BULK MATERIALS

(This is a post we wrote a few years ago but a good one to re-visit)

We get many questions about our bulk materials at Vineyard Gardens and thought it would be pertinent to bring all the information together in one place.

Good soil is critical to successful gardening. What we see above ground is really only half the picture. If a plant's leaves are turning yellow or if pests are suddenly present you can bet there’s a problem with the soil.

One of the most important ingredients in soil is its organic content. It is the organic content that, in the process of breaking down, enable the roots to access moisture and nutrients. Every year we have to build up the organic content of the soil to keep plants growing and healthy. Once we have added the organic material we need to keep it from drying out and prevent weed seeds from moving in, so we use mulches to protect the investment.

We have two groups of bulk materials; organically rich soil amendments and mulches. The main ingredient in our soil amendments is compost.

Gardener’s Choice

Gardener’s Choice is an organic leaf and yard compost. It has been heat treated to render it relatively weed free. It is the best choice for vegetable gardens but it is also ideal for top-dressing flower beds.  $70/cu.yd.

Earthlife Compost

Earthlife Compost is a heat treated Bio Solid compost. The heat-treating kills off most of the weed seed. This is a commercially produced material that has been thoroughly checked and approved for sale by our local Board of Health. It is an excellent choice as a soil amendment to bring up the organic content of our poorer Vineyard soils and to lighten heavy clay soil. $60/cu.yd.

Vineyard Gardens Loam

Vineyard Gardens Loam is our own leaf and yard debris compost. It is very much like a compost you would make at home so it could have any number of weed seeds in it. It has been turned over several times a year and been thoroughly sifted to remove large sticks and rocks. Its benefits are that it is high in organic content and is relatively inexpensive. $45/cu.yd

 

 

 

Vineyard Gardens Planting Mix

Vineyard Gardens Planting Mix is our premium blend. It consists of:

  • 3 parts Earthlife Compost

  • 2 parts Peat Moss

  • 1 part Sand

This product is super versatile and useful. It can be used as an amendment when planting trees and shrubs. It can be used to top-dress gardens that have particularly difficult components, like clay or sand. It can be lightened with perlite to use as a potting mix. $75/cu.yd.

Pine Bark Mulch

We use our standard Pine Bark Mulch for most gardens, shrub boarders and tree wells.  60/cu.yd.

Wood chips

We also provide Wood Chips which is perfect for suppressing weeds in uncultivated areas like paths, parking spaces, construction areas. It's best not to use wood chips in planted areas because the fibrous material has not broken down yet and in the process of breaking down it burns Nitrogen. Nitrogen is an important nutrient for plants and without it growth will be weak and lacking in chlorophyll turning the leaves yellow. It is useful for suppressing weeds when its freshly put down. $25/cu.yd.

 

 

Click on this LINK for a handy calculator to help figure out how much of these materials you’ll need for your project.

 

TIME TO PLANT YOUR POPPIES

Now is the time to plant your poppies. We have started them in 4packs at the nursery and it’s best to get them planted out before they become root-bound. We have some wonderful varieties to choose from but the trick is to plant now.

P. orientale

P. orientale

Papaver orientalis

Papaver orientalis

A beautiful variety with a high pedegree, Papaver somniferum 'Sissinghurst White'

P. s. 'Lauren's Grape' ready to plant out

Poppies, ready to plant! many wonderful varieties!

The most notorious member of the Poppy tribe is Papaver somniferum, the Opium Poppy. This plant has a cultural history going back millennia. Since earliest times its narcotic virtues have been known and used in medicines to cure pain and induce sleep. It was not until the 19th Century that doctors became fully aware that it was addictive. Aside from its narcotic attributes it is a particularly beautiful plant. Its baroque architecture and richly saturated colors have inspired craftsmen and artists to interpret its form into decorative schemes in everything from furniture, fabrics, china, jewelry to painting and book illustration.

