Author Archives: Secluded Acres

Greens for the Holiday Season

Greens for the Holiday Season

With Thanksgiving leftovers packed in the fridge and Christmas just four weeks away, it’s time to replace your harvest-colored decorations with varying shades of greens…evergreens, that is.

Although Christmas greens can be found in many tree lots that pop-up after Thanksgiving as well as in supermarkets and chain stores, your local garden centers offer a fresh selection of evergreen decorations.

The garden center has many live and cut Christmas trees to choose from. While cut trees such as Douglass or Fraser Fir are more popular, live trees including Blue Spruce, Norway Spruce, and White Pine trees have a burlap-wrapped root ball for a base so they may be planted after the holidays.

Now with your tree in mind, you may start thinking about other decorative greens. Most wreaths, swags and grave blankets are made with a variety of evergreen pieces such as fir, spruce, pine, juniper, cedar, cypress, holly, and arborvitae branches. Round wreaths and oblong bunches of greens called swags may be hung on doors, walls, windows, mantles and flower boxes. Wreaths are available in many sizes, ranging from ten to 60 inches in diameter. However, swags are a great alternative to traditional wreaths because they can be hung vertically or horizontally on many surfaces.

In addition to picking out greens for your home, you may take time to remember loved ones this holiday season by selecting a beautiful evergreen decoration to place in the cemetery. At Secluded Acres, each grave blanket is decorated by hand with care for you and your family.

When searching for your Christmas greens, consider your decorative style- would you prefer a natural design with mixed greens and pinecones or a glittery creation that shimmers and shines. A hand-made bow can be added to any blank piece you choose. If you don’t see the combination of greens and decorations you’re looking for, we’ll work on it while you wait or take an order and have it ready for pick-up at your convenience.

Whether it’s your family’s Christmas tree, a wreath on your door, swags under your windows, or a grave blanket placed in memory of a dear loved one, fresh evergreens make beautiful winter decorations. So this December, take time to visit your local garden centers. We look forward to working with you and lots of greens too!

Local Field Grown Mums are a Familiar Sign of Fall

Local Field Grown Mums are a Familiar Sign of Fall

As summer fades, it is time to welcome early signs of autumn. Soon the temperature outside will drop, leaves will change and pumpkins will pop up on porches everywhere, but another sign of fall that we have come to trust at Secluded Acres is the first glimpse of flowers blooming in our mum field. If you drive by our farm and garden center on Route 47 in Rio Grande, you can watch a new crop of chrysanthemums grow every summer (since 1985). Just in time for the fall!

Although hardy mums may be difficult to grow well, with proper care, these popular plants should produce outstanding growth year after year when most other perennials begin to go dormant for the winter. Chrysanthemums are a member of the daisy family, yet they offer an amazing variety of colors, sizes, and shapes. In fact, mums are available in nearly all colors, except blue. Hardy mums bloom any time from August to November, depending upon the variety and color, so it is best to select different colors for a longer display of show.

Mums thrive in rich, fertile, well-drained soil and flower best in full to part sun. Be sure to water them thoroughly, especially through dry spells (as we experienced this summer!). It is also important to fertilize mums regularly and generously throughout the growing season. Mums can be divided to retain strength and good appearance, but dividing is best done in spring before the growing season progresses. In an effort to maintain a bushy, compact form, practice tip-pinching from spring through early summer. Although some newer varieties do not require pinching, the traditional method has been to pinch tips back in order to encourage branching and produce stockier plants. For best results, start pinching when the spring growth reaches about six inches and continue pinching until July 4th.

Mums also grow well for a single season in pots and bushel baskets. If you are planning a fall wedding or special event, potted mums provide beautiful color, whether it is indoors or outdoors. Left in containers, flowering mums will instantly enhance your patio or deck.

Since many perennials have passed their prime for this year and most annuals begin to wither, consider adding the same mums you watched grow in our field through the summer to your homes and gardens. After all, as summer ends, our field mums are starting to flower and autumn is on its way! Happy planting and decorating this fall!

Spring Plans and Projects

Spring is the time of plans and projects

– Leo Tolstoy, author of Anna Karenina

 

Have you noticed the birds are chirping and daffodils are popping through the ground? These days, our senses are awakening to the sights, sounds, and scents of the great outdoors. Now that the spring season is coming to life around us, are you ready? Do you have a project (or two) planned for your lawn and garden this spring? As you set out, keep these ideas in mind…

 

Pick up packs, pots, or flats of Pansies. Since they thrive in cooler weather, Pansies are the first flowers we can plant in our beds and containers. Brighten your home with a splash of color from these familiar flower faces.

