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Gardener News

Proudly Serving the Agricultural, Gardening, Landscaping & Nursery Communities

March 2021


TAKE ONE No. 215

Buggedy, Buggedy, Eww!

USDA Agricultural Research Service/Photo

The adult cicada is just over one and a half inches long. Most of the body is black. Its legs and eyes are reddish. Some of the veins in the nearly transparent wings are orange. emerge from the ground, occupying large swaths of the eastern United States. They’ll overrun many yards, One cicada, two cicada, pelt windows, fly into people, clog storm drains and three cicada, four. After a 17-year wait, basically wreak buggy havoc, billions of large, noisy, according to the United States winged, red-eyed insects Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural known as periodical cicadas National (Magicicada spp.) will soon Research Service (NASS).

By Tom Castronovo Executive Editor/Publisher Gardener News

There can be as many as 1.5 million cicadas per acre, bringing the total brood population into the billions. Having spent almost two decades underground in their immature “nymph” state eating tree root sap, the bugs will crawl out in mid-May to late-June when soil hits 64 degrees Fahrenheit – likely

after a sprinkling of warm rain. Once above ground, the insects will set about mating, the noise of their mating call can hit 100 decibels, and lay their eggs before dying, according to the Rutgers NJAES’ Department of Entomology. According to Joe Zoltowski,

director of the New Jersey Department of Agriculture’s Division of Plant Industry, New Jersey hosts populations of two broods (Brood II and X). This year, Brood X is expected. Brood X is neither the easternmost nor the largest of the broods in the United States. Even so, this brood is among the largest (by geographic extent) of the 17-year cicada population. Cicadas emerge after these long time periods exclusively for mating purposes. After mating, females lay eggs on small branches on deciduous trees, which become structurally unsound and can break off and fall during windy days. The larvae crawl to the ground and burrow underground, feeding on roots of trees and plants to eventually emerge again, thereby completing their life cycle. These insects do not harm people or animals and provide an abundant food source for natural wildlife when their emergence occurs. They provide beneficial results like soil aeration and pruning activities to mature trees, and to the ecosystems they occur in, decomposition adds nutrients back to the soil. Rarely do they cause tree mortality, despite adults feeding on the leaves of the trees during the emergence (Cont. on Page 4) period.

2 March 2021

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March 2021 3

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4 March 2021 March is the time, for sure, when most Garden State backyarders start to stir and begin the plans they have been mulling over during the dormant wintertime of the year. For some, it is basic plantings. For others, more elaborate new offerings. But it always starts with a single transplant or a seed. The amazement of it bursting on the scene for me never wears off. These growing marvels are striving as living things to survive the elements, flourish and reproduce. This whole process was predictable and remained unchanged until about the last hundred years or so. Seeds were planted, a harvest was produced, and the flowers produced seeds for the next crop. Along the way, however, advances in biology, technology, genetics, etc. began to alter this very basic and natural flow of cultivation. Onto the scene came a plethora of new practices. The laboratories and companies developing them were fully aware of what had really changed, but the general public, not so much. Gradually, seeds became a commodity in themselves. The aim of all this research was to yield immense gains, both in productivity and revenue. There are substantial arguments to be made that these developments

GardenerNews.com NJ Dept. of Agriculture By Douglas H. Fisher Secretary of Agriculture

As plant science advances, it’s still about miracles of nature need to continue taking place. Feeding an ever-growing global population, which is expected to grow by 1.5 billion people in just the next 30 years, is one reason. With that expansion of population, and the accompanying loss of arable land, combined with ongoing climate change, we would not be able to keep pace with the increasing number of mouths to feed if we do not maximize our yields. Of course, along with this, we need to reduce waste, both preand post-harvest. The classic example in the last century was the work produced by Norman Borlaug, a scientist who developed high-yielding varieties of wheat that “took Mexico from near starvation to self-sufficiency within a few years.” A decade later he introduced his new seed and production technologies in the Asian subcontinent. For his achievements, he

received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. His work is credited with saving millions of lives and he was considered to be one of the 100 most influential individuals of the 20th century. But there are others who point to the issues of genetic modification and lump this in with other scientific advancements that come into view, such as creating meat in a laboratory or cloning farm animals. Is this what people want? The latest is something I recently learned about from a Chinese advertisement distributed by China Daily Distribution of Beijing. Here, they speak of mutation breeding known as “space mutagenesis.” This is a technique where seeds are taken into space and exposed to cosmic rays and other conditions like micro-gravity and geomagnetic interference. This is so complicated, but the idea is that spontaneous mutation takes place at

a significantly accelerated pace due to the heavenly sojourn. I have no data to support this, but I believe if the public at large here in the United States was asked, they would be leery of acceptance. However, as with all science, it continues to grow and spread and produce multi-faceted conclusions and developments along the way. None of us can predict where all this is going. The seeds of plants in the future will be vastly different in many categories and classifications. This takes me back to the garden. Your garden. You still have the choice to pick from the past with heirloom collections. Companies like Baker Creek, Annie’s, Black Duck, and Seed Saver have countless selections of the handed down, carefully collected seeds that are authentically replicating the seeds of past generations. While there is still time to plant some, collect these treasures to pass

to the next gardener, and through continued cultivation, to the next generation. So, whatever new methods evolve, you as a gardener can always return to the specimens that result from this very basic approach. Many scientific advancements that are necessary for survival will continue, but you as well can play a part in the balance of nature. Preserving a piece of the past as we jet ahead is just as important. We are as equidistant from the past as we are from the future and we must account for both ends. Here’s to your garden, and the miracle of a seed that lives all around us.

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:// www.state.nj.us/agriculture

Buggedy, Buggedy, Eww! The agricultural impacts from this periodic invasion would be to fruit orchard operations where egg-laying on orchard trees could cause unwanted branch die-off, affecting potential yields or mortality on small, young, freshly planted stock. To protect small bushes, vines and other vegetables from cicadas and birds, recommendations are to provide a physical barrier against feeding and egg-laying activities from these insects, such as netting around each plant. For groups of bushes or vines, it would be best to suspend the plant wrappings over entire areas of plants. The covering should be put in place as cicadas appear and should remain for about five weeks. Farmers can plan for these occurrences because of the predictability of their cycles. In populated areas of the state, cicadas usually frighten

residents because of the sheer numbers of large insects crawling around their trees and homes and the collective noise produced by their mating calls. Reports of large populations in the state have been logged in areas ranging from Salem to Warren Counties. They are especially notable in residential areas like Marlton, Glassboro, Frenchtown, Princeton, Edison, and Metuchen. Ornamental ponds should also be covered with screening or plastic mesh to prevent cicadas from accumulating. Rutgers NJA ES Department of Entomology does not recommend insecticide applications because they are usually not effective or warranted because new cicadas emerge every day and they can fly as far as a half-mile mile. The exception to this would be applications in nurseries

(Continued from page 1) to protect susceptible plants. Insecticides also pose a risk to people, pets, beneficial insects, and birds. When the cicadas emerge under certain conditions, the nymphs construct small cones or “chimneys” of earth above the soil surface several weeks before emerging. The cones may protrude two or three inches above the ground and may be one or two inches in diameter. If the nymphs do not construct a cone, it is common to see the hole they make a few weeks before emergence. This hole is about a half-inch in diameter and extends well below the surface of the soil. In some areas, especially under trees, these holes may be numerous. When they feed, they use blades of a curved, sawlike, egg-laying apparatus on the end of the abdomen, the female cicada punctures the bark of a twig and makes a pocket in the wood. In the

pocket she lays 24 to 28 eggs in two rows. She then moves forward, cuts another pocket, and lays more eggs. This process continues until five to 20 pockets have been made in the twig. The pockets are placed close together in a straight row. Sometimes these rows form a continuous slit two or three inches long. Moving from one twig to another, a total of 400 to 600 eggs are deposited. Seventy to 80 species of trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants are commonly used by cicadas for egg laying. Those preferred by females include oak, hickory, apple, peach, and grape, according to Rutgers NJAES Department of Entomology. Pretty much every creature with a mouth will eat a cicada, given the chance. Even organisms without mouths like fungi will consume cicadas. Some insects are known for specifically preying on

cicadas, for example, Cicada Killer Wasps think they are tasty. If cicadas are not appearing in your neighborhood, try to visit an emergence area to experience this unique educational phenomenon. If you are unable, you can try again in 2038. 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, landscaping and nursery communities through this newspaper and GardenerNews.com.

GardenerNews.com SupportSupport NJ Agriculture Support NJ Agriculture NJ Agriculture

March 2021 5


Support NJ Agriculture

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Governor Phil Murphy

Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher


6 March 2021

R U T G ER S N J AE S / R C E Office of Continuing Professional Education

The Woody Plants of Summer Woody plants are plants that have hard stems and buds that survive above ground in winter. Most are trees and shrubs, though some vines also fit this description. Woody plants are commonly broken down further into the deciduous and evergreen categories. Some examples include American Wisteria, Climbing Hydrangea, Rose of Sharon, and Russian Arborvitae. Learn about the most hardy, cost-effective, and low maintenance woody plants in our upcoming online courses. Woody Plants of Summer: Native March 17-18, 2021 | 9am-11am EDT | $195 Woody Plants of Summer: From Abroad March 23-24, 2021 | 9am-11am EDT | $195

Register Online Today! www.cpe.rutgers.edu/plants

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


From the Director’s Desk

Rutgers Outreach Provided by Brian Schilling Director

Considerations for Soil in Raised Beds Interest in gardening grew prolifically during 2020, as the pandemic forced people to spend more time at home. Working in a garden provides a productive outdoor activity that is usually socially distanced from others. Inexperienced gardeners were wise if they reached out to Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) for information and guidance; while RCE offices were closed to the public, staff was busier than ever providing sound advice and education to New Jersey residents. One of the first steps that gardeners are advised to do is to have a soil test, and Rutgers Soil Testing Laboratory is operating to serve this need. At the lab, years of observations of soil samples, in combination with test results and reported issues in the sampled garden beds – especially in raised beds – demonstrated the need for further information. As a result, a new fact sheet about establishment of garden soils, providing recommendations beyond those for routine nutrient and pH amendments, was developed. Raised beds are a common option for ornamental and vegetable crop gardens. In addition to simply establishing distinct borders to the garden, raised beds may provide benefits in cases of contaminated soil or poor drainage, and can improve physical accessibility for the gardener. On the other hand, one of the major challenges is the “quality” of the soil used in raised beds. The proper selection of soil directly affects the plant health and long-term productivity of the raised bed. Note that a commitment to establish and maintain the garden according to organic management practices does not necessitate strictly using organic matter-based soils. Organic management is based on a philosophy of lowinput, sustainable production mimicking natural ecosystems. Most of our natural landscape is dominated by mineral-based soils with 90 to 95 percent (wt.) sand, silt, and clay. Except in cases of contamination at the site, the existing mineral soil should be utilized in filling the raised bed to the extent possible. This may involve decompaction of underlying soil layers and tilling of the surface topsoil layer but usually requires incorporation of soil amendments to create the final growing media. Since enough soil will be needed to fill the raised bed above the initial grade, a “soil” product is often purchased to provide the extra volume. The specific product selected to blend with existing soil should be chosen with care. Many commercial “garden soil” or “topsoil” products are primarily or entirely organic materials with little or no mineral matter. For example, label ingredients may include: “arbor

fines” or “forest products,” wood bark, sphagnum peat moss and/or reed sedge peat, coconut husk fiber (coir), and/or composts of various kinds and quality. These products are very dissimilar to natural landscape soils. While organic matter is a very important component of good quality soil, even the “richest” natural upland soils rarely have more than 10 percent organic matter by weight, while natural organic soils (defined as having more than 20 percent organic matter) develop only within poorly drained sites in our temperate climate. Straight organic matter is often misconceived as the richest, optimal growing media, but organic materials vary considerably, and there are long-term nutrient and physical aspects of an organic growing media that gardeners should be aware of. They are: Some organic materials, such as wood fibers or sphagnum peat moss, have structure resistant to breakdown but low nutrient content. Some composts may contain an initial flush of nutrients but reduced nutrient release after easily decomposed components are lost. When moist and aerated, organic matter continues to decompose over time, decreasing in volume and porosity when mineral particles are lacking. Highly decomposed organic matter may retain excessive amounts of water and restrict aeration of the plant roots. Excess water content and poor aeration creates risks of oxygen stress in plant roots and disease susceptibility. Certain nutrients are likely to be deficient in organic growing media sources. Potassium, a macronutrient, is not a component of organic molecules and so is rapidly depleted from organic residues. Organic matter, when dry, becomes hydrophobic and resists re-wetting. Its low density makes washing away with runoff a possibility when not contained by a bed border barrier. While organic matter by itself is not recommended for raised beds, it is often the main component of potting soil and other container situations due to the need for low density/low weight. These potting mixes require high levels of management, including frequent small doses of nutrients and careful attention to watering, as well as periodic replacement. To create a more natural, low-input garden bed, utilize the native soil amended with organic matter or an imported mineral soil with appropriate properties. See RCE fact sheets FS1328 Soil for Raised Beds (njaes.rutgers.edu/fs1328) and FS901 Topsoil Suitable for Landscape Use (go. rutgers.edu/8ing3xr6) for more information.

