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Gardener News

Proudly Serving the Agricultural, Gardening, Landscaping & Nursery Communities

June 2019


TAKE ONE No. 194

Turfgrass Serves as a Natural Filter for the Environment. Keep it Safe! By Tom Castronovo Executive Editor Turfrass is a wonderful thing. I’ve been trying to cut mine twice a week because it has been growing so fast. I hope the rain slows up and the soil dries up a bit in June. First, let me tell you why turfgrass is wonderful. According to the Maryland Agricultural Statistics Service, turfgrass in the United States traps an estimated 12 million tons of dust and dirt released annually into the atmosphere. Our air is cleansed by plants through the process of photosynthesis. Green plants take in carbon dioxide and water and use the energy from sunlight in photosynthesis, which produces carbohydrates for the plant to live on and releases the true breath of life ― pure oxygen. A turfgrass area 50 feet by 50 feet produces enough oxygen to meet the everyday needs of a family of four. Each acre of grass produces enough oxygen for 64 people a day. Turfgrassed surfaces reduce temperature extremes by absorbing the sun’s heat during the day and releasing it slowly in the evening, thus moderating temperature. Turfgrass cools itself and its surroundings by the evapotranspiration process. Each turfgrass blade acts as an evaporative cooler. An acre of turfgrass on a summer day will lose about 2,400 gallons of water through evaporation and transpiration to the atmosphere. A study conducted by Rutgers NJAES lists turfgrass as a major land cover in New Jersey, accounting for 880,542 acres and making up 18 percent of the state’s total land area. Homeowners accounted (Cont. on Page 16)

Turfgrass discharged onto a public roadway creating a safety hazard.

Tom Castronovo/Photo

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4 June 2019 I’ve frequently said that one of the greatest strengths of New Jersey agriculture is its ability to adapt to changing markets and to re-invent itself when the need arises. The wide diversity of farm operations in the Garden State has enabled it to move from decade to decade with a revolving cast of characters as the top sectors of the state’s agricultural economy. From poultry to dairy, to vegetables and fruits, to the current largest sector, nursery/ greenhouse/sod, the story of New Jersey agriculture in the 20th and 21st centuries has been one of change and adaptation. That ability to change as the market dictates, along with a close-in market of more than 50 million people in one of the nation’s most affluent regions, the Northeast corridor, has meant that farmers facing challenges when producing one crop or commodity can look to diversify in order to stay profitable. The most recent evidence of New Jersey agriculture’s ability to respond to challenges can be seen in the latest USDA Census of Agriculture, the comprehensive nationwide look at agriculture’s progress or decline NJ Dept. of Agriculture By Douglas H. Fisher Secretary of Agriculture

New Jersey Fares Well in Latest U.S. Agricultural Census that is conducted every five years. (Oddly, the Census of Agriculture, which started in 1840, pre-dates the establishment of the USDA, which was created by President Lincoln in 1862.) The results of the latest Census, the information for which the USDA gathered throughout 2017, were released in earlyApril, and they showed New Jersey bucking a number of trends that are causing concern among agricultural officials in other states. For starters, the number of farms in New Jersey increased by more than 800 since the previous Ag Census was carried out in 2012, from just over 9,000 farms to the current 9,883. To be counted as a farm in the Ag Census, a property must have sold, or have the potential to sell, $1,000 worth of agricultural

products. The “potential to sell” comes into play for farms like Christmas tree operations, where trees typically take seven years to grow to a height that consumers will buy. The latest Ag Census also showed that the amount of land in farms in this state rose by almost 20,000 acres, to more than 734,000 acres. That contrasts sharply to the national trend, in which the number of farms decreased by 3.2 percent and the acreage devoted to agriculture shrunk by 1.6 percent. In keeping with the tradition of adaption and change, New Jersey is also well ahead of the national average of women being the primary operators of farms. In New Jersey, that is 40 percent of all farms, whereas the national average is 27 percent. Of course, the strength of a

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state’s agricultural industry is not only in the number of farms and amount of land in agricultural production, but also can be judged largely on the value of the farm products it creates. Again, the good news in New Jersey is that farmgate sales rose between 2012 and 2017, from just over $1 billion to nearly $1.1 billion, increasing by roughly $100 million. Among the leaders in gains for farmgate value were: nursery/greenhouse/sod, with sales at almost $500 million, which is $93 million more than in the 2012 Census; fruits and vegetables, up $27 million to almost $364 million; the equine sector, with an increase of about $10 million; and hay/grain, also up by about $10 million. One of the very few downsides for New Jersey agriculture in the Census report was that net farm

income decreased by just over 1 percent, which was attributed to increases in farm operating expenses. An additional update with more detailed information is slated to be released by the USDA on May 30, with Congressional district profiles and rankings set to be made available in late-June. As New Jersey’s Secretary of Agriculture, it is gratifying to know that so many leading indicators of our state’s agricultural health have shown improvement over the past five years. Our agricultural industry cannot rest on its laurels, but these independently verified numbers encourage us that New Jersey’s farm industry is on the right track. Editor’s Note: Douglas H. Fisher is New Jersey’s Secretary of Agriculture. He is the department’s executive officer, secretary to the State Board of Agriculture and a member of the Governor’s cabinet. Secretary Fisher fulfills executive, management and administrative duties prescribed by law, executive order or gubernatorial direction. He can be reached at 609.292.3976. For more info, please visit: http://

June 2019 5

6 June 2019


Phillip Vines Receives Prestigious Musser Award of Excellence for Turfgrass Research

Phillip Vines, doctoral candidate in plant breeding and genomics at Rutgers School of Graduate Studies, has been selected the winner of the 2019 Award of Excellence from the Musser International Turfgrass Foundation. The award is given to outstanding doctoral candidates who, in the final phase of their graduate studies, demonstrate overall excellence throughout their doctoral program in turfgrass research, and comes with a grant of $35,000 from the foundation. In making the announcement, Musser International Turfgrass Foundation President Frank Dobie said, “The application qualifications are very high for the doctoral candidates that apply for the Foundation’s Award of Excellence, so all of the applicants are of the highest caliber. We strive to select the one candidate that we feel is the best of the best.” “It is an extreme honor to be selected for this prestigious award,” said Vines. “The list of past recipients is an incredible collection of leading scientists in our field. I am excited about my future in the turfgrass industry and my goal is to exemplify the true meaning of the Award of Excellence, which was first demonstrated by Professor Musser.” Vines wrote his dissertation on “Molecular Breeding Tools for Improving Morphological Traits and Biotic and Abiotic Stress Responses in Perennial Ryegrass.” After graduation, he plans to become an assistant professor of plant breeding where he can focus on developing improved turfgrass cultivars for use throughout the world. He completed a bachelor’s degree in agronomy from Mississippi State University and a master’s degree in plant pathology from Mississippi State University. Additionally, he received an additional master’s degree in statistics from Rutgers. The criteria for selecting award recipients for the Musser Award of Excellence include graduate work, academic record, dissertation, publications, leadership and extracurricular activities. To date, awards have been granted to doctoral students from universities including; Arizona, Auburn, Cornell, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina State, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Michigan State, Rutgers, Tennessee and Texas A&M. To learn more about Professor H. Burton Musser, the foundation’s history and past recipients of the award, visit www.

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Congratulations to twenty local residents who residents became certified as Rutgers Master Gardeners of Ocean County. The graduation was recently held at the Clarion Hotel in Toms River. The Graduates’ certificates were presented by Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, The Ocean County liaison for the Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) Department.  The graduates completed 60 hours of instruction provided, by Rutgers faculty and staff at the (RCE) Rutgers Cooperative Extension in Ocean County Office, along with volunteering 60 hours of their time to Ocean County.  The graduates now join our 180 existing Certified Rutgers Master Gardeners, who provide researched based home horticultural information to our residents. The graduates are:  Marguerite Boneski, Cheryl Clearo, Richard End, James Hogan, Thomas Leathem, Cynthia Light, Anna McPeek, Linda Marina, Kathy Mazzarella, Bart Mazzei, Suellen Perlmutter, Susan Riis, Linda Rodriguez, Karen Ryder, and Cynthia Turner. The Rutgers Master Gardeners of Ocean County is a volunteer educational outreach program of Rutgers Cooperative Extension.  Master Gardeners volunteer in a variety of programs including answering home horticulture questions, tick ID, speakers bureau, plan ID, etc.  Residents can call the Helpline, 732-349-1245, Monday through Friday 9:00 AM-12:00 Noon.  For more information, visit our website at

