Spring Bulbs

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If there’s one thing the Midwest does well, it’s fall. With dropping temperatures and blooming mums, it’s hard not to get excited for the season. We can practically taste the pumpkin spice lattes now! But as excited as we are here at Casey’s, there is something else on our minds…

 

Spring!

 

That’s right; it’s not all mums, pumpkins, gourds, and ornamental kale and cabbage here. Fall is the perfect time to plant spring bulbs.

 

So what are bulbs?

Bulbs are defined as any plant that keeps its complete life cycle in an underground storage structure. Spring bulbs are the varieties that are winter hardy – meaning that they do not have to be dug up in the during the winter months. Tulips, Daffodils, Iris, and Crocus are great for spring color in our zone.

 

So how do you plant bulbs?

Bulbs need well-draining soil.  If you have soil with high clay content add compost, peat moss, or some other organic matter. To keep your bulbs happy and healthy in the same flower bed year after year, add some bulb fertilizer. Optimum PH balance is 6 to 7. Once your soil is prepared, dig a hole about 2-3 times as deep as the bulb is tall. Most bulbs will have instructions on how deep and how far apart to plant them. Place the bulb in the hole pointy side up with the roots facing down. Fill in the hole and then water it to make sure the bulbs stay in place. With these simple steps, you’ll have a beautiful flower garden once spring rolls around again.

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Troubleshooting:

  • To prevent squirrels or other wildlife from digging up your bulbs, you can cover your bulbs with a layer of chicken wire then cover them up with dirt.
  • Make sure the bulbs you’ve picked are winter hardy for zone 5.
  • Plant bulbs before the ground freezes.
  • Plan accordingly based on how much sun the area gets. Many flowering bulbs will want 6+ hours of sun during the spring. If you have a shady garden you may want to try Snowdrops, Scilla, or another variety of shade tolerant bulbs.

 

Bulbs are an easy way to add color to any landscape. With a little planning now, you can have a beautiful flower garden at the first signs of spring!

 

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Spring Preparation

 

It’s that time of year! Everyone is anxious to be outside getting their gardens and outdoor spaces ready for the growing season.  While it’s still too early to plant your tomatoes and petunias, there are plenty of things that you can do to get a jump on sprucing up your yard. And remember – the Casey’s crew is always here to help every step of the way!

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Garden and Landscape Planning

It’s always fun to look out into your yard and imagine what you would like it to look like. But before you go out and buy plants it’s always better to have a plan. Think about areas of your yard that you would like to improve. Do you have a bare spot that could use some color? Want to start a garden? Maybe you’ve got a bed established and just want to figure out what to do with it. The first step is to get a general idea of what can be planted in which areas.

 

Measure

 

Take a little time to measure out the spaces you would like to plant. Usually it’s helpful to sketch out the area with graph paper using the grid to map out the space proportionally. It doesn’t need to be perfect; this just helps you to figure out what can fit in the space.

 

Conditions

 

Once you know how much space you have, it’s a good idea to figure out the growing conditions. Take note of how much sun the area gets – keep an eye on the spot at different times throughout the day. Knowing how many hours of sun the plot gets and at what time of the day is crucial. Morning sun and afternoon sun are very different. Other factors to consider are soil conditions and access to water. If you need to amend your soil, now is a great time to do that. Work in some compost or fresh top soil to get things loosened up. It’s not a bad idea to put a layer of mulch over the top to keep weeds under control too. Consider how much access the plot has to water. Does your hose easily reach it or is the space in a far corner where you won’t be able to water it easily? Maybe the area occasionally floods and needs to have rainwater redirected to avoid it. Thinking about water conditions will help you choose what sort of plants will be best.

Once you have a solid idea of what you’re working with, you can start to think about plants. Make a list of flowers, shrubs and vegetables you know you’d love to have. Look them up to see what they need to thrive and place them in your sketch accordingly. To fill in difficult areas like that spot that’s sunny and hard to water, consider drought tolerant plants. Or if there’s a bare spot that doesn’t get much sun, consider shade tolerant plants. If you’re stumped, we would love to help you figure out a plant that will work best for you!

