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Don’t Stall! Now is the time to plant your seeds for fall.

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Today’s garden is bursting full of fresh fruits and veggies! There is nothing better than picking and eating a tomato, bean or pepper fresh off the plant. Yet – we aren’t always so lucky. With fall around the corner, we are already thinking about how to prolong that never-ending supply of delicious, homegrown produce. Now is the time to plan and start cool-season seeds indoors.

Reap What You Sow: Starting Cool-Season Seeds Indoors for Fall

  1. Get the Goodies. For fall crops, pick the hardiest and most frost tolerant seeds, so they can survive the first frost. Some of our favorites include broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, beets, carrots and spinach.
  2. Time to Prime. Start from the fall frost date (around here, the end of September) Look at the number of days to harvest on each seed packet. Use that number to count back from the first frost date, so the seeds have time to mature. Play it safe and add two weeks since plants can grow slower during short fall days.
  3. Awaken the Seeds. Fill seed starting trays within ¼” of the top with a high-quality organic seed starter, like Espoma’s Organic Seed Starter. Read each seed packet to learn how deep and far apart to plant seeds. Cover with soil, press down, label and lightly water.
  4. Store and Cover. Lightly cover the tray with plastic wrap. Keep in a sunny spot near a south-facing window.
  5. Smart Watering. Keep seeds moist by placing the tray in a pan of shallow water until the water seeps up from the bottom. Refill when empty.
  6. Break Out Sprouts. When leaves start to poke from the soil, remove plastic wrap. Feed with an organic fertilizer, like Espoma’s Plant-tone.
  7. A Home Away from Home. Two weeks before planting outside, begin hardening off seeds. Move outside for a few hours a day, increasing time outdoors daily. Also, reduce watering without letting the soil dry out.
  8. All Grown Up! Gently remove plants from see starting tray, and plant in a prepared bed. Mix-in organic starter plant food to help them adjust and grow strong, such as Espoma’s Bio-tone Starter Plus.

Helping your lawn get through the summer

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1. Water When the Rooster Crows
  • Water early in the morning to avoid evaporation loss.
  • Start watering at the first signs of stress in the Spring.
  • Water deeper & less frequently in the Spring to encourage deeper rooting.
  • During the summer, watering should be lighter & more frequent.
2. No Buzz Cuts When Mowing
  • Taller grass helps suppress weeds. Don’t cut more than 1/3 of the grass blade height & make sure it doesn’t go below 3” high.
  • Keep mower blades sharp. Avoid ripping the grass to reduce chance of disease.
  • Leave Grass Clippings. A mulching mower returns clippings to the lawn & can provide up to 30% of the lawn’s nutritional needs.
3. Sweeten the Soil (if necessary
  • Lawns require a pH range of 6 – 7 to utilize nutrients.
  • If the pH is too low (acidic), sweeten it with lime.
  • If the pH is too high (alkaline), acidify it with sulfur.
  • You can check the pH with a simple home test kit.

Large Rocks and Boulders

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Alone or in groups, large rocks and boulders (18 cu.ft. to 30 cu.ft. or bigger) can be used to achieve many of the elements of good garden design. Most obviously, they impart a sense of maturity and permanence to a new garden. They also serve as interesting focal points, given their height, mass, color and many angles.

While they can be used singly, large rocks and boulders are often used in combination with others. In home gardens, you commonly see three rocks placed asymmetrically to form a scalene-triangle arrangement. The unequal distances between rocks create a natural-looking composition. Typically, there's an upright pinnacle rock drawing the eye skyward and two lower, reclining rocks anchoring the display. (In larger landscapes, you could increase the number of rocks used.) The rocks may have differing shapes, but their masses should be similar to maintain visual balance. Symmetrical rock compositions are commonly used to form the supports for a rustic gate or to mark a path entrance.

Snow and Ice Problems

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With the recent snows followed by rain we have seen many plants straining under the weight of it all. It is only natural to want to go out and “help” your plants. Some limbs will break under the weight while others can naturally bend quite a distance. In attempting to remove snow, we may do more harm than good. It is possible to break limbs and branches in the process, depending on your removal technique. When ice accumulation is the issue, I never recommend removing it. You most surely will damage the plant in the process. It is better to let it melt off naturally. 

If this is an ongoing problem, it is best to prepare your plants prior to winter. Try tying individual stems together with twine or soft cloth to prevent individual branches from splitting open. Cedars, arborvitae and some junipers will benefit from this approach. Another is to determine if the accumulation is caused by man-made structures such as a poorly-placed or damaged downspout or gutter. Also consider moving the plant in the spring to avoid future problems.

 

Other Fall Bulbs to Brighten Your Spring

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The chill of Winter finally begins to subside. After months of gray skies, sunlight slowly begins to warm the earth. Your heart warms too, because the bulbs you planted last Fall are just starting to emerge. At least, that’s what ought to happen. And why shouldn't it? Bulbs are so easy to plant, and so worthwhile when they bloom. What are you waiting for? Get inspired by our favorites and get started by following a few simple steps. How many times have you heard the phrase, “so easy, ANYONE can do it”? Well, add one more to the total, because planting Fall bulbs really is that easy. And seeing them come up in the Spring is pretty hard to beat. There are just a few basics to keep in mind before getting started; plus, we have a few favorite bulb suggestions for your consideration.

3 Bulbs That Turn Us On

Let’s Go Dutch – Iris, That is. Dutch Irises are a favorite because they are just so dependable. Flower petals luxuriously drape over their sides, and the blooms come in a wide variety of intense colors.

Darwin Hybrid Tulip is a Natural Selection. It’s a very large tulip with the classic shape that comes to mind when you think of tulips. Most are reddish-orange, but you can also find them in pink, yellow and white.

Crocus Pocus. Almost like magic, these lovely little perennials (2-4 inches tall) are always among the first signs of spring. Crocuses come in many colors – red, orange, pink, purple and more. A side benefit: pesky critters don't seem to attack them.