From the Director’s Desk

Rutgers Outreach Provided by Brian Schilling Director

Too Much of Everything Is Just Enough If you haven’t noticed, it is raining again. A quick look at the website of our New Jersey State Climatologist ( indicates that 10 of the last 12 months have been dominated by above-average rainfall totals. Statewide averages and trends notwithstanding, locally heavy downpours and high-intensity storms have left us with super-saturated soils in many locations. Just this past fall has seen the eighth-wettest September on record, and the second-wettest November (based on observations dating back to 1895). The question you may be asking is: what is the impact of our weather trends on the health and prosperity of our plants? “Wet feet” is common vernacular for a soil condition that affects plant species intolerant of wet growing conditions. “Wet feet” occurs when soils become saturated with water. Water fills the pore spaces between soil particles, which displaces available oxygen, making the root zone anoxic. All roots require oxygen to function well—some plants need more than others—but, when oxygen is deficient, roots will suffocate, function poorly, or fail outright. Plants with dysfunctional roots ultimately perform poorly, decline, and may eventually die. The presence of wet, soggy soils, or puddles on the soil surface after heavy rains are obvious indicators of “wet feet.” Algae, cyanobacteria, or moss growing on soil surfaces can also be indicative of wet sites. Anoxic soils often smell foul as populations of soil bacteria shift to those that thrive on low oxygen sites. They may produce sulfur as a byproduct of their metabolic processes and can also produce toxic compounds that further limit root growth. Even when the soil is dry, the swamp smell of a water-logged soil is unmistakable. Plants affected by “wet feet” may decline quickly or gradually over several months or years. Common symptoms include: wilting, yellowing, and browning of foliage; leaf tip scorch and premature defoliation; twig or branch dieback; blackening of roots and soils; and death, decline, and reduced root biomass. Be aware that similar above-ground symptoms can occur as a result of other abiotic factors, such as heat and drought, freezing, transplant, or poor planting technique. Furthermore, insect or disease problems can also look the same. The weather is the obvious suspect in diagnosing “wet feet,” but knowledge of the site, drainage, and irrigation practices is also helpful. Wet soils also provide ideal conditions for many root and crown rot pathogens. Water molds, such as Phytophthora and Pythium thrive in wet soils. Roots damaged by wet soils may also be colonized by fungi like Armillaria and Rhizoctonia. Accurate identification of root-infecting pathogens requires at least a microscope, and often needs special isolation or testing techniques that would only be available in a laboratory setting. So, how do you know for sure? Wet feet or disease? Abiotic stress or disease agent? Since 1991, the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station and Rutgers Cooperative Extension have maintained the Rutgers Plant Diagnostic Laboratory to assist with the plant health diagnostic needs of New Jersey residents. Our mission is to provide accurate and timely diagnosis of plant problems. The Plant Diagnostic Laboratory is permanently staffed with two diagnosticians trained in entomology and plant pathology. Our staff works in cooperation with other experts within Rutgers University. We also cooperate, through the National Plant Diagnostic Network, with diagnosticians at other land-grant universities, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, and with USDAAnimal and Plant Health Inspection Service-Plant Protection and Quarantine (APHIS-PPQ). Sampling and submission instructions, including the services provided, fees, and submission forms, can be found on our website: Samples can be mailed or dropped at the lab on the Rutgers George H. Cook campus in New Brunswick. Our contact information, mailing addresses, and driving directions are also on the website. Each sample must be accompanied by the appropriate submission form and payment. A quality sample is very important in getting an accurate diagnosis. If the problem is the canopy of a tree, a twig or a branch with leaves attached should be sent. If the problem is in the roots, the roots must be sent. The best samples are those plants and plant parts that are in active decline. When possible, whole plants are always best. Photographs are a great way of sharing information and the inclusion of photographs with the sample (or by email) is strongly encouraged. A completed submission form is essential. The more information we have, the better we can address the problem. The Plant Diagnostic Laboratory responds by email and every client receives an up-to-date, evidence-based, control solution. We make every attempt to include all cultural, biological, and chemical options for each situation. Please call the laboratory staff at 732-932-9140 if you have any questions. Editor’s Note: This month’s column is written by Richard Buckley, Director of the Rutgers Plant Diagnostic Laboratory. Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station provides soil testing and plant diagnostic services to residents of New Jersey.


June 2019 7

A Plant for Many Generations Some plants are a mere “flash in the pan,” appearing at nurseries for one season, only to vanish from shelves and catalogues, never to be seen again. Other plants are perennial favorites, relished not only by us and our parents, but also by our grandparents and their parents before them. Peony, botanically named Paeonia, is one such timeless beauty. I vividly remember the Peonies that lined my grandparents’ driveway, and as I was contemplating a design last summer at Rutgers Gardens, that memory served as the inspiration for a sweeping new planting. Paeonia is the sole member of the family Paeoniaceae, which features around 33 species native to Asia, Europe and Western North America. The Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (17071778) officially ascribed the genus name to the plant in 1753. Rooted in Greek mythology, Paeon was the physician of the

Greek gods and, as the story is told, he was responsible for discovering the medicinal qualities of Peonies. Paeonia officinalis is the type or model Peony to which all the other species are compared and was also described by Linnaeus. It is native to France, Germany and Italy, and was well renowned for its curative properties in the treatment of epilepsy and uncontrollable convulsions. In a similar vein, the Chinese native Paeonia lactiflora was a staple in ancient Chinese medicine for reducing inflammation and arthritis. Once again, it was described by Linnaeus in 1753 and is a species with many gardenworthy selections. Clearly, Peonies are best known for their fragrant flowers and Paeonia lactiflora is certainly responsible for a good number of selections. The species epithet literally means milk-white flower, but the blooms also come in pink, red and bicolor forms. Adding to the dizzying array of colors are the number of forms available, with the

flowers broken into categories, based upon the arrangement of the petals, stamens and carpels. Lured by the promise of fuller flowers, the Double-Flowered forms are the most popular with gardeners. The flowers are large, billowy and all too often far too heavy for the stem to support, especially during heavy rains when the stems collapse under the floral weight. As a child, I took great delight in running the lawnmower over flowers laying in harm’s way as the resulting shower of petals shooting forth from the mower deck was ever so colorful. Somehow, my mother never shared my glee. With time, I came to the realization that the single flower forms, which feature one to two rows of petals and a central boss of yellow anthers, were just as attractive and far more weather tolerant. One of the other fascinating properties of Peony flowers are the extrafloral nectaries. Nectaries contain sugarrich fluids intended to attract pollinators. On Peonies, the nectaries are also located on

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the calyx or leafy bracts that surround the flower bud, with the intended purpose of attracting ants! Although this trait may not appeal to many gardeners, the ants serve to protect the flower as well as their food source from insects that could potentially damage the flower bud or flower. Simply genius! Most Peonies grow to 24 to 48 inches tall and are herbaceous, dying to the ground in lateautumn. The eight- to 12-inchlong by four- to six-inch-wide foliage is compound, with each leaf consisting of nine small leaflets appearing along a central stem or rachis. The leaflets are glossy and dark green in color with each leaflet deeply lobbed. Most species prefer full sun and welldrained soils. Although Peonies rarely require division, the thick tuberous roots are best lifted and separated in early-September if division is desired. When replanting the roots, make certain that the large “eyes” or buds for the ensuing year’s stems are located within one inch of the surface to ensure

flowering. In addition to being deerresistant, Peonies provide flowers, fragrance, neat foliage and great structure to the garden – qualities many gardeners continue to seek. Hopefully generations to come will continue to appreciate this plant, allowing more burgeoning young gardeners to aim their lawnmowers at collapsed flowers and begin their humble path to becoming a gardener. Editor’s Note: Bruce Crawford is a lover of plants since birth; is the managing director of the Rutgers Gardens, a 180-acre outdoor teaching classroom, horticultural research facility and arboretum; an adjunct professor in Landscape Architecture at the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences; regularly participates in the Rutgers – Continuing Education Program; and past-president of the Garden State Gardens Consortium. He can be reached at (732) 932-8451. For more information, please visit

Rutgers Cooperative Extension Phone Directory Atlantic County Phone: 609-625-0056 Bergen County Phone: 201-336-6780 Burlington County Phone: 609-265-5050 Camden County Phone: 856 216 7130 Cape May County Phone: 609-465-5115 Cumberland County Phone: 856-451-2800 Essex County Phone: 973-228-2210 Gloucester County Phone: 856-224-8040 Hudson County Phone: 201-915-1399 Hunterdon County Phone: 908-788-1339 Mercer County Phone: 609-989-6830

Middlesex County Phone: 732-398-5260 Monmouth County Phone: 732-431-7260 Morris County Phone: 973-285-8300 Ocean County Phone:732-349-1246 Passaic County Phone: 973-305-5740 Salem County Phone: 856-769-0090 Somerset County Phone: 908-526-6293 Sussex County Phone: 973-948-3040 Union County Phone: 908-654-9854 Warren County Phone: 908-475-6505

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Around The Garden By Tom Castronovo Gardener News

From time-to-time I like to revisit the American Flag In the United States, Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress. Every year, I line the curb with American flags to celebrate this day. It brings me so much pride and joy. When I began the yearly tradition of lining the curb with American flags in the neighborhood, I was the only one. Since that inspirational day, several of my neighbors have joined the annual flag placement. About 12 inches in from the Belgium block, every four feet or so I place a small flag on a wooden staff. It looks really nice now that almost every house on the street does it. I guess Flag Day means a lot to my neighbors as well. I also have a flag in my garden. It towers over my perennials quite nicely. After 9/11, I noticed all of the overpasses on Interstate 78 leading to and from New York City have had flags affixed to the fences facing the highway. God Bless the folks who maintain them. I never see them torn or faded. It’s almost like a ghost takes care of them because you never see anyone tending to them. The American flag means so much to a lot of people. I live in Somerset County, and in my county, Flag Day is also celebrated in a big way. On a tiny road called Middlebrook in Bridgewater, Somerset County, N.J., not too far from me, is a piece of land that General George Washington camped at with the Continental Army. On this spot, it is largely conceded that it was at the Middlebrook encampment that the first official flag of the United States was unfurled, after a law to adopt a national flag had been passed by Congress on June 14, 1777. Because the Continental Army was encamped in the Middlebrook area on June 14 and several successive weeks in 1777, this flag is now flown at the Washington Camp Ground on Middlebrook Road, both day and night, by special permission of a formal resolution of the United States Congress. Flying near the wood line with two cannons flanking is a majestic 13-starred

flag that gracefully dances in the wind. The property sits on the north side of the road with two different signs bearing descriptions of the historic events that happened there. One sign describes the Act of Congress allowing the flag to be flown 24 hours each day without being lit, and the other sign describes Washington’s encampment. When Christine Todd Wittman was Governor of the great state of New Jersey, I remember visiting the encampment when she read the Declaration of Independence to a large crowd of people on July 4. This reading event has been commemorated annually since 1889 on July 4 with a changing of the flag, a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and the delivery of a historical address at the campground. Research has told me that Francis Hopkinson, a Delegate to Congress from New Jersey and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, deserves recognition for designing the American flag. Who would have guessed that New Jersey had such a huge influence on Old Glory? And still does. As a kid I remembered standing up in my classroom every morning saying the Pledge of Allegiance. I pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all. Who would have known that the first official flag of the United States was unfurled in yes, New Jersey, aka, the Garden State? I recently took a trip back to the Middlebrook Campground. Boy, was I surprised! The grass in the campground was well over 12 inches high. The landscape beds were overrun with weeds. Needless to say, I was disgusted that a historical site like this is allowed to look like a run-down, neglected lot. I sure hope that by June 14, the property is cleaned up a bit and restored to the glory it deserves. No disrespect. I wonder if I stood on the same spot as General George Washington.

