(Products that are good for your lawn and garden in the summer heat!)

“It is sooo hot!” This is what I have been hearing a lot of this summer. Fellow employees are hot,stacey tips art 1 customers are hot, dogs are hot, kids are hot, everyone is hot! We are able to express our feelings and even whine about the heat. What about our poor lawns and gardens. They are hot too. They are just a little quieter about it. Sure, hydrangeas may droop in the afternoon sun, herbs may not be standing at attention, tomato leaves may be curling a bit, and our lawns may be looking a little crispy but at least they are not making a lot of noise about the hot agony they are in. Since they are being such troopers, shouldn’t we give them a little summer treat?! Van Wilgen’s has some delicious treats that will really help your plants make it through this hot, dry spell.

Let’s talk about our newest Van Wilgen product…ROOT BOOST. Root Boost is great any time of the year but its’ summer benefits are off the chart. Root Boost is as organic as you can get. It is an organic powerhouse filled with every essential plant element, beneficial bacteria, and mycorrhizae (beneficial fungus). It is also a balanced fertilizer with a ratio of 6-5-5. I do not want to get too nerdy, technical about this product but I do want you to know how great it really works to increase the root system of any plant. The beneficial fungus and bacteria literally attach themselves to the roots of plants and increase the roots network system. Roots, in turn, can absorb more water and nutrients. Here is the kicker! Root Boost will never burn a plant even in this summer heat. In fact, the added kelp will actually help plants to retain moisture and give them a little breather from the hot sun. Use it on every plant from veggies to houseplants. They all will benefit from all it has to offer. Give your summer plants a boost with Root Boost!

Let’s move onto a little smellier but awesome summer product…FISH & SEAWEED. This is another awesome summer fertilizer that can be used any time of the year. Root Boost has no odor and comes in a powder form that you mix with water. Fish & Seaweed is in a liquid form that gets diluted with water. It works really well in a hose-end sprayer if you have a lot of gardens to cover. Fish and Seaweed is a nice balanced fertilizer that keeps plants strong, helps them retain moisture, and keeps them productive even under the stress of heat. Van Wilgen’s Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer can be used in conjunction with Root Boost and WOW! your plants will be beyond happy.

Do not forget your lawn. Love your lawn this summer with DR. EARTH SUPERNATURAL LAWN FERTILIZER. It comes equipped with a hose-end sprayer so all you do is attach it and go. One bottle covers 5,000 sq. ft. and fills your lawn with prebiotic microbial food, humic acid, and aloe vera to moisturize that stressed summer lawn. This can be used in conjunction or alternating with the tried and true Milorganite. Milorganite is a mainstay for lawn fertilizers that will not burn your lawn even when everything and everyone is suffering in the summer sun.

It is okay to complain about the heat but remember your plants can’t utter a word. Give them a summer treat.

Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!

Just as you need the energy to get through your day, your plants do too. And of course, when it comes to family-friendly gardening, organic fertilizer is the way to go!

What is Organic Fertilizer?

Organic fertilizers contain only ingredients from plant, animal, or mineral sources. Examples of these kinds of ingredients are bone meal, kelp meal, and greensand.

Why Use Organic Fertilizers?

While it is true that all fertilizers ultimately feed nutrients to plants in the same form, it is the process by which they are delivered that makes organic fertilizers superior to others.

Three ways to think about organic fertilizers:

1. Gardening always starts with the soil. Organic fertilizer “feeds the soil that feeds the plants”. The process by which organic fertilizers deliver their nutrients enhances the fertility and structure of the soil.

Organic fertilizers are digested by soil microorganisms, which then release the nutrients in a form available to plants. This process produces humus, a spongy material that improves soil structure. When you improve soil structure, the soil is better able to hold the proper balance of water, air, and nutrients until they are required by plants.

Plants respond by developing larger root systems. Larger roots support more vigorous top growth and make plants less susceptible to drought. And by stimulating a healthy population of beneficial microorganisms in the soil, plants become more resistant to insects and diseases.

2. Organic fertilizers will provide slow, steady feeding, as the plants require it. The release process is slow and largely dependent upon three factors: the microbial population in the soil, moisture, and soil temperature.

A healthy population of microbes in the soil is necessary for the digestion process. Moisture is required to sustain microbial life as well as to keep nutrients flowing into the plant’s root zone. And soil temperature is critical because as it rises, plants require nutrients more rapidly.

Fortunately, microbial activity mimics these requirements and increases as soil temperature rises, so that organic fertilizers feed the needed nutrients as the plants require them.