Editor’s Note: This month’s contribution was written by Stephanie Murphy, Ph.D., Director of the Rutgers Soil Testing Laboratory.



March 2021 7

Endearing Flowers for a Fickle Month Without question, March is a fickle month. Known for beginning as winter and ending as spring, it has also been known to start as spring and end with a snowstorm. Plants which bloom during this month are known for their resilience to extremes in weather. What is even more amazing is how delicate the flowers of many of these plants appear. To me, Iris have one of the most endearing and complex flowers a gardener could enjoy and incredibly, two of the bulbous Iris bloom in March. Iris is a member of its own family, the Iridaceae, with upwards of 300 species that span Europe into Asia, along with North America. The name was first penned by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (17071778) in 1753. The name comes from the Greek Ris, meaning rainbow and describes the glorious rainbow of floral colors showcased within this group of This Lifelong Learning column is dedicated to amplifying innovations in teaching and learning - spotlighting educational and professional development courses and webinars available at Rutgers throughout the year. Please visit the website at the bottom to obtain the full list of classes available. We R Here When You Need Us. March Trivia Question: What is unique about March 12th? As we approach the start of spring and begin to prepare our gardens for another bountiful growing season, there is another group of small creatures that bring peace and happiness with every bloom – our pets! For the past two years, our traditional Home Gardener’s School (HGS) program model has expanded to support the furriest of garden companions. The Rutgers Pet Care School (PCS) is now online and providing valuable information to all animal lovers and pet professionals across New Jersey – and beyond! Spotlight Program: PCS – Canine Series. Similar to our HGS @ Home Series, individual workshops and sessions are now available virtually. Additionally, we are now able to provide courses throughout the year. Listed below are courses available in March and April.

plants. Iris reticulata, commonly known as the Netted Iris, is the March blooming species most common to gardens. It was discovered and named by Friedrich August Marschall von Bieberstein (1768-1826) and published in 1808. Although this Iris was initially found in the Caucasus, it is also native to Turkey, northeastern Iraq, and northern and western Iran. The species epithet means “netted” and refers to the net-like appearance of the outer covering of the bulb. Iris reticulata grows from a true bulb, which are layers of modified leaves containing carbohydrates to sustain the plant while dormant throughout the hot, dry summers and cold winters. The bulbs typically have blue to dark purple flowers, with the individual floral parts more slender and delicate in appearance than many Iris. The three-inch diameter flowers consist of three outwardly stretched sepals commonly called falls and three upwardly oriented petals called standards.

The outer one-quarter of the falls is reflexed downwards with a brightly colored central blotch of white or yellow called a signal. Located immediately above the falls is a petal-like structure called the style arm; it contains the anthers and stigma while also providing a fuller appearance to the flower. The flowers typically reach six to eight inches tall and are lightly fragrant. The spearlike, four-sided green foliage stretches to 12 to 15 inches, once flowering is complete. “Harmony” is an attractive sky blue selection with a white signal, while “Violet Beauty” has deeper purple flowers with a complimentary orange signal. Less frequently seen in gardens with its bright yellow flowers is Iris danfordiae or Danford Iris. Initially named Xiphion danfordiae in 1876 by the English botanist John Gilbert Baker (1834-1920), it was properly assigned to the genus Iris in 1882 by the Swiss botanist and mathematician Pierre Edmond Boissier (18101885). The species epithet honors

Mrs. Antoinette Emily Dyce Danford (1845-1927), a Scottish plant hunter who found the plant in the Southern Anatolia region of Turkey in March 1876. She has been described as indefatigable, since she was 26 weeks pregnant when she found the plant. This Iris is only native to regions of Turkey and like its previously described cousin, it too has a netted outer tunic. The cheery, bright-yellow flowers either coincide or appear slightly earlier than Iris reticulata. The foliage is once again four-sided, but it emerges slightly later and is barely apparent when the plants are in bloom. Once the flowers pass bloom, the leaves extend fully to eight to 10 inches in length. The biggest challenge with growing Danford Iris is getting it to rebloom. When planted to the normal depth of three to four inches, the original bulb produces a number of offsets, all too small to flower. Usually, after five to 10 years, the offsets will have grown to a size large enough to flower. Both species appreciate full sun and well-drained soils in

Rutgers Office of Continuing Professional Education By Kenneth M. Karamichael Continuing Education Professional

Lifelong Learning

To stay connected visit (facebook. com/RutgersPetCareSchool). How to Speak Dog: Communicating More Effectively with Your Domesticated Dog, March 11, 2021; 1:00pm - 2:00pm EST. Dogs may not be capable of speaking English, but they are capable of understanding what you say. Taking the time to learn and practice effective strategies for getting your message across to your pets can make all the difference in preventing frustration for you both. Learn how to “speak dog” and explore the many ways you can improve the way you communicate with canines of all breeds. Case Studies in Canine Fear and Aggression, March 18, 2021; 1:00pm - 2:00pm EST. Aggression is the most common and most serious behavior problem in dogs. Growling, barking, snarling,

lunging, snapping, and biting are examples of aggressive dog behavior, and they are most often rooted in fear. The good news is that fear-related aggression can be managed and modified. Whether you are an animal-care professional or a pet owner, this program is a great way to learn about the link between fear and aggression in dogs so that you can better manage similar situations in the future. Instructor: Taught by Karen M. Fazio, a Certified Dog Behavior Consultant and Certified Fear FreeTM animal professional, this series of online workshops explores various aspect of canine behavior and training. For pet owners, learn how to optimize your canine companion›s quality of life and enhance your relationship with him or her by gaining new knowledge from a respected behaviorist. For pet

professionals, invest in these online workshops to learn new skills that will help you work more effectively with dogs. Pet First Aid & CPR Certification, April 6, 2021; 6:30pm - 9:30pm EST. Will you know how to react if your dog is choking? Can you recognize the signs of your cat suffering from heatstroke? Do you know what to do if you suspect your pet has eaten something poisonous? In this three-hour, instructor-led, online Pet First Aid & CPR course, learn how to take care of pets and other animals in the event of an emergency. Upon successful completion of the course, you will earn a nationally recognized ASHI pet first aid and CPR certification that is valid for two years. Instructor: Steve Ross is the President and National Training Director of First Aid & CPR, LLC.

zones 5-9. Both species naturally grow in exposed, gravely soils suggesting a fine grit or gravel covering would be the most appropriate mulch for the plants. These two sweetly scented Iris provide wonderful color for the spring garden and should be at or near the top of your bulb order for next fall. These are definitely very endearing flowers for a very fickle month!

Editor’s Note: Bruce Crawford is a lover of plants since birth, is the Rutgers State Program Leader for Home and Public Horticulture, a part time lecturer in Landscape Architecture at the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, regularly participates in the Rutgers Office of Continuing Professional Education Program, and Past President of the Garden State Gardens Consortium. He can be reached at crawford@njaes. rutgers.edu. Steve Ross has over 40 years of emergency service experience. He and his company offer training in the lifesaving skills such as basic, pediatric, and wilderness first aid, blood borne pathogens, poison prevention, active shooter awareness, bleeding control, concussion injury, and much more. Trivia Answer: Each year this day (National Plant a Flower Day) is dedicated to the planting of flowers in anticipation of the spring season. With over 400,000 species of flowering plants around the world, there is no shortage in finding a favorite. Visit CPE.RUTGERS.EDU to learn more about the hundreds of programs available at OCPE, Rutgers Cooperative Extension and the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station all year long! Learning Never Ends for the New Jersey Gardener!

Editor’s Note: Kenneth M. Karamichael, Ed.M., is an internationally recognized continuing education professional with Rutgers Office of Continuing Professional Education within Rutgers Cooperative Extension. Ken can be reached at kenneth@ rutgers.edu.

8 March 2021


Virtual Annual Conference It’s FREE and OPEN to ALL! Saturday, March 6, 2021 Begins at 8:50 AM Please note: Registration is required but does not guarantee entry into the webinar if maximum capacity has been reached. The webinar is opened to attendees usually 10 minutes before starting time. If the attendance is at maximum, please try again later.

Register at www.NPSNJ.org


March 2021 9

Around The Garden By Tom Castronovo Gardener News

March Madness. A History Lesson. And Some Statistics

Here’s the good news. The first day of spring will occur on Saturday, March 20, 2021, at 5:37 a.m. EDT for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, which is marked by the arrival of the Vernal (Spring) Equinox. Now I’d like to share some more news with you. This crazy coronavirus has had some really interesting “Green Industry” effects. Every month as I travel around the great Garden State disseminating the Gardener News, I have the pleasure of speaking with garden center owners, landscape contractors and this publication’s advertisers. I also speak with the publication columnists and contributing writers quite frequently. Last spring (2020) the Garden State’s horticultural industry almost vanished. Questions were on everyone’s mind. Greenhouse growers lost almost all of their Easter flowers. Garden Center owners did not know if they were going to remain open. The losses that they were anticipating with the arrival of plant material could have been catastrophic. Plant material (annuals and perennials) is a perishable item and must be maintained and valued for its beauty for the consumer. Help was scarce. It’s vital that plant material is handled and cared for properly, so that they remain healthy for the longest time possible while on display. Flowers create powerful impressions. Garden centers were poised to be fully stocked and all set for the busy spring season. These garden centers place their orders well in advance of spring. Plant material was grown and already shipped. It was a frightful time. Once garden centers, nurseries and landscape operations were deemed essential to remain open, my guess, people needed something to do if they were staying home. In my opinion, it was therapeutic. So the creativity began. Containers were purchased. Planting mediums were purchased. Annuals and perennials were purchased to fill the containers. Home Victory Gardens filled with vegetable, fruit, and herbs served as a successful means of easing stress and safeguarding against food shortages. Nobody really knew what to do during the height of the pandemic. With most, if not all of you, staying home, the outdoors was the sanctuary and the new happy place. I can’t even begin to tell you how many people I saw cutting their own lawns with shiny new Toro lawn mowers. Espoma organic garden and potting soils were in high demand. Jonathan Green grass seed and lawn food flew off the shelves. Ferti•lome succulent food was a must. The 2020 gardening revolution was taking shape. In March of 1917 – just weeks before the United States entered World War I – Charles Lathrop Pack organized the National War Garden Commission. At the time, it was said that Pack was “one of the five wealthiest men in America prior to World War I.” In March of 2020, coronavirus struck us here hard in the Garden State. It was New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher that encouraged all of

us to plant a garden and create beautiful outdoor living spaces to stay safe. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. With this, hard goods, soft goods and plant material were hot commodities, resulting in a supply-anddemand situation. Who would have guessed? Now, let’s go back to the beginning of my column where I mention about speaking with the industry and the publications columnists and contributing writers quite frequently. I have learned that this spring might be a challenge to find your favorite green hard and soft goods because of a raw material shortage across the country and the world. Vegetable plants might be on a first come, first served availability basis. The surge for seed last year caught most producers off-guard, leading to availability issues. Landscape contractors were having trouble securing pavers for patios. I was told it was almost a 10-week wait for product. Production could not keep up with demand. With the trade show industry shut down, garden centers were having trouble locating new containers for deck and patio gardens. I feel sorry for a lot of folks in the green industry. They are all facing further anxiety, uncertainty and how to think outside the box in how to address the current challenges for survival. If you cannot find what you are looking for this spring, please don’t blame the garden center. And please don’t blame your landscape contractor if he is having trouble locating materials. (Example: Most three- to five-foot Green Giant arborvitae (Thuja Green Giants) and Leyland cyprus (Cuprocyparis leylandii) were gobbled up by restaurants to provide a buffer between their outdoor dining areas with parking lots and roadways. They needed to be in containers with a good planting medium. My advice, shop early this spring! As I type this column, my email chimed. Here is what it contained. I thought it was worth a share. New Jersey vegetable growers harvested bell peppers from 3,800 acres in 2020, up 300 acres from 2019 and the highest since 1998, according to Bruce Eklund, state statistician of the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, New Jersey Field Office. They reaped $56 million in value of utilized production from this acreage, an all-time record. New Jersey vegetable growers harvested 3,700 acres of squash, up 500 acres from 2019. This acreage level was last seen in 2000 and 2001. They reaped $11.1 million in value of utilized squash production from this acreage. New Jersey vegetable growers harvested spinach from 1,700 acres. They harvested asparagus from 1,900 acres, reaping $14.9 million in value of utilized production. New Jersey was fourth nationally in both asparagus acreage and value of sales. This email message reinforces tasty vegetables and eating healthy. I love the Gardener News... PS. May the “Luck of the Irish” be with you this month, and always!