Editor’s Note: Tom Castronovo is executive editor and publisher of Gardener News. Tom’s lifelong interest in gardening and passion for agriculture, environmental stewardship, gardening and landscaping, led to the founding of the Gardener News, which germinated in April 2003 and continues to bloom today. He is also dedicated to providing inspiration, and education to the agricultural, gardening and landscaping communities through this newspaper and

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10 June 2019

2019 Total Pro Expo Becomes Northeast’s Industry-Leading Expo & Conference with 2020 Plans Already Underway Significant benefits were realized at the 2019 TOTAL PRO – Professional Landscape, Nursery & Hardscape Expo & Conference this past January by both exhibiting companies and the industry professionals attending. Plans are already underway to build on this success in 2020, as Total Pro Expo’s second annual expo & conference is scheduled for January 28-29th. Total Pro Expo, held at the New Jersey Convention Center, in Edison, NJ, featured over 150 industry suppliers & service companies in addition to over 45 educational sessions focused on professionals working in the landscape, hardscape and green industries. This event addresses the interests of landscape design and maintenance professionals, public works crews, golf course groundskeepers, arborists and hardscape installers. These businesses are a vital segment of the economy in the tristate New York-New Jersey-Pennsylvania region, which ranks nationally as one of the strongest markets for the green trades. Kevin McLaughlin, Event Director, of MAC Expos based in Spring Lake, NJ commented that “the first-time event went off without a hitch – exhibit space sold out, attendance exceeded our expectations and post event feedback has been through the roof!”

On March 30, an observer working out of the Apple Pie Hill fire tower reported a column of smoke emanating from an area in the Pine Barrens known as Spring Hill. Within minutes, the same observer reported seeing flames. When the fire was finally contained after about 30 hours, over 11,000 acres were destroyed. If it wasn’t for the hard work of hundreds of brave firefighters and other support personnel, plus favorable weather and a strong dose of luck, this fire could have been catastrophic. Most experts agreed, New Jersey dodged a major bullet. This potential disaster caught the attention of our legislators and underscored the dire need for a comprehensive state forest management plan. About two weeks after the fire, the Lee family (sixthgeneration cranberry growers from Chatsworth), teamed up with the New Jersey Forest Service, New Jersey Audubon Society, and a professional forester to organize a Forestry Ecology Tour. Its purpose was to educate members of the government about the importance of forestry management. With the scent of smoke still lingering in the air, the participants visited the site of the fire, and among

Presented by MAC Expos in cooperation with the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association (NJNLA), featured speakers included representatives of Proven Winners and Bailey Nurseries, two industry leaders that have made branded plants a key part of landscape merchandising. Proven Winners’ Tom Ewing and Bailey’s Natalia Hamill explained how breeding programs and marketing campaigns have captured consumer interest and dollars in a competitive field. Additional topics included customized tracks for Pesticide Recertification, Business Development Tools and classes in Spanish. The conference also offered soughtafter LTE/LTCO recertification credits and hardscape hands-on demonstrations that gave attendees a practical and educational view on the industry’s top-selling trends and ICPI (Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute) credits. Interested exhibitors are urged to reserve their booth space as soon as possible. “As we stand right now, exhibit space reservations are well ahead of schedule and planning for the programming of the educational sessions are well under way. We expect the event to grow by 25% year over year.” added McLaughlin. Learn more at

NJ Agricultural Society By Al Murray Executive Director

When A Precious Resource Becomes a Hazard

the charred landscape learned about the New Jersey Forest Fire Service. The tour also made stops to see examples of unmanaged forests full of dense underbrush, fallen trees, and thick carpets of dried pine needles – all serving as a potential tinderbox. Sections of the forest that were well managed contrasted sharply as they thrived in good sunlight and teamed with native plants and bushes to support a healthy eco-system. Usually, we think of wildfires as a Western states problem. Unfortunately, New Jersey has the potential to surpass all these fires in terms of destruction, property damage and loss of life. Although not usually associated with the urbanized East, forest fires are a common occurrence in the Pine Barrens - a heavily forested area encompassing more than seven counties. Many native plants in this unique

ecosystem rely on fire for part of their reproductive cycle, and fire helps control invasive insects and plants. Fire has been a major factor in New Jersey’s environment since prehistoric times. Native Americans long knew that burning contributed to the overall health of the forest. In 1978, the Pinelands Natural Reserve protected over 1.1 million acres from development, and the controlled fires, lumbering operations and other techniques used to manage the Pine Barrens fell victim to strict preservation laws. Consequently, this area has remained relatively untouched for decades, thus fostering a giant tinderbox of unmanaged forest surrounded by millions of people living in communities within and around the reserve. Periodically, the state’s Office of Emergency Management creates a Hazard Mitigation Plan. This

report identifies potential natural and human-caused hazards based on current science and research. The plan outlines a strategy to reduce risks and prioritizes project funding. The most recent plan published in 2014 compared the Pinelands to “an inch of gasoline covering all of south and central New Jersey.” It was also cited as “one of the most hazardous wildland fuel types in the nation.” New Jersey’s high population density has created land use pressures, bringing more development to rural areas. More people living near the forest multiplies the danger of even the smallest fire. One of the largest fires in the Pine Barrens occurred in 1963. This two-day inferno destroyed approximately 193,000 acres in an area roughly paralleling Long Beach Island to Atlantic City. Miraculously only seven people were killed,

but hundreds of buildings and homes were destroyed. In 2019, a similar fire could yield far deadlier consequences. An April 2016 Rolling Stone magazine story highlighted the seriousness of New Jersey’s situation. The story quotes Stephen Pyne, a fire-ecology professor at Arizona State University. He said, “Sooner or later, southern New Jersey will know the fire equivalent of Hurricane Sandy, the cost could be in the billions. The loss of life could be unthinkable.” A comprehensive state forest management plan is needed now more than ever. As various government officials surveyed the aftermath of the Spring Hill fire, I hope the tour “sparked” the necessary conversation to begin addressing this serious issue. Editor’s Note: Al Murray is the Executive Director of the New Jersey Agricultural Society. Established in 1781, the Society is New Jersey's oldest organization whose purpose is to advocate, educate and promote on behalf of New Jersey's agricultural industry. Mr. Murray previously spent his entire career at the NJ Department of Agriculture, serving as the Assistant Secretary. He can be reached at njagriculturalsociety@ Last summer, I was approached by a very good customer to solve a problem at one of her commercial properties. It seems, over the years, attempts to have a colorful, durable plant survive being embedded within Belgian Block, concrete and surrounded by steel fencing had not gone as planned. Add to this equation that there is no irrigation and there are guard dogs overseeing the facility at night and you can begin to understand her problem. Large dogs, capable of keeping those unwanted at bay, all the while being playful and occasionally relieving themselves as needed. This was an exceptional set of circumstances. Houttuynia, also known as fish mint, rainbow plant, chameleon plant, heart leaf, fish wort and Chinese lizard tail, Houttuynia cordata, is one of those “love it or hate it plants”! There really is no middle ground with this plant and people’s opinions of it are extreme. It is a rhizomatous perennial that typically grows 12 to 15 inches tall and spreads indefinitely and certainly vigorously if deliberate attempts to contain it are not managed. Capable of excelling

June 2019 11 Unique Plants By Bob LaHoff Nursery Specialist

Problem Solving with an Invasive? Researching some of the nitty restricted root zone area. Areas

in wet areas, our customer’s set of circumstances again solidified my endorsement to use this plant. It seemed her neighbor’s runoff dumped directly into this particular part of her property, keeping the area constantly wet. Cordate, dark blue-green leaves edged with red are typical within the species. Houttuynia’s foliage is aromatic when bruised and, again, this attribute is either admired or there is a strong abhorrence toward it. So much so that some refer to it as a pungent, diesel smell, I don’t get that. For me it’s more of a pungent citrus smell. Most academic teachings suggest that the greenish-white flower spikes are subtended by the showier petal like bracts, and I would agree. The flowers of Houttuynia appear in late-spring/ early-summer.

gritty for this article, I learned that the genus name honors Martin Houttuyn (1720-1794), a Dutch naturalist and physician. My favorite cultivar, and yes I do like this plant and don’t mind its bruised foliage smell, is “Chameleon.” “Chameleon,” incidentally, is synonymous with “Court Jester,” “Tricolor,” and “Variegata.” Green leaves, variegated with shades of red, pink, yellow and white, hold on to bright red stems. And while tolerant of shade, Houttuynia’s markings look better in full sun to part shade. And with no serious insect or disease problems, why would anyone not like this plant? Well… in a word, Invasive! It has been suggested that the best cultural practice to contain Houttuynia is to place it in a

bounded by sidewalk and Belgian Block are best. Sound familiar? Underground spreading rhizomes are hard to get rid of and it smiles back at many herbicide attempts. Houttuynia is “hardy” in zones 5-8 and is native to Japan, Asia and the Himalayas. Commonly grown as a leaf vegetable and used as a fresh herbal garnish in China and Vietnam, its nickname “fish mint” describes its unusual “fishy” taste. India uses components of Houttuynia in salads and to dress up cooked vegetables. They call it ja myrdoh. Additionally, India grinds the tender shoots into chutneys, chilies and tamarind. Traditional Chinese medicine has worked with Houttuynia to try and treat SARS and various other disorders. Japan and Korea use

the dried leaves of Houttuynia as a tea. This herbaceous, perennial groundcover may have the doctrinaires of the world scratching their heads, perplexed as to how I could endorse such a plant. Truth is, New Jersey has not said I can’t sell this plant, yet, and I strongly believe in the credo “right plant, right place.” Given the extraordinary set of circumstances associated with the commercial property, Houttuynia just seemed to fit. Houttuynia’s aggressiveness, perseverance and ability to survive almost anywhere was what I was counting on, not to mention the amazing color of “Chameleon” Problem solved. Editor’s Note: Bob LaHoff is co-owner of Hall’s Garden Center and Florist in Union County, a member of the Union County Board of Agriculture, the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association, ReevesReed Arboretum Buildings and Grounds Committee, a lifetime member of the Conifer Society and past member of the retail council for Monrovia Growers. He can be reached at (908) 665-0331.