P. s. 'Lauren's Grape'

The decorative Opium Poppy is a cottage garden favorite. Why it is not seen more often in flower gardens must have something to do with a question of timing. It is properly an annual plant, meaning that it’s seed germinates, grows, flowers and develops mature seeds in one season. It is however originally from a more temperate zone than our harsh New England climate. In order for the plant to fully develop it needs to set a deep root system. So in a way it behaves more like a biennial, germinating just after the Winter Solstice and setting a whorl of basil foliage to feed root development through the chill, winter months. Then, with the Spring Equinox, it begins to expand its lush, curled and fringed, pale gray- green foliage. It’s flowers finally begin to open in the warmth of late June into July. The flowers only last a day but are produced continuously. Once it has flowered it’s petals drop revealing the characteristic seed pod which it holds until it dries later in the summer.

P. somniferum

P. somniferum 'Lauren's Grape'

The solution to this problem is to start the seeds early indoors, but caution must be exercised. The common caveat with poppies is that they resent root disturbance. And further, if left too long in the container they will quickly become root bound, from which they will not recover. This is where timing becomes critical. So to have beautiful flowers like these we must plant our poppies now so they can develop their root systems in the cool ground.

If you want more poppy information click here for an informative and interesting article.

Papaver somniferum 'Imperial Pink'

P. orientale

Papaver 'Mother of Pearl'

Papaver orientale

romantic poppies

Iceland Poppies (Papaver nudicaule)

APRIL SHOWERS BRING MAY FLOWERS AND A SUCCESSFUL EASTER EGG HUNT

Despite the dreary weather, we had a great turnout and lots of smiling faces at our annual Easter Egg Hunt! Thanks for all who came out and enjoyed the beauty of the garden center surrounded by spring blooms! Photo credits: Keith Kurman

Chuck and Chris Wiley

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Eloise Estey Moses, age 6 , found the magic egg.

Eloise Estey Moses, who found the magic egg and her brother, Hank

WILDFLOWERS OF MARTHA'S VINEYARD

Wildflowers are some of the first flowers to emerge in the spring, sometimes overshadowed by the showier bulbs that dominate gardens in March and April. The wildflowers are demure cousins, shy and retiring, often hiding in the shade of overarching trees and shrubs.

Wildflowers available at Vineyard Gardens Nursery / credit : Keith Kurman

Spring is the best time to purchase young starter wildflower plants. Although wildflowers are notoriously challenging to grow, they can be slow to establish and may not survive through the winter, but once established they can spread into a respectable and beautiful patch, rewarding your efforts for years to come.

The hardest part about growing wildflowers is taking that first bold step. As you would with any plant the first step is to prepare the ground floor. Choose a spot where you often pass in the spring so you can monitor their growth and enjoy their diminutive blooms. Most New England wildflowers prefer a woodland soil with a thick layer, called “leaf mold”. That is the layer of decomposing leaves of the deciduous canopy overhead. The best, and most common are oak leaves. You can easily make starter oak leaf mold by raking up a pile of leaves and mowing it with the collection bag attached. This can be done in the fall when fresh leaves are plentiful. You can leave the pile until spring and it will be the perfect material to work with. The next step is to clear your planting area and break up the top layer of soil, a few inches. You can work in some compost but you don’t need to make your mix too rich, remember that most wildflowers grow in poor woodland soils. Then plant out your young wildflowers covering with only a few inches of soil. On top of this you can spread a nice thick layer of your leaf mold. You may need to do some supplemental watering for the first couple of years to help get them established.

We have some wonderful selections of wildflowers at the nursery. It is difficult for growers to keep wildflowers alive in containers because they either tend to get over watered or dried out. Their special needs are hard to meet when contained in a pot. Now is the best time to plant them so come by the nursery and help spread native beauty.

Here are a few of the types we have available:

TRILLIUM GRANDIFLORUM

Trillium is one of the most familiar of our New England wildflowers and one of the easier ones to grow. They will spread by reseeding so it can take several years to develop a substantial stand of them but well worth the wait!

