Twin Brook Farms Howell NJ Post
Coronavirus can't stop spring from blooming: Garden centers are ready to help
Sitting in your living room in your pajamas as you try to work from home or teach the kids may make it feel like a snow day, but believe it or not, spring is blooming, even as coronavirus continues to ravage New Jersey.
And pandemic or not, it's still a good time to start tending to your garden in the Garden State - both because of the date on the calendar and for your sanity.
"You're working with your hands and getting your hands dirty," said Nicholas Polanin, Agriculture & Natural Resources County Agent for the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station. "If you're outside, you can enjoy the weather and having no screen, you can disconnect."
Growing fresh food offers another reward. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are concerned about their health, safety and nutrition: One way to know where your fruits and vegetables come from is to grow them yourself.
"You can start growing the fruits of your labor now so they're ready when everything starts to ripen," said Polanin. "I grow strawberries and they always taste better than anything from the supermarket."
Although it's early in the gardening season, Polanin said there are items gardeners should check off their to-do lists at this time, such as testing their soil (which he said should be done every three years), as well as pulling weeds or controlling them with mulch.
If you're new to gardening, there are also resources you can utilize even while practicing social distancing, since many local gardening clubs have social media pages or contact phone numbers to get your questions answered, said Polanin.
Online resources are plentiful. On the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station's web page, which can be found at njaes.rutgers.edu, those looking for gardening expertise can click on "Home, Lawn and Garden" and view fact sheets on testing soil, lists of crops that grow best in New Jersey, lists of crops that are deer resistant and more.
And, just because you're staying six feet away from everyone else doesn't mean you can't pick up your gardening supplies from local gardening centers. Here’s what gardening centers throughout New Jersey, which have been deemed essential businesses and are still open, are offering to keep patrons safe and their gardens stocked.
Here are some options:
The crisis has more of us doing curbside pickup for dinner, our coffee fix and even our gardening supplies.
Many gardening centers throughout New Jersey are offering curbside pickup, including McNaughton's Garden Center in Cherry Hill. The center allows customers to place their orders over the phone and then an employee will pick it out for them and place it in their car.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, McNaughton's will deliver any order to your South Jersey home. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, they are doing deliveries for bulk orders of items such as soil and mulch.
"We're just taking it day by day," said Michelle Bracken, longtime employee. "We'll be here until they make us close."
Twin Pond Farm Garden Center in Howell is also offering curbside pickup, where employees will prepare an order for customers and then load into their car.
Plus, they will deliver large items, such as soil and manure, for a fee depending on where the customer lives. For some very large orders, they will offer free delivery.
According to Christopher DiGregorio, owner, customers are still coming out to Twin Pond Farm despite the pandemic as they ready their gardens.
"They're excited to get see flowers, get outside and get some fresh air," he said. “It just brings a smile to your face when you see bright pansies. It really is like therapy. "
In addition to curbside pickup, several New Jersey gardening centers also offer parents a way to keep their kids occupied amid school and activity closures - kids ’gardening kits.
J&J Landscaping and Garden Center in Flemington is selling kits which come with instructions and everything a customer would need to make a planter, including a plant, soil, a plastic pot and saucer and a label.
Some of the kit options include a pansy in a plastic pot, lavender in terracotta, pansy and ivy planter, succulent in a plastic pot and jade in terracotta.
Kits range from $ 5- $ 19.99. Payments can be taken over the phone and kits can be left in a designated area for curbside pickup.
READ:5 must-see Central Jersey gardens
"When you're done, you can stand back and see how pretty it looks, which will make you feel better about all of this," said office manager Patti George. "Plus, you don’t have to stand six feet away from a plant."
Goffle Brook Farm & Garden Center in Ridgewood is offering curbside pickup, free delivery on orders over $ 25 and also a new kids ’project every three days through their free and virtual Kids’ Gardening Club.
Kids can sign up online at bit.ly/33OTmTN to get started. Last week’s project focused on growing beans, and families could use beans from home or pick up a free pack of beans from the farm while supplies lasted.
READ:Coronavirus: From closing doors to curbside pickup, here's what our local restaurants are doing
“When we post a project, if there's something we can give them for it, we will always do that,” said Donna Dorsey, farm owner.
Dorsey said that despite coronavirus, Goffle Brook Farm & Garden Center has been busy, plus, they opened a bit earlier than usual this spring - on March 9 rather than March 15 due to the early season.
They offer a large selection of fruits and vegetables, she said, and she has found that many families want to grow their own this year.
READ:Coronavirus: NJ gyms offer free workout videos, nutrition Q&A sessions
"I find that all of this is getting us back to basics - families taking walks together, gardening, etc.," said Dorsey. “I feel that people just want to be healthier and being outside is great anyway. When you can grow your own vegetables, what's better than that? "
If you go
Goffle Brook Farm & Garden Center
Where:425 Goffle Rd, Ridgewood
J&J Landscaping and Garden Center
Where:143 Route 31, Flemington
McNaughton's Garden Center and Landscaping
Where:351 Kresson Rd, Cherry Hill
Twin Pond Farm Garden Center
Where:1459 U.S. 9, Howell
Jenna Intersimone has been a staff member at the USA Today Network New Jersey since 2014, after becoming a blogger-turned-reporter following the creation of her award-winning travel blog. To get unlimited access to her stories about food, drink and fun, please subscribe or activate your digital account today. Contact: [email protected] or @JIntersimone.
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