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, landscaping and nursery communities through this newspaper and GardenerNews.com.

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10 March 2021 N.J. Assembly Bill Would Designate the Third Week of March as “New Jersey Agricultural Literacy Week.” The bill, A-1578, requires the Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Department of Education, to establish a “New Jersey Ag Literacy Program” and to annually designate a children’s’ book, targeted for children in kindergarten, first, and second grade, to highlight the importance of agriculture and teach how the agricultural products in the State provide the necessary ingredients for meals. During “New Jersey Agricultural Literacy Week” each teacher in kindergarten, first, and second grade would be encouraged to read the designated book during classroom instruction to connect common ingredients in breakfast, lunch, or dinner to the crops and animals that provide the necessary ingredients for those meals. New Jersey Agricultural Literacy Week would also encourage and promote the value and importance of New Jersey agriculture through additional classroom activities and through personal stories from volunteers which may include farmers. The bill would allow The Secretary of Agriculture to solicit and accept contributions from private and public sources for the purpose of providing support to help fund the “New Jersey Agricultural Literacy Program.” A-1578 is sponsored in the Assembly by Eric Houghtaling and Joann Downey.

N.J. Senate Bill Creating ‘Jersey Native Plants Program’ Clears Committee New Jersey Senator Kip Bateman’s legislation to establish the “Jersey Native Plants Program” to promote the sale of native vegetation at local garden centers was advanced by the Senate Environment Committee on January 21, 2021. “Shopping local is a great way to support the farms that make New Jersey the Garden State, but we can do much more. We also need to encourage people to plant local,” Senator Bateman (R-16) said. “Planting ‘Jersey native’ vegetation goes hand-in-hand with our successful ‘Jersey Fresh’ program. This legislation will strengthen local farm families, promote healthy eating, and help the environment.” Bateman’s bill, S-83, would create the “Jersey Native Plants Program” in the Department of Agriculture. The program would promote the sale of plants that are native to the Garden State at local garden centers and nurseries. Similar to the “Jersey Fresh” and “Jersey Grown” initiative, this program would create a labeling system to identify native plants as “Jersey natives.” New Jersey has approximately 2,100 native plant species. 19 globally rare plants have their largest or most viable populations in the Garden State. “Locally grown plants are already familiar with the unique climate and landscape of New Jersey,” Bateman added. “Native plants will flourish here and help our state’s natural ecosystem thrive. Let’s ensure New Jersey’s indigenous plants continue to grow strong for generations to come.” A previous version of this bill, S-3000, passed the Senate Environment Committee in March 2019. S-83 has an identical bill in the assembly, A-1580.


Growing Gardeners – Getting Ready to Garden with Children By Diana Dove Contributing Writer When a child grows plants, they learn lessons for life. With guidance from parents, grandparents, teachers, youth leaders or other mentors, they may become tomorrow’s “Growing Gardeners.” This column shares some of what I have learned over the past 24 years while gardening with several thousand children of all ages, in a quarter-acre, schoolyard wildlife habitat garden. Readers are asked to keep in mind that this can be applied when there no longer is a pandemic, and children may once again garden in a group. In order for gardening with children to run smoothly, a youth leader must be prepared and plan ahead. This could include planning gardening sessions, researching information, arranging appropriate adult super vision, communications, and remaining flexible. It is critical to monitor the weather that may affect gardening sessions and to efficiently relay timely messages in the event of a postponement due to weather. A garden volunteer Log-In book should be set up to include youth volunteer hours, a useful record for grant applications. To get started with a group of children, I gather them in one spot to get their full attention so they will listen to clear and simple instructions. I will review a priority list of garden tasks for children and describe an overview of what we hope to accomplish.

I praise the children for volunteering their time in the garden. Our youth gardeners are always told to bring their own drinking water to stay hydrated. Tool safety and garden rules are reviewed. Then the group is divided into crews. Small groups of two to four children work well so that they are not in each other’s way with long tool handles. Each crew is led by a teen or adult crew leader. At our school garden, we call our teen volunteers “Green Team Teen Leaders.” They earn community service hours for Youth Service Organizations such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Junior and High School National Honor Society, Key Club, FFA, and SAVE (Students Against Vandalizing the Earth). Boundaries are set, such as staying within the garden fence. Children are eager when they like what they are doing, so several choices of garden tasks are offered. An observant youth leader will notice when a child is ready to move on to another activity. A variety of short garden tasks meet the needs of children with different attention spans. The teens always seem to be able to stay on task until their job is completed. Adult volunteers fill in where needed. Keep the activities flowing with the children engaged and always be sure a child has a job. Children must be taught how to dress for the weather and for gardening. Sneakers or boots should be worn,

never open-toed shoes. Long pants, long sleeves, a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses are recommended as needed. Garden gloves are always worn. During the summer, gardening in the early evening is preferred to avoid the daytime heat. Our weekly community gardening sessions generally last up to three hours. The best length of time for a young child to garden seems to be about 40 minutes. Some older students garden for longer periods of time. Teens easily garden from two to three hours. Youth Leaders should be prepared to handle emergency situations with a cell phone for communications and to check the weather. They should keep a Volunteer list of emergency contacts. A first aid kit on site should include hand sanitizer, gloves, antibacterial soap, instant ice packs, sting kill swabs, antibiotic ointment, band-aids, and tweezers. When afterschool activities resume and school Garden Clubs hold school gardening sessions, it is important to know that New Jersey State Law mandates that arrangements be made for an Epi-Pen Delegate (one of the school’s certified Teachers) to be present on site. The school nurses have updated info. Additional activities can add to a gardening session, such as a Butterfly Count, an art or photography activity, a visit from a Bee Keeper, and more. Garden Fun with Children will be the topic of another column, focusing on “Growing Gardeners.”

Editor’s Note: Diana Dove can be reached at dianadove13@gmail.com. She is the founder of the Karen Nash Memorial Butterfly Garden. Please “Like” this garden at Facebook/ Karen Nash Memorial Butterfly Garden. Diana serves as the GCNJ Youth Consultant for Environmental Education. She has a BS in Forestry & Wildlife Management with a concentration in Biology, plus a BA in Communications from Virginia Tech. Diana has been teaching Environmental Science to all ages for over 45 years, and is a former Senior Naturalist for a County Park System. She currently co-teaches Clean Communities environmental programs with her husband, Mike.


March 2021 11

The State Assembly Agriculture Committee will continue addressing critical issues in support of Garden State farmers this year. Our farmers have faced many challenges over the past year that reflect longer-term issues threatening the environment and our enjoyment of open space and natural resources as well as their livelihood. Farming is New Jersey’s oldest industry and remains the state’s third largest. That’s why the Agriculture Committee will continue to discuss ways to continue strengthening the protections provided under the Right to Farm Act. TheActincludesaformalconflictresolution process and supports a positive business environment by protecting commercial farms from public and private nuisance lawsuits and overly restrictive municipal regulations. Our farmers shouldn’t be penalized by frivolous lawsuits that prevent them from carrying out the daily activities of operating and maintaining a farm. The Right to Farm Act requires an individual or town to go through the Act’s conflict-resolution process by filing a formal complaint with the County Agriculture Development Board or the State Agriculture Development Committee before going to court.

an annual harvest of approximately $10 million worth oysters and is generating hundreds of jobs. We need to continue to invest in aquaculture as a vital part of the Garden State’s robust agriculture economy and ensure it enjoys the same Right to Farm and farmland assessment protections. Last of all, we must begin a dialogue on the state’s approach to wildlife management. We will continue to explore issues such as the unsustainable explosion of the white-tailed deer population, which threatens home gardeners as well as farmers. The challenges are many and there is much work ahead. As always, the Agriculture Committee welcomes your ideas and suggestions and I look forward to hearing from you on how we can make the Garden State a better place for everyone.

Now that we are into the month of March, it is time to start thinking about planting fruit trees. Of course, if you are a commercial grower, the time to start thinking about planting fruit trees was actually a couple of years prior, when you would have had to order the trees from a commercial nursery. And even for the home gardener, if there is a specific variety and/or a certain rootstock that you want to grow, preparations should be made in advance to ensure that the sought-after varieties are available. With all of that said, for the average backyard grower of fruit trees, there is usually a fairly good variety and supply of fruit trees suitable for planting available from local nurseries, garden centers and farm markets. While many are available on-line, unless you know the source well, it is probably a good idea to actually physically look at the trees before you purchase them. I have also seen some trees not handle the shipping very well. If they are shipped across country, there is

Agriculture and Natural Resources By Eric Houghtaling New Jersey Assemblyman

Assembly Agriculture Committee Priorities for 2021

Often, the complaints revolve around conflicts between farmers holding special events and their residential neighbors. Special occasions events - weddings, anniversaries, and other milestone events - are increasingly important to the farming economy. They supplement income in an industry with small profit margins and many unpredictable costs. That’s why the Agriculture Committee will continue to work toward resolving the long-standing issue of Special Occasion Events on preserved farmlands. We recognize there are two sides to the issue. Conservation groups and others argue that taxpayers already paid farmers to preserve their farms as farms through the preservation process. But if we want to continue the recent trend of slowing the loss of farms, open space and wetlands to development, we need to keep

working farms financially viable. To do that, we also need to protect farmland from invasive plant, insect and animal species that can devastate crops. The spotted lanternfly is the latest of these invaders. Native to China and South Korea, the spotted lanternfly feasts on 70 plant species and by last August the state Department of Agriculture had placed eight counties under quarantine. To protect farmland - and backyard gardens - from such invaders, we must make sure our native plants and the pollinators that keep them healthy prosper. The Agriculture Committee will continue to advocate for bills we recently approved, including A-4231, which requires retailers to post signs regarding risks to pollinators of some pesticides. We also will continue to press A-4717 to create “Protect

Pollinators” license plates to promote the importance of pollinators. The sale of the plates would fund annual contributions to the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey and the Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management Program to protect pollinator animals in the state. The committee also continues to press initiatives to create grant programs for towns and countries with innovative pollinator protection programs and pollinator pathways. Another priority this year is to continue supporting the state’s aquaculture industry. I had the pleasure of visiting several oystermen last fall. Like other Garden State farmers, these farmers of our inland waterways are real innovators. They have revived an oyster fishery that nearly died during 50 years of disease, pollution and saltwater intrusion. Their innovation now produces

The Town Farmer By Peter Melick Agricultural Producer

Planting Fruit Trees

a good chance that these trees might travel through some areas where the temperature can be downright hot. And if they are not refrigerated during transit, there is a good chance that these trees will not perform well after planting. It is important that these trees either be dormant or very close to dormant when you get them. If they have started to leaf out and then are subjected to freezing temperatures, they can be set back severely or killed outright. The exception to this, however, is that many garden centers will get fruit trees in during the early spring, and then pot them so that they are easier to display, sell and transport. If that is the case,

then these trees will acclimate to the local climate and will grow along with the other trees in the region. If these trees have started to leaf out, it is perfectly fine, because so are all of the other trees in the area. But problems can arise if they come from a warmer climate and are placed into a colder one. These are the trees that are at risk. Hopefully, you have selected a site to plant your trees before you purchased them, but if you have not, it is a good idea to remember a few things. First, fruit trees like full sun. That means sun all day long. They will not grow well in the shade of other trees. Also, before the trees are planted, it is a good idea to not only check the fertility and pH

of the soil where the trees are going to be planted, but also to get those rates to the proper levels as well. Before the trees are planted is the best time to work any soil amendments into the ground. After planting, it becomes too difficult to incorporate these items into the soil and it can take years for certain materials to reach the root zone of your trees. Don’t worry too much about nitrogen at this point as that is fairly fast-acting and can be applied in small doses after planting, but lime, phosphorous and potassium should be addressed before planting. And of course, all deer fencing should be taken care of before the trees go into the ground.

