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Cool Season Vegetables

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5 Reasons to Warm up to Cool Vegetables

  • Be the first on your block with fresh, home grown vegetables.
  • Save cold, hard cash vs. supermarket prices.
  • Great way to extend the growing season
  • Fewer problems with insects and heat stress.
  • Great way to get kids outside gardening & eating their veggies!

5 Cool Foods for Thought

You might think of the growing season as the time between frosts. But vegetable gardening doesn’t have to wait until warm weather to be in the forecast. Cool Season vegetables are heartier varieties that tolerate, and even thrive, in the cold soil of early Spring. For many gardeners, mid-March marks the best time of the gardening season. What’s really important is soil temperature–it must be in the 40’s for cool season vegetable seeds to germinate. Simply go by the general rule that soil is warm enough when you can easily turn it with a shovel. Here are some come cool season vegetable suggestions worth trying:

  • Lettuce. Hail Caesar! Nothing like fresh romaine lettuce for your salad. It takes but a little time, space and energy. And lettuce always tastes best when it matures in cool weather.
  • Onions. They can be started 3 ways: sets, seeds, or transplants. Planting sets is easiest. If you can poke a hole in the ground, you can plant an onion set.
  • Carrots. For long, straight carrots, plant them in raised beds or sandy loam soil free of stones. Sweet, tender young carrots make a wonderful snack.
  • Peas. They need an early start to flower and set fruit before temperatures exceed 80 degrees. There is a world of difference in the way fresh peas taste—enough to make you plant them every year.
  • Broccoli. It might not be everyone’s favorite, but it ought to be. It’s really good for you and easy to start with seeds.

5 Hot Tips for Success

  1. To get the most vegetables throughout the year, plant cool season veggies now, follow then with warm season veggies in the summer, & then replant more cool season ones in the Fall.
  2. Choose a well-drained spot that gets as much sun as possible. This kind of space is likely to provide warmer soil temperatures.
  3. If your soil is not frozen, you can start preparing the ground. Use a shovel to turn the soil. Add some organic matter such as compost or Espoma Organic Planting Mix along with some Garden-tone. If your soil is still frozen, containers are a good alternative.
  4. Water deeply, but less frequently. Plants in general need less watering in cooler temperatures.
  5. Plant seeds or plants according to the directions found on the seed packets or plant tags.

If you can’t wait to get your hands dirty in the garden, there’s no reason to get left out in the cold. Give cool season crops a try!

Video: Planting Peppers with Garden Answer!

Laura from @Garden Answer is planting sweet and spicy peppers in her garden! Watch to find out which Espoma products help her get the job done.

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6 Vegetables to Sow During Early Spring

The weather is getting warmer, which means it’s time to start thinking about sowing spring veggies and planning ahead! Cool season crops can be directly sown into the ground as soon as the soil temperature is at or above 40˚F, but ensure you’re not working with wet or muddy soil since those are not favorable conditions for plant growth. Don’t forget to include Espoma Organic Garden-Tone to give your new vegetables the nutrients they need to grow big and delicious!

1. Spinach

Fresh baby spinach is not only delicious, but it’s also loaded with vitamins and minerals. This vegetable is versatile because you can eat it alone in a springtime salad or mix it into something like a smoothie! Now is a great time to sow spinach since it usually sprouts quickly and is somewhat frost-resistant in the face of unpredictable spring weather.

2. Swiss Chard

You may not be familiar with this beet relative, but it’s another amazing plant that is easy to grow from seed in the early springtime. You can eat chard raw or cooked and feel good knowing it contains 3 times the recommended daily intake of vitamin K and 44 percent of the recommended amount of vitamin A! Remember to harvest only the outer leaves during the spring and leave the inside for a later harvest.

3. Lettuce

Lettuce may seem simple, but did you know it actually comes in a variety of colors, species, shapes, and sizes? Gardeners love this plant lettuce because harvesting the baby greens is quick and easy — sometimes it can be ready after just 30 days! Lettuce is low in calories, fat, and sodium and is also a good source of fiber, iron, folate, and vitamin C. You can use your lettuce in a traditional salad, or spice things up by putting it in soup, making a wrap, or even grilling it.

