Now is a great time to plant pretty much everything. We have even brought the basil and tomatoes from our production facility to the nursery. But don't push these it's still a little cool at night.
Time to fertilize last years new plantings by top dressing. Sprinkling handfuls of fertilizer around the drip line of the shrubs. Not too close to main stem. The roots grow outward. Organic fertilizers are slower release and contain a lot of secondary and micronutrients. We recommend them! The macronutrients are N,P and K (Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Pottasium) the 3 numbers represented on most fertilizer products. The secondary nutrients are calcium, magnesium and sulfur and there are quite a few micronutrients.
Learn to make your own compost out of your biodegradable waste and use that to feed your plants as well.
Water your lawns less often and deeper to promote deeper roots.
Mow your lawns a little higher and they won't brown out in the heat of summer.
Always think ahead when gardening. Timing is everything!
The spectrum of colors are popping out at the nursery! And Wednesday we have a Monrovia Georgia order coming in with a lot more beautiful plants! Here are a few of the many plants that will be arriving:
Mandevilla Vines in crimson, white and pink
Hibiscus plants in 1 gal, 5 gal and patio trees
Elephant ears (Colocasias)
Bougainvilleas in bush form and patio trees
Lantana patio trees in 2 sizes
Banana Trees Ornamental
Asparagus fern not hardy
Lots of different ferns all perennial
Ornamental Grasses in full splendor (Georgia is way ahead of us)
Hydrangeas (are also way ahead of us)
It’s a little early for the tropicals but a reminder that we do sell out!
(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 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 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 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 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.
We use our standard Pine Bark Mulch for most gardens, shrub boarders and tree wells. 60/cu.yd.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
LAWN & TURF MANAGEMENT
Saturday, April 20 at 11:00am
Chuck Wiley, owner of Vineyard Gardens and master horticulturist, and Todd Stempien, lead foreman and lawn specialist, will lead this weeks talk on caring for your lawn. They will discuss fertilization, liming, mowing, crab grass control, grub control and the importance of timing. The talk will be held at Vineyard Gardens 484 State Rd in West Tisbury
*Attendees will receive a 20% off coupon that can be used only that day when buying products related to lecture series.
CARING FOR YOUR LAWN WHILE CARING FOR THE ISLAND
by Chuck Wiley
Hopefully caring for your Vineyard lawn is as much about taking care of our local environment as it is about having a nice lawn. With a little knowledge you can do both. Our main concern is protecting our ponds, steams and aquifer by preventing fertilizer from getting into them. This can happen to a pond or stream by run off when the fertilizer washes into them over the ground or leaching when fertilizer is dissolved and rain or excessive irrigation carries the fertilizer past the roots into the ground. One of the best ways to prevent both of these is to have a dense healthy lawn which captures the fertilizer before it can runoff or leach. Using a slow release fertilizer is another way to make sure the nutrients are taken up by the grass and not lost.
Steps to achieve this healthy lawn in the spring:
1. Seed any bare spots starting in mid April using seed that matches the area, ie sun shade or a mix of the two. Keep the seed lightly moist for two weeks in order for it to germinate.
2. Don’t fertilize before Mid April. Use a slow release fertilizer and don’t over apply. I recommend using it below the recommended rate the bag shows and doing a second light application 6-8 weeks later if needed.
3. Make sure the ph of your soil is around 6.5, this improves the grasses ability to take up the fertilizer which reduces the chance of leaching.
4. Mow regularly at a minimum of 2 inches with a sharp blade
5. If you water, do so deeply to encourage the roots to go deep once or twice a week. Never water daily other than when your seeding.
6. Remember grass loves sun so if your area is too shady you may want to try a shade loving ground cover or let nature do its thing. If you have a lot of moss don’t fight it as it’s green and never needs fertilizer or mowing.
