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Ask The Expert - Dearborn Market
2170 Route 35 South
Holmdel, NJ 07733
Dearborn Market is a family-owned, full-service grocery store and garden center located on Route 35, Holmdel. What began as a roadside farm stand in 1925 is today an 11,000-square-foot garden center, with a 5,000 sq. ft. delicatessen, a gourmet kitchen and bakery. Still a family business, you can now spot fourth-generation family members working there, such as Frank Luccarelli, president at Dearborn, a lifelong Holmdel resident.
Prime gardening season starts in May. Can you give us a brief highlight of the different types of plants and considerations before you start?
Annuals bloom over a longer period of time than perennials, which bloom for less time, but come back year after year without replanting. You can plant summer blooming annuals now, such as petunias, impatiens, geraniums, and begonias. When planting annuals in pots, we recommend using a soil-less mix like Premier, similar to what we use in our own growing greenhouses. We also like to use Dynamite Complete, an organic mix, slow-release fertilizer that feeds your plants up to 3 months. If you shop for perennials throughout the growing season and buy perennials that are prime, you will have blooms spring, summer and fall. In our area, May 15th marks our first frost-free date. You can then safely plant tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, melons and squash, etc. We recommend adding organic compost to your soil to give your plants nutrition. I like to use Mag-i-cal made by Jonathan Green, a calcium supplement for soil that the plants use in forming their skeletal structure. For trees and shrubs, plant with compost and starter fertilizer, which has mycorrhizal and microbes in it. Mycorrhizal is bacteria that helps elongate the roots and better establish your plants. Don’t plant trees and shrubs too deeply. Most plants die from being planted too deeply. The root collar should be above the soil level. All plants should be topped with a layer of mulch no deeper than 3” (we recommend 2-2.5”)
What is "Vertical Gardening?" Are there any other cool trends?
Vertical gardening involves planting vertically up a wall or building versus horizontally in the ground. We see a lot of this in urban areas with less room to grow, but now see the trend catching on here. There are many ways to achieve a vertical garden, big or small. We have kits that include small containers designed to plant and hang from a wall. Other items can be repurposed to create a vertical garden, such as a pallet or a shoe rack – you are only limited by your imagination. Cacti and succulents are easily used in vertical gardening. They can also be planted in terrariums, which act as their own greenhouse or eco system so they are very sustainable and easy to care for.
With climate, soil, and of course the local wildlife playing a role in successful gardening/garden maintenance, can you offer advice about managing the Monmouth County environment?
Monmouth County is an area where forest meets the Pine Barrens and marshes, so we have very sandy soils. We recommend the addition of organic matter like compost to improve the soil, add organic material, and give your soil microbes to eat. People ask how I deal with the deer population. We sell deer-resistant plant varieties, but you really have to get creative. In my orchard behind the store, I hang small bars of soap – you could even use the ones you get at hotels – and hang them from the trees. The smell will deter deer, but only until they get used to it and realize it’s not harmful. We use something called Sweeney’s All Season Repellant that has very good results.
A lot of what we see in the media these days talks about the garden as part of your home, to become an addition to your living space so to speak--so what are some examples that our readers can take away?
Beyond integrating flower beds, we suggest introducing a vegetable garden into your landscape design so they evolve into edible gardens. Not just for cooking, we pot herbs that can be used as beautiful patio decoration. Small water features create a soothing atmosphere. I am amazed at the designs and use of outdoor space. Jamie Durie, a horticulturalist/ landscape designer on HGTV, will be coming to Dearborn on June 9th to discuss his designs and new book, “The Outdoor Space.” It’s pretty amazing what he can do with the outdoors!
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