Trillium grandiflorum white form / credit: Wild Flowers by Homer D. House 1935 Pub. The Macmillan Company

Trillium grandiflorum pink or red form / credit: Wild Flowers by Homer D. House 1935 Pub. The Macmillan Company

SANGUINARIA CANADENSIS

Bloodroot is another of the easier wildflowers to grow. They are in the Poppy family and produce the latex that characterizes the tribe. You can guess what color the latex in Bloodroot is and it is copiously produced when any part of the plant is broken or damaged, so care should be be taken in handling them while planting. A nice thing about this appealing plant is that, while the flowering is ephemeral in the spring, the foliage remains strong and ornamental through the rest of the summer.

Bloodroot / credit: Wild Flowers by Homer D. House 1935 Pub. The Macmillan Company

HEPATICA NOBILIS

With the unfortunate common name of ‘Liverwort’, coined apparently due to the similarity in the shape of its leaves to a liver, Hepatica is a charming, diminutive wild flower, closely related to Anemones, with nearly true blue flowers. It is known to grow well under Beech trees where most plants cannot. Its natural inclination is towards calcareous soils, though a challenge for our naturally acidic soils on the Island. The plant would therefore benefit from regular addition of lime to promote healthy growth.

Hepatica nobilis / credit: Wild Flowers by Homer D. House 1935 Pub. The Macmillan Company

MERTENSIA VIRGINICA

Mertensia or Virginia Bluebells, is another wonderful blue flowered wild flower. It’s not native to the Island but we’ve had very good luck growing it here in just about any soil or exposure, though it does prefer some protection and light shade. Perhaps the only challenge in growing Mertensia is that it almost completely disappears after flowering so it can be easy to forgotten and unearthed when planting something else. But while it is flowering there’s nothing like it. It’s quite floriferous over a long period in late spring and it’s intensely blue flowers draw the eye from a far distance.

Mertensia virginica / credit: Keith Kurman

We have a number of other wonderful shady woodland wildflowers, some we carry just as standard perennials like Cyclamen and Arisaema triphyllum (Jack in the Pulpit). You can find them in House 9 at the Nursery with the other perennials and ground covers.

For further information about the plants and their cultivation check out the New England Wildflower Society.

This is spring at Vineyard Gardens

Gorgeous pictures of our beautiful in-house spring production taken by our talented in-house photographer, Keith Kurman.

Forget me not’s

Alyssum

red leaf lettuce

tat soi (miniature Chinese cabbage-like).

spicy micro greens

mustard greens

musk melons

mixed mesclun greens

lettuces

The Delphiniums are coming right along!

House 4, 5” perennials

In the seeding house, we grow most of our veggies and greens here on site from trusted seed sources. We also grow all those other interesting and unusual annuals you find at VG.

SPRING AT VINEYARD GARDENS

Spring is a very busy and productive time at Vineyard Gardens. Our landscape division crews are already out doing spring clean ups. Our in-house production is busy planting bulbs, liners, bare root perennials, roses, trees and shrubs. The nursery is in full swing unloading truck full of plants from New Jersey, Virginia and Oregon. And the early spring flowers, like pansies and pieris japonica, are in their full bloom glory.

We also just put the poppy’s and primulas outside to harden off and we have our usual beautiful crop of 5” perennials. It is an exciting time of year!

We always start a bountiful selection of leafy salad greens

We always start a bountiful selection of leafy salad greens

We recycle. sterilizing plastic growing containers and trays

Labeling is critical from day one! As plants are potted up, each one has to be accurately labeled.

St. Patrick's Day is traditionally when you plant your peas out in the garden. If you missed it we've got you covered. Peas like to do most of their growth in cool temperatures

Leafy greens like cooler temperatures to produce quick, tender leaves for your salads and cooking. the earlier you get them in the ground the better!

Seedling production using plug trays

Getting strawberries started early is important for this season's production. We give them a jump start but you should be planting them out as soon as we're 'frost-free'.

In the Fall, any bulbs left unsold get potted up and forced for Spring color.

We have become well known for our well grown Delphiniums. Here they are early in the season

Perennial production House 4

Growing on 4in perennials, its economical to buy your perennials early in smaller sizes. better for the plants too!

