All posts by Geo Growers

March On The Homestead

Spring comes: the flowers learn their colored shapes.”

–  Maria Konopnicka

March is a busy month in the garden. The weather is changing, the plants are growing, and there are a ton of things to get done in the yard and the garden.

Let’s start with the yard in general and work our way down to the most important spot, the garden.
March is the time to clean things up a bit. Gather up yard debris (fallen limbs, fallen fruit etc.) and get them in the compost pile.  If there is a ton of leaves in the yard there are several approaches to take with them. The first is to run your mulching mower over them and let them work their way into the lawn. This is a great way to add organic matter and save yourself some time raking.  If you don’t want the pesky leaves in the yard, then use the bagging attachment to collect the leaves as you mulch them with the mower.  These ground up leaves can be added to your compost pile and are a great way to add to an existing pile or start a new one. Lastly, you can get out the rake make giant piles of leaves to put into your flowerbeds.  They make a  great mulch with a wonderful natural look.  Old leaves have so many uses around the yard and garden.

March is the time to aerate your yard.  After you have aerated the entire lawn, top dress it with Geo Growers Turf Topper, or Composted cow Manure.  You can have it delivered to your house the day of aeration and spread before you know it.  Why you are at it, get enough Cow or Turkey Compost to top dress your lawn, flowerbeds, and garden beds all at once.
Once your lawn is top dressed, you can consider fertilizing it. Geo Growers carries a full line of organic lawn fertilizers such as Texas Tea or Medina Growin Green that are a great way to get that lawn jump started before the heat sets in.

Do not forget to top dress the flower beds and gardens with compost. You need to do this at least once a year to replace the organic matter that the plants need. Using  compost builds a healthy, fertile soil, adds nutrients and beneficial microorganisms to your soil,  and it improves the tilth of your soil.
Till in any cover crops you put in the garden. Cut them, till them, and let them breakdown for at least two weeks.

Be very mindful of late season freezes and spring winds. Keeping some sort of row/plant covers handy are a must to protect transplants. March 20th may be the last frost date for our region, but Mother Nature does not always stick to the rules.

Seeds to Plant in March:

EARLY MARCH:
Vegetables: Beans, Beets, Chard, Peas Radish

Herbs: Chives, Epazote, Milk Thistle

LATE MARCH:
Vegetables:
Black-eyed Peas, Chard, Collards, Corn, Cucumber, Endive, Malabar Spinach, Mustard, Pumpkin, New Zealand Spinach, Summer Squash.

Herbs:  Basil.

Annuals:  Castor Bean, Cleome, Cypress Vine, Gomphrena, Gourds, Marigold, Moonflower, Morning Glory, Sunflowers

Plants to Plant in March:

Vegetables: Chard, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Endive, Malabar Spinach, Mustard, Peppers, Pumpkin, New Zealand Spinach, Summer Squash, Tomatillos, Tomatoes.

Herbs: Basil, Bergamot, Catmint, Catnip, Chives, Comfrey, Scented Geraniums, Echinacea, Feverfew, Lavender, Lemongrass, Mint, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Savory, Sorrel, Thyme.

Annuals: Cleome, Coleus, Cosmos, Gourds, Lion’s Tail, Marigold, Nicotiana, Pentas, Zinnias.

Perennials: Blackfoot Daisy, Esperanza, Firebush, Plumbago,

Trees and Shrubs: You can still get away with planting trees and shrubs in the mild March weather. Your trees and shrubs have a better shot being planted now rather in the heat of the summer.

Is It Really Spring?

Is This Really Spring?
6 Tips If We Have a Late Freeze/Frost

The question most asked here at Geo Growers this time of year is: Is it really spring?               As I write this, the temperature is pushing 90 F and looking at the 10 Day Forecast, the meteorologists are predicting high temps to be between 60 F and 80 F, and lows of 40 F to 60 F, which sure feels like spring.

Many plants are blooming – the Redbuds, the mountain laurels, and even blue bonnets. Aren’t these blooms giving us a sign that springtime has arrived?  After all, it’s been warm most of February this year.

It sure seems like spring, but Texas has a way of fooling you, by slipping in a last minute freeze or frost. Our last typical freeze/frost day average in Central Texas is March 11-20, and more often than not, we’ll experience a cold night or two before the end of March. We have in recent years had a cold snap on April 1st. Some more conservative planters won’t plant until April because of this, when they for sure know that it will be an absolutely safe bet to plant.

