Did you miss our Natural Lawn & Garden Care seminar on Saturday, March 8th, 2014? No worries! Here are the notes we distributed during the seminar. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to comment below, stop by the Garden Care department or give us a call at 516-334-0066.

Originally presented by Charlie Shields,
The Espoma Company


Why Good Soil and Organics?

 The Basics:
  • Healthy Soil = Healthy Plants
  • Healthy soil is crumbly, brown and alive with earthworms and beneficial microbes.
  • Healthy soils allow roots to grow deep and become resistant to drought and stress.
  • Best defense against pests and stress is a healthy plant which means healthy soil.
  • Replace synthetics with organics for healthy soil.

 Benefits of Using Bio-Tone® Plant Food

Bio-tone® is a natural microbe enhanced plant food that is great for difficult soil conditions. It promotes bigger blooms and reduces transplant loss. It contains mycorrhizae, which work to stimulate root growth. Expect bigger roots for increased water uptake as well as increased resistance to disease when you use Bio-tone.


The Importance of pH

pH is very important to the plants you grow. An improper won’t allow the plant to utilize the nutrients available in the soil. Therefore, correcting your soils pH will help to create healthier, happier plants.
 Most plants thrive in neutral soil (7.0). Acid-loving plants such as rhododendrons and azaleas prefer a ph of about 5.5. To raise the ph, add dolomitic lime (not hydrated lime). To lower the pH, add sulfur (not aluminum sulfate). Hicks Nurseries will test your soil at no cost.


Tips for Planting Success

  • Choose native plants that will thrive with less care.
  • Plant in a location with appropriate sun exposure – plants or lawns.
  • Consider timing – Fall and Spring are ideal planting times.
  • Garden beds should be rich in organic matter; add topsoil or compost if necessary.

When Planting:

  • Dig a hole twice as wide and slightly deeper than the root ball.
  • Loosen root ball.
  • Amend soil with organic matter such as peat moss, compost or garden soil.
  • Mix Espoma Bio-Tone Starter Plus* into the amended soil.
  • Water thoroughly.
  • Mulch – do not mound it around the stem.
 *Benefits of Bio-Tone Starter Plus:
Noticeably larger plants with larger root mass
Much more likely to thrive after transplanting

Tips for Planting in Clay Soil:

  • Heavy clay soils are too compact for roots to grow.
  • Add Soil Perfector – all natural soil conditioner made from expanded slate.
  • Each granule holds the perfect amount of water, air and nutrients.
  • Won’t break down – 1 application permanently improves soil.
  • Ideal product for new  plantings in the ground or containers.


The Organic Vegetable Garden

 A Little planning to get started:
  • Location – should be full sun exposure.
  • Decide what you want to grow.
  • Decide if you want to start from seed or by transplants.
  • How do you want to layout the garden?
 Planting the Garden:
  • Remember full sun exposure
  • Prepare the soil with Bio-Tone Starter Plus.
  • Plant when the temperatures are right.
  • Water.
  • Feed monthly with Garden-Tone.

 Organic Garden Care

  • Trees & Shrubs – feed spring and fall.
  • Flowers & Vegetables – feed once per month though the growing season.
  • Sprinkle plant food on the soil evenly (like salt and pepper)
  • Follow directions – if 1 cup is good, 2 cups is not better.
  • Water thoroughly after application.


Benefits of an Organic Lawn Program

Safe for children and pets.
Won’t burn lawns or leach out of soil.


Preventing Weeds with Corn Gluten
  • Corn gluten is a natural byproduct from the manufacturing of corn starch for food.
  • Keeps lawns green. (contains 9% nitrogen)
  • Inhibits root development in seedlings.
  • Apply early spring and fall.
  • Do not use if seeding within 60 days.
  • Safe for children and pets.