VINEYARD GARDENS WORKSHOPS 2019
Come join us every Saturday morning at 11am for our garden workshop series at the nursery. Attendees will receive a 20% off coupon that can be used only that day when buying products related to lecture series. Please visit our events page for more detailed information. This week’s lecture will be about Lawn and Turf Management.
EAT LOCAL, GROW IT IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD!
Saturday morning April 13th at 11am Chris and Chuck Wiley, owners of Vineyard Gardens, will lead a workshop on cultivating a successful vegetable garden. They will discuss which vegetables are best planted from seed and when to seed; and which vegetables are better planted as seedlings. This lecture will teach you how to grow your own salads and much more. The talk will be held at Vineyard Gardens 484 State Rd in West Tisbury
*Attendees will receive a 20% off coupon that can be used only that day when buying products related to lecture series.
THE SPRING VEGETABLE GARDEN
by Chuck Wiley
It's nearly springtime when a person’s thoughts should hopefully turn to ....... vegetables! That's right it's time to start our vegetable gardens. Even though our frost free date is technically May 1st, this is a great time of year to start our cool loving vegetables.
There are many vegetables that can handle the light frosts we get this time of year. If a colder night were to be predicted, in the high 20s, you can cover your freshly planted vegetables with Reemay, plastic or an old sheet to protect them from the frost. At this point, most greens can be planted and some, like spinach, do much better in cooler weather than in the summer. Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are known as cole crops, which sounds like cold crops, all do very well planted at this time a year too. While kids don't always like the spicy taste of radishes, they are a great vegetable for them to plant as they come up in a matter of days and are ready to pick in a few short weeks.
There are a few perennial vegetables which actually are some of the easiest ones to grow. My all-time favorite is asparagus which can live for 20 or more years. Asparagus continually get bigger and more productive with just a little bit of care. The most important way to care for them is to keep the weeds out in order for them to thrive. They are one of the first vegetables to come up every spring and are absolutely delicious and healthy. Chives are another easily grown perennial and are up this time of year. They are ready to pick in another week or so. The third perennial, one of our family favorites, is rhubarb. While most vegetables require a fence, rhubarb does not necessarily need one due to it’s toxic leaves therefore not favored by our local animals. When planting these perennials take extra care to enrich the soil, since they are long lived, and compost will help them thrive. A light top dressing of composted cow manure should take care of most of their nutritional needs each year. I grow all my vegetables organically which means I can walk out into the garden, pick them, give them a light rinse if needed and eat them. YUM! What could be better than fresh vegetables!
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Gorgeous pictures of our beautiful in-house spring production taken by our talented in-house photographer, Keith Kurman.
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 are excited to announce we are back open and ready for another wonderful year! We have been busy in our greenhouses planting and germinating seeds since the end of February and our cool weather vegetable packs are now ready!
Get a head start by planting a few rows of our fabulous pack greens and then plant another row of seeds a few inches away. We have both Fedco and Botanical Interest seed packets for sale in our store. Fedco is a seed company located in Maine. They are known for their fabulous vegetable seed selection. Botanical Interest is known for their beautiful seed packets and wealth of information. By combining the planting of both seeds and seedlings it will allow you to have a staggered harvest and two batches of fresh vegetables. It’s all about timing!
Plant all your cool weather vegetables early! We have a wonderful selection of cool weather crops including broccoli, cabbage, 5 kinds of kale, 4 kinds of mustards, 8-10 kinds of lettuce, Asian greens, Chinese cabbage, tatsoi, bok choy, spinach, lettuce, arugula, several mesclun greens. asparagus and strawberries.
We also have peas in peat packs, sugar snaps, snow peas and dwarf grey peas. The dwarf gray are known for being delicious as pea shoots, harvesting the tips and eating them in your salads. The snap peas are for harvesting the pea inside the pod. The snow peas are best picked young and steamed or sautéed whole, you eat the entire pod. If the snow peas get too big eat the pea inside. Nothing goes to waste and don’t forget to compost!
EAT LOCAL GROW IT IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD!