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 732-6953371 or AsmHoughtaling@ njleg.org, or by mail at 802 W Park Ave, Ste 302, Ocean Township 07712. When planting the trees, make sure that the soil is somewhat dry. As a rule, fruit trees prefer well drained soil. If the soil is dry and flows well, the roots will do much better than if they are packed in mud. Also, make sure that they are planted in an area where water will drain away from the trees. It is also important to dig the hole slightly bigger than what you need and to spread the roots out before you backfill the dirt. Then, after you replace the dirt, water the newly planted tree so that the dirt will settle around the roots. Good luck! Think Spring! Editor’s Note: Peter Melick is co-owner of Melick’s Town Farm in Oldwick and a 10th-generation New Jersey farmer. Peter is Mayor of Tewksbury Township, Hunterdon County, NJ. 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.

12 March 2021 I’m writing this on the coldest day so far this winter. I can’t wait until spring arrives! Will you have the luck of the Irish on your side this spring when it comes to your lawn? Will the leprechauns and gnomes be kind to you and deliver you a spring green lawn? Not without some help from you. Now is the time to get going and start to clean up your yard of branches, leaves and debris left by Old Man Winter. While you are doing this arduous task, you’ll most likely find some bare spots that need re-seeding. This grass kill might have happened from leaf cover or water sitting in an area too long, or perhaps, excessive amounts of ice melters killed some of your grass. Apply the appropriate grass seed for these areas as soon as you can so that you get the best establishment before summer’s heat and drought arrive. Of course, prepare the soil for best success; scratch up the soil to loosen it up to one inch deep. Lightly cover the grass seed with no more than a quarter-inch of soil. You should be able to see most of the grass seed; do not bury it too deep. Do you have a starter-type

GardenerNews.com Turf ‘s Up By Todd Pretz Professional Turf Consultant

The green Ides of March… lawn food to put down after seeding? What about the soil pH? Do you know what your soil pH is? Do you need to apply some calcium carbonate-based product to raise the soil pH to the best grass-growing range between 6.2 - 7.0? Do not put down traditional pre-emergent crabgrass controls when seeding. Delay these applications unit later in the spring once the newly seeded grass has been mowed two to three times. The race has begun to get your lawn shamrock spring green. If the air temperatures are less than 50 degrees, lawn food will not green up your existing lawn that quickly. Once air temperatures rise to around 55 degrees, the grass will start to respond quicker and start to grow, perhaps within seven to 10

days after application. Most lawn foods have a high nitrogen amount. Nitrogen is the first number listed on a lawn food bag, usually around 20 percent or higher. Nitrogen is what the grass plant needs most and this is what will green up your lawn quickly. Also, some lawn foods contain iron and sulfur and they can help to green up existing grass quickly. This time of year also includes crabgrass pre-emergent strategies to consider. Mother Nature plays a role in your success. If air temperatures are below 50 degrees, it is too early to apply pre-emergent. Soil temperatures are also key to your success; do you have a soil thermometer? Crabgrass will not start to germinate until soil temperatures

reach around 55 degrees. Don’t put down your pre-emergent application too early if there is a cool-wet spring forecast; this will only reduce the control capabilities going into summer months. If you have had a hard time controlling crabgrass over the years, consider making a second pre-emergent application in May to reduce summer breakouts. If you have too much crabgrass each year, you need to create better environmental conditions for your lawn to grow vigorously. Low soil pH, compacted soil, lack of fertilizers, proper mowing and watering are all part of the equation required for a great looking lawn. Even shaded areas need to be addressed to grow grass.

Of course, different levels of shade can greatly affect grass growth. If these shaded areas received four to five hours of sunlight daily you have a much better chance of growing grass than areas that receive one to two hours of sunlight a day. News alert: There is a shortage of Perennial Ryegrass from last summer’s crop so you may see higher prices on TriRye type blends on the market. Farmers have reduced acres they plant for this grass species in the last year or two, usually due to oversupply, and now the market is undersupplied. This summer brings a new crop of Perennial Ryegrass, but there still may be overall shortages in world-wide demand, which means the price will remain higher than usual. Spring is here, let’s get outdoors! 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: www.jonathangreen.com

Your Multi-tasking Native Rain Garden By Hubert Ling If you develop a native plant rain garden on your property, you can accomplish two important tasks at the same time. You will conserve precious fresh water and you will provide essential plant resources for wildlife. The average rainstorm drops about half an inch of rain. When this drops on your roof or sidewalk, most is diverted to sewers. Little of this water can be used by thirsty plants and most is simply shunted into swollen rivers and dumped, eventually, into the ocean. Even if the rain falls on your lawn, much of it is then drained onto impervious surfaces and is wastefully discarded. With a freshwater shortage in much of the world and in some parts of the US, such waste is ill advised. What can an ecologically minded gardener do? Why,

plant a native rain garden of course! Native plant roots extend several feet down and over time provide pathways, deep into the soil, which will store water. This is in contrast to lawn grasses, which typically have roots only a few inches deep and rapidly shed water after quickly becoming saturated. However, the surface of a raingarden is deliberately kept about six inches below the surrounding terrain, Thus, any water that enters the raingarden tends to soak into the soil. This water recharges the groundwater and replenishes the water removed by wells and thus helps prevent the ground from catastrophic settling and sinkhole development. Also, the captured rainwater will eventually join the water flowing underground along every river, which keeps the rivers flowing in periods of prolonged drought. Of course, even a

raingarden with an excellent percolation test and with an under-base of gravel and sand will eventually be saturated in a very heavy rain. So, design your raingarden to have an emergency overflow outlet which will handle excess water. However, you can expect a well-designed raingarden of about 10-by-20 feet to accept about 600 gallons of water, which is the total flow from a moderate sized roof during an average rainstorm. In addition to conserving water, your native rain garden provides essential resources to allow wildlife to thrive in your yard. Research is beginning to show that birds can only reproduce if an area has 50 percent or more native plants. This is because most insects can only feed on specific native plants and an abundant supply of insects is needed to successfully raise a healthy bird clutch. By inference, we can then assume that the rest of our ecosystem also depends on

native plants instead of exotic grasses and shrubs, which generally make up most urban landscapes. My apple trees were once attacked by tent caterpillars; the infected branches, tents and all, were cut from the tree and I was simply to going to trash the tents when an inspired idea popped up and I placed the infected branches on a nearby American holly tree. The results were better than I had hoped. A few days later, I saw a few surviving tent caterpillars in a very pitiful condition surrounded by just a few strands of weak looking webbing. This example shows you that insects are specific in their selection of plant hosts and illustrates that to have a thriving ecosystem in your yard you need a diversity of native plants to sustain a diversity of wildlife. The Native Plant Society of NJ website, www.npsnj. org, under the “Native Plants” tab, will give you details on

how to plan and construct a raingarden. Included in the free downloadable manual are lists of recommended plants for a colorful and wildlife promoting raingarden. Also on the NPSNJ website are details on our free monthly webinars, chapter activities, and details on the free, open to everyone, daylong, March 6 Annual Meeting, which will feature a discussion of citizen participation in conservation efforts by Dr. Linda Rohleder, Director of Land Stewardship at the NY- NJ Trail Conference. In addition, Leslie Sauer will discuss forest conservation, Dr. Randi Eckel will help us identify seedlings of native plants by their distinctive first leaves (cotyledons), and Elaine Silverstein will detail designing a native garden. Sign up now! Editor’s Note: Hubert Ling is President of the Native Plant Society of New Jersey. He can be reached at milhubling@verizon.net.


March 2021 13

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16 March 2021 Last March, my article focused on WWI’s Women’s Land Army. This year, we explore the Women’s Land Army (WLA) of WWII. As the largely forgotten rural counterpart of Rosie the Riveter, the icon for the American women’s industrial contribution to WWII, the WLA sent volunteers, sometimes called “soil sisters” to farms, canneries, and dairies across America. Beginning in 1940, the United States faced a severe shortage of agricultural labor. By the end of 1945, an estimated six million male workers had left the farms to join the war effort. The war placed demands on the agricultural sector to not only feed the home front, but to also support U.S. troops and our European allies.

GardenerNews.com The Garden Historian By Lesley Parness Garden Educator

Women’s History Month: Soil Sisters – The Women’s Land Army of World War II Catchy slogans like “Food Will Win the War” appeared in ads and posters aimed at encouraging the American public to do their part. President Roosevelt declared that “food is the lifeline of the forces that fight for freedom.” Although the USDA proposed

the WLA in 1941, Congress did not formally approve it until 1943. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt forcefully advocated for the WLA in print, on the radio, and in personal appearances. Through 1942 and into 1943, Congress and Secretary of Agriculture Claude

Library of Congress/Image

Wickard dithered over the farm labor problem, before finally authorizing the USDA to establish a Women’s Land Army, part of the 1943 Emergency Farm Labor Program. Florence Hall, a USDA senior economist, was appointed its head. During her tenure, an estimated 3.5 million women joined the farm effort. Recruiting began immediately and women rushed to join, most for patriotic reasons, as the low pay often didn’t cover their expenses. In New York City, WLA information booths were set up in Altman’s, Macy’s, Gimbel’s, and the Helena Rubenstein beauty salon. It was there that my Aunt Lenore, a Hunter College student, enlisted and, with hundreds of others was sent to pick apples in Vermont. A fashion plate, Lenore wore a WLA uniform consisting of stylish denim overalls, jacket and cap. Those without uniforms were warned, “Do not wear high heels, shorts or halters. They are unsuitable from every angle.” Like most WLA members Lenore had no agricultural skills. Some soil sisters were put through crash courses in farming, but only nine states offered such training in 1943. The bulk of “Crop Corps” volunteers learned on the job. The New Jersey WLA picked asparagus and raspberries and were housed at the New Jersey State Teachers College in Glassboro. As in WWI, farmers were at first reluctant to employ nonskilled women workers but soon changed their minds. The WLA was appreciated by the public, with popular magazines featuring numerous articles and radio stations airing programs on its important work. The number of states that offered training courses rose from nine in 1943 to fortyfour in 1944. The 1944 list of WLA accomplishments included Virginia college students helping to save the apple crop, Oregon homemakers harvesting the state’s bean crop, countless

women driving trucks to Midwest grain elevators, chopping cotton in the South, hoeing potatoes in Colorado, and establishing community canning centers across the nation. Women contributed to the war effort in community Victory Gardens too. By 1945, 40 percent of America’s vegetables were produced in Victory Gardens. In 1943, Eleanor Roosevelt had a victory garden planted on the front lawn of the White House - just one of the millions of victory gardens planted that year. In 1945, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics reported that wartime food production had increased by an astounding 32 percent over previous years. During the war years, the United States produced record harvests of corn, wheat, sorghum, potatoes, sugar cane, peaches, and pears none of which would have been possible without the WLA. What vegetable cultivars can you grow now that were popular during WWII? “Mary Washington” asparagus, “Kentucky Wonder” pole beans, “Detroit Dark Red” beets, “Lucullus” swiss chard, “Perfection” cabbage, “Straight 8” cucumbers, “Katahdin” potatoes, and then as now, Rutger’s tomatoes (the original). Just as the lack of food played a role in starting World War II, it also played a role in ending it. Only the U.S. was able to supply adequate food to its soldiers and its allies. By 1943 continental Europe’s food output had dropped by 40 percent. By contrast, the U.S. had increased its output by 50 percent, thanks to the Women’s Land Army. And Aunt Lenore? She married an Army veteran, remained a snazzy dresser and always had a bowl of apples on her kitchen table. Editor’s Note: Lesley Parness offers a variety of presentations and workshops for garden clubs, plant societies, and horticultural gatherings. Recently retired from her position as Superintendent of Horticultural Education at the Morris County Park Commission, and with four decades of teaching environmental science and garden education, her focus now is garden history. A complete listing of her talks can be seen at lesleyparness. com and she can be reached at parness@verizon.net. This column will appear in the paper every other month.