To plan entire beds, it’s a good tip to begin with larger elements and work down to small items. Start with larger shrubs and plants that take up the most space and fill in with smaller things.

 

Seeds

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Maintenance

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In the meantime you can always get outside and weed. Clear out any undesirable plants and debris and cut back dead matter from dormant perennials and shrubs. If you have any questions about spring pruning, give us a call or stop by the store. If you’re going to compost plant debris and leaves, be sure to exclude weeds and any diseased plant material to prevent spreading later. Refresh your soil and cover with a layer of mulch and you’ll be ready to plant in no time!

 

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Happy Hosting!

Host/Hostess Gifts!

‘Tis the season for parties! Now that we’re in the busy holiday season, chances are you’ve got dinners, parties and social engagements filling up your calendar. Here at Casey’s we try to make your life a little easier with all kinds of quick, cute hostess gifts for all your holiday needs!

 

Amaryllis and Paperwhites

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Winter flowering bulbs are a fun, long lasting alternative to cut flowers. The large bulbs can be planted in a small pot and will sprout and grow giant, beautiful flowers. Amaryllis  are fun to watch as they grow and eventually bloom – they can even be cut back and made to bloom year after year! Paperwhites will only last one season but grow to produce delicate, fragrant white flowers. We custom-plant bulbs in decorative pots that make wonderful gifts. We also carry amaryllis gift boxes that include the bulb, a pot and everything you need to plant one yourself!

 

Treats!

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We always have classic Fannie May favorites and holiday specials that are perfect for hostess gifts and stockings!

 

 

Tea

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For a sophisticated and unique alternative, we carry an amazing line of gourmet loose leaf tea. With over a dozen flavors, there’s something for everyone. They come in cute tins that are perfect for giving! We’re also happy to announce that we have adorable tea and cookie combo tins just in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas!

 

 

Lanterns

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Lanterns have become a gift staple here at Casey’s. They can be dressed up and used in so many different ways! An LED candle and a few green sprigs make a unique gift or a gorgeous mantle decoration if you’re the host! Or take a stroll through our fairy garden room and create your own little winter scene for a truly one of a kind gift.

 

Wine Accessories

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Why not dress up that bottle of wine you’re bringing to dinner? We have all kinds of stoppers, toppers and even bottle sweaters that make a whimsical gift for any wine lover!

 

Think Outside the Vase

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Bringing the hostess fresh flowers is a classic move, but why not make it a little more unique? Our florists have found ways to put flowers into just about anything.  We often arrange flowers in pretty mugs that can be used long after the flowers fade. There are also decorative tins, bowls, and boxes that can be lined, filled with flowers, and re-purposed later!

 

 

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Fall Decorating Essentials

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Autumn is officially here! The temperatures are dropping, fall plants are blooming and Casey’s is hopping! It’s time to fall-ify your home and we have everything you need!

 

Pumpkins and Gourds

Every year the amount of funky varieties of pumpkins, gourds and squash amazes us. This year is no exception. They can add great color and texture to any fall display.

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Pumpkin stacking has become something of an art form here at Casey’s – our record is 12 pumpkins high! While this is a bit extreme, it’s a cute look to copy at home. All you need are a few flat pumpkins in various colors.

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You can also tuck smaller gourds into planters to add depth and interest to your plants.

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Check out our Gild A Pumpkin classes to glamorize your gourds! October 4th and 21st. We’ll be having a FREE pumpkin sculpting demonstration October 11th and our annual pumpkin party will be October 16th. Check out our Classes & Events page for the scoop! http://www.caseysgardenshop.com/resources/classes-events.php

 

Mums

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Fall mums are a classic. There are always the traditional yellow, white, burgundy, burnt orange and purple but, if you’re looking to mix it up, shades of pink, orange, lavender and mixed colors are also available.

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Ornamental Peppers, Cabbage and Kale

Ornamental peppers add awesome color and texture to fall planters! They’re always a beautiful contrast next to fluffy, crinkly cabbage and kale.

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Happy decorating!

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Preserve your Herbs!

