VAN WILGEN GROWN

 

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Bill Pemberton, Growing Manager

There is nothing like walking into our growing greenhouses to see what is going on out there.  It seems that every day the growing team is busy at work planting and tending to different crops.  Billy P is the man that makes the magic happen across the river in and if you know Billy, you know he likes to remain the man hiding behind the scene.  I think he likes to let his plants speak for him.  Billy started here as an intern and that was almost 25 years ago, his dedication to bringing the best plant possible to our stores has made him a well-respected and admired grower.  Throughout the years we have moved greenhouses, bulldozed overgrown brush to expand, moved greenhouses again, fixed fields from flood damage, built new greenhouses, and everything in between.  Today our  range has grown to over 2 acres, our product line is ever so expanding and our passion is still just as strong as the day we came up with the Van Wilgen Grown concept over 20 years ago

Providing you with a plant that we know you will be successful with,  is what we love most about Van Wilgen Grown.  We believe it starts with good genes.  Our selection process for choosing the plants we grow for you is a lengthy and rigorous one.  We receive samples of new varieties that we like to plant and really push them to their limits and see how they bounce back, it is important to us that a plant can handle extremes and not give up at the first sign of difficult times.  There are trial gardens throughout the country where plants are put on display to see how they preform, Van Wilgen’s has only a couple of trusted sources who report back to us their findings.  Finally, we plant them at home too.  We like to see how a plant will look in our yard and how they will last through the seasons.

Only the best ingredients go in to our plants.  The most important thing for a plant is a healthy root system.  Healthy roots start with great soil.  We have several custom blended soils for different crops.  The soil we grow in is made by the same company who blends our Van Wilgen’s potting soils. As soon as we receive a shipment of tiny plants we apply something called Quantum Growth. This is an all organic product packed full of beneficial microorganisms that works with plants to harness as much energy from the sun and soil as possible.   Quantum Growth is a local business founded right here in North Branford and we love the relationship we have with Joe and Emily. Thanks guys!  The best part is, once we apply these microorganisms they stay with the plant and multiply exponentially and you get to reap the reward.  We were able to see a definitive difference just 9 days after applying when we did our first experiment.  Now everything we grow gets an application of Quantum growth.

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Van Wilgen’s annual grow house.

All Van Wilgen Grown hanging baskets include an Organic Basket Liner that helps your baskets stay consistently wet.  The basket liner deflects water into the basket until the soil is wet, it then releases only the excess water it traps when plants start to need it.  We have noticed a decrease in watering needs as well as more consistently blooming plants.  We want you to have the nicest baskets on the block and this makes it a little easier.  Pretty cool!

One thing that we are very proud of is our dedication to not use harsh chemicals.  We are constantly scouting our greenhouses for pest and disease issue and eradicating them early.  It is important to us that we use the most environmentally friendly solution possible.  Just like everything in life the best results start with good ground work.  We rely on our cultural conditions to prevent issues.  We are neat freaks!  It is hard to harbor pathogens when there is nowhere for them to harbor.  We make sure we keep a clean greenhouse and we make sure to take care of those pesky weeds, they harbor most of the pests and diseases that we don’t want.  We do not try to push our little plants too quickly, this stretches the plants and makes them more susceptible to issues.

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Super Bloom Annuals

We have had excellent results and a lot of fun in the recent future using beneficial insects to control populations of “bad” bugs.  We use an assortment of parasitic wasps, nematodes, lady bugs and lacewings bugs to keep bad bug populations to a minimum.  Parasitic Wasp, sounds scary, right?  There’s nothing to be afraid of, these guys attack bad bugs and lay their eggs in the exoskeleton of the eaten “bad” bug.  The eggs hatch creating more wasps that attack the “bad” bugs.  When we say “bad” bugs, we are referring to insects that feed on our precious plants.

We have had excellent results and a lot of fun in the recent future using beneficial insects to control populations of “bad” bugs.  We use an assortment of parasitic wasps, nematodes, lady bugs and lacewings bugs to keep bad bug populations to a minimum.  Parasitic Wasp, sounds scary, right?  There’s nothing to be afraid of, these guys attack bad bugs and lay their eggs in the exoskeleton of the eaten “bad” bug.  The eggs hatch creating more wasps that attack the “bad” bugs.  When we say “bad” bugs, we are referring to insects that feed on our precious plants.

