Fruits, Herbs, & Vegetables

Fruits, Herbs, & Vegetables on Long Island

The process of growing your own food is exciting to just about everyone. We enjoy vegetable gardening too and we want to help you make the most of this outstanding way to enjoy nature’s delicious gifts. From seed to harvest – Decker’s Nursery is here to help and all our advice is free!

Decker’s Nursery participates in the philosophy of sustainable gardening. Growing our own food and purchasing food products from local farmers is a key component of this movement. Conrad Decker has been practicing sustainability methods for decades. To us, it’s common sense and not just a fashionable thing to do. The staff at Decker’s Nursery is happy to advise you with a natural and environmentally friendly approach to gardening. Be sure to read our Expert Advice blog often and watch for the most current recommendations in caring for your garden and landscape.

Also, remember that vegetable gardens can be a full-time commitment or just a way to have fresh tomatoes for your summer meals. Whatever works for you, make it enjoyable and know that you are making a difference. And always rely on Decker’s Nursery for advice, products, and supplies.

Where to Begin

Seed starting begins in February and March. Decide what vegetables and herbs you want to grow and determine how many plants of each species you want to space in the garden. Visit Decker’s Nursery and select the proper seeds and quantities. We have all the supplies to make your garden up and running.

Compost & Soil

Use the compost you’ve been gathering and make sure it’s completely ready and decomposed. Compost and manure are the best way to improve soil structure and fertility. You will have to till the soil and prepare it for planting...the better you till the better the plants. You can begin adding Bone Meal at this stage to increase phosphorous levels.

Outdoor Preparations

Be aware of weather conditions, primarily the temperature and don’t be in a hurry. A hard frost can negate all your seed starting work. Maintain proper spacing and allow room for weeding and harvesting. Use Bone Meal to improve root development for your new plants. Do not fertilize yet. If you didn’t start any plants from seed or need additional plants to fill the garden, keep in mind that Decker’s provides a comprehensive selection of vegetables and herbs. You can always rely on the high quality of our plants.

Water, Fertilize and Weed

Irrigation should be performed with minimal overhead watering. Drip irrigation works very well at minimizing foliar and fruit diseases. Place your stakes and cages soon after the plants are established. Visit Decker’s Nursery to determine the appropriate fertilizer for your garden.

Fruit, Herb, & Vegetable Selection at Decker’s Nursery

Decker’s Nursery has all the supplies to make your garden a success. As your Horticultural Resource Center, Decker’s Nursery offers everything you need including seed starting supplies, seeds (including organic), soils, compost, manure, and amendments, staking and cages, tools, shovels, troughs, spades, rakes, cultivators, and fertilizers. If you’re limited on space we offer elevated gardens for terraces and small yards. Container growing can be just as rewarding as a large garden and we have all the right containers to get you started. And remember, all our advice is free!

Fruit, Herb, and Vegetable Garden FAQs

Humans have long lived off the land, but the modern grocery story has removed most first-world people from the joys of growing their own fruits, vegetables, and herbs. As people increasingly recognize the importance of adding more plants into their diets and in eating fruits and vegetables that are locally grown without pesticides and herbicides, the family garden is coming back into vogue. Whether you are looking for an eco-friendly way to eat, are hoping to save money on your weekly grocery bill or simply want a fun hobby, your Long Island-area fruit, vegetable and herb garden can serve you and your family well for years.

When should I plant herbs in my garden?

If you want your herbs to grow well all season long, it is important that you plant them outdoors at the right time so that they are not injured by late frosts or burned by the hot sun if they are planted too late. The main consideration you must make is how you are growing your plants. For example, if you plan to grow herbs from seeds, you will want to start the plants indoors before transplanting them into your garden. If you are planting herbs from divided perennials or from cuttings, you should plant them late in the spring after the final frost is past. In general, herb seeds should not be planted outdoors until the end of April or the very beginning of May. Once your herbs have a strong footing you can start preparing to harvest and dry your herbs.

What herbs can be planted together?

Companion planting is a unique type of gardening that pairs different plants together to enhance their growth. Some plants also reduce the number of pests that target their neighboring plants. While this idea has long been used for vegetable gardens, it also works quite well in outdoor herb gardens. For example, chives are great herbs to plant next to almost any other herb because they attract pollinators while repelling a variety of garden pests, such as aphids. On the other hand, rosemary does not grow well with many herbs other than sage but complements a variety of vegetables. Mint grows well next to most other herbs because the scent drives pests away, and tarragon improves growth rates of nearby herbs.