One of the best parts of summer is being able to use home-grown ingredients fresh from our backyard gardens. By this time we’re guessing you’ve got a bit of a surplus of garden veggies and herbs you’re trying to use up or figure out how to store for the coming seasons. Fortunately, nothing has to go to waste – herbs are easy to save and use for months to come!

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Freezing

Sturdy herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme and bay take to freezing very easily. Cut and cleaned pieces can be left on the stem, placed in freezer bags and frozen directly. If you prefer to save space, freeze the herbs on the stem overnight then remove the leaves and put them back in the freezer. Chives can also be chopped, bagged and frozen.

 

Delicate herbs like basil, dill, parsley and cilantro shouldn’t be frozen directly. They tend to turn black and mushy if frozen on their own. The best way to freeze them is to do so with a bit of oil. After cleaning, large pieces of the leaves can be placed in ice cube tray wells and covered in olive oil and placed in the freezer. Once frozen, the cubes can be removed and stored in a freezer bag. When you’re ready to use them they can easily be thrown into a skillet or soup pot!

 

If you’re not keen on using as much oil, you can puree herbs in a food processor with just enough olive oil to coat and form a thick paste. You can then spread the mixture onto a wax paper lined tray, score with a knife and freeze. Scoring helps break the frozen sheet into smaller pieces once it’s solid. The convenient portion-sized pieces can then be stored in freezer bags.

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Drying

Herbs can be hung to dry in a warm dark place in the home. Simply tie the ends of a few stems together and hang upside down for 2 – 4 weeks. Be sure to dry the herbs entirely. The leaves should be crumbly. Grid or chop the leaves and store in an airtight glass or metal container and keep in a cool, dark cabinet.

 

Herbs can also be quick dried in the oven. Just spread them out on a cookie sheet and warm in a 180◦ oven with the door open slightly for 1 – 2 hours.

 

An awesome source for all you could ever want to know about herbs is The Herbal Academy. Check out their website here: https://theherbalacademy.com/.

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Easy Care Houseplants You May Not Have Thought Of

It’s that time of year – back to school! Students are moving into new dorms and apartments and teachers are sprucing up classrooms and offices to settle into the new semester. What better way to make a space feel bright and comfortable than the addition of a houseplant? We’ve made a list featuring our hand-picked plants that are perfect for these environments.  They’re easy to care for, easy on the eyes, can improve air quality and – best of all – are hard to kill!

 

Sansevieria

First on the list is Sansevieria. Also called “mother-in-law’s tongue” or “snake plant” is an excellent choice for plant care newbies. They come in a variety of colors, all featuring a snakeskin-like pattern on the leaves. They’re tolerant to lower light situations – a sunny window is perfect but they will also do fine in bright indoor light. Water sparingly – these plants must dry out between waterings and over watering can lead to root rot. So if you’re prone to forgetting to water, this is the plant for you!

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Bromeliad

Craving a little color? Look no further than a Bromeliad. This plant has a bloom that will last for weeks on end and comes in a myriad of colors. It can survive in a range of light conditions and requires relatively little water.

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Jade

Jade plants are great for the succulent lover. They come in lots of interesting shapes and are some of the easiest succulents to maintain. These plants do best in a bright window where they’re in at least 4 hours of sunlight per day. Watering is simple – soak thoroughly and let the soil completely dry out in between waterings. A quick draining soil with drainage holes in the bottom of the pot is necessary to regulate the ideal moisture level.

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Lucky Bamboo

It doesn’t get much easier than a lucky bamboo plant – just drop a stalk in a container of water and avoid hot direct sunlight. Change out the water when it begins to get cloudy and add a tiny amount of all-purpose fertilizer every so often to keep the plant green and perky.

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Air Plants

Tillandsia, or Air Plants, are truly unique! These plants literally live on air. They don’t need to be planted in soil – they take moisture from the air through their fuzzy leaves. They can be hung in glass containers, placed on window sills or worked into wall hangings. The possibilities with these versatile plants are nearly endless. They do best in bright light near a window and need to be submerged in a bowl of water for at least 5-10 minutes every week or so. Between soakings it’s good to mist them with a bit of water to make up for the lack of indoor humidity. Otherwise these freestanding little beauties need little care!

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