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Nature Never Goes Out of Style – Transition into a Fall Cutting Garden

Seeing all of your hard work and tiny seedlings bloom into amazing plants full of color is the best part about gardening. It’s easy to bring the essence of the outdoors inside. All you need is a cutting garden.

Choose blooms that will make you happy, even if they don’t look particularly pleasing next to each other in the garden. This is your place to be creative and make amazing floral bouquets to brighten your indoor spaces.

Top Autumn Plants for Cutting Gardens

Autumn brings a change of color. This list shows off vibrant fall plants that will keep your bouquets fresh and on trend.

1. Dahlia

Known as a diva, dahlias bring incredible color and vibrancy to your bouquets. They offer a never-ending succession of flowers in different shapes and colors. They can vary in size, ranging from buttons to huge blooms. They bloom until the first frost.

2. Goldenrod

This filler adds a bright pop of color to any arrangement. The mustard yellow flower can vary from short, packed blooms to long, spacious blooms. Goldenrods require minimal care and can grow almost anywhere.

3. Blue Mist Spirea

A reliable performer, blue mist spireas are the perfect addition to any fall cutting garden. Use individual stems or entire branches of this purple-blue flower. Blue mist spirea will grow about 2’ to 3’ tall and wide with 1” clusters of flowers.

4. Sunflower

Since sunflowers come in a variety of colors, keep autumn tones in mind. Seeds are easily germinated and will bloom within 60 days after germination. Pollen-free sunflowers are best for bouquets.

Where to Start:

1. Choose Your Site

Scope out an open, well-drained, sunny spot for your cutting plants. The size of the space depends on how many plants you want to grow. Don’t think you have space? Plant cutting flowers between your vegetables rows. Or add them to containers on your patio or balcony!

2. Plan Your Plants

Check plant tags to see if your site meets the requirements for sun exposure and growing conditions. Be sure to keep the layout of the garden in mind. Leave spaces between the rows to make cutting and collecting easier. Plants that are the same height work better together— for you and the plant.

3. Prepare the Ground

Make sure your soil is clear of any debris and weeds – you don’t want your flowers competing with anything else. Work in several scoops of Espoma’s Bio-Tone Starter Plus in to the soil, to give your plants a good head start.

4. Planting Your Garden

Planting with seeds or seedlings are both great options for this garden. They are planted an inch into loose soil. Fertilize regularly with Espoma’s Liquid Bloom! Plant Food for the best results. Make sure to water flowers at least weekly.

As your plants start to bloom, keep cutting. The more you cut the more flowers you will get! It’s as easy as that.

Looking for more inspiration? Learn how to plant this easy fall flower container with Laura from Garden Answer.

5 Ways to Give Your Summer Garden a Boost

There’s no better way to enjoy your garden than by encouraging it to grow bigger and better. Before your summer veggies and flowers peak, take your garden to the next-level by refueling it.

Knock-out these 5 essential tasks and your garden will thank you. You’ll extend your summer season and ensure that your lawn and garden are in tip-top shape.

 

5 Ways to Give Your Summer Garden a Boost

1. Hydrate. When it’s hot, dry and muggy, the best thing is a nice cold drink. Your plants need some H2O, too. The trick to keeping your garden hydrated during the hottest days is not to water more. It’s to water smarter. Water plants deeply in the morning so they have the entire day to soak it up.

Image courtesy of Garden Answer

2. Keep plants fed. Your summer veggies and flowers are hungry. Feed hanging baskets, container gardens and annuals with liquid Bloom! plant food every 2 to 4 weeks. Vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers are heavy feeders. Continue to feed every 2 weeks with organic fertilizers Tomato-tone or Garden-tone.

3. Prune and deadhead. Extend the life of perennials by deadheading flowers as soon as they are spent. This will encourage plants to keep blooming as long as weather permits. Your roses will thank you. Prune tomato suckers and shrubs now, for fuller plants later.

4. Mow lawns strategically. When mowing, keep the mower blades high (3” or higher) to encourage healthy roots. Cut grass in the evening to give it time to recover and keep yourself cool.

5. Plant more! There are many quickly maturing plants that will thrive in summer gardens and be ready for harvest in the fall. Try planting radishes, cucumbers, beans and more.

Sit back and relax! Take a good look at your hard work and dream about the rewards and bountiful harvests you’ll enjoy in the months to come.

If you’re looking to get a better tomato harvest this summer, be sure to check out our complete tomato guide!

Plant a path – The best Ground Covers

Easy-to-grow groundcovers aren’t just limited to grass. There are plenty of attractive solutions that suppress weeds and add interest to your yard.

