Tips for Growing a Contest-Winning Tomato!

  1. Plant in your southernmost, sunniest exposure where the tomato plant will receive eight hours of bright sunlight. Factoid: Tomatoes planted in full sunlight have higher levels of Vitamin C.
  2. Amend your soil with compost or very-well composted manure. Tomatoes do best in pH neutral soils, which we do not have in Indiana. Our soils are slightly alkaline, so mix a handful of soil sulfur into your soil when amending.
  3. Tomatoes dislike wet feet, so never plant where puddles form after a rain.
  4. Don’t plant this year in the same spot as last year unless you have no other sunny locations. This is absolutely essential if you had tomato disease problems last year.
  5. Keep the tomatoes 40 to 50 feet away from trees. Factoid: Absolutely do not plant tomatoes near black walnut trees. Walnut trees produce a toxic substance that kills tomato plants.
  6. Plant deep or in a trench! Remove all the lower stems on the plant but leave only the top 2 or 3 stems with foliage. Plant it right up to just below the top stems. The tomato will produce roots all along the buried main stem. More roots mean a stronger, healthier, faster growing plant.
  7. Tomato plants are big eaters. Apply a granular fertilizer at planting, then once a month thereafter. Supplement with a water-soluble fertilizer, if you like. Factoid: Stay away from high nitrogen content fertilizers. They will only over —stimulate green leafy growth at the expense of the fruit. Instead use a high phosphorous content fertilizer that stimulates root and fruit development.
  8. Always stake the plant. Use a six-foot stake or cage. Tie the plant to the stake as it grows.
  9. In late May or early June select the healthiest, largest tomato on the vine(s). Remove all the other tomatoes growing below it on the vine. This procedure forces the plant to concentrate energy to the selected tomato(es).
  10. Mulch the soil around the plant. Keep the soil constantly damp but not wet.


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Landscaping suggestions from Joe…

Joe Russ, co-owner of Sundown Gardens, offers a few suggestions for updating and managing your landscape this season.

Meet with an experienced designer to plan and budget. Want a landscaping update this season? Think through your ideas and then share them with a professional.  It doesn’t matter if ideas are general or specific. Dream a bit. Experienced designers can organize and prioritize ideas into realistic and aesthetic plans. An experienced designer can be a big help to get your ideas on paper, organize various elements and create a one-of-a-kind plan that is more importantly functional and affordable.

Partner with experts to implement your project. Although landscaping isn’t rocket science, installing larger material (trees for example), completing larger bedding areas and creating hardscape elements can be overwhelming. Before implementing any landscaping project on your own, consider whether to hire out installation or do it yourself. I’ve heard clients talk about lost weekends, lost time with family or lost days of vacation to get the job done. Is it worth it? Maybe so, maybe not. It depends on your skill level and available time. Consider the options before you start. We have some clients who complete smaller phases of work on their own, while our crews take on larger elements and phases of the project.

Give that landscape TLC. It doesn’t matter if you’re installing new landscaping or managing existing plantings, low maintenance does not mean no maintenance required. Your home’s exterior needs as much upkeep as its interior. Spring clean-up, edging and mulching beds translates to curb appeal. A five-step lawn application program each season keeps your property green and healthy. Properly pruning in the appropriate season protects your landscaping investment and can extend the life and beauty of your property. Don’t have a lot of time to water in the heat of summer? Consider a well-designed, site specific irrigation system. Be proactive–no matter the property size; it will most likely save you time, money and effort in the long term

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Care guidelines for customers

It’s spring!! And that means homeowners are preparing and up keeping their properties with new seed, new plantings and more. Sundown Gardens experts have guidelines to help you grow beautiful trees, shrubs, landscapes and lawns. Download them now. Feel free to stop by the garden center with questions or call us for information.