3. Most of the time, the gardener isn’t the only one in the garden. Organic fertilizers are the safest choice for your plants and the environment. Unlike synthetic plant foods, organic fertilizers have an extremely low salt index, which means there is little to no risk of burning (dehydrating) plants in periods of extreme drought or when over-applying.

Organic fertilizers are generally very resistant to leaching out of the soil, so their nutrients stay in the root zone until the plants need them. And since most organic ingredients are byproducts from commercial farms and meat processing plants, the utilization of them for feeding plants is really a system of recycling much like composting.

So, when the debate of whether you should fertilize your plants pops in your head remember: organic fertilizer is the right choice for you and your family. Check out our fertilizers here.



If only trees & shrubs could talk to us. Oh, the things they would tell us! They could let us know when they need some water when they have had too much to drink, if an insect or disease is bothering them, and especially if they are hungry. We could be much better caregivers to our natural friends if only they could speak to us. Ah, but they do. They let us know when they are happy by becoming big, full, lush, and colorful. They also communicate their aches and pains to us through stunted growth, yellowing leaves, oozing sap, and so many other ways. If we pay close attention, we actually might be able to hear what they are saying. But, sometimes we just can’t! A lot of gardening is just trial and error. It’s often about just going for it, experimenting, and seeing what works.

If you know me, then by now, you know I am a huge fan of fertilizing trees and shrubs. Some might even say I am a fertilizer pusher! It is only because I want what is best for your plants. If trees & shrubs could speak or even yell at us, they might shout…”Gimme some food!” Everyone in the plant world knows that early spring and spring are excellent times to give your trees & shrubs a healthy dose of fertilizer but do we all realize how truly important it is to fertilize them in the fall? I KNEW IT WAS IMPORTANT BUT NOT NEARLY AS MUCH AS I THOUGHT! I learn new things every day.

I always knew that it was important to give our trees & shrubs a half dose of fertilizer in the fall to help them recover from the heat and drought stress of summer. I also knew that the reason we suggested feeding them at ½ the amount we do in the spring is to promote recovery but not encourage too much new growth before winter. We always thought that fertilizing our trees & shrubs late in the fall would make it so they could not harden off and get damaged from winter weather. WELL GUESS WHAT GUYS? THIS IS NOT EXACTLY TRUE ANYMORE!

The new truth is that we can fertilize trees & shrubs late into the fall. We can fertilize them a full month after the first killing frost. We can fertilize them after all the leaves have fallen off the trees. Yes, guys, this is the new thing I learned and wanted to pass onto you. Logically, this makes so much sense. I have been encouraging customers to put down Fall Lawn Food after their last mow of the season for years, why not trees & shrubs too! The rationale is…trees & shrubs significantly slow growth in late fall. After they lose their leaves, they have practically stopped growing up top for the year, but they do not stop growing down below. It is not only okay but it is great to give trees and shrubs the right fertilizer late in the fall. The food you give them at this time will just promote wonderful, deep root growth and store itself inside the root system so it is immediately available to the plant right away in the spring. How cool is that you guys!

So, here I go again, pushing fertilizer on you. We learn new things every day. Fall fertilizer for trees & shrubs is more important than we ever imagined. So go for it! Your plants are talking to you. Listen.

Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!


*Espoma Tree-Tone

*Espoma Holly-Tone

*Espoma Plant –Tone

*Van Wilgen’s Control Release



IT IS NOT FALL YET! Do not get too hasty. It is not quite time for Fall Lawn Food. I know as soon as September hits, we all get a little impatient and start rushing Fall. Don’t rush. Take your time. You have plenty of time before Step-4(Fall Lawn Food) needs to go down. It is, however, time to put down the green bag, otherwise known as, Step-3. The green bag contains All Season Lawn Food. This is the perfect fertilizer to use for this time of the year to help your poor lawn recover from the summer heat.

You have the freedom to choose Milorganite or Espoma’s Organic All Season Lawn Food. Both are wonderful. They will help replenish your lawn’s lost nutrients, organic matter, and growth. 3 great things! The Milorganite will give your lawn the little extra treat of Iron to give extra green-up.

It is not that I do not like Step-4. It really is nothing personal. Step-4/Fall Lawn Food is great! I just prefer that you wait a wee bit before applying to get the maximum benefit from it. You can wait all the way until you have mowed your lawn for the very last time this year and then apply Step-4. The secret is…when your lawn stops growing up top, apply Fall Fertilizer and it only pushes root growth. This is great because your lawn will develop a much deeper root system, thus, a healthier lawn next year. Patience pays off in this case.

With all this hubbub about Step 3 & Step 4, don’t forget about Lime. Lime is flexible. It can go down with Step 3 or Step 4. It does not play favorites. I recommend Pelletized Lawn Lime. It breaks down slowly and can work its’ magic over the winter. We could take a lesson in patience and pacing ourselves from Lime. Good ole’ Lime!

Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!



*Espoma’s Organic All Season Lawn Food

*Soil Doctor Pelletized Lawn Lime

St. Patrick’s Day is a good time to think about greening things up in the yard.

If green is the color of good luck shouldn’t we be doing everything we can to green up our lawns and gardens this year?! Who couldn’t use an extra bit of good luck?! Let’s think green. Let’s make our lawns and gardens happy, healthy, vibrant, and thriving green machines this spring. How do we do this? With 3 lucky charms…good soil, good food, and a good drink.

Lucky Charm #1 = Good Soil:

*pH is important to good soil. If it is too high, crops like potatoes will suffer. Too low, and your lawn will not be very green at all. Come to Van Wilgen’s and I can test it for free or head to the CT Agriculture Station for more comprehensive testing. I will tell you just how much Lime or Soil Acidifier your soil needs.

*Nutrients help your plants thrive. Incorporate a good compost into your exiting soil. Use Van Wilgen’s Premium Planting Mix for anything new you are going to plant this year or mix in a little Fafard Garden Manure Blend into your veggie garden. A little compost will give any crop a lot of good luck.

*Aeration will really give plant roots luck. If soil is compact, plants cannot thrive. Alleviate compaction by tilling up soil and adding amendments such as Peat Moss, Gypsum, and Green Sand. Don’t underestimate the bad luck of compact soil.

Lucky Charm #2 = Good Food:

*Fertilizer is crucial to producing green, healthy plants. We can help you pick the perfect fertilizer for every plant. Plants are big eaters. Don’t just feed them an appetizer. They want the whole St. Patrick’s Day feast. Trees and shrubs are hankering for some Espoma Plan-Tone and Holly-Tone. Perennial flowers would be so satisfied with some Van Wilgen’s All Purpose Slow Release Plant Food. Veggie gardens are hungry all the time. Feed them for plenty of good luck.

*Fertilizer for new plants is key to lucky establishment. Use Van Wilgen’s Jump Start or Root Boost for every new plant you put in the ground.

Lucky Charm #3 = A Good Drink:

*Water. Water brings luck to everyone and every plant. Make sure that is a moderate drought hits CT again this year, give your plants a good drink. The more they have to drink, the greener they will be!

For an extra good luck charm fuse Iron. Iron is the key to greening up the yellowest of plants naturally and stress free. Use it on everything. Encap’s Fast Acting Iron or Espoma’s Iron Tone are my favorite good luck charms for the lawn and garden this year!



*VW’s Premium Planting Mix

*Fafard Garden Manure

*Encap’s or Espoma’s Garden Gypsum

*Espoma’s Green Sand

*Espoma’s Plant or Holly Tone

*VW’s All Purpose Slow Release Plant Food

*VW’s Jump Start or Root Boost

Is spring coming early this year?

Am I jumping the gun by changing the words to an old rhyme?! It doesn’t quite feel like I am. We have had a mild winter and the warm weather makes me feel like spring is already here. What does this mean? It means, all of us gardeners and people who just like to be outdoors, don’t have to chomp at the bit anymore. Let’s get going. Let’s open up those garden sheds and start shaking those tools up a bit. There is so much fun work to be done!

Where to begin…? Which tool to start with…? I know….

*Rake: Get the rake out and start raking. Clean out those garden beds and clean up that lawn. Start with a nice, clean slate.

*Cultivator: Use this sharp pronged tool to help you pull out some of those unwanted weeds that are sprouting up. The sooner the better.

*Shovel: Dig up a few soil samples from your lawn and garden and bring them in for me to test the pH level. The proper pH level is key for a successful lawn, veggie garden, and perennial bed.

What products do I need now…?

*Preen: After you spend all that time raking up the garden beds, apply Preen to help keep those pesky weeds at bay all season long. Don’t do all that hard work for nothing!

*Lime: The snow has melted and the lawn & veggie garden needs some sweetening up. It takes a while to raise the pH of your soil, so get going now. Please.

*Fertilizer: Get ready. Lawns, trees, and shrubs can wait a little bit longer but as soon as those yellow Forsythias start to pop, it is time. Usually, the Forsythia start showing off in April but I have a hunch they will start to show yellow earlier than that.

I don’t want you to feel rushed. I just want you to be prepared. If you need a little inspiration, come to Van Wilgen’s and get yourself a little treat. We have happy pansy faces of every color and they can handle the temperatures down to 28 degrees. If they don’t get you in the mood for spring, I do not know what will.

Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!

Your Shopping List: Preen, Fast Acting Lime by Encap, and Espoma’s Plant Tone