Why Grow Wild Rhododendrons? By Hubert Ling Why grow plain white or pink wild rhododendrons in your yard when there are so many “superior” purple, red, orange, yellow, or multicolor rhododendrons available? Well, just because a commercial rhododendron has the latest hot color does not make it a superior plant, especially in terms of hardiness or ecological importance. Wild rhododendron or rosebay rhododendron, Rhododendron maximum, has adapted to the New Jersey environment for eons. It is one of the largest and hardiest rhododendrons and is an important member of the natural New Jersey community in balance with all the other plants and animals of the state. Given the proper conditions, it can repopulate areas of the state where we have carelessly stripped away the natural vegetation and depleted our native wildlife.

Rhododendron maximum is the state flower of West Virginia and wild rhododendron and mountain laurel are the two most spectacular and common shrubs of the Southern Appalachians. In earlier times, wild rhododendron thickets provided runoff protection for the banks of creeks and rivers of Northeastern, Central, and Southern U.S. These thickets at the same time provided den sites for black bear, and escape cover for bear, deer, grouse, rabbits, and songbirds. In addition, wild rhododendron is used as emergency food for deer, beavers, wild turkeys, grouse, and rabbits. However, all parts of wild rhododendron are highly toxic and even fatal to people and many animals, such as cattle, sheep and horses. This toxicity was used by the Cherokee to produce an external suave: to prevent wound infection and as a treatment for rheumatism and muscle soreness. Wild rhododendron blooms in our area in late-June and

early-July; thus, if you are growing several types of rhododendron you can extend your blooming season. Our native plants are typically five to 15 feet tall, but plants are known to extend to 30 feet or more in the heart of a thriving thicket down south. The two-inch flowers are trumpet-shaped and frequently have orange or olive green spots in the throat; clusters of one or two dozen flowers will form a hemisphere six to eight inches wide, which makes a very showy display. Bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds are attracted to the pollen and nectar. Although the plants can tolerate deep shade, it appears that only branches which receive some sunlight will bloom. Our cold-hardy native rhododendron grows best in rich, cool, shady, moist, acidic soil. It does not like exposure to strong winter winds and the leaves will roll up when the temperatures dip below 25 degrees F, possibly to reduce desiccation. However,

rhododendron does like good drainage, so creek banks are an ideal habitat. In heavy clay soil, you should consider using raised beds and occasional watering. The plants spread slowly from basal runners. Cutting off one of these rooted shoots is a relatively fast way to increase your rhododendron collection. Propagation can also be done by sowing the minute seeds which are produced in great number. Germination, however, may be difficult and require specific conditions such as an organic rich, rotting log. Rhododendron wood is very hard and occasionally is used in specialty products such as spoons and toys. However, the trunks are generally twisted and bent in a very artistic fashion like a Bonsai plant on steroids. Consequently, large straight grained sections are hard to come by. Given vigorous growth and evergreen leaves, rhododendrons can create a weed-free animal habitat in shady areas. In addition, native

rhododendron regenerates quickly from moderately hot forest fires. Very hot forest fires, however, kill rhododendrons. Rhododendrons are subject to a variety of pests and microbial diseases, but a healthy plant growing under good conditions shows high disease resistance. The roots are shallow, so do not cultivate beneath plants; a thick cushion of mulch a few inches away from the stem will help keep the roots cool and moist and support plant health. Several cultivars such as Red River, Summer Glow, Summer Solace, and var. album, purpureum, and roseum are available. Do us all a favor and plant wild rhododendrons. They work well at the edge of a wooded area, for foundation plantings, and in natural areas. Editor’s Note: Hubert Ling is the Horticulture Chairman for the Native Plant Society of New Jersey. He can be reached at

12 June 2019





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any sightings One of my most important roles is that of a learner: to visit farms, nurseries, and other agricultural businesses across our Garden State and learn about their work, their goals, and their challenges. To really support this industry, you can’t stay behind an office desk. You need to get out into the community, get your hands dirty, and see firsthand the impact of the issues that folks care about. This April, I was glad to visit a number of farms throughout New Jersey with a goal of better appreciating the issues they face. That started in Vannini Farms, a fourth-generation, family-run produce farm in Atlantic County. John Vannini, the owner of the farm, knows well the time and care that goes into growing high-quality organic vegetables. Unfortunately, he also knows too well that even the most wellmeaning government regulations can go too far. We heard much the same while visiting the nearby Glossy Fruit Farms. The Assembly Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee is sensitive to areas where government rules and regulations can hinder agricultural livelihoods, and we’re especially

June 2019 13 Agriculture and Natural Resources By Eric Houghtaling New Jersey Assemblyman

Garden State Legislators Can Take a Lesson From Agricultural Innovators and Communities concerned about making sure that every farmer, nurseryman, or gardener has the support they need to thrive, rather than the heavy hand of overregulation pulling them down. Thankstotherecommendations of our community, I’m confident that we can address the myriad of challenges that we face. I’m also glad to know that, no matter what, the ingenuity of this industry will continue to pave new roads into the future. That’s what I saw firsthand at the grand opening of Greens Do Good, a new vertical farm in Bergen County. Vertical farms, which move traditional fieldand-soil produce into the highdensity structures of suburbs and cities, are an excellent example of the innovation that New Jersey

agriculture has always been known for. As the name suggests, “Greens Do Good” is also dedicated toward making a positive difference, dedicating all profits toward individuals with autism and their families. As Autism Awareness Month, April was a perfect time for this new farm to open its doors, and to highlight the capacity of farms to work alongside communities to accomplish great things. Agriculture may be unique for the sheer magnitude of its involvement in local communities. A nursery might host a Halloween hay maze or springtime Easter egg hunt. A farm might host a gleaning to feed the hungry in its community, or offer internships to local students. A nonprofit like

Greens Do Good can contribute funds to causes they support, while also advertising the quality of homegrown produce. One establishment that thoroughly impressed me in its dedication to community was Oasis Farm in Monmouth County. Owned by Oasis TLC, a nonprofit organization, the farm serves adults on the autism spectrum by allowing them to learn meaningful skills and perform satisfying work on the farm. Autism and agriculture may not sound like the most obvious match, but I soon saw how the peaceful environment of the farm provided a perfect setting for adults with autism - the farm’s “student interns” - to work and live, free of the overstimulation of the modern world. There, the

student interns grow and prepare food, as well as serve meals to family and friends in the farm’s dining room. At each of these places, I’m reminded of the power of agriculture to empower and invigorate local communities. After all, if there’s one thing a gardener knows how to do, it’s to nurture a simple seed into something greater. When we bring the seeds of our communities into our fields, we can help them grow, thrive, and bloom. That’s not to say that our community doesn’t face challenges of its own. But I believe that, with your guidance, ingenuity, and leadership, we can work together to make those problems a thing of the past. EDITOR’S NOTE: Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling is Chair of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee in the New Jersey State Assembly. He can be reached at 732-695-3371 or AsmHoughtaling@njleg. org, or by mail at 802 W Park Ave, Ste 221, Ocean Township 07712.

Legendary Toro Performance Now Available in Lithium-Ion Battery-Powered Line The legendary performance of Toro’s gaspowered products is now available in a batterypowered line. The company has just introduced three new mowers, a leaf blower and a string trimmer with Toro’s new Flex-Force Power System™ featuring 60V1 lithium-ion technology. A 60V snowblower will be available later in 2019. “There’s a common perception that choosing a cordless battery-powered product means compromising on power or features,” says Chris Urlaub, associate marketing manager at Toro. “That’s not the case with the Flex-Force line. Our priority was to design for performance, first and foremost. These are full-featured products with the same performance as our gas products; they just happen to be battery-powered.” As America’s No. 1 lawn mower brand,2 Toro understands that homeowners want a mower that’s easy to start, easy to use and easy to maintain. The new Toro 22-inch Recycler® 60V mowers are designed to save time with an extralong 22-inch blade that allows homeowners to cut a wider path with each pass. Built on Toro’s No. 1 selling Recycler platform, these mowers cut nutrient-rich clippings into fine pieces and return them to the soil to promote a healthylooking lawn. The mowers also start with the push of a button, and the deck is made of steel instead of plastic for added durability. Other features include Toro’s Personal Pace® selfpropel system that automatically adjusts to the user’s walking speed, and SMART STOW®,

which allows the mower to be stored upright, reducing the storage footprint by up to 70 percent.3 Toro also offers a 60V leaf blower as part of the new Flex-Force Power System line. With 605 CFM of air volume and a 115 mph air speed,4 the new blower delivers more power than other market-leading products to clear large piles of leaves and debris fast. The cruise control feature makes it easy on the hands, and the ergonomic handle helps reduce arm fatigue. A variablespeed trigger and turbo-boost button put control at the user’s fingertips, providing more power on demand. Plus, the high-performance brushless DC motor outperforms brushed motors, extending the blower’s power, run time and product life. Rounding out the 60V lineup is a new cordless string trimmer that allows the user to adjust the line size and/or cutting length to customize the performance to the job. For example, users can choose to maximize run time for trimming and cleanup around the yard, or they can boost cutting power for tough, overgrown weeds and grass. A variable-speed trigger and two speed ranges to choose from also make it easy to match the speed to the task. Line replacement is quick and easy with no spools required — just thread the line and spin the dial. The trimmer also features a high-performance brushless DC motor for extended life with low maintenance. It’s made for tough jobs with a rugged castaluminum direct-drive head. “From mowing and trimming to clearing

leaves — and soon snow — the Flex-Force Power System offers year-round versatility,” adds Urlaub. “It’s the perfect option for customers who want proven Toro performance with the ease and low-maintenance benefits of battery power.” All of the products in the 60V Flex-Force Power System line feature Toro’s lithium-ion smart batteries, which have intelligent software that automatically optimizes run time and power for the product and the application. In addition, the products are covered by full warranties that are among the most comprehensive in the category. Products can be purchased with or without the Flex-Force Power System batteries and charger, which are available separately and are interchangeable among the products in the line. Toro 60V products with the Flex-Force Power System are available now at participating Toro retailers. For complete product details, visit toro. com/60V. 1 Battery manufacturer rating = 60V maximum and 54V typical usage. Actual voltage varies with load. 2 Based on average TraQline dollar share for walk behind mower market from 2015 – 2018. 3 Space savings are in relation to the space consumed by a Toro 22” walk power mower. 4 Up to 605 CFM and 115 mph max. on turbo boost. Performance claims based on controlled laboratory testing.