GardenerNews.com A new couple moved in near my home, and it has caused quite a stir. We don’t normally see their kind in the suburbs, and everyone has been keeping an eye on them. In the short time they have resided here, they’ve already shown wanton disregard for the multitude of laws, permits and regulations New Jersey loves to heap on her citizens. From my bedroom vantage point, with binoculars in hand, I watch them engage in a major construction project. I know for a fact they haven’t secured any building, electrical or plumbing permits, nor have they gone before the planning or zoning board. They are not even paying taxes! Others report this couple has been seen at the lake fishing out of season and without a license. Word on the street is they will become parents sometime in midMay. No one dares to approach them because they are considered a protected class and the last thing we need is unwanted attention from the Feds. Despite this, we are thrilled to welcome them to our neighborhood. We are now the proud home of a pair of nesting bald eagles. Winter months, for those in the garden center industry, are all about some welcomed “down time,” repairs and improvements to infrastructure and attending trade shows and educational seminars. One of the largest trade shows in the country is the MANTS show (Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show), typically located in the Baltimore Convention Center in downtown Baltimore. An enormous show that displays new products, it is also an opportunity to network and educate yourself with its many exhibitors. The coronavirus (COVID-19) did away with so many things we took for granted, forcing us into new avenues, and MANTS was no exception. The 51st annual MANTS show was far from normal. While the size and scope of the show may have been reduced, because of online attendance only, the rewards were significant. The MANTS Business Hub was its answer to a virtual exhibition hall. An alphabetized exhibitor list and features such as new product information, brief descriptions of companies, show specials, press releases, appointment requests, images and videos all helped navigate and customize business to fit your needs. Gone was the day of standing in line to meet a company’s representative. This virtual

March 2021 17 recorded measured 20 feet deep and 9.5 feet wide and weighed over two tons. While eagles tend to eat fish, they also feast on rabbits, By Al Murray squirrels, ducks, geese, dead Executive Director animals and even trash. Our eagles certainly won’t go hungry in this town! Talking incessantly about eagles is nothing new around here. Usually, it is about the NFL 48 states. The first threat to their for many years to come. existence was from hunting. Eagles generally mate for life team that plays across the river Thought of as a nuisance to and can have a life span of over and just came off a dreadful 4-11livestock farmers, our nation’s 30 years. In 2015, a wild eagle 1 season. symbol was hunted toward that lived in Henrietta, N.Y., died Thankfully, we now have a extinction. at a record age of 38. My new new eagles team to watch and Unfortunately, a more neighbors are probably 4 to 5 cheer for. devastating threat arrived later. years old, since that is when they Right after the second World first mate and build a nest. Editor’s Note: Al Murray War, farmers and public health Eagles build enormous nests is the Executive Director of officials used a pesticide called high off the ground. Nests are a the New Jersey Agricultural DDT. While DDT worked well to framework of sticks lined with Society. Established in 1781, eradicate mosquitos and pests, it grass, fur, scraps of cloth, and the Society is New Jersey's also began to affect birds of prey. feathers. Unlike migratory birds, oldest organization whose DDT made eagle eggshells too these eagles will stick around purpose is to advocate, thin and caused the eggs to break. all year and the nest will remain educate and promote on DDT was banned in the early their home. Like everyone else in behalf of New Jersey's 1970s, and conservationists the neighborhood, they constantly agricultural industry. Mr. began to breed bald eagles in tinker with home renovations. Murray previously spent captivity and reintroduce them Each year, they will add a foot or his entire career at the NJ into the wild. Fifty years later, two of new material. Department of Agriculture, every county in New Jersey has Nests are typically two to four serving as the Assistant reported at least one pair. How feet deep and four to five feet Secretary. He can be reached we got ours remains a mystery, wide. However, they can become at njagriculturalsociety@ but they might be our neighbor huge. The largest eagle’s nest gmail.com

NJ Agricultural Society

A Change to the Neighborhood

A couple weeks ago, a buddy called me to say he thought he saw a couple of eagles roosting in a tree. Knowing that, in my town, the most exotic creature roaming around might be an occasional raccoon, I figured maybe my buddy was celebrating St. Patrick’s Day a tad too early. I fully expected to see a hawk, or a turkey vulture, or even a large crow. Walking up the block, sure enough, way up in a tall pine tree, sat one of the eagles. It was both a majestic sight and a happy reminder how much our environment has improved over the past several decades. Once on the verge of extinction, the bald eagle’s resurgence has become an American success story. A century ago, eagles were prevalent throughout North America, but by 1960, there were just 400 nests found in the lower

Unique Plants By Bob LaHoff Nursery Specialist

Virtual Learning

experience propelled you to the front of the line whereby when you clicked on a particular company of interest, almost immediately you were met with a follow up email. More importantly, for me, was the opportunity to listen in on various webinars and “chat” with industry experts in real time. People gathering from all parts of the globe, connected by Zoom meetings, enabled you to listen and participate with some of our “industry giants.” The first Zoom meeting I participated in was listening to Raymond Evison from his nursery on Guernsey Island, an island in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy. A pioneer in the clematis world, Evison has 30 Chelsea Flower Show awards to his credit, a monumental achievement! Evison spoke directly to modern production methods where he produces about 2 million clematis. His breeding efforts have led to

clematis types known for more flowers per plant, deeper colors, healthier selections with compact habits. Varieties like Tranquilité™, Diana’s Delight™, Nubia™, Rebecca™, Sacha™, Picardy™and Samaritan Jo™were touted as some of his personal favorites. He went on to explain how his varieties undergo vigorous testing around the world to ensure their viability. The ability to speak directly, via the “Chat” button, to the gentleman who has spent six decades researching and breeding some of the world’s best clematis was daunting and exciting all at the same time. Monrovia Growers had a Zoom meeting featuring new and exciting plants they have developed. Ping Lim, a rosarian pioneer, discussed building Altman Plants’ True Bloom™ rose program from California. True Bloom™ roses have won numerous awards, including ones at the Biltmore International

Rose Trials. Better heat tolerance, fragrance, disease resistance and their ease to propagate prove their worth in today’s landscapes. The Syn-RG™ group hosted a series of webinars, all of which I attended. Dr. Michael Dirr held my attention the longest, speaking about new and exciting Hydrangea coming soon. Froggie™, Azure Skies™ and Rock-n-Roll™ all seem to hold enormous promise. Yet another Zoom meeting discussed new varieties of boxwood, now available for purchase, and the cultivars bred to meet boxwood blight “head on.” One exciting webinar discussed new and improved varieties of carex, delphinium, liriope and hellebore, and their breeding, from the Netherlands. The Syn-RG™ group did a wonderful job hosting their talks and proved yet again why cutting-edge plants, Handpicked for You®, continue to dominate sales in the IGC (Independent Garden

Center). Trepidation and apprehension have always been feelings I’ve had when it comes to registering for the MANTS show. Always in the beginning of January, the risk of snow, and our company’s contractual obligations to remove it, has me registering late for MANTS most years. This year there were no excuses not to attend, as the MANTS Business Hub will remain online for 90 days following its opening. Entomologists, breeders, growers, educators and really the entire “green industry” came out and supported MANTS from all corners of the globe and I for one was grateful for their endeavors.

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, past member of Reeves-Reed 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.

18 March 2021


UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT Family-owned farms account for 96% of U.S. farms, according to the Census of Agriculture Typology Report Family farms comprise 96% of all U.S. farms, account for 87% of land in farms, and 82% of the value of all agricultural products sold, according to the 2017 Census of Agriculture Farm Typology report released on January 22, 2021 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). The farm typology report primarily focuses on the “family farm,” defined as any farm where the majority of the business is owned by the producer and individuals related to the producer. The report classifies all farms into unique categories based on two criteria: who owns the operation and gross cash farm income (GCFI). GCFI includes the producer’s sales of crops and livestock, fees for delivering commodities under production contracts, government payments, and farm-related income. “Classifying America’s 2 million farms to better reflect their diversity is critical to evaluating and reporting on U.S. agriculture,” said NASS Administrator Hubert Hamer. “Typology allows us to more meaningfully explore the demographics of who is farming and ranching today as well as their impact on the economy and

communities around the country.” The data show that small family farms, those farms with a GCFI of less than $350,000 per year, account for 88% of all U.S. farms, 46% of total land in farms, and 19% of the value of all agricultural products sold. Largescale family farms (GCFI of $1 million or more) make up less than 3% of all U.S. farms but produce 43% of the value of all agricultural products. Mid-size farms (GCFI between $350,000 and $999,999) are 5% of U.S. farms and produce 20% of the value of all agricultural products. The data also show that the number of family farms decreased by 4% (almost 80,000 farms) since 2012. Large and mid-size family farms experienced steeper declines, decreasing 13% and 8%, respectively. Small family farms experienced a smaller decline (3%). Other key findings from the 2017 Census of Agriculture Farm Typology report include: • Southern and New England states have the highest share of small family farms. Midwestern and Northern Plains states have the lowest share. Conversely, the share of mid-size and large-scale

USDA Publishes Final Rule for the Domestic Production of Hemp The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the final rule regulating the production of hemp in the United States on January 15, 2021. The final rule incorporates modifications to regulations established under the interim final rule (IFR) published in October 2019. The modifications are based on public comments following the publication of the IFR and lessons learned during the 2020 growing season. The final rule is available for viewing in the Federal Register and will be effective on March 22, 2021. “With the publication of this final rule, USDA brings to a close a full and transparent rule-making process that started with a hemp listening session in March 2019,” said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Under Secretary Greg Ibach. “USDA staff have taken the information you have provided through three comment periods and from your experiences over a growing season to develop regulations that meet Congressional intent while providing a fair, consistent, science-based process for states, tribes and individual producers. USDA staff will continue to conduct education and outreach to help industry achieve compliance with the requirements.” Key provisions of the final rule include licensing requirements; recordkeeping requirements for maintaining information about the land where hemp is produced; procedures for testing the THC concentration levels for hemp; procedures for disposing of noncompliant plants; compliance provisions; and procedures for handling violations. Background: On Oct. 31, 2019, USDA published the IFR that provided specific details on the process and criteria for review of plans USDA receives from states and Indian tribes regarding the production of hemp and established a plan to monitor and regulate the production of hemp in

those states or Indian tribes that do not have an approved state or Tribal plan. The IFR was effective immediately after publication in the Federal Register and provided a 60-day public comment period. On Dec. 17, 2019, USDA extended the comment period until Jan. 29, 2020, to allow stakeholders additional time to provide feedback. USDA re-opened the comment period for 30 days, from Sept. 8 to Oct. 8, 2020 seeking additional comments from all stakeholders, especially those who were subject to the regulatory requirements of the IFR during the 2020 production cycle. In all, USDA received about 5,900 comments. On Feb. 27, 2020, USDA announced the delay of enforcement of the requirement for labs to be registered by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the requirement that producers use a DEA-registered reverse distributor or law enforcement to dispose of noncompliant plants under certain circumstances until Oct. 31, 2021, or the final rule is published, whichever comes first. This delay has been further extended in the final rule to December 2022. The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) directed USDA to issue regulations and guidance to implement a program for the commercial production of hemp in the United States. The authority for hemp production provided in the 2014 Farm Bill was extended until January 1, 2022, by the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021, and Other Extensions Act (Pub. L. 116-260) (2021 Continuing Appropriations Act) allowing states and institutions of higher education to continue to grow or cultivate industrial hemp at certified and registered locations within the state for research and education purposes under the authorities of the 2014 Farm Bill.

farms is highest in the Midwest and Northern Plains states. • Farm specialization varies by farm size. The majority (57%) of small family farms specialize in cattle (34%) or “other crops” such as hay and forage production (23%). Over half (53%) of mid-size farms specialize in grains and oilseeds. Large-scale family farms vary more in product specialization, though they are more likely than other family farms to specialize in dairy production or specialty crops. • Small family farms account for 45% of all direct sales to consumers, compared to 17% for mid-size family farms and 23% for large-scale family farms. • Compared to producers on mid-size and large-scale family farms, small family farm producers are more likely to be women, age 65 or older, and report being of Hispanic origin or a race other than white. They are also more likely to be new and beginning farmers (farmed 10 years or less) and to report having military service. Source: USDA/NASS

USDA Announces Deregulation of Petunias Developed Using Genetic Engineering The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announces the deregulation of petunia varieties, designated as A1-DFR, developed using genetic engineering to produce orange flowers. After reviewing the petition and available data, APHIS published for a 30-day public comment period a preliminary determination of nonregulated status for A1-DFR petunias, a draft Plant Pest Risk Assessment that examined plant pest risks, a draft Environmental Assessment that analyzed the potential issues and environmental impacts, and a preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact. After thoroughly reviewing all public comments, APHIS has determined the A1-DFR petunia variety is unlikely to pose a plant pest risk to agricultural crops or other plants in the United States. Therefore, A1-DFR petunias, and any progeny derived from them are no longer to be considered regulated under APHIS’ Biotechnology Regulations at 7 CFR part 340 Source: USDA - APHIS Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Gardener News!



