Expert Advice

How to Garden Organically on Long Island

Posted on May 23, 2016


Regina Morrow
Garden Care Buyer
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tomatoWarmer weather means we can finally putter in the garden and take time to examine our plantings. Vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants and peppers might be slower to put on growth after the long cool spring, but they’ll come around. Your first tomatoes may be tough or misshapen-just the effect of buds setting in cool weather. Your plants should produce beautiful tasty vegetables from the buds that set later on. To grow wonderful tomatoes and ensure against blossom end rot, we recommend regular, even watering and Tomato-Tone from Espoma. Now is the time take steps that will ensure your success in the garden.

 

Ladybugs and aphidsDon’t you wish someone else could take care of insect pests for you? A motivated and detail oriented garden helper would be just the thing. We have those! Beneficial garden insects are perfect for the task. Ladybugs feast on aphids, scale and mealybugs in your garden. You can add a ladybug house to encourage your helpers to stay in a specific area of your garden.

Praying mantids are motivated to eat an incredible number of pests by their huge appetites. Place their egg cases where they will have some cover and close to plants where you have had infestations in the past. They tend to stay and lay eggs, for future generations of garden helpers.

 

Plant DetectiveYour garden is already home to many other beneficial insects. Tiny parasitic wasps destroy aphids. Green lacewings eat numerous soft bodied insect pests. Numerous pollinators ensure that our vegetable and fruit produce lots of delicious fresh things to eat. Children make excellent insect scouts, they’re closer to the ground and wonderfully curious about everything they see. My 8 year old is a great defender of all creatures and makes me prove it if I think a bug deserves squishing. We look up the insects we don’t recognize and learn about their role in our little ecosystem.

The best way to encourage beneficials is to take a gentle approach with pesticides. If you’re patient, a beneficial insect may show up to do the work of a pesticide. If you allow the beneficials to feast they will stick around to keep your pest population at bay, so your plants stay beautiful and productive.

planting tomatoesA healthy plant can withstand a minor insect attack. Creating the best possible circumstances for healthy plants is the most important step in growing plants that withstand the inevitable stresses that occur. If you’ve started with great soil, a high quality organic fertilizer, a large enough container to keep roots hydrated, and provide even and regular waterings, your chances of success are already great.

When a pest or disease issue arises, avoid remedies that harm beneficial insects. Neem oil extract is a particularly effective control for diseases and insects that does not harm beneficial insects. You’ll find it in Rose Rx from Bonide and in a number of easy to use formulations at Hicks.

If your plants show signs of disease, we have effective, organic solutions to combat them. One of our favorites is Actinovate, one of the only fungicides shown to suppress Late Blight on tomatoes, as well as a host of other diseases on your ornamental plants and lawn. It uses a beneficial bacteria that defends plants against disease. Our staff and customers have had great success with it.

We’re so happy to offer you solutions for success and a healthy backyard ecosystem for you and your family to enjoy!

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“Best selection on LI. Helpful staff. Great displays for inspiration.” – C. Mazza. 

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“Beautiful flowers, beautiful shrubs, beautiful everything!” –Kevin M.                                         

 

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“I wish my backyard was bigger so I can keep buying awesome stuff from Hicks!” –Jeanne S.

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“I love taking my granddaughter to see hicks beautiful christmas, Halloween, and Easter displays! Thanks for a job well done!” –Mary Ellen S.

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“I would like to commend you on the wonderful staff you have. A garden center should be a happy place. Everyone at Hicks had a smile and a pleasant word and I will continue to come back year after year.” Joan H.

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“I just got home from a trip to Hicks Nursery. I was in awe of how many varieties of tomatoes are there! Actually, there is a huge selection of everything!! One stop shopping at its best!”  -Cathy A.

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“Thank you for carrying such a large selection of organic herbs. I got behind in some of my seeds and really focus on an all organic garden. I was pleasantly surprised today by how big the selection was in all herbs. Got all the herbs I wanted.”  –Sophie L

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“I love Hick’s for all the beautiful flower’s I plant in our yard every Spring. They have great quality and friendly service.”  – Erika M.

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“I won’t shop anywhere else. Best plants in Nassau County. Great selection and the staff is both knowledgeable & helpful.” – Patricia M.

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“You get everything right, knowledgeable & friendly staff, great quality plants, the gorgeous flower show, Otto and Santa.” –Pat B.

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“I shop at Hicks and bring the flats back to our home in CT. I will always be a Long Island Girl.” –Lisa D.

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“Hicks has always been a leader in the Green Industry; even during trying times. I hope the people appreciate just how wonderful Hicks Nursery truly is!” Erik F.

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“Beautiful! We’ve been twice and will visit again. The show is always a LI spring highlight – great work! BTW, love the new landscape design center more visible and accessible – had a great consultation!”          – Jacqueline S.

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“I so enjoy going to Hicks. It is a beautiful place and I feel refreshed when I leave there. Hicks offers so much more besides flowers. I usually meet old friends there every time I go.” –Anne D.

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“You have a great selection of plants, some of which I have never seen!! The blue orchids are out of this world!!” – Rae K.