Grow Bartender’s Lime for Perfect Tequila Tasting


Nothing tastes quite like fresh limes straight from the tree, and they’re easy to grow!

The Cuervo Gold tequila we all swore off of so many times in high school has some big competition these days. There are now over 600 tequila brands on the market and high quality imports elevate this drink from spring break slammers to uptown tasting parties. With tequila coming up in the world at well over $50 a bottle, you’ll want to know a bit more about growing the bartender’s lime to match.


The Duality of Artichokes

What happens when a vegetable wants to be a highbrow perennial flower? There’s no question that the artichoke chose to be both. Grow them this coming year and you’ll discover how these curious plants can lend color, style and healthy cuisine, whether grown in pots or in the ground.


Easy To Grow Indoor Succulents

If you love Anthropologie stores and the endless displays of ordinary things made extraordinary by grouping them with fresh ideas, then consider ditching your demanding houseplants for easy to grow indoor succulents. These easy fellows are living sculptures that bring color, form and texture into our drab winter days.


Colorful Bedding Plants And Elegant Autumn Designs

Now that the humidity has passed and it’s ok to go outside, why not spice up your patio or entry with some cutting edge color. This time forget the flowers and try colorful bedding plants that bear beautiful leaves with vivid designs. These are bright and brilliant without waiting for blooms, and when the cold of winter sets in they are easy to bring indoors to brighten rooms during the dark days to come.


Grow a Big Hip Japanese Rose for Food and Medicine

During World War II the Nazis blockaded English ports so they could not import citrus. As a result many children began to show signs of Vitamin C deficiency, the predecessor to scurvy. Another source of the vitamin had to be found so all local plants were tested. Fruits known as hips from a rural rose bush proved to be packed with vitamins. Ounce for ounce this rose and all other rose fruit contain more Vitamin C than citrus. From the quantities of fruit gathered far and wide, a potent vitamin rich syrup was made that saved the children’s health.


Start Seed Indoors 6 of 6: Transplant Seedlings Into Pots

Seedlings - Maureen Gilmer

Seedlings: All these seedlings are ready to be transplanted into individual pots.

When your seedlings begin to ramp up growth, they might not find much nutrition in the sprouting media. That’s why it’s important to transplant seedlings into containers with quality potting soil. The nutrients in potting soil brings the seedling to the age where it will survive outdoors. It needs a large root system encouraged by rewards of nitrogen which stimulates rapid stem and leaf growth.


Start Seed Indoors 5 of 6: Proper Watering of Indoor Seedlings

Mist - Maureen Gilmer

Mist: Adjustable nozzles offer a mist setting for seedlings, then as they grow older the convenient soaker setting quickly fills pots.

Every gardener has done it at least once. Watering newly sown pots too aggressively makes the covering float off seeds. Do it hard enough and the seed becomes dislodged too. That’s why careful watering of indoor seedlings is essential in the first weeks after sowing.


Get That Swanky Rogers Gardens Style At Your House

Nestled into opulent coastal southern California is a nursery where I go to find out what’s hot in the world of container gardening. Decades ago Rogers Gardens was founded on flower-filled hanging color baskets so fabulous they draw tour buses daily. I worked there in the early 80s and today I return to see how they display every hot trend in container gardening. Most of what I see can be recreated using Black Gold specialty potting soils to make your home garden just as exciting this year.


Raving Beauties: Color Solutions For Shade Gardens

The bright treasures of the shade garden often come from our nation’s most beautiful forests. Beneath the canopies are perennials that evolved to grow and bloom on the forest floor, which botanists call the understory. Here the litter of leaves, thin soils and root competition caused by so many trees may be similar to your own yard’s shaded spaces. What you plant there likely came from the forest floor, and these treasures really flourish when you offer similar soil conditions.


Wide Mouth Pots: Bigger Pots – Bigger Rewards

Wide Mouth Pots - Maureen Gilmer
If you’re gardening on patio, porch, deck, roof or terrace, you need the right pots. Choose wide mouth pots large enough to support long lived woody plants that offer big rewards of beauty and food. Insist on a mouth wide enough to accommodate a 5-gallon nursery pot to ensure the rootball fits without crushing. This will support fruiting or flowering trees, shrubs and vines that can instantly change the nature of outdoor space. Obtain enough Black Gold Potting Soil to fill the pot to 3 to 5 inches below the rim with the new plant in place. This “freeboard” is a time saver that lets you apply a lot of water all at once so you can do something else while it slowly percolates into the root zone.