March 2021 19

OF AGR ICU LTU R E N EWS USDA’s 2022 Census of Agriculture Content Test is underway Many agricultural producers across the United States recently received 2022 Census of Agriculture Content Test materials. The Content Test, which runs through spring, is a critical part of the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s (NASS) preparation for the nation’s once-every-five-year Census of Agriculture. NASS selected approximately 36,000 producers to participate in the survey to ensure representation across all segments of U.S. agriculture. Participants in the test are asked to provide information on the effectiveness of the 2022 questionnaire for various modes of data collection, including mail, telephone interviews, and online reporting. NASS will consider all test results on content and modes of data collection for incorporation into the 2022 Census of Agriculture. “NASS conducts statistical research to continually improve the quality of agricultural data, while also reducing the time and effort for producers responding to surveys,” said Census and Survey Division Director Barbara Rater. “The Content Test collects data directly from producers to help ensure that future census data are as accurate as possible. Participation in this test is vital to the success of the upcoming agriculture census.” NASS has been preparing for the 2022 Census of Agriculture since 2018 when they began evaluating the content and design of the previous Census questionnaire and soliciting public input into the 2022 Census. The Census of Agriculture is the only source of comprehensive agricultural data for every state and county in the nation. The data are widely used to inform decisions that benefit the agricultural community and the nation – from decisions guiding essential food delivery systems, succession planning, and new and beginning farmer programs, to decisions affecting agriculture practices, land stewardship, and sustainability. In accordance with federal law, NASS keeps all responses confidential and uses them for statistical purposes only. Anyone who needs assistance completing the Content Test survey can call 888424-7828. For more information about the Census of Agriculture, visit www.nass.usda.gov/AgCensus. Source: USDA/NASS

Grass Flowers are Something to Buzz About (USDA/ARS)

Turfgrasses sometimes get a “bad rap” for not giving our bees and other insect pollinators a helping hand on the food front. But Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and University of Georgia (UGA) studies suggest this reputation is unfair—and at least five different genera of bees would agree! In the world, 70 percent of the main crops used for human consumption at least in part depend on bees and other pollinators. Yet, worldwide, pollinators have been in decline for the last several decades. Turfgrasses are often blamed for the decline and it is often stated that turfgrasses are windpollinated, and thus useless for pollinators. The team’s findings, published in the November issue of Insects, provided evidence to the contrary. “This is vital research as we aim to protect the natural environment of pollinators that are the foundation of our food supply,” said Karen Harris-Shultz, a research geneticist at the ARS Crop Genetics and Breeding Research Laboratory in Tifton, Georgia. “This new knowledge sets the baseline for future research to show that turfgrasses can serve as a food source for pollinators.” Centipedegrass is a popular turfgrass found mainly in the southeastern part of the United States and is known for its heat tolerance and low maintenance, making it a favorite among homeowners and landscapers but prior research had suggested that it is of little use to pollinators. However, for many years Harris-Shultz had noticed bumblebees and honeybees collecting pollen from the flowers of centipedegrass lawns. She mentioned this to UGA entomologist Shimat Joseph and UGA physiologist David Jespersen. They decided to start research projects to identify pollinators that pass through centipedegrass lawns and differentiate them from insects that directly collect pollen from centipedegrass flowers. To identify the types of pollinators foraging on the grass flowers, the researchers collected specimens from 11 centipedegrass lawns starting mid-August to the end of September. Using sweep nets, they homed in on insects that were foraging pollen from centipedegrass and were later identified in the lab by Joseph. Their specimens included bumble bees, honeybees, sweat bees and hoverflies. “Our collaboration with the University of Georgia has been exceedingly fruitful,” said HarrisShultz. “We have challenged commonly held scientific beliefs and found that a turfgrass serves as a food source for five genera of bees. We suspect other turfgrasses may serve as a food source for pollinators as well.” Now that it is known that pollinators are transiting in centipede lawns, homeowners can play an important role in helping out the insects by adopting new lawn-management practices, such as changing how often they mow. This will allow the flowers to emerge from the grass and prevent them from producing seed as quickly. Homeowners can also reduce or change their selection of insecticides to limit the pollinators’ exposure to chemicals. Editor’s Note: The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in agricultural research results in $17 of economic impact.

Highlights from the February 2021 Farm Income Forecast Net farm income, a broad measure of profits, is forecast to decrease $9.8 billion (8.1 percent) to $111.4 billion in 2021. In inflation-adjusted 2021 dollars, net farm income is forecast to decrease $12 billion (9.7 percent) in 2021 after increasing $37.8 billion (44.2 percent) in 2020 to its highest level since 2013. Despite this decline, 2021 net farm income would be 21 percent above its 2000-19 average of $92.1 billion. After increasing a forecasted $27.3 billion in 2020, net cash farm income is forecast to decrease $7.9 billion (5.8 percent) to $128.3 billion in 2021. Inflation-adjusted net cash farm income is forecast to decrease $10.4 billion (7.5 percent) from 2020 and would be 15.3 percent above its 2000-19 average ($111.3 billion). Net cash farm income encompasses cash receipts from farming as well as farm-related income, including Government payments, minus cash expenses. It does not include noncash items— including changes in inventories, economic depreciation, and gross imputed rental income of operator dwellings— reflected in the net farm income measure above. Cash receipts are forecast to increase in 2021, but lower direct Government farm payments are expected to drive

most of the decline in both net income measures. Cash receipts for all commodities are forecast to increase $20.4 billion (5.5 percent) to $390.8 billion (in nominal terms) in 2021. Total animal/animal product receipts are expected to increase $8.6 billion (5.2 percent) with increases in receipts for cattle/calves, hogs, and broilers. Total crop receipts are expected to increase $11.8 billion (5.8 percent) from 2020 levels following higher receipts for soybeans and corn. Direct Government farm payments are forecast at $25.3 billion in 2021, a decrease of $21 billion (45.3 percent) in nominal terms. The expected decrease is because of lower supplemental and ad hoc disaster assistance for COVID-19 relief in 2021 relative to 2020. Also contributing to the 2021 decline in net income are higher production expenses. Total production expenses, including operator dwelling expenses, are forecast to increase $8.6 billion (2.5 percent) to $353.7 billion (in nominal terms) in 2021. Most of this reflects higher spending on feed, fertilizer, and labor. Farm business average net cash farm income is forecast to decrease $6,100 (6.2 percent) to $91,800 per farm in 2021. Farm businesses in all resource regions are

forecast to see declines in net cash farm income except the Heartland. When farm businesses are categorized by commodity specialization, most see average net farm income fall in 2021. The exceptions are farms specializing in wheat, corn, soybeans, and hogs. Farm sector equity is forecast up by $47.8 billion (1.8 percent) to $2.74 trillion (in nominal terms) in 2021. Farm assets are forecast to increase by $57.4 billion (1.8 percent) to $3.18 trillion in 2021, reflecting anticipated increases in the value of real estate assets held by the sector. Farm debt is forecast to increase by $9.6 billion (2.2 percent) to $441.7 billion (in nominal terms), led by an expected 3.1-percent rise in real estate debt. The farm sector debt-to-asset ratio is expected to rise slightly from 13.84 percent in 2020 to 13.89 percent in 2021. Working capital, which measures the amount of cash available to fund operating expenses after paying off debt due within 12 months, is forecast to decrease 12 percent from 2020. When adjusted for inflation, farm sector equity and assets in 2021 are relatively unchanged from 2020. Source: USDA Economic Research Service

20 March 2021 In the South, form Washington D.C. south into northern Florida and west into Texas, there is perhaps no tree that is an iconic southern tree more than the aptly named Southern Magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora. When I moved to the area in the mid ’80s, the Southern magnolia was relatively uncommon because it was considered on its edge of hardiness. There were some notable specimens in the area, but it was by no means common. The most common cultivars were Magnolia grandiflora “Edith Bogue.” However, with a changing climate and typically more mild winters, the Southern magnolia has become a legitimate evergreen ornamental tree for this area. The Southern magnolia ultimately can reach nearly 100 feet tall, but in this area a mature specimen might be 50 to 60 feet tall. This upright tree is grown for its broad evergreen leaves that have shiny surfaces and several cultivars have a very attractive coppery fuzz (indumentum) on the underside of the leaf. Selections such as “Bracken’s Brown Beauty” and “D. D. Blanchard” haven been specifically selected for their broad shiny leaves and rich brown indumentum. At a recent visit of The Natural Lands Trust Stoneleigh Garden in Villanova, they used Magnolia grandiflora Teddy Bear® which is a

GardenerNews.com Pennsylvania Horticultural Society By Andrew Bunting Vice President of Public Horticulture

Evergreen Magnolias

selection that only reaches 16 to 20 feet tall with a pyramidal habit for a hedge. The Southern Magnolia thrives in full sun and is incredibly resilient in urban conditions. In the summer, southern magnolias have very large, creamy-white flowers that are borne sporadically throughout the summer, which have a beautiful lemony fragrance. In the fall, the large fruit clusters, follicles, can turn a rich, vibrant rose-pink which is a significant added ornamental attribute. One of my favorites is “Kay Parris,” which is a diminutive to medium-sized selection like Teddy Bear® which makes it a better selection for smaller spaces or urban dwellings. Other notable cultivars include Alta™ which is relatively upright and narrow and good for hedges. “Hasse” is also an upright cultivar. “Victoria” is a fairly hardy selection that is fairly broad spreading. Another evergreen species is the sweetbay magnolia,

Magnolia virginiana. This upright tree can be deciduous, semi-evergreen or fully evergreen depending on the selection and where in the country it is growing. From Massachusetts to mid-North Carolina the native distribution is Magnolia virginiana var. virginiana. These trees are typically fully deciduous, grow as a multistemmed clump and have twoto three-inch sporadic flowers from mid-May through to September that are have a sweet lemony fragrance. The Southern type is Magnolia virginiana var. australis. It is this variety that tends to be either evergreen or semi-evergreen and it is from this form that almost all the cultivars have been selected. Many selections of the more evergreen form have been made. Magnolia virginiana var. australis “Santa Rosa” was selected for its large, broad leaves with a shiny surface. “Satellite” reaches 20 feet tall and is reliably evergreen. “Ned’s Northern Belle” is touted to be

the hardiest selection of the evergreen sweetbays for the north. “Green Shadow” was promoted by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture as an alternative hedging plant. “Henry Hicks” was named by Dr. John Wister, first director of the Scott Arboretum for his nurseryman colleague who had a famed nursery on Long Island. “Mattie Mae Smith” is a selection that has butter yellow and green variegated foliage. Sweet Thing is a relatively new introduction from Sleepy Hollow Nursery that reaches eight feet tall with an equal spread. The habit is rounded and it produces a shrublike habitat. It is thought that Sweet Thing™ could become a potential replacement for broadleaved evergreen shrubs like rhododendron, aucuba, and cherry laurels, Prunus laurocerasus. The sweetbay magnolia is one of the best small- to mediumsized trees. Its evergreen habit

and the sporadically borne sweetly scented flowers from spring into fall is a great attribute. There are essentially only a couple magnolias that can grow in damp and poorly drained conditions and this is one of them. In the late summer heading into the fall, the follicles (fruit clusters) produce shiny red fruits which are a food source for some native birds. Editor’s Note: Andrew Bunting is Vice President of Public Horticulture for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. He is one of the most recognized horticulturists in the Philadelphia, Pa., region and a highly regarded colleague in the world of professional horticulture. Bunting has amassed a plethora of awards, including the American Public Gardens Association Professional Citation, Chanticleer Scholarship in Professional Development, Delaware Center for Horticulture’s Marion Marsh Award, and the Certificate of Merit from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. In addition, Bunting has lectured extensively throughout North America and Europe, and participated in plant expeditions throughout Asia and Africa. Learn more at https://phsonline.org/team/ andrew-bunting

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society to Build Green Resource Center in Norristown Farm Park The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) will establish a new Green Resource Center in Montgomery County’s Norristown Farm Park. The PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park will include amenities and services to benefit the local community: a teaching farm, a greenhouse with appropriate heating and cooling systems powered in part by solar energy, shade area for seedlings, a wash station, a pavilion for public programming, pollinator gardens, community garden beds, and workforce development opportunities in conjunction with YWCA TriCounty Area. The PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park will be operational in Spring 2021. With funding from the