What is an herb garden?

An herb garden produces beautiful plants that typically have delicious scents along with unique tastes, making them perfect for home cooks. An herb is generally described as a plant that does not have a woody stem and that can be used in cooking or medicine. Herb gardens began in ancient times as enclosed spaces typically built off the home’s kitchen. Today, herb gardens can be grown indoors or outdoors depending on the climate and on your preferences.

How do you start an herb garden?

If you plan to start your herb garden outdoors, you will first need to choose the ideal space. Most herbs prefer at least partial sunlight throughout the day, making lightly shaded backyard areas good choices. Next, you should consider your soil. If your soil is nutritious, balanced and well-drained, you may be able to plant herbs directly into the ground. However, many people prefer raised beds. When you are ready to plant, choose the herbs that are easiest to grow, you most like to cook with, or that you need for medicines, herb sachets or other decorative or household uses. Finally, you will need to keep your herbs well-watered and harvest them frequently to help them continue to produce.

What herbs can grow outside all year on Long Island?

Many herbs originated in the Mediterranean area and grow best in warm climates where they receive plenty of daytime sunlight. However, if you value fresh herbs even in the winter while living on Long Island, there are some cold-hardy herbs that may work well in your outdoor herb garden. Some of the best options include the following:

  • Mint
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Chives

These five options are actually perennials, meaning that they enter a period of dormancy after the first hard frost and come back to life the next spring. Decker’s Nursery has a variety of plants that are perfectly suited for Long Island winters.

When should I plant vegetables in my garden?

Much like herbs, vegetables must also be planted at the right time in the spring to spare them from winter’s cold and ice. While root vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes, can often be planted earlier than more tender above-ground varieties, it is best to wait until after the middle of April to avoid the final frost of the season. April 13 is usually the latest frost each year on Long Island.

What are the best vegetables to grow in your Long Island garden?

Besides the obvious rule to grow only those vegetables that you are most interested in eating or cooking with, you should also choose vegetables that grow well in the Long Island soil and climate. Because of the USDA growing zone within which Long Island lies, there are very few vegetables that are off-limits. However, the best varieties are cold-weather growers, including the following:

  • Cabbage
  • Lettuces and leafy greens
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Turnips
  • Radishes
  • Beets

How should I care for my vegetable garden?

Before you even plant your vegetables, you should prepare the soil by enriching it with garden soil and ensuring that the pH level is between 6.0 and 7.5. Next, you should either plant your seeds by following the directions on the back of the seed packet or by transplanting vegetable seedlings into your garden. The garden should get at least six hours of sunlight every day. Once your plants are in place, water when necessary, which is typically every couple of days. In addition, you may want to place a fence around your garden to prevent animals from getting to your vegetables before you do.

How far should I space vegetables apart in my garden?

Plants need plenty of space to grow if you want them to produce well-formed vegetables. Each vegetable has a planting range that should be listed on the back of your seed packet. For example, this ranges from 1 inch apart for carrots to 12 inches apart for cabbages.

When should I harvest my vegetables?

One of the main advantages of growing your own vegetables is the added control you have over harvesting. Most commercial growers harvest early, when the vegetables are still under-ripe, in order to allow for travel time. Backyard growers do not have the same limitations. However, the perfect time to harvest vegetables varies from plant to plant. Maturation times can vary anywhere between 80 days for tomatoes to 45 days for Zucchinis.

What fruits are the easiest to grow on Long Island?

If you are ready to branch out into sweeter plants, consider growing fruit trees or bushes. Because the soil in Long Island is acidic, many fruits grow quite well here. Consider starting with the following options.

  • Blueberries
  • Rhubarb
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Apple trees
  • Mulberry trees

What fruits are safe for my pets?

If you have pets that love to scamper around the yard, be sure that your fruit patches are well-enclosed or that you are growing fruits safe for animal consumption. Apples, blueberries, cranberries, peaches, pears, raspberries and strawberries are all safe, but grapes and cherries are not.

Which fruit grows the fastest?

If you are hoping for a quick harvest, you are probably not willing to wait years for your fruit trees to reach adult proportions. However, some trees grow several feet in a single year and are ready to put out blossoms and fruit within a few seasons. On Long Island, the fastest-growing options include the following:

  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Mulberries
  • Cherries