Start Seed Indoors 3 of 6: The Right Container Helps Germinate Seed

Six Pack

Six Pack: Keep newly sown seed moist under clear plastic wrap until seeds germinate, then the plastic comes off.

You can spend a lot of money buying kits and containers specially made for starting seed indoors. If you want to grow more for less, try germinating seed in recycled containers and save your money to buy quality Black Gold potting soils.


Big Roses, Little Space

Balboa Island Roses

Balboa Island: Rose planting is maximized by three tiers of planting in a space less than five feet deep.

If you love big roses but are short on space, here’s a great way to layer them in for more blooms per square foot. Using the vertical plane, this urban home features three tiers of planting: in ground, a raised bed and large window boxes. Hidden behind are two large pots that support the coral flowered climbing roses. All of this fits into a space just five feet deep from sidewalk to house wall. Because roses are heavy feeders, fill your raised planters and containers with Black Gold All Purpose Potting Soil with CRF. Controlled Release Fertilizer is ideal for newly planted ever-blooming Flower Carpet or Knock Out roses to give them a vigorous start.


Grow Organic: All or Part

Grow Organic Artichokes

Edible artichokes make outstanding perennials accented with petunias.

Call it botanical profiling. It’s gone on since the beginnings of agriculture. Tomatoes, corn and lettuce belong in the organic food garden. Flowers grow in the ornamental garden. The primary reason for such a division is that food growers are all about a clean, edible harvest. Flower growers put the emphasis on an abundance of perfect blooms throughout the season. They often use powerful synthetic fertilizers to achieve that end.


Spotlight On Fancy Leaf Begonias


Escargot: The distinctive spiral pattern in the leaves made 'Escargot' one of the most popular rex begonia varieties.

Begonias have always hovered in the shadows. They cluster beneath trees, in slotted shade of lath houses and on sun-deprived exposures. These unique plants, beloved by grandmothers everywhere, fell out of favor in the last few decades. Sure, I used Begonia richmondensis in hanging baskets and little wax begonias were a staple for shaded bedding areas, but these simply solved problems in shaded landscapes.


Indoor Gardening With Black Gold®


There is no reason we need to stop gardening just because summer is ending and winter will soon be here. Many gardeners that I know ‘switch gears’ and set up a special place where they can continue to garden indoors. It might take a little more effort but it is worth it, not only with what you can grow, but the idea you have accomplished what some perceive as difficult.

Think for a moment of the many summer herbs we have enjoyed in our outdoor gardens. Wouldn’t it be great to extend the season with new plants that you have grown in the winter but are perceived as summer plants? If you can supply similar conditions to what the plant has been accustomed to in growing outdoors, then you are off to a good start. One of my favorites is basil and this is an example of a plant that can also be easily started from seed indoors as long as the right conditions are present. The right conditions include the proper soil mix, artificial light, warmth, and space. Artificial light may or may not be a requirement depending on your location and whether you have strong winter light. In Western Oregon and Western Washington, we could certainly need supplemental lighting for most indoor herb plants or plants that are generally perceived as outdoor plants. There are some low light house plants, but I am not including them.

Some garden centers carry indoor lighting kits for homeowners but if you are going to be growing any quantity of plants, you will probably need to find a store that sells materials for hydroponic gardening. Hydroponic garden supply stores will have a good selection of indoor lighting and can give you tips and information depending on your particular circumstances. If you do not know a hydroponic store in your local area, I suggest you go to Sunlight Supply, Hydrofarm or Bloomington Wholesale websites to find a store near you.

If your home has a basement, this can often provide ideal conditions for starting seeds. I have a friend with a basement and he sets up a table with artificial lights, heating pad and everything he needs to start seeds in the winter. He has used this method for many years to start seeds ahead of the season and then he sets plants out when the weather is appropriate for whatever crop he has. Often he grows some of his favorite herbs from seed and then harvests them and uses them in cooking throughout the winter.

Once you have done some research and have the basic supplies, you will need to start with a seedling tray and a good soil. Most garden centers will stock seedling trays which will allow you to plant many seeds in a small area. For soil, Black Gold Seedling Mix is an ideal choice. Black Gold Seedling Mix is formulated with a wetting agent to provide quick water penetration and is a very fine texture to help with germination. It also contains perlite to provide good drainage which is very important with indoor grown container plants. One of the problems that can arise from starting seeds indoors is a disease called damping off. It affects young seedlings and causes them to die. A listener on my radio program once told me of an organic way of preventing damping off. This listener grew many of his plants from seed and used fine grade chicken grit and lightly coated the soil with this after the seeds had been planted. Most farm or feed stores would carry chicken grit and it can usually be purchased by the pound.

