don’t you just love plants like that?

What herbs are you planting this year? Share your favorites by commenting below!

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!