4. Radishes

Radishes are the quickest vegetable to grow on this list if you truly want an early spring harvest. They’re also rich in antioxidants and minerals like calcium and potassium. Did you know these nutrients can help lower high blood pressure and reduce your risks for heart disease? You can put radishes in salads or even add them to stir fry or tacos.

5. Kale

Kale is the perfect vegetable if you want to produce a lot of food with little effort. It’s known as a “super food” for a reason — because cooked kale actually produces more iron than beef! It grows easily from a seed, so all you have to do is harvest the outer leaves for baby kale and let the rest of the foliage grow to full size. Kale, like spinach, is a great ingredient to add to your next salad or smoothie. Try a kale salad, or add it to a smoothie to make it healthier!

6. Peas

If you want to get your kids interested in gardening, the simplicity of planting peas is a great start. Fresh grown peas are a sweet and delicious side for any dish, or you can use them to make pea soup. They’re a good source of vitamins C and E, zinc, and other antioxidants that strengthen your immune system. You’ll want to read the seed packets closely to see if there are any specific growing directions and to get an idea of how tall this plant will grow. If you don’t want to do all the shelling regular peas require, you should opt for sugar snaps or snow peas.

 

It’s much easier than you may think to grow delicious and nutritious veggies in your own backyard. Plus, it’s fun and simple enough for the whole family to help! Which ones are you going to include in your early spring garden?

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Gardening Resolutions with Team Espoma

Here at Espoma, we’re constantly making plans and growing. But the new year is always a good time to slow down and decide on your most important intentions for the next round of seasons. That’s why we got in touch with some of our hardworking team members and partners to find out what their 2021 gardening goals look like. Read on if you’re looking for some inspiration for your own resolutions!

Lauren Boissonnault, How’s It Growing NJ, Brand Ambassador

2020 was a wonderful year to get a ton accomplished in the garden! I think we can all agree that our gardens were our safe space, escape, and motivation to get outside. It really helped me keep my sanity intact this year. Creating something beautiful and watching it grow and flourish was a blessing — I think that is really the best takeaway.

We spent some of the year revamping our driveway and installing raised veggie beds, which I enjoyed so much. I grew veggies I would have never had the space to try, and I have garlic tucked in right now looking wonderful. We have lots of plans for that space in 2021.

As I look out upon my garden covered with a beautiful blanket of snow, I’m now wishing I got all of those spring bulbs in the ground! I do this every year, and every time I promise myself that I will have bulbs planted before our Christmas tree goes up. But being a mom of two little ones and a web developer limits my time that I can spend playing in the dirt. This year, I promise to get them planted before I hear sleigh bells ring. It’s better late than never because that spring display is so worth it. If you can get a shovel in the ground, it is not too late to plant bulbs — trust me!

Another thing I’d like to challenge myself to do this year is to plant more from seeds. I buy lots of petunias every year, so I hope growing them from seeds will help save money. Lastly, I’d like to add a small greenhouse or revamp our existing potting shed into one. My 2021 will be filled with greenhouse goals, seed-grown gardens, and bulbs planted by November. I trust you to hold me to it!

Bonnie Satterthwaite, Espoma Organic, Territory Sales Manager

This year will be all about leaf mulching for me! It’s a technique that I’ve been looking to learn more about, and I hope to finally master it in 2021. I think once I get the hang of it, it’ll make my overall garden maintenance much easier. I’m also going to make things easier for myself by removing some of my rose bushes as they’re too labor-intensive and I’m just not loving them anymore. 

Some other things that won’t make the cut this year are many of the different types of annuals I normally have. Instead, I plan to select a few stellar performers and mass them. Given all the fabulous garden centers I get to visit throughout the spring on behalf of Espoma, picking just a few may be the most difficult resolution on my list.

