Kevin from @Epic Gardening is walking us through how he plans to maintain those tomatoes he recently planted with the help of Espoma. Follow along to hear his top tips!
With Memorial Day in the rearview, summer is officially here once again — and while we wish that meant nothing but sunshine and barbecues, bugs seem to always make an appearance this time of year. But did you know there are ways to avoid getting bitten and bugged every time you want to relax outside?
The fragrance of certain plants can actually block the receptors insects use to find us. It’s just another great reason to get a garden going in your backyard, around your patio, or anywhere you like to enjoy fresh air. All you really need to sustain these helpful plants is some good starter fertilizer like Espoma’s organic Bio-tone Starter Plus and to make sure they’re fed every two to four weeks with Grow! to ensure they get the proper nutrients.
So, if you’re getting some unwanted guests during those summer cookouts, try planting some of these simple staples.
Did you know many mosquito repelling candles and sprays are made from citronella oil? Lemon grass naturally produces this ingredient and doubles as a beautiful grassy plant for walkways and around tables. Alternatively, you can plant it in its own pot and use it wherever your local mosquitos tend to congregate.
Other Lemon-Scented Plants
Similar to lemongrass, other plants that give off a strong citrus fragrance — like lemon-scent geraniums, lemon thyme, and lemon balm — work well to repel bugs. These plants use their fresh scent to keep their leaves from being eaten — and in turn can help you keep from being bitten.
Despite lavender’s sweet smell being quite popular among people, most insects hate it. Keeping this plant near seating areas will help ward away mosquitos and other pesky flies. A great thing about this plant is that you can use it fresh or dried to get the job done — or even just use the extracted oil. This way you have different options on how you want to decorate while still keeping the pests at bay.
Rosemary is a great addition to your cookout. Throw a few sprigs on the grill as you’re cooking to release its fragrance into the air. It’ll smell wonderful to you and your family but make the bugs fly in the other direction.
Basil is another herb that will keep the mosquitos away. It’s also toxic to mosquito larvae, so placing this plant near water can help discourage mosquitoes from laying eggs.
Mint’s fragrance is great at repelling pests like ants, mosquitoes, and even mice. It’s also always a nice addition to any dish, so incorporating it into your barbecue can be beneficial in more ways than one.
If cabbage moths are just as pesky as mosquitoes in your backyard, garlic can be your saving grace. When crushed, the garlic bulbs release allicin — an enzyme that produces that classic garlic smell. Your local pests will definitely not enjoy your garlic breath, so go ahead and use it up all weekend long.
Any and all of these plants can be used purely to keep the bugs away, but they’re also beautiful decor for your outdoor area. Be sure to keep up with them all season long in order to reap the benefits whenever your cookouts come around.
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Who’s ready to start digging in the garden? Us too.
Root vegetable crops can often be planted as soon as the soil has warmed. They’re an easy addition to start your vegetable garden. Start your seedlings now and you‘ll be able to brag about your homegrown root vegetables at the first summer BBQ of the year.
In order to be successful, plant your seeds after springs last frost date according to your region. Stop by your local garden center to pick up your seeds and supplies, soon!
Here’s how to start root vegetable seeds:
Soil for root vegetables is important as they will grow around anything intrusive buried. That will lead to deformed vegetables. They grow best in a deep, loose soil that retains moisture yet is well-drained, such as Espoma’s Organic Garden Soil. Choosing the right soil from the beginning will set up your crop for success. Prepare bed, loosen compacted soil and mix in Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus, to keep roots strong.
Sow your seeds directly into your soil. Follow instructions on the seed packets to see how deep and far apart to plant. Cover with soil, press down and lightly water.
Seeds need to stay moist while they germinate. Root crops need about 1 inch of water a week. Light waterings that only wet the surface will cause shallow root development and reduce the quality of crops.
When the vegetables start to grow bigger, fuller leaves, give them a hand with Espoma’s Garden-Tone to help provide the nutrients needed for delicious vegetables.
Some root plants like beets or radishes will benefit from thinning. Cut off the tops of weaker seedlings at the soil line when seedlings have 1-2 sets of true leaves.You can use many leaves as a tasty additions to salads. If you pull seedlings out of the ground, it is not recommended to transplant long rooted vegetables, like carrots and turnips, since the disturbance will cause roots to fork.
Want more veggies? Try this DIY vegetable pallet planter.
Microgreens add fresh flavor and nutrients to salads, sandwiches, smoothies and stir-fries. These plants are harvested when they’re young, usually about two weeks after planting.
Plus, microgreens contain about five times more vitamins than if grown to mature vegetables, according to USDA researchers. Adding microgreens to smoothies will boost the nutritional content without adding strong flavors.