This article though, is for those gamblers who want to hedge their bet and plant anyway, knowing even though we may get a freeze/frost and will soon or already have planted their tomatoes. So, here are a few tips for the gamblers, should we have this cold night. Hopefully we won’t, but if we do there are a few things we can do to protect our new plants.

These tips are for a light overnight freeze or frost where your plants only need to be protected for a few hours. If we experience an Arctic Cold Front where we get 15 degrees for a couple of days like we did earlier this year, then all bets are off. Spring will have to start all over again. It’s happened before.

So, should we get notice of a drop in temperature into the low 30’s:

1. Dig up your plants and bring them into your house or greenhouse for the night and replant them the next warm day. A little hard to do if you’ve planted a lot already.

2. Water your plants heavily before the cold snap. Water is an excellent insulator and will warm up the plant’s root system. You might get some burn on the leaves (from the freeze) but the plant should survive.

3. Put blankets, sheets, cardboard boxes inverted buckets or pots over your plants. The idea is to warm up your plants just a few degrees and covering them keeps them warmer.

4. Citrus growers many times will put heaters or smokers in their orchards to add warmth. You’ll have to keep a close watch so you don’t start a fire, of course.

5. Cover your plants with mulch, which warms your plants. Uncover the leaves and stems the next warm day. The mulch will help your plant’s roots stay cooler and retain water longer as spring turns to summer. Mulch is highly recommended by Geo Growers and a good way to hedge your bet.

6. If you have done a lot of planting, covering with a product called Row Cover is a method many farms and larger gardens use to warm their plants as much as 5-10 degrees, which is enough to protect new tender plants. Plastic in sheet form is usually not recommended because it holds moisture on the plant leaves and stems and many times makes it even colder underneath, defeating the purpose and thus more damaging under the plastic sheet. Row Covers are porous and allow plants to breathe.

For more information on Row Covers, Geo Growers can give you more information on the properties of this fabric, which we have in stock in rolls, and it can be cut to your specifications.

Hopefully, we’ll bite the bullet and won’t have to do anything but enjoy our spring, but if we do get a cold snap, these tips should serve the purpose of raising the temperature above the freezing mark just enough to save your new plants.

February On the Homestead

February is only as long as is needed to mass the time until March.
J.R. Stockton
February is a busy month around the Homestead. There is so much to do even if the temperatures are still cold It is a good time to start prepping your garden beds. Build and fill new beds with our Thunder Garden Soil Mix, or revitalize existing beds with 2-3 inches of our Double Thunder Soil, Cow Compost, or Turkey Manure.  You can also add an organic supplement such as Rabbit Farms Minerals Plus or Rabbit Hill Farms Humate.

Whether your bed is new or established, give your plants a boost with Geo Growers Home Brewed Compost Tea and an Archaea  supplement to boost the microbial health of your soil.

Despite the unusually warm weather so far, it is best to resist the temptation to zealously fertilize your lawn. It is best to apply Corn Gluten Meal or a light topping of Geo Grower’s Turf Topper Soil to your Bermuda grass, but avoid the Corn Gluten Meal on your St. Augustine and stick with a light topping of Geo Grower’s Turf Topper Soil. Too much nitrogen in February is not the best thing for the lawn.

Continue to protect tender plants before a freeze.

February also means  it’s time to prune. Start during the middle of February,by  shaping your rose bushes and give them some care  in the form of Turkey Compost or fertilizer.

Prune fruit trees if needed and make sure to paint/seal the prune sites.

Shear hedges to shape. Shear hardy herbs as needed. Oregano, Rosemary, Savory, and Thyme will especially benefit from a late-winter makeover. Cut woody perennials such down to 12” segments. When new growth appears at the base, cut the old stems nearly to the ground to eliminate unsightly dead sticks.

Seeds to Plant this Month:

Vegetables:
Beets, Broccoli, Carrots, Chard, Collards, Endive, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Parsnip, Peas, Radish, Rutabaga, Seed Potatoes, Shallots, Spinach, Turnips.

It is time to start your Tomatoes and Peppers  seeds indoors.

Herbs:
Chives, Cilantro, Dill, Echinacea, Parsley.

Flowers:
Coreopsis, Cosmos, Nasturtium, Sweet Peas.

Plants to Plant this Month:
Vegetables:
Artichokes, Asparagus, Asian Greens, Broccoli, Cabbage, Chard, Collards, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Onion Sets, Seed Potatoes, Shallot Bulbs, Spinach.