908.782.4028 LIFE • PROPERTY DISABILITY INCOME INSURANCE American National is a group of companies writing a broad array of insurance products and services. Products and services may not be available in all states. Terms, conditions and eligibility requirements will apply. Life insurance and annuity products may be underwritten by American National Insurance Company, Galveston, Texas. Property and casualty products and services may be underwritten by Farm Family Casualty Insurance Company, Glenmont, New York. Form 11094 | 12.18


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June 2019 15

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16 June 2019 My grandchildren love to find dandelions in their “puffer” stage and blow them all around my yard and neighborhood. Of course, Pop-Pop can’t get mad at them for spreading these seeds, it’s a fun time for them, and I’ll take care of the dandelions later. Later this month, we have the first official day of summer, June 21. Your lawn has finally woken up from its long winter’s nap and sunshine is abundant and warm weather is here, providing the perfect climate for weeds to thrive. Daytime temperatures are probably in the 70s and on some days 80s or 90s. We have had plenty of rain this spring (but not as bad as last year). Remember, only a few months ago when your lawn was mostly brown from the winter and then weeds seemed to grow quicker and better than your lawn? By now you should have mowed your lawn 10-plus times and hopefully fed it once or twice, producing a deep-green, thick carpet. If you have many “puffers” Turf ‘s Up By Todd Pretz Professional Turf Consultant

Puffers are flying everywhere…

in your lawn now, what went wrong this spring with your lawn care program? Most homeowners have a great spring lawn and then their lawn sometimes falls apart with the ravages of summer’s heat, drought, bugs and disease. Each year we hear the same questions over and over again from homeowners, “What do I do now?” Timing and what to apply seems to be confusing. A standard lawn care program with 1-2-3-4 steps does not always work for all lawn situations throughout the year. Lawn care is a problemdriven business. While Mother Nature is a constant changing force, there is a need to revisit some of my prior years’ articles. Weeds thrive in areas

when the good grass cannot compete. Did you test your soil pH? Is it below 6.0? If so, you need to apply calcium carbonate-based products to raise your soil pH to a desirable grass-growing range between 6.2 and 7.0. If you have fed your lawn only once this year, please do so again this month before summer heat arrives. This will help to keep it strong heading into difficult summer weather. Consider using an organic lawn food for a slow, gentle feeding. Organic lawn foods work very well in warmer weather since they green up quicker and feed the grass slowly. Have you noticed grubs in your lawn or in landscape beds as you rake them? Now is a good time to apply a

Turfgrass Serves as a Natural Filter for the Environment. Keep it Safe! (Continued from p. 1) for 76 percent of the total turfgrass acreage in New Jersey. The turfgrass industry plays a very important role in our vast economy and in the everyday lives of all residents. The benefits of turfgrass are abundant, including erosion prevention, groundwater recharge, cleaner air, cooler ambient temperatures, glare reduction, and a healthy playing surface for recreational activities. We can all see the many benefits of turfgrass from two different studies. As much as I dislike writing about negativity, I must include a few negatives. Did you know that fertilizerladen turfgrass pollutes water in streams, rivers and lakes as it flows from the storm sewers into the waterways? And that turfgrass should not enter a compost pile. As the cover photo points out, turfgrass clippings that are discharged into a roadway can cause many dangerous problems as well.

The first thing that comes to mind is slippage. Yes, when theses clippings get wet, they can be very dangerous to bicycle and motorcycle riders. And they can also end up in storm drains. Overall, there are more positives than negatives. In order to maintain turfgrass safety, recycle the turfgrass clippings back into your lawn. Clippings contain the same beneficial nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) as lawn food, though in smaller amounts. Overall, the clippings can provide a portion of the annual nutrient requirement for your lawn. I only use the standard discharge on my Toro mower to let the clippings fly when the turfgrass grows too fast and gets too high because of excess rain. To keep it looking neat and clean, I use my backpack blower to distribute the clippings and clean up the curb line on the road. Since the mower got a workout in May, I’ll change the

oil using a 5W30 blend, and sharpen the blade this month. Turfgrass that is cut with sharp blades can recover quickly and is more likely to resist disease and pests. If you change out your blades or sharpen them at home, make sure the air filter is facing up so that no oil or gas leaks in and contaminates it. I hope these few tips keeps you and your turfgrass a cut above the rest! Editor’s Note: Tom Castronovo is executive editor and publisher of Gardener News. Tom’s lifelong interest in gardening and passion for agriculture, environmental stewardship, gardening and landscaping, led to the founding of the Gardener News, which germinated in April 2003 and continues to bloom today. He is also dedicated to providing inspiration, and education to the agricultural, gardening and landscaping communities through this newspaper and

preventative grub treatment. The same goes for fungus. If you have had repeated problems with fungus during summer months, consider using a lawn fungus control. Ticks are very prevalent and can be treated effectively now with properly labeled products. Be sure to read and follow all label directions. Now that warm weather has arrived, consider fixing drainage problems or removing some tree branches to let more light and airflow get to your lawn for improved growth. What a difference some trimming can do for your lawn. This can also help to dry out spots where water sits and ultimately kills the grass. By the beginning of July, be sure to raise your

mowing height in order to preserve moisture in the grass blades. This helps your lawn survive drought conditions by increasing root mass and it also helps the grass reduce weed growth. What about watering? Do not allow the grass to stress out enough and have the blades turn a blue-ish color before providing some supplemental irrigation or sprinkler watering. Daily watering at short intervals (10 to 15 minutes) is just as bad for your lawn as it produces a shallow root system. Water two to three times a week providing about one inch of water to the lawn each week. Well, it’s time to go out with the grandchildren and try to find some “puffers.” You should go to the beach, have a picnic, celebrate a graduation and live life! Editor’s Note: Todd Pretz is Vice President of Jonathan Green, a leading supplier of lawn and garden products in the northeast. For more information, please visit:

June 2019 17

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18 June 2019

An Amazing Seminar on Plants The New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association (NJLCA) held a Central New Jersey monthly meeting at Kube Pak in Allentown, Monmouth County. Every landscape has a spot where there is reflective heat from buildings or pavement, the spot is very well-drained and droughty or the area is always moist. Granted, some sites are too difficult for any plant to survive and grow. However, most locations do have a plant solution. The meeting focused upon some of those plants that will endure, even flourish under the toughest of conditions. The featured speaker who presented the “Plants for Tough Sites”’ seminar to the attendees was Bruce Crawford, director of Rutgers Gardens and an adjunct professor in the Landscape Architecture Department at Rutgers University. In addition to managing, designing and developing the 180 acres of the Rutgers Gardens, Crawford teaches and shares his love of fun and unusual plants with students, garden clubs, Master Gardeners, community groups and Gardens visitors. Much to his dismay, he has rarely met a plant that he doesn’t like! Crawford is also a featured columnist for the Gardener News. Kube Pak is a wholesale greenhouse owned and operated by the Swanekamp family. They have 865,000 square feet (20 acres) of gutter-connected double-poly greenhouses. They also have six acres of outside growing area. The NJLCA is a proven resource to the entire Green Industry in New Jersey, including landscape contractors, landscape architects, sod growers, nurseries, growers, garden centers, horticulturists, floriculture and the industries that supply them. The association is dedicated to advancing the integrity, proficiency and continued growth of their membership through education, training and legislative advocacy.

Tom Castronovo/Photo

Bruce Crawford, left, Director of the Rutgers Gardens and a Featured Columnist for the Gardener News; Dave DeFrange, second from left, an incoming Board Member for the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture; Rob Swanekamp, second from right, co-owner of Kube-Pak and a Past President of the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture, and Gail Woolcott, Director of Operations for the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association, and a Featured Columnist for the Gardener News.

Congratulations to Three Members of the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association Leadership Team on Their May 4, 2019 Marriages

Gail & Joe

Rich & Korene

Gail Woolcott, Director of Operations, New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association (NJLCA); and Joe Bolognese, Jr., Board Member, New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association (NJLCA).