Groundcovers that feature variegated leaves and bright blooms bring life to areas that might otherwise go unnoticed. Plus, most groundcovers use less water than typical lawns and don’t require mowing.

To get a groundcover started, dig planting holes twice the size of the plants’ roots, fill partially with compost, add the plant and then backfill with compost enhanced with Bio-tone Starter Plus. Water plants thoroughly after planting.

5 Ground Covers for Your Yard

1. Thyme

Choose this perennial herb to create an aromatic, green carpet. Creeping thyme will grow between the cracks and crevices of stone paths and the pink or white blooms are lovely. Plant in full sun. Thyme is hardy in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 4-10.

2. Creeping Juniper

This evergreen thrives in the heat. It does especially well in poor and sandy soils, drought and hot summers. Use it to fill in slopes, hills or rocky terrain. Plant in full sun. Creeping Juniper is hardy in Zones 3-10.

3. Sedum

One of the most dependable perennials you can grow, sedum quickly establishes in any sunny spot. Some sedums provide four seasons of interest, turning red in fall and winter. This low-maintenance, fast spreading plant will grow in even the poorest soil. Plant in full sun. Sedum is hardy in Zones 4-9.

4. Sweet Woodruff

Its star-shaped leaves and tiny white flowers make this shade-loving ground cover a favorite for many gardeners. True to its name, sweet woodruff will bring an earthy aroma to your yard. Plant in part to full shade. Sweet woodruff is hardy in Zones 4-8.

5. Pachysandra

Pachysandra is a great ground cover for areas where deer are a problem. Plus, it requires little care once it’s established. Be careful, though. While this ground cover is great for deterring deer, it can be poisonous to pets and children. Grow in shade and moist, well-drained soil. Pachysandra is hardy in Zones 4-8.

Looking for something with more blooms? Find out the top annuals to plant in containers.

5 Summer Edibles 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.

Beets

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.

Cucumbers

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.

Peas

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

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.

Melons

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.

Tips for Growing Veggies in a Drought

Summer brings prime-time vegetable growing season and the delicious harvest of our fruit and vegetable gardens. But what happens when that summer heat gets a little too hot and leaves drought-prone areas high and dry?

Don’t stress — even though water is an essential component to vegetable gardening, there are plenty of ways to grow healthy, fresh veggies during dry times.

Try these low-water vegetable gardening tips for success all season long.

Build a Strong Base

When planting in dry conditions, amending your soil is crucial to success. Start with Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus for big, healthy blooms. Then, add rich compost to the soil to increase water retention. After you have a healthy soil as your base, be sure to add mulch. A 3-4” layer of mulch on top of your soil can reduce watering needs up to 50 percent. Mulch keeps the soil cooler and traps moisture in the soil, instead of allowing it to evaporate.

Strategic Planning

When it comes to drought-tolerant vegetable gardens, plan strategically. Raised bed gardens and containers retain moisture better than open gardens.

Instead of planting in straight rows, plant in a zig-zag or diamond pattern. With plants spaced out, their leaves create more shade and keep the soil cooler. Try companion planting, too. Pair plant varieties that work well together and benefit from each other.

6 drought resistant veggies to consider planting during drier times:

  • Eggplant
  • Bell peppers
  • Okra
  • Artichoke
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Swiss chard

Be Water Wise

Some of the water used in overhead watering systems never makes it to the soil. Most of the water evaporates on the leaves before serving its purpose.

Instead, try a drip irrigation system for more efficient watering. Drip watering methods can use upwards of 70 percent less water by avoiding evaporation, runoff and wind. Soaker hoses are another water-saving alternative. Lay the hose across an especially dry patch of soil while small holes in the hose allow water to seep through to the soil.

If all else fails — move your garden indoors! Grow smaller varieties of vegetables in small spaces. While indoor vegetable gardens still need proper watering, the soil won’t dry as fast as it would in the hot summer sun.

Love the heat and the sun? Learn more about succulent gardening here!

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.

Double Duty: Pet-friendly Plants that also Keep Pests Away

Landscapes that are both beautiful and functional earn extra points in any gardeners’ book. But gardens that are beautiful, pet-friendly and repel pests take the cake. Luckily, it doesn’t take too much effort to petscape for a Safe Paws yard.

While some pest-fighting plants like citronella and eucalyptus are poisonous to pets, there are other options that are more pet-friendly. Repel pests naturally in your yard with these pet-safe plants.