Fruit:
Blackberries, Dewberries, Grapes, Figs, Pears, Persimmon, Pomegranate, Strawberries.

Herbs:
All hardy perennial herbs, such as chives, oregano, and thyme; and cool-season annuals or biennials such as dill, fennel, and parsley.

Flowers:
African Daisy, Alyssum,  Delphinium, Dianthus, Dusty Miller, English Daisy, Larkspur, Lobelia, Petunias, Poppies, Snapdragons, Black Foot Daisy, Four Nerve Daisy, Turk’s Cap, Yarrow.

November on the Homestead

20161117_092851November is in full swing and the weather is trying to make up its mind and that means there is a lot to do this month. Be aware that November 15 the average first frost date, so despite all the warm weather things can still change quickly.

On the Lawn
• Clear up fallen leaves regularly to allow light to the grass.
• A last mowing can be made this month before leaving your lawn for the winter.

In the Flowerbeds

  •  There’s still time to plant spring flowering bulbs for a magnificent start to next years display.
  •  Plant out spring bedding displays of pansies, violas and primulas.
  •  Now is the ideal time to plant a magnolia tree for a beautiful spring display.
  •  Gather up fallen leaves from around the base of rose bushes which suffered from black spot or rust this summer, to reduce the chance of infection next year.
  •  Cut back the yellowing foliage of herbaceous perennials, and lift and divide overcrowded clumps to maintain their vigor.

In the Vegetable Garden

  • Now is a great time to prepare a perennial vegetable bed which can be planted up with asparagus crowns.
  • Still time to sneak in some late garlic
  • Now is an ideal time to invest in mushroom kits It’s surprisingly easy to grow your own mushrooms.
  •  Now is a good time to top dress empty beds with Mushroom or Poultry compost so that it can sit and soak into your beds over the winter months
  •  Build a raised bed to take the bending out of vegetable growing.
  •  Stake top-heavy brassicas and draw up some soil around the base of the stem to prevent wind rocking the plant and causing damage to the roots.

Other Assorted Chores:

  •  Wash, dry and store any used pots, seed trays and containers to remove overwintering pests and diseases that may infect your plants next year.
  •  Make sure gardening tools are cleaned of soil and debris.
  •  Clean out your seed stocks.
  •  Insulate taps and pipework with foam lagging to prevent damage caused by freezing weather conditions.
  •  Move container grown specimen plants to a sheltered spot in the garden to protect them from strong winds, heavy rain and frosts.
  • Raise potted plants off the ground to prevent them becoming waterlogged.
  • Build a new compost heap. Cover compost heaps with an old piece of carpet to keep the warmth in and maintain favorable decomposition conditions.
  • Keep on top of weeds while they are still in active growth. Dig over the soil on a dry day when the ground is not too wet. Incorporate plenty of organic matter such as spent compost, manure or mushroom compost.
  •  Move deciduous trees and shrubs while they are dormant.
  •  Prune deciduous shrubs and trees.
  • Plant evergreen shrubs and conifers.
  •  Take hardwood cuttings of deciduous shrubs and trees and place them in a sheltered spot outdoors or in the cold frame to take root.
  • Take root cuttings from fleshy rooted herbaceous perennial plants to increase your stock. Place them in a cold frame or in a cold greenhouse to root.
  •  As the weather grows colder make sure bird feeders and bird tables are topped up with food.

Storage Tips – Bringing Summer Indoors

Bring Summer Indoors
While we love the harvest season, we hate to see our fresh produce and blooming flowers disappear until next year. But we can hang on to summer well into the cooler months by storing and preserving all that we’ve grown.
Here are some tips from Botanical Interests on bringing your garden bounty indoors!
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Winter Squash and Pumpkins
Before eating, carving, or storing, cure in a sunny indoor area at 75°-80°F for 1 to 2 weeks so that the skin further hardens. Ideal storage conditions are 50°-60°F with good air circulation, such as in a cool basement, off the floor. Once cured, winter fruit will store from 1 to 6 months depending on the variety.
Tomatoes
Blush or green tomatounnamed2es ripen the fastest in a warm, dark area. Ideally, ripe tomatoes are stored at 55°-68°F. For best flavor and texture, avoid storing tomatoes in the refrigerator, Whole, chopped, stewed, or sauced tomatoes can also be stored in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to one year.

Herbsunnamed3

Many herbs hold their flavor when dried. Cut a handful of stems and tie them together to hang upside down in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight, with good air circulation. Once dry, store them in an airtight container, in the dark if possible. Some herbs are better frozen. Freeze chopped herbs in an ice cube tray with a little water or olive oil. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a freezer safe container, and defrost as needed.