Rich Goldstein, Vice President, New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association (NJLCA); and the Beautiful Korene King. Our members, landscape professionals, continually hear from homeowners who want their lawns to look like their neighbor’s lawn, but no matter how hard they try, they can’t seem to create lush turf on their own property. We hear about “dead spots” and holes in the turf, along with weeds and “those little purple flowers” taking over their lawns. Well, there are a few ways that you may be able to spruce up your property by avoiding some common mistakes made by most non-professionals. Your soil is one of the most important aspects of a healthy, weed- and pest-free, lush lawn. Your soil can give you many clues as to what is missing in your lawn-care regimen. You can purchase a soil test kit from the Rutgers Cooperative Extension in your county and perform a simple or more detailed test to find out the pH and soil nutrient levels, including boron, calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. This report will also likely give you recommendations on the lime and fertilizer needed in your soil. Do you have an area where you can’t seem to grow grass no

June 2019 19 The NJLCA Today By Gail Woolcott Director of Operations

Why the Grass is Greener on the Other Side matter what you try? You may need to use a different type of seed or a mixture of several types to achieve good results. In shady areas, try Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium perenne) or Fine Fescue (Festuca spp.) that are made for these conditions. Just know the conditions of the areas before investing in seed. Seeding is best done in the fall, but if you must have grass now, make sure to top-dress (add soil over the top) and re-seed in the fall. Without proper care, most turfgrasses will develop disease or pest infestations in their lifetime, but incorrectly diagnosing/treating the wrong issue will most certainly kill or damage your lawn. If you are unsure of what is causing issues in your lawn, find a professional

to help you correctly diagnose and properly treat the problem. If you’re certain of which pest or disease is injuring your turf, purchase the proper pesticide/ herbicide that will take care of that specific issue. Landscape professionals sharpen the blades of their mowers daily during the season. Homeowners should sharpen mower blades, at the very least, once a month. Dull blades damage turf and can make it more susceptible to disease. On a similar note, do not give your lawn a crew cut once every other week during the growing season. Grass should be cut more frequently and at a reasonable height of two to three inches, removing no more than one-third of the grass blade. I know, it’s a lot of work to mow that often.

New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association Scholarships

The New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association (NJLCA) is proud in its long-standing history of providing educational scholarships, helping students defray the rising costs of college tuition. As an organization, we understand the importance of a college education and thrive to provide financial assistance to students.  Currently, we provide a total of 11 scholarships to members of the NJLCA and green industry students who attend Rutgers University and Bergen Community College. Applicants will be judged on academic ability and financial need. Final selections are made by the Scholarship Committee. Winners will notified via email or phone call. Consideration for a scholarship will be given to any active member (dues must be current) of the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association as well as their spouse, children, grandchildren or stepchildren who will be enrolled as a full-time student during the school year at a college or institution of higher learning (six scholarships available).  Applicants must have a GPA of at least 3.0. NJLCA scholarships are available to any full time Rutgers University (inclusive of all campuses) undergraduate or graduate student who is pursuing a degree in a green industry field. The NJLCA offers (3) scholarships to students who fulfill this criteria. Consideration for a scholarship will be given to any student enrolled at Bergen Community College or County College of Morris in a course of study related to the “Green Industry” (i.e. Horticulture, Landscape Design/ Build, etc.) (two scholarships available).  Applicants must have a GPA of at least 3.0. Applicants will be evaluated based on academic achievement, potential to become a leading professional, employment history, extracurricular activities and the recommendation of a current academic advisor. Previous recipients may reapply as long as they meet all eligibility requirements. Deadline is July 15, 2019 Learn more at

But your lawn will thank you when you do, or you can always hire a pro! Your lawn also needs fertilization. One way to add nutrients is to make sure to leave the clippings to leach back into the soil. If your lawn mower is leaving clumps, you are either cutting too much or need a mulching mower. If you do see clumps, simply rake them out evenly over the lawn. You should fertilize four to six times over the season. Make sure that you are using the right type and, most importantly, amount of fertilizer. Too much fertilizer WILL NOT help the grass more but WILL stunt its root growth. Moreover, make sure to blow any excess fertilizer on walkways or the driveway back on to the grass to avoid adding to stormwater

runoff. Finally, make sure you water deeply and slowly two to three times per week. Your turf likes to take a long drink a few times a week, not just a sip daily. Furthermore, make sure to water early in the morning so the water does not evaporate. One inch of water per week is optimal. These tips will help your turf look beautiful and remain healthy. If there is something you are not sure of, however, reach out to a landscape professional to help you repair damage and resolve any issues in your newly renovated lawn. Editor’s note: Gail Woolcott is the Director of Operations for the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association. She was presented with a community service award from the Borough of Fairview for her assistance in leading the 9-11 Memorial Park project and the Legislative Champion of the Year award from the Federation of Employers and Workers of America. She is currently the State Licensee Chair on the National Association of Landscape Professionals International Certification Council.

2019 N.J. Woodland Stewards Program Registration is now open for the 2019 New Jersey Woodland Stewards Program! The New Jersey Woodland Stewards Program is an outreach effort for those who embrace a forest stewardship ethic, who want to learn more about sustainable forest management, and are willing to share what they learn with others. Join us on Thursday, September 26th (beginning at 4:00 pm) thru Sunday, September 29th (ending at 3:15pm). Limited to only 25 people. First come, first served. For more info visit

Try our E-Newspaper, where every page reads exactly as it does in print. Visit National Thousand Cankers Disease Survey

The 2019 National Thousand Cankers Disease (TCD) Guidelines are now available on the APHIS website.  This year’s guidelines include standardized techniques for detecting TCD on symptomatic walnut. It also includes information on how to purchase lures. TCD is native to portions of the southwestern United States, and is confirmed in 16 States across the country to date. Black walnut (Juglans nigra) is a significant economic, social, and environmental resource and appears to be highly susceptible to TCD. For more information about TCD, please visit http://www.

20 June 2019

Flower Shows, Past, Present & Future By Jeannie Geremia Contributing Writer

Flower Shows have figured into our lives for as long as I can remember, and I look back with pleasure at The Garden Club of New Jersey’s history as recorded in “The Green Crusade,” and see that we had a very impressive presence at flower shows beginning in 1929 as part of the International Flower Show at the Grand Central Palace in New York. The International Flower Shows were discontinued during World War II and resumed again in 1946. “In 1945, at the opening of the United Nations Conference in San Francisco, a white rose named ‘Peace’ had been given to the delegates by Robert Pyle, President of Star Roses.” Helen Hull, GCNJ President, “was so impressed by its beauty that she asked him if he would supply us with a few plants for our exhibit. He responded by having 125 bushes forced into bloom in Oregon and sent to us by airmail. The newly elected Cardinal Spellman had just returned from a peace mission, and we decided to carry a plant of the Peace Rose to him at the end of the Show. It was a day and a Show to remember.” Just the beginning of so many awesome flower shows in venues throughout our Garden State. The Garden Club of New Jersey sponsored eight GCNJ Flower Shows from 1944 to 1956, dramatizing “the proficiency of exhibitors in horticulture and flower arrangement in statewide competition. They present to the public uses of plant material for homes, churches, schools and hospitals and provide funds and interest for our programs in conservation, civic projects, Garden Therapy, hospitalized veterans, Junior Gardeners, and Landscape Design courses.” The Garden Club of New Jersey also participated in 1962 and 1963 in the “American Pavilion” exhibit, at the Alexandria, Egypt Flower Show, receiving gold medals from the Alexandria Horticulture Society. The connection to GCNJ and the Alexandria, Egypt Horticulture Society was one of the highlights of our history as we had the only foreign exhibit in the week-long flower show praised by the American Consul General for generating friendly relations. Meanwhile, National Garden Clubs, Inc., the Garden Club of New Jersey’s parent organization, launched the first Flower Show School in 1946, establishing standards described in our present 2017 revision of Handbook for Flower Shows, which states

the purposes of an NGC Flower Show to educate the public, to stimulate interest in horticulture and floral design, to provide an outlet for creative expression and to communicate NGC goals and objectives. Our judges go through extensive schooling to attain and maintain accreditation. Our Flower Show Schools are held periodically throughout the country and are open to the public, as well as students, as the two-day courses are taught by National Garden Club instructors in horticulture and design. We have been privy to outstanding flower shows including the yearly, world-famous Philadelphia Flower Show with our GCNJ members taking part in every aspect of the show as judges, designers, horticulture exhibitors and committee members. My own experience has been at the New Jersey Flower & Garden Show at the New Jersey Convention Center in Edison wearing many different hats, but enjoying every minute of interacting with garden club members and the public with the shows being held in mid-February from 2003 through 2018. It was a welcome breath of spring, and snow, sleet or bitter cold could not keep us from the task at hand, mounting fabulous flower shows to educate and inspire. A flower show introduces us to new and fabulous plants such as when I attended the Philadelphia Flower Show in 2000 and saw sweeps of “Knock-out” rose bushes. I was at my garden center the very next day, purchasing 10 bushes. Then, a few years later, I was totally enthralled with Rutgers Gardens display of the fabulous Hellebores “Josef Lemper.” Needless to say, I have many in my gardens today. One of my goals as incoming GCNJ President (June 6th, 2019), is to encourage our garden clubs to stage more flower shows, and with that goal in mind, we are running a four-day Flower Show Workshop at Holly House, Rutgers Gardens, East Brunswick on September 24, 25, 26, and 27, 2019, open to garden club members and the public, with additional information to follow. The GCNJ will also be staging four District Flower Shows in 2020, throughout the state. We are excited about these events and the workshops leading up to them as the NGC’s Handbook for Flower Shows, revised 2017 offers new Divisions apart from Horticulture and Design. These are Education, Youth and Sponsored Groups, and Botanical Arts. There is literally something for everyone to want to participate and enjoy flower shows.