I think these changes will be worth it, since I genuinely find every part of gardening to be so much fun —  and I’d like to keep it that way! I think it’s important not to overexert yourself in your horticulture hobby. I plan to end my long days of work with a nice glass of wine and a stroll around the garden — and maybe pluck just one or two more weeds.

Nick Cutsumpas, Farmer Nick NYC, Influencer

This year I am focusing on drought-tolerant plants that can also handle intense summer temperatures. I just moved to LA, which means I’m still adapting to a warm and dry climate. It’s much different than the wet and cool climate in NYC, and learning this new plant palette will be an exciting challenge. 

I also want to grow more flowers in 2021. I grow a ton of sunflower varieties, but I want to expand the diversity a bit and introduce new colors that will attract more pollinators to the garden. My garden has traditionally been green, yellow, and orange, but it’s time to throw in reds, blues and pinks into the mix.

Something else I’d like to incorporate this year is bottom watering. It’s a great technique to keep the top of your soil dry and allow the plant the drink at its own pace. Plus you will avoid annoying pests like fungus gnats which love the moist soil!

My biggest project I’ll be focusing on is building an edible rooftop for my new home. LA is water-deprived, so instituting a sustainable ecosystem for pollinators, drought-tolerant species, and native plants will be vital!

Ambrose & Angie Salazar, Garden Obsessions, Brand Ambassador

This year, we plan to have fun in the garden by continuing to include the whole family. Considering how 2020 has been — including our kids having to do school at home — we feel it can be just as much of a stress reliever for children as it is for adults.

Gardening with the family is not only a way to relax, but it’s also a big educational opportunity that gives a sense of ownership and responsibility. Learning to work in a small space garden helps our family grow as gardeners, keep an open mind to new gardening methods, and learn how to face these challenges in the future. In 2020, we took on landscaping a slope and felt a big sense of accomplishment with the end results.

Something we have in mind for 2021 is to include some of our neighbors with our gardening. We plan to put together some basic containers for them to enjoy at their home. With more people getting interested in plants and gardening in 2020, we feel that this would be a perfect opportunity to put a smile on other faces!

Our biggest focus this year is welcoming nature into the garden and educating others on how important it is to have plants that attract pollinators.

We’re feeling pretty inspired by these 2021 resolutions! Here’s to a year of growing and blooming alongside our plants. Have you decided on your gardening goals for this year? We’d love to hear them!

 

5 Ways to Get Your Children Involved in Gardening

It’s never too early to teach your children about gardening! From learning about nature to developing patience, horticulture can benefit everyone, no matter their age. But it can be difficult to decide what your little gardener is capable of doing. We pulled together a list to help you get your whole family involved — just in time before the colder months take over.

1. Decorate flower pots

A great place to start is with potted plants. A benefit of this activity is that it works year-round — even when it’s too cold to be out in the garden. Let them express their creative side with a little acrylic paint on some clay pots. The acrylic will last long and hold up in harsh weather if you plan to keep them outside. With the upcoming holidays, you can encourage them to get festive with their designs and colors!

2. Grow some easy fall vegetables

Do your children know where the food they eat comes from? Use these last few months of warm weather to show them how their favorite veggies are grown. Fall plants like arugula, spinach, and kale can grow from a seed within a month! Your little one will be able to see for themselves how food makes its way to their plate, and they’ll feel super proud that their hard work helped it get there.

3. Plant future spring blooms

Ready to teach your little one about patience? Right now is the best time to plant spring perennials. Be sure to give your future flowers enough time to establish roots in warm enough soil before it gets too cold out. We recommend tulips and hyacinths since they actually need a period of cold weather in order to bloom later! Just don’t forget to help them along with some bulb-specific fertilizer. Your child will soon understand how hard work and patience pays off when your garden turns into a wonderland of flowers in the spring.