Flowers

Make sure flowers are dry and strip foliage from stems, which helps the plant dry faster. Tie 5-10 stems in a bundle with rubber bands, and hang them upside down. Try to keep the flowers from touching each other. The rubber bands will tighten as the stems dry out, and the flower heads will pull the stems straight. Grasses should be dried upright.

Now Carrying Mushroom Compost

mushroom20compost-jj-001

New to Geo Growers and just in time for that fall gardening season is our new Mushroom Compost.

 

Before planting flowerbeds, vegetable gardens, trees, shrubs, or fruit trees – we recommend applying at least a 2 – 3 inch layer of Mushroom Compost on the top of your bed and till it in several inches deep.  Then plant your plants and water them regularly.  If you have plants that are not doing well, you can top-dress with a 1 inch layer and continue watering on a regular basis.  Please use caution when applying as it is high in nutrients and all nutrients are in the available salt forms even though they are from a naturally organic source.

Mushroom compost s is very rich so you do not want to plant directly into the compost.  It is only considered non-burning when you incorporate it into the soil or top-dress existing plants that already have an established root system.  For potted plants, take extreme care to only apply a thin layer on top and make sure to have adequate drainage since mushroom compost can be too rich in available nutrient salts and may burn root systems.

Discount Saturday

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!  Discount Days-Saturdays for Retail Customers !

Geo Growers is excited to announce that every Saturday in August is Discount Day in the soils yard.  On August 6th, 13th, 20th and 27th Geo Growers will be offering discount pricing on bulk soil yard sales including Custom Soil Blends, Compost, Mulches, Sand, Gravel & Foundation Materials.

 

 

*Does not include Bag-it-Yourself, Thunderhead Potting Soils or Store Products.
*Valid on drive up purchases only.
*Not available on deliveries
*While supplies last with no rain checks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall Gardening Hints

Beautiful broccoli, luscious kale, flavor-enhancing leeks, exotic winter radishes, and other cool season vegetables are all signs of fall!

Cool season vegetables, especially those with longer days to maturity (time from sowing to unnamedharvest) are better when grown in fall, because the weather is reliably cooler than spring, which can heat up fast. Even though the garden soil in late summer can still be too warm

Beautiful broccoli, luscious kale, flavor-enhancing leeks, exotic winter radishes, and other cool season vegetables are all signs of fall!

Cool season vegetables, especially those with longer days to maturity (time from sowing to harvest) are better when grown in fall, because the weather is reliably cooler than spring, which can heat up fast. Even though the garden soil in late summer can still be too warm to germinate some cool season crops, you can still start them indoors and transplant them out when it’s cooler.

Tips for fall sowing planning:
  • Mark your average first fall frost date on a calendar.
  • Look on your seed packet for “Days to Maturity” or use our Outdoor Sowing Guide for Late Summer/Fall. Soils may be hot, and quick to dry in summer, so you may consider starting some fall crops indoors or creating some shade over the garden bed. Some cool season crops like lettuce and spinach will not germinate in soils over 80°F or 85°F respectively, so you may want to start them inside if the soil is still too warm. However, root crops should always be direct-sown.
  • From your average first fall frost date, count backwards the number of days to maturity, which will bring you to your ideal sowing date. Move your sowing date up 1 to 2 weeks to accommodate cool growing temperatures and shorter days that may slow growth, unless you plan to use season extension techniques like row covers. Most cool season varieties have a sweeter flavor after a frost, as cool weather increases the sugar content in these varieties in order the help them survive cool temperatures.
  • Mark your calendar with variety sowing dates, and use it year after year to germinate some cool season crops, you can still start them indoors and transplant them out when it’s cooler.

With The Rain Comes New Plants

For once the sun is not shining, but the nourishing rain is falling here at Geo Growers.
Either way is great for you and your garden, and to make it even better it is Wednesday Plant day. Yes, you read that correctly. The new plants for YOUR garden have arrived.

All are organic
All come in 4 inch potsshishito-peppers
All want to go home with you!!

Shishito Peppers
California Wonder Bell Peppers
Keystone Bell Pepper
Better Boy Tomato
CeCHPlebrity Tomato
Cherokee Purple Tomato
Red Cherry Tomato
Roma Tomato

 

 

 

 

Now for bigger things!

Dragon Fruit (1 quart)
Prostrate Rosemary (1 gallon)