Editor’s Note: Jeannie Geremia is The Garden Club of New Jersey President-Elect, GCNJ Wildlife Habitat Chair, and a National Garden Clubs, Inc. Accredited Master Flower Show Judge. Jeannie is a member of Neshanic Garden Club, The Raritan Township Historic Committee and the Raritan Township Board of Health. Jeannie’s email address is:

USDA Accepting Applications to Help Cover Producers’ Costs for Organic Certification USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) announced that organic producers and handlers can apply for federal funds to assist with the cost of receiving and maintaining organic certification through the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP). Applications for fiscal 2019 funding are due Oct. 31, 2019. “Producers can visit their local FSA county offices to apply for up to 75 percent of the cost of organic certification,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “This also gives organic producers an opportunity to learn about other valuable USDA resources, like farm loans and conservation assistance, that can help them succeed. Organic producers can take advantage of a variety of USDA programs from help with field buffers to routine operating expenses to storage and handling equipment.” OCCSP received continued support through the 2018 Farm Bill. It provides cost-share assistance to producers and handlers of agricultural products for the costs of obtaining or maintaining organic certification under the USDA’s National Organic Program. Eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers who have paid organic certification fees to a USDA-accredited certifying agent. Eligible expenses for cost-share reimbursement include application fees, inspection costs, fees related to equivalency agreement and arrangement requirements, travel expenses for inspectors, user fees, sales assessments and postage. Certified producers and handlers are eligible to receive reimbursement for up to 75 percent of certification costs each year, up to a maximum of $750 per certification scope, including crops, livestock, wild crops, handling and state organic program fees. Opportunities for State Agencies Today’s announcement also includes the opportunity for state agencies to apply for grant agreements to administer the OCCSP program in fiscal 2019. State agencies that establish agreements for fiscal year 2019 may be able to extend their agreements and receive additional funds to administer the program in future years. FSA will accept applications from state agencies for fiscal year 2019 funding for cost-share assistance through May 29, 2019. More Information To learn more about organic certification cost share, please visit the OCCSP webpage, view the notice of funds availability on the Federal Register, or contact your FSA county office. To learn more about USDA support for organic agriculture, visit

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New Jersey Department of Agriculture Kicks off Jersey Fresh Season New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher and other state and local officials kicked off the Jersey Fresh season by visiting the Fresh Wave operation, which grows and packages locally grown produce and other farm products now appearing in farmers markets and stores around the state. “This season is off to a great start for our farmers and those who grow Jersey Fresh produce here in the Garden State,” Secretary Fisher said. “Asparagus is already in supermarkets and farmers markets and other greens, such as spinach and lettuce are also being harvested. The Jersey Fresh label continues to be a trusted trademark that lets consumers know they are purchasing locally grown produce. Buying local allows you to know you are getting the best product and supporting the local economy.” New Jersey ranks in the top 10 in the U.S. in the production of several crops, including fourth in asparagus. The recently released Census of Agriculture showed the New Jersey asparagus crop was valued at $12.5 million and that the overall production of fruits and vegetables is valued at almost $340 million annually. Other crops with an early harvest that are available daily include kale, lettuce, radishes and spinach. Expected to be widely available in about two weeks are beets and strawberries. Consumers can find what Jersey Fresh produce is in season and where it is being sold by going to “The Jersey Fresh season is upon us and we are anticipating it being a great year,” Consalo Family Farm and Fresh Wave President Skip Consalo said. “We are proud to play an important role in making Jersey Fresh produce available to everyone. This is a family business and with younger family members being involved now, we plan to maintain our agricultural tradition here in Vineland and Cumberland County for generations to come.” Consalo Family Farms, which also includes A.J. Consalo and Chelsea Consalo, has been growing fruits and vegetables in New Jersey since 1927. The family’s largest crop is blueberries as it sold more than 8 million pounds of that fruit last year. Consalo Family Farms also grows a wide range of vegetables, which along with asparagus, includes romaine, red and green leaf lettuce, herbs, and cooking greens (dandelion, swiss chard, kale, among other items), peppers, zucchini, eggplant, hard squash, and sweet potatoes. Consalo Family Farms was also recognized by the State Department of Environmental Protection with an environmental stewardship award in 2016. Fresh Wave is the sales arm of Consalo Family Farms and handles a full line of vegetables, including asparagus, arugula, parsley, cilantro, kale, collards, chards, kohlrabi and beets, as well as an array of leaf items and lettuces.

NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE New York State Agriculture Department Requests Letters of Interest from Agricultural Cooperatives The NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets announced it is seeking letters of interest from agricultural cooperatives to participate in the State’s Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program. The Department is encouraging all new and existing agricultural cooperatives that have considered entering into the industrial hemp industry to capitalize on this growing agricultural and industrial sector. Agricultural cooperatives present an opportunity for New York’s farmers to share resources and reduce financial risk in this emerging marketplace while growing, processing, producing, and marketing industrial hemp and hemp products. Farmers in a cooperative are able to partner in the purchasing, testing, processing, and distributing of farm supplies and farm business services. Letters of interest from agricultural cooperatives wishing to participate in the industrial hemp research program must be submitted to the Department at by June 6, 2019.  Letters should provide information demonstrating the feasibility of growing, processing, and producing industrial hemp or hemp products under a farmowned business structure. The Governor has recognized industrial hemp as a strong new economic opportunity for farmers and signed legislation to solidify the status of industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity under New York Agriculture and Markets Law. In anticipation of the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill and its accompanying new regulations for the industrial hemp industry, New York State is accepting grower applications from individuals and businesses for the Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program. Applications for future research partners can be submitted in the areas of grain, fiber, and Cannabidiol (CBD).  The Department is not accepting CBD processor applications at this time. In addition, to help educate farmers about the industrial hemp program and the opportunities available to research partners for the 2020 growing season, the Department will hold several informational sessions across the State this fall.   A schedule will be posted on the Department’s website this summer. The application and additional information, including the Department’s Research Partner Agreement can be found on the Department’s website at https://www.agriculture. Industrial hemp grower applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Applicants are encouraged to take the time to develop thoughtful, well-researched applications. Applicants are advised to have firm commitments for the sale of the industrial hemp that they intend to grow and should focus on the 2020 growing season.  Any questions about the grower solicitation period may be sent toindustrialhempNYS@ Industrial hemp, which is defined as having 0.3 percent THC or less, is a growing commodity for states across the nation, as both the stalk and seed from hemp can be used in the production of a variety of goods, including clothing, building materials, fuel, paper, and consumer products. Industrial hemp and industrial hemp products generate more than $800 million per year in sales nationally. Governor Cuomo launched the Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program in 2015, recognizing its potential impact on manufacturing, job creation, and the profitability of farms across New York State. Since then, legislation proposed by the Governor in his 2017 State of the State Address eliminated the cap on the number of sites authorized to grow and research industrial hemp in New York State. The State held its first Industrial Hemp Summit and announced several actions to support the emerging industry in April 2017. In 2018, the State held an Industrial Hemp Research Forum to continue to push the industry forward and to establish New York as a national leader in industrial hemp research, production, and processing. The Forum brought together researchers, academics, businesses, and processors to develop strategies to advance research throughout the State. Last year, the NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets had more than 100 new research partners, with approximately 3,500 acres of New York farmland approved for industrial hemp research, compared to 2,000 acres in 2017. The New York State Industrial Hemp Agricultural Research Pilot Program now has over 60 processors registered.

June 2019 23

OF AGRICULTURE NEWS PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Department of Agriculture Advises Consumers to Discard Triple Action Neem Oil The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture notified consumers that laboratory testing has shown “Triple Action Neem Oil Broad Spectrum Fungicide, Insecticide, and Miticide” contains pesticide active ingredients not listed on the product label. During testing, the presence of malathion, chlorpyrifos, and permethrin were confirmed. While consumers expect neem oil to be a safe natural product, the pesticides detected are not. Chlorpyrifos is a restricted-use pesticide, for use in specific agricultural settings, and never in a home setting. Malathion is an insecticide used to control insects in agricultural or residential areas. Permethrin, an insecticide, is a pyrethroid — a synthetic chemical that mimics a natural extract. Consumers, distributors, and pesticide applicators are advised to cease the sale and use of Triple Action Neem Oil manufactured by Southern Agricultural Insecticides Inc in Palmetto, Fl. The department is working with the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other affected states in an ongoing investigation. Triple Action Neem Oil lists its only active ingredient as “neem oil,” and can be identified by the EPA Reg. No. 70051-2-829. The product is a broad-spectrum fungicide, insecticide and miticide, labelled for use on a variety of landscape and home house plants, gardens, fruits, vegetables, roses, and turf areas. It is approved by the Organic Material Review Institute (ORMI) for use on organically grown commodities. For additional information on malathion, chlorpyrifos, and permethrin, contact the National Pesticide Information Center at 1-800-858-7378 or Other questions can be directed to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture at 717-772-5231 or The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture encourages, protects and promotes agriculture and related industries throughout the commonwealth, while providing consumer protection through inspection services that impact the health and financial security of Pennsylvania’s citizens. For more information about the department, visit

DELAWARE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Dicamba Applicators Urged to Check Pesticide Use Limitation Areas Before Spraying The Delaware Department of Agriculture is urging all pesticide applicators that plan to use dicamba this growing season to check the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) online Bulletins Live! Two system on a monthly basis before spraying. This new online system allows agriculture and other pesticide users to easily determine where pesticide use limitation areas (PULA) exist due to the protection of endangered species. “I would encourage farmers and other pesticide applicators to print a copy of the bulletin and carry it with them during the application. In case they get questioned, this verifies that they have checked the website before the application,” said Christopher Wade, DDA Pesticides Section Administrator. “Since the bulletin and the corresponding maps are only valid for a month, applicators need to complete this process every month.” Currently, Sussex County is the only county in Delaware with Dicamba Pesticide Use Limitation Areas. The online system provides a more detailed view of where the PULA is located compared to receiving a county level impact that is not truly county-wide. To make it easy to find, the Delaware Department of Agriculture has linked the Bulletins Live! Two online system to their webpage at Users will need to enter in their address into the search bar and if there is an effective PULA identified it will be displayed in a pink color. Clicking on the PULAs will reveal a summary of the products, codes, and limitations required. Dicamba is an herbicide that can be applied to the leaves or soil to control annual and broadleaf weeds in grain crops and pastures. If the pesticide label directs the applicator to the online Bulletins Live! Two system, then the applicator is required to follow the pesticide use limitation(s) found in the Bulletin for the intended application area, pesticide active ingredient or product, and application month.