Once the seeds have germinated and the young seedlings have developed their true leaves, it is time to transplant these seedlings into an individual pot. Gently lift them out of the plant tray and place them in their new home. I usually use a four inch pot as this size is large enough for the plants to grow for several weeks and the pots are large enough that they are easy to move around. My soil of choice for this four inch pot is Black Gold Natural & Organic Potting Soil. This is 100% organic and contains screened earthworm castings, which Black Gold is famous for using, as well as sphagnum peat moss, compost, forest humus, perlite, and pumice. The perlite and pumice are added to insure good drainage and good aeration, both essential for optimum plant growth. It is important to water these newly transplanted seedlings immediately. If you are a novice at this, be sure you have a tray to hold the four inch pots and to act as a reservoir for holding the excess water as it drains out from the pots.

Always make sure your plants have adequate light. With indoor plants, light is a crucial issue. If plants begin to stretch and become ‘leggy’, that is a signal they are probably not getting enough light. After several weeks and the plants are established and growing, it is probably a good time to fertilize them. I like to use some type of water soluble fertilizer, meaning I can dissolve the fertilizer in a watering can and then fertilize my plants as I water. The fertilizer you select will be dependent on the particular plant and what you expect from it. If you are growing a plant for foliage, you will probably want high nitrogen (first number of fertilizer analysis). If you are going a plant for root development, then look for an analysis with a higher middle number (phosphorus). There are some plants you may want to encourage growth in the early stages and then switch to high phosphorus for bloom and/or root development. Talking with other gardeners that have had experience with indoor gardening can be a wealth of information.

It may sound difficult, but it really is not. It is always fun to try something new in gardening and perhaps this is your year to try growing plants under lights.


Reusing Old Potting Soil is Bad

1-DSC_0169Reusing old potting soil is a bad idea. Would you risk your crop to save $25? Of course not, so why would you reuse growing media that may prove less than ideal for your valuable plants? This is the question every grower weighs after harvest: Whether to replace the growing media or reuse it another time.

If you’re still not sure, consider the triple threat: Three very important reasons why fresh Sunshine Advanced soilless media will always perform.


Proof of Life: Mold in Potting Soil

If you find white mold in potting soil, don’t think it’s spoiled like moldy bread. Consider this white webby material the ultimate proof of life. It is an undeniable sign that our potting soils are perfectly blended to create a bio-active root environment. Even while that bag sat at the garden center, a great deal of activity was going on in our living soils, and the mold proves it. This is a rare opportunity to actually see one of the invisible organisms that contribute so much to organic plant health. Such tiny living things are literally a web of life key to all fertile soils.


Molds appear only when the bag is warm and moist inside. Such conditions actually make the mold grow on the surface of the soil because it thinks it’s underground. Once the bag is opened, sunlight and drier air forces them back to their invisible subterranean status.


Build Organic Garden Soil with Black Gold

Building organic garden soil is the same as working the soil for any other kind of garden except for one thing: you must feed the soil with OMRI Listed products for organic gardening. The ground below your feet is not just dirt but a whole living breathing universe unto itself. Within those soil mineral particles are populations of microscopic bacteria, fungi, yeasts, protozoa and algae. They are collectively known as microbes, which feed on the remnants of dead plants, also known as organic matter. Organic gardens depend on high microbe populations to make plants grow strong naturally, resist pests and diseases, and produce a bumper crop of food or flowers.


Fresh Potting Soil is Better

Everything is better fresh, whether you’re talking about donuts, cut flowers for your dinner table, or the potting soil for your patio container. That’s why we sell only fresh potting soils at Black Gold. After potting soils or amendments are manufactured they become a living entity. The fertilizers and wetting agent start to react in their moist organic media environment. As part of our commitment to quality we put a date of manufacture on all Black Gold® potting soils, amendments and peat moss. The products are stamped with production codes.

Why Buy A Premium Potting Soil?

Black Gold Award Winning PackagingWhy buy a premium potting soil? The reasons are many. As each of us begins a gardening project, we all have the end result in mind: a bountiful vegetable garden, an overflowing flower covered basket or perhaps a thick and rich new lawn! At Sun Gro, we believe that the key to these and many other gardening successes is directly related to the quality of product that we, as a manufacturer, put in a bag. We hope the following chart will illustrate the advantages of Black Gold® made by Sun Gro Horticulture, North America’s largest producer of professional growing mixes – over the competition.


