The Q&A Archives: Nj Pine Barrens

Question: I recently moved to the New Jersey Pine Barrens but I know that I will find it difficult to grow non-native plants in this soil. The soil here is not really soil at all, it's sand. I'm told that the sand here is 50- 100ft deep with a 3- 5 inch layer of composted leaves and wood on top. The leaves are Oak, Sasafras, and vairous native pine needles, which makes the mix very acid. The water is quite pure but it is brown and called "cedar water". Tanic acid from the composted leaves on the forest floor makes the water brown and acidic like the soil. Great for cranberries and blue berries.

The native plants are beautiful in their natural setting but rather bland as far as flowerings. Have you suggestions on what kind of flowering perennials can surivive and look good under these conditions?

Answer: You are correct in that the pine barrens are a very special area in terms of gardening possibilities. Rather than trying to amend the soil to suit a wider range of plants, you might consider building raised beds to widen your selection to include the more traditional flowering plants. For more specific suggestions of plants to try in the native soil, I would suggest you contact your local county extension because they will have first hand experience with it. Their telephone number is 265-5051.

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