Three plants to repel pests

  1. Easy and fast-growing mint oil is proven to repel ticks, ants, mice and moths. Add mint to containers or plant it in an area where you can control its spread. Easy and fast-growing, mint needs little care as long as it’s grown in full sun. Pinch off flower buds as they appear and thin plants regularly.
  2. Rosemary, a member of the mint family, can keep mosquitoes at bay. This Mediterranean favorite is one of the most aromatic herbs you can grow. Grow in full sun and water when dry. Although you don’t need to prune, you can cut back branches to help your rosemary bush stay in shape.
  3. Chamomile is said to improve the plant health of any garden, plus its strong scent keeps fleas away. This plant grows best in cool conditions and should be planted in part shade, however, it will also grow full sun.

Keep your pet-friendly, pest-repelling garden growing strong by feeding with Espoma’s liquid Grow! plant food.

Ready to learn more? Learn how to keep pets safe outdoors in summer.

 

July Garden To-Do

Lazy days of summer? Think again! July can be a busy month in the garden.

While watering and deadheading may seem like tedious tasks, harvesting and enjoying the bounty are the reward for months of hard work.

Here are seven things to do in the garden this month.

summer gardening tips, garden checklist, summer garden

1. Follow the Watering Rule

Follow the primary rule of summer watering to ensure garden plants get the right amount of water. Water thoroughly and deeply in the morning by making pools in the soil around the roots. Deep watering allows roots to grow deeper and stronger, making them less likely to dry up and die.

When you water will depend on your weather. Check dryness by touching the soil. It should be moist at least 1” below the surface.

Water containers and hanging baskets daily until water runs from the drainage holes.

2.Pick, Eat and Replant

You can finally enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Harvest tomatoes, peppers, peas, carrots, cauliflower, beans, broccoli, leeks, onions, eggplants, cucumbers, squash, Brussels sprouts, kale, lettuce, melons, parsnips, potatoes, radishes, pumpkins and rutabagas.

Harvest tree and vine fruits when they are able to be gently plucked or twisted from their stems. Berries, apples and stone fruits should all be ready for picking in July.

Pick, dry and freeze herbs for use later in the year.

Sow seeds of cool-season crops such as greens and root vegetables for harvesting throughout August and September. Plant garlic for harvest next season.

Prune tomato suckers weekly and cut off any leaves growing below the lowest ripening fruit trusses to improve air circulation and prevent diseases. Thin fruit trees for a more robust harvest.

3. Plants Need to Eat, too

Continue to feed hanging baskets, container gardens and faded annuals with liquid fertilizer Bloom! every 2 to 4 weeks.

Vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers are heavy feeders. Continue to feed every 2 weeks with organic fertilizers Tomato-tone or Garden-tone.

Feed roses monthly through the summer with Rose-tone.

Houseplants are actively growing now and will benefit from monthly feedings of Grow!.

summer gardening tips, garden checklist, summer garden

4. Continue to Create a Safe Paws Lawn

Using an organic lawn food, as well as organic mulch will eliminate the hazards that chemical fertilizers, pesticides and synthetic mulches present to you, your family and pets. July is the time to feed your lawn with the summer revitalizer from our annual feeding program.

Water lawn regularly, slowly and deeply. Mow to 3″ to protect from summer heat.

5.Keep an Eye out for Pests

Watch for insect or disease damage as the weather gets hotter and plants become more stressed.

Beetles, aphids, slugs, snails and spider mites are just a few of the pests that visit your garden in summer. For best solutions ask your local garden center for suggestions and consider the Earth-tone Controls.

Keep an eye out for powdery mildew. Remove any affected leaves to prevent further spread.

6. Weed, weed, weed

Clear weeds regularly, as they fight your plants for nutrients and water. Plus, you’ll want to pull before they have a chance to flower and go to seed. Otherwise, you’ll fight even more weeds next season.

Cover freshly weeded beds with a layer of compost or mulch to conserve water and blanket weeds reducing their spreading.

summer gardening tips, garden checklist, summer garden

7. Prune and Deadhead

Prune summer flowering shrubs as soon as the blossoms fade. Deadhead annuals to promote more growth. Pinch fall blooming flowers such as coneflower and asters in mid-July to promote a fall garden full of color.

Try to hold off on planting anything new until the fall as the hot temperatures and dry conditions can strain young roots. And you’ll benefit because most stores  offer major end of season sales. If you do plant or transplant, make sure to fill the hole with Bio-tone starter plus and keep well-watered.

Bonus: Enjoy! Take time to slow down and enjoy your garden with friends and family. We sure will be!

Money is Growing in Your Garden. How to Harvest

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

  1. Like Espoma Organic on Facebook.
  2. Click the Contest Tab.
  3. 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.
  4. 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”
  5. Like” other entries to connect with fellow organic home-growers.

Espoma Garden to table

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.

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!