 

4. Carve pumpkins

It doesn’t feel like fall until you break out the pumpkins! But instead of carving them out as porch decorations, try to add a gardening twist this year. You can actually hollow them out and use them as biodegradable flower pots! This is a great time to teach your children about resourcefulness and composting. When you’re done with them, throw them into your fertilizer mix for your soil.

5. Let them decide

Gardening can be a very creative and personal hobby, so let your child have the freedom to explore and choose how they want the garden to look. Teach them what kinds of flowers and vegetables are able to grow at certain times of the year, but let them have the final say. It can also be helpful for you to have a second opinion when you get in your own habits. You’d be surprised to see how it turns out! 

The only thing that can make your gardening hobby better is to get your loved ones involved — no matter how young they are. And it’s never too late in the season for them to jump in and help out! All you need is some patience and quality products to help you along the way. Even in the midst of winter, there are plenty of indoor plants that they can learn from in the meantime. Before you know it, they’ll be counting down the days until they can get outside and start gardening once spring comes around!

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5 Veggies to Plant in August

Have you thought ahead to your fall harvest yet? August is prime time to plant delicious and nutritious vegetables that will come to life in the cooler months. And there’s nothing better than being able to spice up your home-cooked dishes using your very own garden — no need to run to the supermarket! Read on to find out which veggies you should be planting right now.

Lettuce

Did you know  lettuce cannot be frozen, dried, pickled, or canned? That’s why you have to eat it fresh! Luckily, planting it right now means you’ll be able to enjoy it in just a few months. A fall harvest is ideal as lettuce’s sturdiness prevents any frost from destroying it. These leafy greens are a good source of vitamin C, calcium, iron and copper — making it the perfect base for a healthy salad. Keep an eye out for the dark green leaves when harvesting as they’re even healthier than the light green ones. 

Spinach

Spinach is well known for its low calorie count and high levels of vitamin A, C, and iron — making it the perfect addition to that healthy salad. This veggie also gives you the highest turnover out of all the others. If collected in small quantities, you can keep harvesting them late until May! The best time to start planting them is now, at the tail end of summer.

Parsley

Ready for another healthy addition to that salad we’re working on? Parsley is a rich source of Vitamin K, C, and A, and minerals like magnesium, potassium, iron, and calcium. It’s no wonder this veggie has been used in dishes since ancient Rome! It’s also believed to have anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, and antifungal properties. Plant your parsley now to make sure you can reap all these benefits in the fall.

Carrots

If you’re planning on sowing some veggies that aren’t leafy greens, carrots should definitely be your first choice! As this vegetable grows into the fall season, the cool weather turns the starch to sugar, making them extra delicious. This sweet flavor makes them the perfect side or snack — sauteed, roasted, or even raw! Keep in mind that this plant does need a little extra care compared to some of the others on this list, so be sure to use vegetable food like Garden-tone to provide them with the energy they need to grow.

Beets

Last but not least, beets should definitely be on your August to-plant list. Did you know beets are edible from the tip of their green leaves to the bottom of their brown roots? They also help capture some hard-to-catch toxins and flush them out. These same antioxidants provide anti-inflammatory agents that provide a wide array of health benefits. Still not convinced? Since beet juice helps cleanse your liver, it’s thought that it can even help cure hangovers! If you want to make use of the entire plant and enjoy all these delicious benefits, make sure to sow the seeds now — about 8 weeks before the first frost.

Just because summer is winding down, doesn’t mean it’s time to pack up your gardening supplies. August is the perfect time to plant some of your favorite vegetables! Cooking primarily with these veggies straight from your garden will give you some of the freshest and tastiest dishes. So get your family together, head outside, and get planting!

Video: Planting Fall Crops for Harvest with Garden Answer

Fall crops already? That’s right! Join Garden Answer and get some great ideas for food crops in the upcoming season.

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Video: Tying up & Fertilizing Tomatoes with Bloom and Grow Radio!

Are your tomato plants growing out of control? Time to tie them up with Bloom and Grow Radio‘s Tying and Fertilizing Tomatoes video featuring Tomato-tone!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_pE7AvNH4U

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