Happy spring equinox, when daytime and nighttime are of approximately equal duration. Here at Vineyard Gardens we are busily preparing for opening day March 22nd! Five of our greenhouses are fully stocked and we have received multiple plug orders and bare root orders in the last two weeks. We’re excited for the season to begin , to see all your smiling faces and help you on your gardening journey!
Believe it or not spring is on its way! It’s such an exciting time at our in-house facility, seedlings starting to emerge and a new season taking shape. We decided to re-post this from last year to remind all our friends and family what Vineyard Gardens does during this time of year.
"Vineyard Gardens Nursery, located in West Tisbury, is a botanical paradise situated on five acres of land with ten greenhouses. Established over thirty years ago with one greenhouse, it has developed into an island staple and agricultural enclave. Rooted in horticulture and plant science degrees, Chris and Chuck Wiley have developed their one time modest landscaping company into a full on plant production center, nursery and landscaping company.
The Wiley’s are passionate about providing their customers with the healthiest and hardiest plants and have found many benefits in nurturing them into this world from seed. To enable this in-house production they have, over the years, built a separate five acre growing site named VG2. The facility has both indoor and outdoor growing spaces including four 100ft greenhouses, one of which is purpose built for “germinating” seeds into seedlings. It’s within this carefully temperature and humidity controlled greenhouse complete with automated mist-watering and heated benches that life begins for the bulk of their veggies, herbs, annuals, and perennials.
The range of plants that Vineyard Gardens germinate at VG2 is extensive. Chris explains, “We start a few hundred varieties of mostly annuals but always seed a dozen or more perennials, trees and shrubs as well. Once the plants are ready for sale we truck them to Vineyard Gardens Nursery. The most challenging part is having the crops ready on time and in sufficient numbers. Sometimes we grow too much but more often we sell out of many of our annual crops including Proven Winners® .”
Chris exudes excitement about her production like they are her children. She could discuss the plethora of produce and flora she grows in English, Latin and Spanish with an excitement that makes you want to experiment with it yourself. With a twinkle in her eye she exclaims, “But our proudest moment is in spring, seeing our amazing display of vegetable packs, which we seed ourselves. Our customers are getting more and more into the edibles and herbs. We germinate many varieties of greens. We now also grow Asian greens including Chinese cabbage, Bok Choy and Tatsoi. And we seed a Brazilian vegetable called Jilot and we sell over 500 of them. And currently the cool weather crops are growing beautifully in the green houses.” Chris finishes it off with, “We love our edible crops!”
The Wiley’s have a keen desire to keep Vineyard Gardens’ plant selection fresh and intriguing year after year. They have developed a symbiotic relationship between their love of plants and love for travel. These horticultural explorations have inspired them to collect seeds on their journey’s and germinate them at VG2. “Last year we found the seed Tweedia Caerulea, Blue Butterfly Weed, for sale and bought it from Geo seed catalog. We will have it again this year hopefully in good numbers. We will have the Nolana Bluebird this year which is a great plant. And back by popular demand we will have white lace, Orlaya grandiflora.” Chris explains.
This second location, based solely on production, has made it possible to keep Vineyard Gardens retail location stocked so efficiently. Between their expertise and ambition to cultivate, Vineyard Gardens is ready to help you along on your gardening journey. If you want to learn first hand from these experts, join them Saturday mornings at 11am for a wonderful and insightful Garden Talk and workshop. Check out their website www.vineyardgardens.net to see the full listing of events
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.
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.
Come wander through our festive nursery to pick out Christmas Trees, wreaths, gorgeous holiday plants and cut greens to naturally decorate your home this holiday season! Custom wreaths are available.
Decorate your home with these classic holiday flowers this holiday season!
Nothing like cold weather to make us want to make our homes cozy and decorate for the holidays. Stop by Vineyard Gardens Nursery for inspirations on decorating naturally this season! We have beautiful cut Winterberry, Poinsettia’s, Amaryllis bulbs, Christmas trees, wreaths and much more!
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!