Montgomery County CARES Act Food Security Assistance and Workforce Development Program, the PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park will support a county-wide effort to engage and support gardeners to grow more food for themselves and their neighbors, which has become critically important during the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding will also provide support for job training in the field of horticulture. According to Feeding America’s “Map the Meal Gap” studies, 7 percent of Montgomery County residents are facing food insecurity with an estimated rise to 11.1 percent in 2020. Many food pantries have experienced a 50 percent increase in demand over the past few months, thereby heightening

the need for broad collective action to support the health and well-being of local communities. The PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park will offer education, material distribution, technical assistance, seedling propagation, and networking – supplying the necessary resources for gardeners to strengthen their neighborhoods by increasing access to fresh food and helping to cultivate strong social connections across barriers of age, language, and race. “As a result of the economic impacts of COVID-19, it is estimated that over 100,000 Montgomery County residents are experiencing difficulty accessing nutritious food for themselves and their families,” said Dr. Valerie

A. Arkoosh, Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. “That is why the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners approved $1 million in CARES Act funding for the County’s Food Security Assistance and Workforce Development Program. This new (PHS) program will increase food sovereignty for participants, their families, and their communities while also providing tools for job training and self-reliance for the future.” PHS’s VP and Chief of Healthy Neighborhoods, Julianne Schrader Ortega, states, “The PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park will provide the training, space, and resources for Montgomery County residents to learn about gardening and careers in the

field of horticulture while also being a vital place to nurture social connections with others.” The PHS Green Resource Center at Farm Park will also support YWCA Tri-County Area’s workforce development efforts, which expects to serve 200 people this year. Participants in YWCA’s Food for Success program will receive handson education and soft skills training in horticulture from PHS. Participants in YWCA’s culinary arts training program, Dignity Kitchen, will receive education and harvested produce. “YWCA is committed to drive change, to listen, to support and most importantly, to act,” said Stacey Woodland, Executive Director of YWCA Tri-County Area.


March 2021 21

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22 March 2021


NORTHEAST DEPARTMENT NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE New York State Agriculture Commissioner Announces Application Open for AEMLeopold Conservation Award The New York State Department of Agriculture anNew York State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball announced that applications are being accepted for New York State’s 2021 Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) Leopold Conservation Award. Presented by the Sand County Foundation, the award honors a farm and its nominating Soil and Water Conservation District for their extraordinary achievement in environmental stewardship. The $10,000 award is provided by the Sand County Foundation, in partnership with the Department, American Farmland Trust, and Cornell Cooperative Extension. Commissioner Ball said, “The prestigious New York AEM-Leopold Conservation Award recognizes farmers who are committed to protecting the environment through the preservation of soil and water and leaving the land better than how they found it. We thank the Sand County Foundation for collaborating with us to host this most distinguished award and look forward to honoring this year’s winners.” Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes landowners who inspire others with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat management on private, working land. Eligible candidates successfully incorporate AEM Best Management Practices on the farm, which assist the landowner in meeting environmental and business goals that ensure longterm viability for future generations. Applications for the New York AEM-Leopold Conservation Award are now being accepted, with county Soil and Water Conservation Districts applying on behalf of the farm. Applicants should demonstrate conservation leadership and outreach in the agricultural sector and be an inspiration to other landowners. Applications must be received by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets by April 1, 2021. Nominations will be reviewed by an independent panel of conservation leaders. Interested candidates should contact their local county Soil and Water Conservation District. The application can be found at www.sandcountyfoundation.org/ ApplyLCA. The AEM-Leopold Conservation Award Program in New York is made possible thanks to the generous support of American Farmland Trust, Sand County Foundation, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Cornell Cooperative Extension, The Ida and Robert Gordon Family Foundation, Farm Credit East, the New York State Agribusiness Association, and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

DELAWARE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Delaware Approves Continuing Education Alternatives For Pesticides And Nutrients Following COVID Struggles

Over this past year, Delaware farmers and pesticide applicators have had to pivot, joining the rest of the population in utilizing online learning to earn continuing education credits. However, dealing with limited internet options in rural Delaware communities and other technical challenges, many individuals have been prevented from gaining the credits needed to maintain their nutrient management or pesticide certifications. “I have heard from many of the people we serve about the hardships they have faced trying to go online and participate in training. Our producers are used to going to Delaware Ag Week, attending field days and workshops in person. Sitting at a computer to take an eight-hour training doesn’t work when you need to be in the field harvesting,” said Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “We know broadband and highspeed internet can be non-existent in Delaware’s rural communities. And when you offer suggestions on how

you can remedy this and advise where to turn, the standard recommendations don’t work during a pandemic.” The Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) is offering extensions and COVID credit exemptions depending on the type of recertification to accommodate individuals who have exhausted all options in earning their continuing education credits. At the Delaware Nutrient Management Commission meeting on February 2, Secretary Scuse asked the commissioners to consider extending the time for which Commercial and Private Nutrient Handlers and Nutrient Generators have to accumulate six credit hours of continuing education. The commissioners voted and approved an extension increasing the time from three to four years for those certificate holders expiring on May 1, 2021. University of Delaware Nutrient Management staff has held a record number of virtual events through 2020 and 2021, as well as increased

on-demand education from their website in response to the COVID-19 pandemic aiding the roughly 1,800 certificate holders in keeping up with their credits. Additionally, course packets are available with materials eligible for up to six credits that can be mailed to farmers free of charge if they have difficulty connecting to online resources. For more information or to obtain a packet, certified individuals can contact Hilary Gibson or Sydney Riggi at the Kent County Cooperative Extension Office at (302) 730-4000 or email nutrient-management@udel. edu. Commercial and private pesticide applicators who have explored all training options and are still falling short of the quota needed must contact the DDA Pesticides Section by the extension date of March 31, 2021. Applicators can review their credits at https://dda.force.com/pesticide. Pesticide applicators can request a COVID credit exemption by contacting Kenda Galipo at (302)698-4571.

MAINE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Announces 2021 Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award

Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) Commissioner Amanda Beal announced at the virtual Agricultural Trades Show that the Commissioner’s Distinguished Service Award recipient for 2021 is Penelope (Penny) Jordan, a fourth-generation farmer in Cape Elizabeth, and local community organizer. Over three decades, Jordan has emerged as a leading voice in Maine Agriculture. She was instrumental in starting the Cape Farm Alliance and is a past president and 12-year member of the Maine Farm Bureau. Penny has served on the Cumberland County Farm Bureau board, is currently on the Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society board, and is a member of the New England Farmers Union. Besides her agricultural organization involvement, she serves on the Cape Elizabeth Town Council, chairing the Ordinance Committee and representing Cape Elizabeth on the Maine Municipal Association’s Policy Committee.

Jordan’s passions are agriculture and ending hunger in Maine, and she is active in hunger prevention programs in Southern Maine. She is currently working to form an organization called “Farms for Food Equity,” that will move Maine farm products into the charitable food system. Jordan also played a pivotal role last year in leading the development of a framework for DACF to design and implement a statewide strategic plan to address food insecurity as required by the passage of LD 1159 - the Resolve To End Hunger In Maine, passed during the 129th legislative session and signed into law by Governor Mills. “Penny is well known for her numerous contributions to agriculture in the state through the roles she has held on various boards and for her passion for farming and feeding her community,” said DACF Commissioner Amanda Beal. “If there was ever someone who deserved to be recognized for ‘distinguished service’

in Maine agriculture, it is Penny, and it was an honor to present her with this award.” Penny holds a master’s degree in social work, with a community organizing and program design focus, and she brings many skills from that training into her work. She was raised on the farm she currently operates, Jordan’s Farm, alongside her brother, Bill Jr., and sisters, Pam and Carol Anne, and her nephew, Phil. Jordan’s Farm, a 60+ acre mixed vegetable and market farm, grows a wide variety of products with a significant focus on strawberries, tomatoes, corn, pumpkins, green beans, lettuces, and salad greens. Jordan’s products are available at retail, through wholesale, and at their seasonal farm stand. In 2014 Jordan’s Farm teamed up with Farmers’ Gate Market from Wales, Maine, to create a year-round store in South Portland, now called Solo Cucina Market, which features Maine meats, produce, and other products.


March 2021 23

OF AGRICULTURE NEWS NEW JERSEY DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE N.J. Department of Agriculture Seeks Agencies to Sponsor Meals for Summer Nutrition Program New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher encourages organizations to help provide nutritious meals to children in low-income areas during the summer months through the Department’s Summer Food Service Program. The Summer Food Service Program began in 1976 as an outgrowth of the National School Lunch Program. The Summer Food Service Program is designed to reach those who are age 18 or younger in economically disadvantaged areas. It also is open to people over 18 who have mental or physical disabilities and who participate in public or nonprofit private programs established for those with disabilities. The federally funded program reimburses participating organizations for meals served to children who live in areas in which at least 50 percent of the children

qualify for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program. Current USDA waivers allow eligibility for summer meals for all who are age 18 and younger. These waivers are set to expire on June 30, 2021 and it is unknown at this time if the waivers will be extended. Applicants may include public or private nonprofit school food authorities, units of local, municipal, county or state governments, public or private nonprofit organizations, residential summer camps or national youth sports programs. The deadline for submission of completed applications is March 24, 2021. Organizations approved to sponsor the Summer Food Service Program are responsible for managing the feeding sites that provide the meals to young children. Most participating organizations may

be reimbursed for up to two meals a day: breakfast, lunch, dinner and or snacks. Meals may also be reimbursed for nights and weekends. Those serving primarily migrant children may be reimbursed for up to three meals a day. Residential camps may serve up to three meals a day but are reimbursed only for meals served to children eligible for free or reduced-price meals under the National School Lunch Program. More than 647,000 children in New Jersey receive free or reduced-price meals in their schools under the National School Lunch Program. In 2020, there were 151 organizations that participated in the Summer Food Service Program serving nutritious meals at more than 1,083 summer meal sites. In addition to the Summer Food

Program, the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Division of Food and Nutrition, administers a number of programs devoted to improving the quality and provision of food to New Jersey residents, in particular those most in need, including School Nutrition Programs and the Child and Adult Care Food Program. The Division of Food and Nutrition also administers The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which distributes federally donated commodities to six emergency feeding organizations statewide. These federally donated foods are distributed to more than 700 soup kitchens, food pantries and public feeding sites serving the state’s neediest citizens. For more information on the Summer Food Service Program or to obtain an application, call (609) 292-4498.

VERMONT DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE New Plan to Strengthen Vermont’s Agriculture and Food System Released

The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund through its Farm to Plate Initiative, and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (VAAFM) have released the Vermont Agriculture and Food System Strategic Plan 2021-2030. With over 1,500 Vermonters providing input and helping to shape its content over an 18-month period, the Plan lays out a vision, 15 goals, 34 priority strategies, and 276 recommendations for advancing the agriculture and food system in Vermont. Focus groups with over 120 Vermont industry members such as beef, dairy, sheep and goat, maple, vegetable and berry producers, Vermont Cheese Council board members, farmers market managers, specialty food association members, and Farm to School leaders were also convened to give input that helped shape the Plan. “The meetings with community stakeholders and producers informed the vision of the Plan, validated the key findings and recommendations, and prioritized action steps that will support the growth and viability of each of these agricultural industries,” says Jake Claro,

Farm to Plate director at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. “While we have made great progress over the past ten years, the global COVID-19 pandemic has shown us just how much more we still have to do to strengthen our state and regional food system, shorten supply chains and expand our ability to feed Vermonters.” The Plan provides in-depth insights across 54 product, market and issue briefs which are the foundation for its goals and strategies. The briefs were written by 149 experts, including many farmers, food business owners, producer associations, VAAFM personnel and other knowledgeable stakeholders. They examine the bottlenecks, gaps, and opportunities specific to the topic, and recommend strategies to advance them. “This is an impressive step as we look to the future of agriculture. We will use this Plan and work with our important partners, including the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund,” says Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Anson Tebbetts. “We are very excited to build on the progress we have already made to grow the economy, make

Vermont more affordable and protect the most vulnerable. This report will guide us for years to come.” The Plan contains an easy-to-use explanation of how to navigate the document and promises insight for just about anyone working in agriculture and the food system. For producers there are briefs that pertain to their particular products such as dairy, goats, grains, and much more, briefs that provide insight on various market channels such as grocery stores, restaurants, and others, and briefs that cover a range of issues including climate change, consumer demand, marketing, supporting future farmers, and more. While the entire plan is 202 pages long, each section can be reviewed on its own and still provides helpful information and insights. “We wanted to publish the Plan in a way that is accessible and relevant to a wide range of farmers, food producers and food system advocates,” says Ellen Kahler, executive director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. “The only way we’re going to accomplish these goals is if

we all work together to make the Vermont food system better for everyone involved.” The Plan and all the individual briefs can be downloaded at www.vtfarmtoplate. com/plan. About the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF) is a nonprofit organization committed to nurturing the sustainable development of Vermont’s economy. VSJF provides business assistance, network development, strategic planning, and value chain facilitation in agriculture and food system, forest product, waste management, renewable energy, and environmental technology sectors. The Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund was created by the Vermont Legislature in 1995 to partner with state government, private sector businesses, and nonprofits to build a thriving economic, social, and ecological future for Vermont. VSJF administers Vermont Farm to Plate.