Fertilizing Guidelines

Watering and Care Guidelines for Plantings

Watering and Care Guidelines for Seed/Sod

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Open House at Sundown this Saturday, April 28

We’re busy getting ready for our annual open house coming up this Saturday. It’s a great way to kick off the gardening season. We’ll fire up our barbeque in Sundown’s outdoor kitchen and have free food to eat while you shop. Talk with our landscaping experts about ideas for your landscaping this season. Pets are welcome. We’ll have great specials all day Saturday, too.

  • Herbs – buy 3 at $3.50/ea – get one free
  • Perennials – buy 3 at $6.95/ea — get one free
  • Compost – free 40# Bag, while supplies last
  • Radius Tools – 50% off
  • Liriope — Just $9 – a $15.00 value
  • Ornamental Container Trees – 20% off
  • Rooting & Blooming fertilizer— 1- 8oz container free with purchase of any annual plant
  • Roses – $5 Off
  • Ornamental Grasses – 20% off
  • $5 Off Hanging Basket Coupon good for the month of May
  • Execu-Turf grass seed — 20% off
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Tips for fertilizing and watering new trees and shrubs

April is a great time to plant new trees and shrubs. Be sure to protect these investments with proper fertilizing treatments and watering.

  • During installation a slow release, starter fertilizer, such as Fertilome Start-n-Grow, should be mixed with the back-fill soil in order to promote root growth.
  • Water slowly and thoroughly with a solution of Fertilome Root Stimulator.
  • For plants that prefer an acidic soil, use Hi-Yield Soil Sulfur mixed with the back-filled soil at the time of planting.

Water the new plants every 3 to 7 days and at times every other day, depending on weather conditions and the type/size of the plant. Over watering and under watering are two of the top reasons that cause plant material to decline.

  1. Pull back the mulch around the root ball (base) of the plant.
  2. By hand—be sure to NOT disturb the plant’s root system—gently dig 2”-3” down into the soil in the root ball.
  3. Feel the soil in the root ball of the plant… is it hard and dry or cool and moist?
  4. If the soil in the root ball feels hard or dry, it most likely needs water.

The key to watering plant materials is to provide the plant with a slow, deep soaking water. The best way to do this is to lay the end of a garden hose (spray nozzle removed) near the base/root ball of the plant and let the water slowly trickle out. This means the water goes directly to the root ball.




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April is the time to reseed. Here are tips from the experts.

Need to rejuvenate your lawn? April is the time to  reseed. Here are a few tips from our experts before you start. This Sundown Gardens You Tube video featuring our own expert Nelson Scharadin provides great information about quality grass seed products.

  1. If you have already applied a pre-emergent herbicide, or a lawn service company has started a five —application program for you, wait until the fall to put down grass seed.
  2. Till the bare soil before you seed.
  3. Keep grass seed you must keep it constantly moist until it germinates.
  4. Broadcast the seed per the rate chart on the bag either by hand or with a spreader.
  5. Germination depends on the type of seed you use: Kentucky bluegrass 21 to 28 days, ryegrass 10 to14 days and fescue just 7 days.
  6. Gently rake the seed into the soil, so it isn’t sitting on top.
  7. Topsoil or event topsoil compost mix raked over the areas helps germination.
  8. Applying straw helps to keep moisture in and protects the seed from direct sun and less erosion.
  9. When the new grass becomes 4 inches in height, it’s time for the first mowing (mow high at 3 and 1/2 inches).
  10. Reapplying another round of starter fertilizer after mowing also is helpful.
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Spring is here and we’re ready for you at Sundown Gardens.

As your thinking about what you can and should do to your lawn, landscape and garden this year, call us. We’re here to help whether you’re a DIYer or looking for Private GardenerTM services where we manage and maintain your yard.

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Keep checking here for gardening tips and ideas

Coffee drinking gardeners rejoice!

Coffee grounds are an excellent soil amendment for our local soils. Coffee grounds provide generous amounts phosphorous, potassium, magnesium and copper, and release nitrogen into the soil as they degrade. Plus, they are slightly acidic!  That’s a real benefit for our plants in our slightly alkaline soils. They work best when tilled into the top 4-6 inches of your soil. Read the full scientific details of the laboratory conducted test!

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