Secretary Tebbetts Op-Ed: Meeting the Challenge of Change in Agriculture Farmers are always facing change. Change is challenging. From wild weather swings to global market forces, farmers are always riding stormy seas. Change was the primary theme recently at a Dairy Summit in Jay. The two-day summit brought together more than 240 people from Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and New England. All those attending the summit, including more than 100 dairy farmers, were intentional in their desire to make positive changes to the industry. Through collaboration and creative change, farmers are developing strategies and ideas for future work at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. Farmers want help showing their farms to the public and policy makers. They believe we all need to do a better job telling what’s happening on their farms through authentic relationships. The Agency will embark on getting more people, including lawmakers and regulators, to see their businesses this summer and fall. Developing new dairy products for consumers was also a major theme at the summit. Farmers are committed to connecting with their customers but need help with product development. It’s a crowded field, a crowded shelf at the supermarket, with endless consumer choices. We heard quite plainly that the Agency needs to lead with innovation. The Agency, along with federal and private partners, will expand its work developing marketing, education and product development resources for farmers and dairy processors. Dairy farmers also told us they believe they can help Vermont’s environment by building on cutting-edge approaches to managing their soil. The Agency and its partners will look at “gold standard” environmental efforts on farmland. This approach could lead to farmers receiving payments for managing their ecosystems and stewarding their land in the face of climate change. More agriculture education, whole milk in schools and a campaign that focuses on how important dairy is to Vermont’s economy is another priority for farmers. The Agency will be working with a host of partners on these issues. To lead the effort, dairy farmers asked us to create a dairy advisory panel to facilitate the conversation on their suggestions and challenges. We will do so. Farmers also told us to keep working with Washington on dairy policy and prices. The Vermont Milk Commission has proposed a growth management plan. We heard from farmers they want the Agency to pursue this important, nationwide discussion with Congress. These are just a few things outcomes of the Dairy Summit. Like Vermont’s farmers, we are open to new ideas, change and a commitment to improve the backbone of Vermont: Agriculture. Secretary Anson Tebbetts

24 June 2019 Agriculture is no different from any other industry in that it is subject to trends and fads which sometimes pan out and sometimes fall flat on their face. What seems like a great idea and a “can’t miss opportunity” one day, may suddenly prove itself to be an unmitigated financial disaster. But then again, if you don’t take any chances, your fate might be a long steady decline into unprofitability and obscurity. I remember an interview a couple of years ago with the head of a well-known maker of TV dinners. He was talking about how stagnant their business had become and how consumers felt that their offerings were stodgy and outdated. He went on to explain that they had failed to capitalize on many new trends in the food industry. Then, laughingly, he stated that not only had they missed some newer trends such as Mexican and Asian food, but they had even missed French and Italian! Agriculture has plenty of its own success and failure stories. There are farms that

June 2019 25 The Town Farmer By Peter Melick Agricultural Producer

Passing Fad or the Future of Agriculture? innovate and move forward by taking chances with new products, technology and marketing strategies. And then there are farms that seem to be stuck in a rut in regards to the way in which they operate their businesses. But not every new idea is going to pan out. In fact, many will probably lose money. And to counter that, going with the tried and true might seem to be the prudent decision in the short term, but after years and years of doing things the same old way, a farmer might realize that it is too late to modernize and his only choice is to retire or go out of business. If we look back over the past few decades here in New Jersey, there are a few fads that have turned themselves

first into trends, and then into staples of agriculture. When U-Pick fruits and vegetables first became popular, many growers scoffed at the idea of allowing the public onto their farms. But quite a few growers changed their minds when they saw the financial success of their neighbors and were able to adapt accordingly. But the real gains in this trend went to the “early adopters,” who were able to build up their customer base and gain the following of many loyal patrons. Another area of change was with the growth of farmers markets. While many growers, with ourselves included, were able to take their products off of the farm and start selling them in the more urban areas of the state, the ones who

capitalized the most were the first growers to sign up for some of the earliest New York City markets. Now, if they are still in business, these growers hold some extremely coveted spots in the some of the busiest markets in New York City. But not all new ventures work out as planned. About 20 years ago, when ethanol was starting to gain popularity as a substitute for gasoline, a consortium of New Jersey agricultural leaders got behind the idea of building an ethanol plant here in New Jersey as a way of capitalizing on this new trend while at the same time supporting the grain industry. Not only would the price of corn go up because of this increased demand, but the early investors would be

able to reap substantial gains just from their investment in the plant. They spent years talking the project up and trying to convince people to back the project financially. But, after millions of dollars were spent and countless hours were put in, the New Jersey ethanol plant was never able to get off the ground. Although ethanol plants and ethanol in general are successful across the United States today, at the time, it just was not a good fit for New Jersey. So, who knows whether that next big idea will be a passing fad, or the future of agriculture? Editor’s Note: Peter Melick is co-owner of Melick’s Town Farm in Oldwick and a 10th-generation New Jersey farmer. Peter is currently a Tewksbury Township Committee Member. He also served as a director for the New Jersey Farm Bureau and is a past president of the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture. Peter has also been featured on NJN, News 12 New Jersey and on the Fox Business Network.

Prescribed Burning: A Tool for NJ’s Private Woodland Owners The private woodland owners’ right to utilize “prescribed burning” was strengthened last summer when Governor Murphy signed into law “The Prescribed Burn Act.” This law also strengthened protections for practitioners and expanded the acceptable uses of prescribed burns beyond hazard fuel reduction to now recognize the benefits to habitat management as well as other forest and ecological needs on the landscape. Examples of habitat management projects include creating and enhancing wildlife habitats, targeting treatment of nonnative invasive species and restoring native forest habitats. Late-winter through earlyspring in New Jersey is the time for prescribed burning by the New Jersey Forest Fire Service and private woodland owners. As daytime temps reach the 50s on a consistent basis, conditions become suitable for burning.

Prescribed burning (RxB) has been carried out by the DEP Forest Fire Service (FFS) since 1928. Their annual goal is to burn 20,000 acres, largely in southern and central New Jersey on large tracts of firedependent pine forests. They also burn public land in the northern part of the state where oak-dominated woodlands need periodic fire. Between January and March of this year, the Forest Fire Service completed or assisted in completing prescribed burns on more than 22,616 acres of state, county, municipal, university and privately owned lands. Most of this work occurred over 30 separate days of burning. After the threat of wildfire decreases, the Forest Fire Service may implement up to 17 additional “growing season” prescribed burn projects across 1,325 acres. Recently, the New Jersey State Forest Fire Service received national attention for its proactive approaches to reducing wildfire risk, protecting habitats and teaching

those innovative techniques to experts that visit New Jersey to study fire behavior. This growing recognition furthers New Jersey’s reputation as a national environmental leader on many fronts. In addition to the implementation of innovative management practices to prevent wildfires through prescribed burning, New Jersey also is recognized internationally for working to reduce the harmful effects of climate change, regulating dangerous chemicals in drinking water, and pursuing a robust natural resource damage program to restore lands, water and habitat impacted by hazardous substances. While prescribed burn is mostly used to reduce fuel loads to prevent large, uncontrolled fires from erupting, it is also a tool for forest management. A light fire run through a northern New Jersey oak forest will kill the thin-barked species like red maple that threaten to outcompete oak and change the species composition away from oak.

Oaks are adapted to re-sprouting from a substantial root mass if their tops are burned. Fire reduces leaf litter, which can improve the site for species like tulip poplar or aspen than need a mineral soil for seed germination. Fire can also be helpful in site preparation for forest restoration by reducing the organic matter on the soil surface where trees get planted. This is great news for private forest landowners who want to implement RxB. However, there are many conditions that must be met for a landowner to carry out a burn. They must not be subject to township ordinance that prohibits burning. They must submit a plan, get a permit, and follow all the requirements. This includes notifying officials in advance and meeting environmental conditions for smoke on the day of the burn. The burn site must be accessible to fire vehicles. Landowners should have some background and training in RxB and should prepare the site with firebreaks ahead of time. Private landowners

assume all responsibility for their burns even if an agent or the state is hired to conduct the burn. Historically, the window for burning activity has been Oct. 1 through March 15, and applications must be approved before October. However, with the passage of the Prescribed Burn Act, the FFS will examine extending the season where applicable and safe, and though the deadline has passed for 2019, the FFS will still accept a private forest landowner’s application and accommodate their needs if possible. A special thanks to NJFA Director Mim Dunne for her assistance with this article. Editor’s Note: Lori Jenssen has been the Executive Director of the New Jersey Forestry Association since 2005 and holds a Master’s degree in Non-Profit Administration from Rutgers University. She can be reached at or by calling 908-832-2400.

26 June 2019

The Premier Gardening Monthly Newspaper Number 194 Published Monthly Reserve Ad Space Phone: 908.604.4444 Website: E-Mail: Staff

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June 2019 Columnists Brian Schilling Al Murray Peter Melick

Bob LaHoff Douglas H. Fisher Eric J. Houghtaling

June 2019 Contributing Writers

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Jeannie Geremia

Hubert Ling

Lori Jenssen

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TIP OF THE MONTH Palm tree care starts with proper selection of species. Choose one that is hardy in your region and situate it where it gets adequate light and has excellent drainage. Palms can be picky when it comes to light. Knowing your palm’s preferences is key. If a type of palm tree prefers sun, planting it in the shade will result in a weak plant that has a thick trunk and stretched-out palm tree leaves from reaching toward the sun. And if your palm loves shade and you plant it in direct sunlight, its leaves will burn and brown until they die. The soil beneath your palm tree is just as important to its health as the sun above. And for palms, make sure you have the right soil type. Many species do well in either acid or alkaline ground; others are a bit fussy when it comes to soil. Palms have relatively shallow roots that need plentiful air. Give your palm two to four weeks to acclimate to your garden before you apply any fertilizer. Lower phosphorus helps palms use other essential nutrients more efficiently. A fertilizer where phosphorus, the middle number on the fertilizer label, is lower than the other two numbers helps prevent nutrient deficiencies and symptoms such as yellow leaves. If the leaves begin drying out at the tips and it moves down the leaf, causing them to brown, the palm is too dry. If the leaves turn yellow, the soil may be too wet. Again, knowing your palm’s preferences is key. If your indoor palms move outside for summer, bring them back indoors for winter, once nighttime temperatures fall near 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. In spring, wait until all danger of frost passes before you move palms back outdoors.

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