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March is here and we’re all excited about spring. Fragrant flowers blooming, warm days, the ability to spend more time outdoors (without freezing). What could be better?! And I bet you are starting to think of all the changes you’re looking to make in your yard as well. Have you met with your landscape professional yet? Why not? If you are planning any type of landscape renovation and/or hiring someone to perform maintenance on your property, you must reach out to them sooner rather than later. Don’t wait until May and the grass is growing, as you will have a tough time finding someone to come out to cut it right away. And if you are planning a renovation in your yard, landscapers are already booking into the summer. Don’t wait! If you’re planning to update your yard, the first thing you must do is decide your budget. Even if you are doing a small planting, knowing your budget will help you decide the materials and how much you can afford. Many times, homeowners meet with a contractor and keep their budget number close to the vest in hopes that the contractor will come back with a lower number. Chances are, they will come in

One contractor created a private outdoor writing area for an author with rock boulders, a water feature and a natural walkway. This same area could serve as a private reading “room” as well. Or use an area like this as your own yoga studio. Why not create an outdoor office in a pergola covered area? Working from home will take on a whole new meaning. Your yard can become the paradise you have always wanted with a little bit of planning and the right landscape professional. But plan for it now, as your favorite contractor will be booked before you know it.

The NJLCA Today By Gail Woolcott Executive Director

Springtime Renovating

higher, as the landscape pros only know what you are looking to do, which is often more expensive than you suspect. If you give your contactor a price range ($10,000-12,000 or $35,000-40,000, for example), they will be able to create the backyard paradise that you can afford and maximize your budget dollars. Do not be afraid to share your budget. Are you looking for a naturalistic habitat or a spa environment? Are you planning on entertaining or is it your own private getaway? Do you have children or pets? Are you looking for a formal garden or a whimsical feel? All questions you need to ask yourself. The following are some options to think about: Mixed use fire/water features: Most of us are mesmerized by a burning fire and soothed by the sound of trickling water. One of our

members entered a project into the NJLCA’s Landscape Achievement Awards in which they built a fire pit, with a seat wall surrounding it. Opposite of the seat wall was a gorgeous waterfall feature. Furthermore, I have seen outdoor fireplaces with water fountains alongside and/or in front of them. There are many configurations, and all look stunning. Vertical Gardens: Green walls have previously only been seen on buildings and in corporate offices. With material availability and creativity, they are now available to everyone and create a unique and space-saving feature in your yard. Perennial and Pollinator Gardens: We all love bees and butterflies, and it is certainly a trend to create pollinator habitats. Take an area of your property and make it entirely pollinator

friendly perennial gardens (so you only need to maintain and not replant each year). Although not all pollinator friendly plantings are perennials, many are, and you can simply replenish each year with the annuals. On top of helping the pollinators, you will have the opportunity to see the wildlife and enjoy the scents of these oftenfragrant gardens. Outdoor Living Spaces: Although certainly not new, the features and options available are becoming more affordable and innovative. This year, we have seen outdoor kitchens with pizza ovens, wine coolers and full ovens. Outdoor entertainment systems with large screen TVs, along with comfortable weather resistant furniture create extensions of your home where you can spend more and more time.

Editor’s Note: Gail Woolcott is the Executive Director 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.

News from the New Jersey Food Council

Joe Sofia of Wegman’s has been handed the gavel for another year to serve as chair of the New Jersey Food Council, during the council’s annual membership meeting. In accepting the role for a second year, Sofia was quick to note that he became chair just before the pandemic hit the state. No one in the industry could have expected what would happen next, as the food supply chain faced an unprecedented and immediate challenge. “I would like to express a heartfelt thank you to all of the members who unselfishly came together to help strengthen and grow the New Jersey Food Council during this crisis,” Sofia said. “From protecting our lifeline workforce to pushing back against onerous new taxes and regulation, our members have never ceased to amaze me in their vision and perseverance.” This year, the NJFC will see the expanded roll-out of the “Choose to Reuse” campaign to educate shoppers statewide about the need to bring their own bags. Moreover, supermarkets with pharmacies will soon be administering COVID

vaccine, underscoring, again their ongoing contributions to the communities they serve. “While I am grateful for your confidence and support over this past year, there is still much work to be done,” Sofia said. “We continue to rely on industry engagement and inclusion, and your effort is needed now more than ever to stand together as business leaders, NJFC members and one voice for our food industry.” During the meeting, NJFC members expressed their appreciation to Sofia for his leadership during such a turbulent time. He was applauded as a thoughtful, genuine and determined leader, as well as a remarkable ambassador. Sworn in by New Jersey Secretary Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher, the full slate of officers includes: Joe Sofia, Wegmans Food Market, Chairman; Andrew Kent, Glass Gardens ShopRite, Vice Chairman; Mike Biase, Mission Foods Associate Vice Chairman; Michael Rothwell, Pennington Quality Market, Treasurer; Suzanne Delviccio, QuickChek, Secretary; and Linda Doherty, NJ Food Council,

President & CEO. “As we take a look back, 2020 was an extraordinary period of time,” said Doherty, NJFC president. “It will be remembered as the `Year of the Virus’ and how it unexpectedly unhinged our lives, upended the food business, challenged the food supply chain and changed the way members do business. It was through strength, resolve and innovation that NJFC members rolled with every punch and exceeded the needs of New Jersey customers.” From food retailers, convenience stores, manufacturers, brokers, wholesalers and suppliers, every facet of the food business was overwhelmed by the spread of an unpredictable illness, an uncertain public and waves of government mandates and restrictions, she said. “This inconceivable crisis is thought by some as our darkest days, but in hindsight I consider our finest hours,” Doherty said. “The common thread was the resiliency of the essential workforce and the tenacity of leadership in the New Jersey grocery business. Our supermarket heroes, frontline

manufacturers, food truck delivery services, supplier community and convenience store workers showed up every single day under the threat of an invisible enemy.” Doherty also noted NJFC was successful in supporting a new law that will ban both paper and plastic single-use bags after years of hard work. NJFC also saved state Clean Communities funding during the budget cycle as well as stopped various proposed taxes. During the event, the NJFC also paid tribute to a friend. After more than 40 years as a prominent and engaged leader in the NJFC and Food Council Committee for Good Government, Joe Pagano retired from the NJFC Board of Directors and PAC Board of Governors. NJFC also unveiled its 2021 sponsors, a premier group of members who have made a financial and organizational commitment to advance the association’s mission in Trenton. Platinum sponsors include Acme, Allegiance Retail Services, Inc., Bimbo, Pepsico, Stop&Shop, Wegmans and Whole Foods Market.

26 March 2021


NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION (DEC) NEWS Proposed Regulation to Prohibit Pesticides Containing Chlorpyrifos

The DEC announced the release of a proposed regulation to prohibit the sale, distribution, possession, and use of pesticide products containing the active ingredient chlorpyrifos. This proposed regulation will add chlorpyrifos to the list of prohibited pesticides in 6 NYCRR 326.2(c) of New York’s pesticide registration regulations. Furthermore, on December 31, 2020, the New York State pesticide registrations were cancelled for 29 pesticide products containing chlorpyrifos. These products can no longer be sold, offered for sale, distributed, or used in New York State. An additional 15 chlorpyrifos pesticide products, that allow for applications to apple tree trunks, remain registered for sale, offer for sale, use, and distribution in the state until July 31, 2021 DEC actions related to chlorpyrifos also include efforts to promote the removal of chlorpyrifos products from New York State. DEC will accept written public comments on the proposed regulation through April 5, 2021. In addition, DEC is holding a virtual public comment hearing for the proposed rule at 6 p.m. on March 30. The electronic webinar format is reasonably accessible to persons with impaired mobility. Instructions on how to join the hearing, how to provide an oral statement, and how to register are available at https://www.dec.ny.gov/ chemical/121988.html. Contact DEC at (518) 402-9003 with any additional questions regarding the virtual hearing.

Free Seedlings Available to Qualified Landowners for Streamside Plantings

The DEC announced that the application period for the Trees for Tribs’ Buffer in a Bag Program is now open. Private and public landowners who qualify may apply for a free bag of 25 tree and shrub seedlings for planting near streams, rivers, or lakes to help stabilize banks, protect water quality, and improve wildlife habitat. DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “The goal of the Buffer in a Bag program is to increase forested riparian buffers across the state by encouraging landowners to undertake small-scale plantings. Streamside plantings help decrease erosion, slow floodwaters, and protect fish and wildlife habitat. Every landowner participating in this program is bolstering DEC’s efforts and our partners’ work to protect water quality and safeguard our communities from flooding.” To qualify, landowners must have property in New York State with at least 50 feet that borders a stream, river, or lake, and provide photos or a map of the planting location. Previous recipients are encouraged to reapply to continue to build their riparian buffer. Applicants are eligible for one bag of 25 seedlings and recipients are chosen on a firstcome, first-served basis. A total of 500 bags will be available statewide for this round of applications. Landowners in the Hudson River Estuary watershed (PDF) may be eligible for additional assistance with streamside planting projects. Seedlings are provided by DEC’s Colonel William F. Fox Memorial Saratoga Tree Nursery and the Trees for Tribs program is supported by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Governor Cuomo’s proposed 2021-22 Executive Budget includes sustained record funding for the EPF at $300 million. Visit DEC’s website at https://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/77710.html for more information about the Buffer in a Bag application process and requirements. Applications are due by 3:00 p.m. on April 12. Contact treesfortribs@dec.ny.gov with questions.

Annual Tree and Shrub Seedling Sale Open Through May 12

DEC’s Colonel William F. Fox Memorial Saratoga Tree Nursery’s annual spring seedling sale is open to the public and runs until May 12. The sale offers dozens of low-priced, New York-grown conifer and hardwood species available in bundles of 25 or more, plus several mixed-species packets for those looking for a variety For more information, including how to order, visit the Spring Seedling Sale webpage at https:// www.dec.ny.gov/animals/9395.html. Some species sell out early so we encourage the public to place orders by phone for the most up-to-date availability information. In addition, applications are now being accepted for the tree nursery’s School Seedling Program. From now until March 31, schools and youth education organizations across New York State may apply to receive up to 50 free tree or shrub seedlings to plant with students in the spring.

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March 2021 Columnists Brian Schilling Al Murray Peter Melick Lesley Parness

Bob LaHoff Douglas H. Fisher Eric J. Houghtaling Kenneth M. Karamichael

March 2021 Contributing Writers

Bruce Crawford

Diana Dove

Hubert Ling

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Full Moon March 28, 2021 Eastern Daylight TIP OF THE MONTH Soil pH provides various clues about soil properties and is easily determined. The most accurate method of determining soil pH is by a pH meter. A second method which is simple and easy but less accurate then using a pH meter, consists of using certain indicators or dyes. A pH range of approximately 6 to 7 promotes the most ready availability of plant nutrients. Many dyes change color with an increase or decrease of pH making it possible to estimate soil pH. In making a pH determination on soil, the sample is saturated with the dye for a few minutes and the color observed. This method is accurate enough for most purposes. Kits (pH) containing the necessary chemicals and color charts are available from garden centers. There may be considerable variation in the soil pH from one spot in a garden or lawn to another. To determine the average soil pH of a garden or lawn it is necessary to collect soil from several locations and combine into one sample. Lime is usually added to acid soils to increase soil pH. The addition of lime not only replaces hydrogen ions and raises soil pH, thereby eliminating most major problems associated with acid soils but it also provides two nutrients, calcium and magnesium to the soil.


March 2021 27

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Gardener News March 2021  

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Gardener News March 2021  

Serving the Agricultural, Gardening, Landscaping and Nursery Communities