Fall Planting and Winterizing Your Garden

BG-Fert-Citrus-Avocado-Vine-OMRI-120608Fall is a wonderful time to garden. You can look over this year’s accomplishments and start developing your plans for next year, but it is also the perfect time for working in your garden.

Planting garden beds, color bowls and hanging baskets with fall annuals is a wonderful way to extend the joy of gardening throughout the remainder of the year. Be sure to add some Black Gold® Garden Compost Blend, Soil Conditioner and garden amendment or planting mix to your soil with either Black Gold® Rose & Flower or All Purpose Fertilizer to ensure a flower-filled display. Color bowls and hanging baskets with Black Gold® All Purpose Potting Soil or Black Gold® Natural and Organic Potting Soil make good choices for fall plantings.

Moving your outdoor herbs inside can be a very worthwhile fall activity. All you need to do is repot them in an indoor container and place them on a window sill that gets about 6 hours of sunlight. Those fresh herbs will be particularly flavorful, and it can be as easy as planting your favorite herbs in a container with Black Gold® Natural & Organic or Black Gold® All Purpose Potting Soil.

Fall is the best time of year to over-seed an existing lawn or start a new lawn from seed because the temperatures are cooler and the rain patterns are more consistent. Black Gold® Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss is a crucial ingredient in the lawn enhancement process. When you spread the peat moss on top of the lawn seed, it will keep the seeds moist and you will have quicker and more uniform grass seed germination.

Tree and shrub planting in the fall is natural for most plants. At this time of year the plants are starting to go dormant while the soil temperatures are still warm in comparison with the air. Both of these factors promote root development. After you start with the appropriate Black Gold® fertilizer, add your choice of Black Gold® Garden Compost, Soil Conditioner and garden amendment or planting mix to amend the soil. Simply follow the instructions on the back of the fertilizer box and amendment bag to add a new tree or shrub to your garden.

Planting spring-blooming bulbs in the fall can be a wonderfully rewarding activity. Black Gold® Garden Compost, Soil Conditioner and Garden Amendment or Planting Mix are great choices to improve the soil structure and enrich the soil with organic matter. Try using Black Gold Bone Meal to fertilize your bulbs so they will develop a good strong root system before they appear next spring.

Summer bulbs need to be dug up and stored in the fall after frost has blackened their foliage. Dry Black Gold® Peat Moss is a great choice for storage of most bulbs. However, a pre-moistened Black Gold® Peat Moss is the right choice for dahlias. Black Gold® Perlite can also be used to store bulbs that need to stay dry.

After raking up your garden’s leaves and plants, why don’t you put them in your compost pile instead of having them hauled away to either a landfill or a commercial composting site? If your compost pile becomes overwhelmed with the leaves, bag or pile them up separately and gradually add them over the winter as you add kitchen waste to your compost pile. Be sure to add Black Gold® Fertilizers to start the composting process.

And last but not least, be sure to add Black Gold® Garden Compost , Soil Conditioner and Garden Amendment or Planting Mix to any open location in the garden in preparation for planting next spring. May your fall gardening be full of joy and satisfaction when you garden with Black Gold® potting soils, amendments and fertilizers.


Perlite and Pumice in Potting Soil

BG Perlite frontHave you ever wondered what those little white things in your potting soil are? In most instances they are perlite and/or pumice. Perlite is a mined siliceous rock that is heated and expanded, or “popped” like popcorn, into a white lightweight material, while pumice is a soft, insert-mined stone that often comes from Oregon. What makes Black Gold® Perlite and Black Gold® Pumice particularly desirable is that both are screened for uniformity, with the finer particles removed.

Both perlite and pumice are porous aggregates, meaning they are added to a potting soil to improve aeration and drainage. The addition of perlite and pumice in a potting soil will also increase the moisture and nutrient retention of the potting soil. Just like peat moss, they act like reservoirs in retaining water and nutrients and release them when they are needed by the plant.

Due to its weight, pumice provides bulk density to a potting soil. This trait is valuable when you are growing outdoor containers and you don’t want them to blow over in the wind. Pumice is often the aggregate choice for specialty potting soils (cactus, bonsai) because it provides great aeration and helps anchor roots.

In addition to being a potting soil mix component, perlite is an excellent neutral medium for starting seeds and rooting cuttings. It can also be used to store bulbs and as an essential hypertufa planter ingredient.