Our Landscape Division are already out there doing Spring Cleanups, if you haven't set yours up yet, call the office today!

Pansies are in full color at the nursery!

Potting-up Bulbs Lifted from the Gardens

At Vineyard Gardens nursery, we are in the process of restoring and replanting the display beds on State Road. In the unfolding we’ve had to displace a lot of bulbs. Many were able to go back in the ground but there were leftovers which I decided to pot up for spring. I recalled a post by a gardening expert in England who decided to pot his bulbs deeper because in previous years he’d experienced them getting too tall and falling over. I decided to follow suit and plant deeper than I might otherwise.

Here is my process for potting our “leftover” bulbs:

1) POT AND POTTING MIXTURE. I use Happy Frog Potting Mix, one of the products available at the Vineyard Gardens Garden Center. It’s light and fluffy with good drainage and high organic content.

2) MIXED, UNKNOWN BULB VARIETIES. The bulbs I dug up are already in big clumps so they will have a nice, naturalized effect when they emerge in the spring. Ordinarily when potting up bulbs we use individual, packaged bulbs. These “clumped bulbs” can be handled a little differently when potted-up because the individual bulbs will be placed tighter than they would be in the ground. Usually when we pot bulbs we only get one season out of them so we’re not concerned about spacing for years of growth and development.

3) A WHEELBARROW OF CLEAN, COARSE SAND.

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4) ADD BROKEN CROCKERY TO THE BOTTOM OF YOUR POT. This keeps the soil and sand from escaping every time you water yet allows the water to drain out. Standing water, like in a pot with no drainage hole, will rot the bulb. Paperwhites and Hyacinths do survive in standing water but after they flower they are composted.

5) ADD AN INCH OF SAND IN THE BOTTOM.

6) ADD A NICE THICK LAYER OF POTTING SOIL WITH A SPRINKLE OF OSMOCOTE, A TIME-RELEASE FERTILIZER. We have Osmocote for sale at Vineyard Gardens Garden Center. There are a couple of different kinds, one biased for general growth (green label) and another specifically for developing flowers (pink label). We use Osmocote on practically everything we grow at the nursery. Plants burn up fertility, especially in containers. They are stressed and many nutrients are washed out in runoff due to their need for constant watering.

7) ADD ANOTHER THIN LAYER OF SAND. The whole process is a little like making Lasagna, layer upon layer. I add this layer of sand so the bulbs don’t sit directly in the wet soil. It also provides a quick, easy root run as the bulbs are developing their feeding roots over the winter.

8) ADD THE BIG CLUMP OF BULBS JUST AS THEY CAME OUT OF THE GROUND. Peel off any bulbs that got severed by the spade when they were dug out. Feather apart (divide) really big clumps and any loose little bulblets on the outside of the main clump. Nestle the clump down into the soil base. Add any random loose bulbs around the perimeter.

9) ADD ANOTHER LAYER OF POTTING SOIL UP TO THE RIDGE, A COUPLE OF INCHES FROM THE TOP OF THE POT. Scatter any other tiny loose bulb near the top, then press them in an inch or so. Add a thin layer of potting soil to finish it off.

10) GIVE THE WHOLE POT A GOOD SHAKE AND TAMP TO SETTLE EVERYTHING IN.

11) TOP IT OFF WITH SAND. Sand makes a nice even surface for new growth to come up through and acts as a mulch to prevent moisture evaporation. Bulbs need perfect drainage but adequate moisture, so sand is an important material in the process. Ordinarily at this point I would water it but we’re late in the season and I wouldn’t want for the soil to be sodden when we get another hard freeze.

12) FINISHED POT.

Thank you to our Vineyard Gardens Landscaping and Nursery team!

It’s the season for giving thanks and we are so thankful for our amazing team here at Vineyard Gardens! We could not do this without each and every one of our hardworking staff. These fabulous portraits were documented by the talented Keith Kurman, our resident photographer and landscape designer. Please visit our ABOUT page to meet our team!