6 Steps to Grow Winter Microgreens:
Dreaming of the outdoors? Learn how to plant veggies in containers for next year!
Savvy gardeners are known for not letting anything go to waste. They are the compost kings and queens. They are smart about how they water. They use every inch of their garden to plant something amazing.
So when it comes to seeds, why would that be any different? Saving seeds for vegetables is simple and wallet-friendly. It allows gardeners to be sustainable within their own garden.
Saving Seeds Basics
Saving seeds is easy to do. Its three simple steps: harvest the seeds from the vegetables, dry the seeds and store the seeds. Of course there’s a little more to know, but it’s truly that straightforward.
Depending on the vegetable you want seeds from, there’s a little bit of washing to do too. We have outlined three popular vegetables to get you started.
Peppers are the easiest vegetables to get seeds from. When they have changed colors and are ready to eat, the seeds are ready as well.
Cut the peppers open, scoop out the seeds onto a ceramic or glass plate and lay them out to dry. Make sure the seeds are lying flat, not stacked on top of each other. Twice a day move the seeds around to ensure they aren’t sticking together. When they break, not bend, in your hand they are ready for storage.
Be sure to use ceramic or glass as the seeds will stick to paper.
At the end of the season, pick off overly ripe cucumbers and bring them inside. Cut the cucumber open lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. To get the excess goop and coating off, rise and swirl seeds in a sieve gently. Spread them on wax paper to dry. Mix them occasionally to ensure even drying. Store when the seeds feel rough but not slippery.
Lettuce plants need to flower before you can harvest their seeds. One lettuce plant can produce a lot of seeds, so you don’t need to worry about all of them. When the flower heads are dried out and have puffs of white, the seeds are ready to be harvested.
Pinch off the flower heads and collect them in a bag. Bring them to a table and break them open so the seeds fall out. Some of the flower may stick to the seed, it is fine. It won’t disrupt the germination of the next season. Allow the seeds to dry and store.
Airtight containers work best for all seeds described. If taken care of, these seeds can last a few years! Keep them at room temperature and they will be ready to go when planting season begins.
When next year rolls around, start your seeds indoors and use Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus to grow bigger and better versions of your favorite plants.
So you just finished harvesting all of your crops, you have tomatoes in every drawer in your kitchen and your garden is cut back. What now?
With enough time left before the first frost, you can still get another crop in the ground.
Whether you are a planner or a fly by the seat of your pants kind of gardener, succession planting is something to try.
What is Succession Planting?
Succession planting is a way of planting that maximizes your harvest. You plant one vegetable right as another finishes. There are a few ways to do this:
Now you know what succession planting is, here are a few steps to send you in the right direction.
5 Tips for Succession Planting
Succession planting can ensure your garden is in working production all season long. Learn what veggies it’s not too late to plant.
Whether it’s practicing yoga, writing a journal, going on vacation or taking an art class, everyone should have their release – something you can turn to when you feel stressed or need to clear your mind. Well, for us, spending some time in the garden does the trick. The greenery, the sun and the fresh air are just a few of the reasons we love unwinding in the garden.
Here are some of the ways gardening can improve your well-being.
What benefits – well-being or other – do you receive from your garden? Let us know in the comments below!
Summer gardens filled with fresh fruits and lots of veggies are worth the work. And while gardeners with shady areas may be envious, they can still have plenty of success on their own vegetables.
After, the secret to good crops is really in the soil.
A shady space that gets as little as two hours of direct sunlight a day is still a prime location for a veggie garden filled with root or leafy vegetables. Plus, you’ll have a longer growing period for cool-season crops.
Read on for five vegetables that don’t need to full sun.
5 Vegetables that Grow in Shade:
Easy to grow in almost any space, beets are a shade gardener’s best friend. Beets can be used for both their roots and their greens. Sow seeds directly in the ground in early spring for the best flavor.
This cold-weather vegetable can withstand cooler temps and shade. Use in soups, salads and stir-fries. Sow seeds directly in ground in both the fall and spring for two harvests.
Cold-hardy and resilient, kale will grow for months until the weather gets too hot. This plant can be added to stir-fry, salads, omelets and smoothies for a healthy addition. Plant kale about two months before your first frost.
Eat turnips raw or cook and serve in soups, stir-fries or mashes. These plants thrive in cool temperatures and shade. Scatter turnip seeds in your garden two to four weeks before the last frost in spring or from late August to October.
Requiring almost no space, garlic is simple to grow. Break off cloves from a whole bulb and plant in the ground. To harvest big and flavorful bulbs next summer, plant garlic in the fall. Allow garlic to cure after harvesting in an airy, shady spot for two weeks.
Want to get kids involved in vegetable gardening? Learn more about kid-friendly gardening.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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!