 

Hungry for fresh veggies? Now is the time to plant cold weather crops including broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, lettuce, onions, and more.

 

Cut ornamental grasses back to 4-6”

 

Trim perennials’ browned-out foliage and last year’s stems. If needed, divide these plants as they emerge from the ground.

 

Remove dead leaves and debris from beds, gardens and ponds. If the yucky stuff hangs around too long, it can lead to diseases, algae and headaches later!

 

Pull any pesky weeds in the garden and put down a weed preventer such as Preen or Jonathan Green’s Weed Control.

 

Second to fall, spring is the next best time to apply grass seed. Whether seeding a new lawn or over-seeding, you may also apply Jonathan Green’s New Seeding Fertilizer to give new grass plantings the best start.

 

For existing lawns, apply Jonathan Green’s Crabgrass Preventer, Green-Up or Organic Weed Control made from corn gluten (The latter can be used on lawns as a pre-emergent weed and feed as well as in flower beds and vegetable gardens)

 

Feed existing plantings in the yard- Try these Espoma products made locally in nearby Millville.

For evergreens and other acid-loving plants, apply Holly-Tone.

For fruit, shade, and ornamental trees, use Tree-Tone

For flowering shrubs and perennials, apply Flower-Tone

Or if you’re looking for an all-natural, all purpose fertilizer, use Plant-Tone

 

There may be so mulch to do (we should add mulching to the list too!) but we are here to help!

 

We hope these ideas will encourage you to plan a few outdoor projects this spring!  Then, when you’re ready, visit us for all your garden needs.  While you plan, just be sure to soak in the budding season as it blooms around us!

Time to Let it Grow!

Well, it’s here! According to the calendar, it’s spring! Even though there is still a chill in the air, we are eager to begin working in the garden again.

 

While it is not warm enough for Impatiens, tomatoes and other summer favorites just yet, we can get started with Pansies and cold weather crops that don’t mind the cooler temperatures of early spring.

more pansies

While you brighten your home and garden with pastel-colored Pansies, also consider planting:

broccoli

brussel sprouts

cabbage

kale

lettuce (whether you like Romaine, Red Leaf, Buttercrunch, or many more)

and don’t forget onions (choose from red, white, and yellow)

 

If your soil breaks when you dig in, then the garden is ready for these little greens. But if the ground is still too hard to turn over, consider planting a container garden instead. This works especially well if you use a wide, shallow dish and a few varieties of leaf lettuces. Your salad bowl will fill in soon- just gather a little at a time and enjoy!

 

With the frozen winter behind us- Stop by to pick up your Pansies and cool weather starter plants today! Remember the cold never bothered these plants anyway- So let them grow!

Celebrating 30 years as we spring into a new season!

As I sit down to write, snow is falling outside- It sure is a beautiful winter sight but these days my mind begins to bloom with thoughts of spring, of warmer weather and brighter days. Every year, I look forward to heading back into the greenhouse. I love planting my hands in the dirt as we start filling flats with tiny flower plugs. But this year is different…This year is even more exciting because this spring, when we drop the chain and open our doors, we will go forward into our 30th year in the garden center business.

 

While much has changed around the farm, in Cape May County and throughout our world since we first opened in 1985 (What’s a website? And Facebook and blogs? Oh my!) Much has stayed the same…

 

Every spring, we’re blooming with annuals, vegetable plants, and herbs we’ve grown. We are stocked with perennials, shrubs, and trees from fellow farms and nurseries in South Jersey and Pennsylvania.

 

Then when spring shifts into summer, we fill our fields with thousands of mums. Year after year, many local neighbors and visitors to our community watch as the familiar fall flowers grow, a natural mark of our seashore town’s summer season.

 

Eventually summer fades into fall, we dig the mums and decorate with pumpkins, straw, and cornstalks.

 

We finish out each year with fresh Christmas trees, wreaths, roping, and grave blankets. In December, when the store is filled with beautiful poinsettias and warm winter wishes, my mind drifts to thoughts of soft snow falling on days like today.

 

Although we’ve been closed since Christmas, we’re working through this winter’s cold, snow, ice, and rain to prepare for our 30th season. At least we’re trying…For now, since snow has blanketed the greenhouse and the tractor shed door is frozen shut, we are working on our new website and planting the first seeds of our blog. Thanks for reading! I hope you’ll check back to see it grows!