The Seashore Gardener Never Rests


Even in the dormant season of winter, there is much that can be planned and accomplished in your seashore garden before spring. The Garden Club of LBI is dedicated to the improvement of  planting, landscaping, conservation, the environment and the beautification of  our spot on the  New Jersey coast.  And even when it is tempting to curl up with a book and a kitty/pup on your lap, the  Garden Club has ideas for you.

For right now ...

• Try to leave as much brush and long grasses as you can. They provide wonderful winter homes for birds and wildlife. The same goes for dried seedpods. They provide excellent food.

• Set up feeding stations and a bird bath and keep them clean and filled and free of ice and snow. Birds depend on us during the winter. If breaking up ice in your birdbath is challenging, try a lightweight Tupperware bowl you can easily change every day. Also consider adding a bee or insect box and birdhouses as well.   

• After a snowfall, brush snow from evergreens by sweeping upward.  

• After a cozy fire, save wood ashes from your fireplace to use as an additive to your garden soil. Ashes are especially loved by roses.

• During bad weather, avoid rock salt near your garden beds. Use sand, cat litter or an environmentally safe alternative on your steps and walkways.

• Mulch with salt hay, which we have on the bay in abundance. It breaks down into rich soil. 

• Pot up some amaryllis or narcissus bulbs to enjoy indoors. Later they can be moved outside. Directions are on the internet.

Thinking of Spring ...

• Lay out a new garden plan or decide what you want to add to an existing bed. Seed catalogs are filling your mailbox, and many of them have picked up the idea of native planting. (Even the familiar Burpee catalog features a honey bee and a sunflower on the front cover.)

• Think about starting seeds indoors. All you really need are a few containers, a sunny window and some starter soil mix and you will be way ahead by spring with stronger and better plants than you can purchase.  

• Sharpen and oil your planting and pruning tools. Decide if you need new ones. Many companies offer discounts in the off-season.

• When planning what to plant and where, it helps to think what grows here naturally. Not much? What about bayberry and beach grass? Goldenrod, milkweed, beach plum and dusty miller? Cosmos, zinnias and butterfly bushes all are attractive to butterflies and pollinators. The garden club has a book, Gardening at the Shore, and the library carries helpful books on local plants.

• The New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team has a list of 172 plants that should not be planted here because they will take over and choke the native plants that are required by butterflies and pollinators. The garden club is currently backing a bill in the New Jersey Legislature to require that such plants be regulated. To support Bill 3086, contact our representative, Sen. Chris Connors, at 609-693-6700.

• Obtain a soil test for your vegetable plot. You can pick up a test kit at your garden center or contact Rutger’s Cooperative Extension of Ocean Country. Instructions are on the website at soiltest@njaes.rutgers.edu.

Sand, soil, salt, water and wind … you can study these basic elements and discover ways to make them work for you to create a beautiful garden. Let’s get started!

Pam Masturzo and Gillian Rozicer are members of the Garden Club of Long Beach Island.






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