Gardening Tips

Starting Seeds Indoors

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5 Reasons to Start Seeds Indoors

  1. Save money — seeds are less expensive than plants.
  2. Choose from an almost endless variety.
  3. Enjoy vegetables earlier.
  4. It is a fun project to do with your kids!
  5. There is great satisfaction of starting from seeds.

11 Tips to Seed Starting Success

Start seeds 4 to 6 weeks before you plant in the garden.  Cool season crops like broccoli or lettuce can go into the garden before the last frost.  Warm season crops like tomatoes & peppers should not be planted until all danger of frost is past.  Almost anyone can succeed by following the guidelines below.

Fresh is best. Always start with fresh, high quality seeds.

Plastic is fantastic. You can purchase plastic trays and kits designed specifically for starting seeds. They’re clean and free of pathogens, keep soil uniformly moist and allow for adequate drainage.

Sphagnum Moss

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Sphagnum moss should not be confused with peat moss. Although both are obtained from bogs, sphagnum moss is the live moss that grows on top of a bog, while peat moss is the decaying matter harvested under the layer of sphagnum moss. Knowing this, one can understand why sphagnum moss resources are more quickly renewed than peat moss.

The sphagnum moss plants are pale green to deep red. They form dense clumps, have no anchor roots and grow up to 12" tall. The leaves are like sponges; they can absorb up to 20 times their weight in water and can retain that water for a great length of time.

In the floral industry, sphagnum moss is used to line wire baskets because it provides good aeration to the roots. It is also routinely used as packing material for protecting plants during shipping, used as a soil amendment for growing orchids, and to start seeds that are difficult to germinate. Because it is a sterile material, it protects young seedlings from damping-off disease. The absorbent properties of sphagnum moss saves water and reduces leaching of nutrients, so less frequent fertilizing is required.

Protecting Trees and Shrubs in Winter

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Harsh winter conditions can be cruel to your prized ornamental tree or expensive shrub. The following measures can help protect your investments. You just need a few supplies, some time and a bit of work.

The Effects of Dehydration

Winter desiccation of trees and shrubs is a primary cause of their poor health during the growing season. Evergreens, both coniferous and broad leaved, are particularly susceptible to the effects of drying wind. Unlike deciduous plants, they never lose their leaves or go completely dormant. They continue to transpire moisture from foliage all winter long. If they lose moisture above ground and don’t have adequate reserves to draw on at root level, they get winter burn (brown foliage), branch dieback, and brittle branches that are easily broken in strong wind. New trees and shrubs in your landscape are also prone to drying out in strong prevailing winds since their newly transplanted roots may not be well established before winter arrives. 

7 Steps to Fall Bulb Planting

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  1. Be Picky, specifically, about your bulbs and where you’re going to plant them. Choose bulbs that are free from obvious physical damage, mold or mildew.
  2. Timing Isn't Everything.  But it’s pretty doggoned important. Plant your bulbs when the soil has cooled, but well before the ground freezes. Late September and October are normally just about right.
  3. Get in Deep.  There are exceptions, but here’s a good rule of thumb: dig a hole about three times deeper than the bulb is tall. So, a 3-inch bulb needs a 9" hole. Sandy soil, go slightly deeper, clay soil, go slightly shallower. Choose a well-drained spot for planting that will get at least six hours of sun each day. Constantly wet, mushy ground is a good way to rot bulbs.
  4. Don't Miss the Point. When you plant bulbs, ALWAYS do so with the point facing up.
  5. Get Good Dirt on the Subject. Bulbs like well-aerated, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. If you have poor soil – too sandy or too much clay – add amendments to improve it. Be sure to add 1-1/2 heaping teaspoons of Espoma Bulb-tone® or Bio-tone Starter Plus® into the planting hole with the bulb, where the roots can find it. This rich, organic, slowfeeding plant food is especially formulated to meet the nutritional needs of bulbs. Feed again at the same rate when plants are about six inches high.
  6. After Dinner Drink.  After covering the bulbs with rich organic soil, water well to help them become established before winter.
  7. To Mulch is Enough.  Adding a 3-inch layer of mulch over the surface of the soil will help insulate and protect the bulbs against freeze and thaw conditions. If you’re worried about the shoots finding their way through it in the Spring, you can always pull back the mulch in April.

 

There's Nothing Daffy About Daffodils

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Daffodils have been popular for a long, long time. The earliest mention dates back to around 200 B.C.! Today there are too many varieties to count, but generally speaking, all daffodils have a trumpet-shaped corona in the center of the flower, with a ring of petals around it. The classic daffodil color is yellow, but they range from yellow and white to yellow and orange, pink or even lime-green—bright colors you certainly can’t miss in the Spring. However, the time to think about planting daffodils is Fall;  it’s easy. Just follow these simple tips for almost certain success.

Basic skills for daffodils

Give them a drink, don't drown them. Daffodils need about an inch of water per week while growing and blooming (March to May). Do not overwater. Waterlogged daffodils will not thrive.

Don't cut and run. After blooming, wait until the foliage begins to turn yellow (typically late May or June) before cutting back.

Feed to succeed. Feed plants in the fall and after they have bloomed in the spring. Use a high-quality, slow-release organic fertilizer, such as Espoma Bulb-tone®. Sprinkle some around each plant, about 2 to 3 inches away.

Time to split. Every 3 to 5 years or so, in early summer, use a spading fork to gently lift the clumps of bulbs out of the ground. Divide and replant them immediately.