HERBS & VEGGIES

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Van Wilgen Organically Grown Veggies

Fresh Food!  It’s what everyone is talking about.  We have had just the best time growing, no pun intended, our herb and veggie program over the last few years.  We have been adding new flavors to our list are organically grown herbs and vegetables every year. All our herbs and veggies grown in our coco pot are grown in an organic soil mix and fed with organic fertilizers.  The coco pot is environmentally friendly and can be planted right into your garden.  Roots grow right through it!  The most important thing is all of our herbs and vegetables are grown chemical and pesticide free, ensuring a safe crop yield for the whole family. Trust Van Wilgen grown herbs and vegetables for quality plants that are grown locally and organically.  We think it is so important that kids know where food comes from.  Home grown food just tastes better too!

 

TREES & SHRUBS

When it comes to choosing a tree, there is a lot of thought that goes into the decision.  It is an investment, for you and the future.  We have chosen to grow a lineup of trees that we know will succeed in your yard.  We understand that yards aren’t as big as they used to be, we have a great selection of trees that don’t need a big yard.  We focus on easy to grow and maintain trees that will fit in any yard no matter how big or small.  Van Wilgen Grown trees arrive “bare rooted”, which is basically a 6’ tall stick with roots and no soil.  I know this goes against everything you think of when it comes to healthy trees.  We carefully and methodically root prune each tree then dip into Quantum Growth.  At that point every tree is hand potted and then put in our field.  We support the top of the tree until it can begin to grow roots and support itself up.  Throughout the summer we fertilize and prune multiple times to get the best shape and branching, that ground work can be seen for the rest of the trees life.  The best part about Van Wilgen Grown trees is that they are grown in containers which is much easier to manage.  Container trees have a more fibrous root system and can establish quicker then balled and burlap (B&B) trees.  Look for our large Van Wilgen grown tag.  Check out our VW grown Limelight Hydrangea trees, they are so showy when they are in full bloom late summer.  Definitely one of our favorite!

PERENNIALS

We keep preaching about healthy roots make healthy plants.  We put our money where our mouth is and we plant over half of our perennials in late summer for next year.  We do this so that the plants grow for the rest of the season and put their roots down.  We cut them back a few times to get them to branch out and get stronger.  Finally we tuck them in for the winter in a cozy greenhouse with barely any heat.  The results, explosive plants in spring.  The extensive root system they have already established lets them focus on growing and flowering.  It’s impressive!  Our custom made tag is a great tool for you as well.  There are icons that let you know if the plant is deer resistant, good for cutting, if it attracts butterflies and more.  Look to our tags for a helpful picture and guide.  We carefully select the varieties of perennials that we grow, only the toughest and most reliable make the cut.

 

CHRISTMAS TREES

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Our christmas tree fields.

We’ve had everything from snowball fights, dogs pulling trees and engagements in our Christmas Tree field.  Every year it’s a treat to see families make you memories in our tree fields.  We recently added 3,000 little Fraser Fir seedlings to the huge hill you see from the garden center.  If I have to say so, we did a pretty good job keeping the rows straight. How long does it take for a tree to grow?  Every spring we plant small 12-18” seedlings and in 8-10 years you will be able start picking those trees to take home with you.  How do you get a perfect Christmas tree?  Every year we spend time carefully pruning our trees so they have the best shape possible.  We mow the fields at least 3 times a year, keeping weeds free from around the trees allows them to grow more uniform and reduced rick of pests and disease.  Our final mow is in November, we brush hog between the rows to make it easier to walk around the field.  What types of trees does Van Wilgen grow? Fraser Fir, Douglas Fir, Blue Spruce and Turkish Fir.  Turkish Fir is recently new to our Christmas tree field.  We have been monitoring and we really like the way these guys are finishing.  They take a few years to get established and really grow outward and around year 4 they start really pushing upwards.  We like them because they look similar to a Fraser fir with just a little longer of a needle.  They have strong dense branching so you can hang heavy ornaments on them their shape is very conical without much pruning.  We think this is going to be a really great Christmas Tree, we hope you think so too.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

How do we get the tree to the car?  We consider ourselves a full service Christmas Tree farm.  We are glad to lend a hand in any way possible.  We’ll hand you a saw when you arrive but if you need a hand, we will gladly cut a tree down for you.  Tractors are running all day circling the field with hay wagons to pick up your tree.  Your tree makes the journey to the bailer where we wrap the tree in netting and from that point heads to the parking lot where we even tie it to your car.  If you have the family tradition of doing all the work yourself, we understand, just know we are here is you need us.   Hope to see you next year picking out your tree!

William Pemberton, Growing Manager, BillyP@vanwilgens.com • 203-488-2110 X108• CANP Certified