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Gardener News

Proudly Serving the Agricultural, Gardening, Landscaping & Nursery Communities

November 2019


TAKE ONE No. 199

The History of the Blue Star Memorial Program Project

Tom Castronovo/Photo

By Jeannie Geremia Contributing Writer

November, and our thoughts turn to Veterans

Day and the homage we pay to our heroes throughout our history, our servicemen and women who have given their all so that we may continue

to enjoy liberty, freedom of speech, assembly and all the hard fought rights that have made America the beacon to the world since

our forefathers gained our independence. How does this figure into the world of gardening, you may rightly wonder, and so

I will endeavor to tell the story of how it began and continues to the present day. It all started back in the spring (Cont. on Page 25)

2 November 2019

G a r d e n C e n t e r D i r e c t o r y

November 2019 3

4 November 2019 During the last week of September, we celebrated Jersey Fresh Farm to School Week, which is a program launched by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture in 2010. In the beginning, we were scratching the surface and exploring the different methods of building a program. It’s been great to see our Food and Nutrition Division under the leadership of Director Rose Tricario grow this effort into a major component of the educational suite of offerings available to school districts across the state. In the beginning, there was Beth Feehan, who was working with the New Jersey Farm to School Network, and later Chris Cirkus, also from the New Jersey Farm to School Network, who each moved into the Department to lead the Farm to School Program. The program is now led by Erin Maguire, who has enthusiastically taken the reins. The NJDA has become a leader across the country in Farm to School. We have many dedicated and talented pioneers who have together created magical experiences for students to learn, have fun, and be better informed about nutrition. How do you celebrate a New Jersey Thanksgiving? With Turkey Day coming up in a few weeks, each new farm I visit showcases a wealth of fresh-grown produce that will soon sit on our residents’ dining-room tables. On a day that’s all about giving thanks for the good things in our lives, it’s important to do the same for the cornucopia of food grown right here in New Jersey – and the fact that, if you know where to look, you can cook up a Thanksgiving dinner grown right here in the Garden State. The easiest place to start, of course, is our cranberries – one of the most recognizable New Jersey fruits. Our cranberry bogs – one of which I had the chance to visit just last month – are an incredible sight each time you see them, and the businesses that work them are outstanding examples of innovation, resilience, and dedication. From baked goods to healthy snacks and sauces, you can’t beat a cranberry. But cranberries’ sauce wouldn’t be the same without a turkey to go with them. Fortunately, New Jersey has NJ Dept. of Agriculture By Douglas H. Fisher Secretary of Agriculture

Preparing the Next Generation Through Farm to School This program has grown across New Jersey, where more than 250 schools purchase local produce from their main distributor, more than 200 districts buy local produce directly from farms and use a curriculum that ties cafeteria meals to healthy eating education, and more than 100 districts organize field trips to farms. Big city districts and small township hamlets have developed amazing examples of every size, scope, and description. We have seen rooftop gardens, and schoolyard plots turned into viable growing spaces producing crops for use in the classroom and cafeteria. Every school district that has signed up for Farm to School designs and tailors the program to work best for their locality to make the fit a natural one.

I can say with much confidence that when a child is exposed to the experiences of planning, planting, growing and harvesting a fruit or vegetable, they always come away with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that is genuine and sincere. If one were looking at rates of return for such small investments, this would calculate as a very good return on the time and expenditures. The Department of Agriculture recently gave its 2019 Farmer Recognition Award to Cecil Creek Farm in Mickleton, Gloucester County. Students come to the farm and are immersed in activities that expose them to fields, hoop houses, barns, barnyards, and kitchens. They might even get to taste a few of the fruits and vegetables they picked or prepared. So many

lessons about plants, livestock, wildlife, and the environment are all around and ready to be absorbed. The Department also gave its Best in New Jersey Farm to School Award to Philips Academy Charter School in Newark. It has a fabulous rooftop garden as part of its EcoSpaces program, where students work by planting seeds, watering plants, hoeing weeds and harvesting the crops. Great schools and fabulous farms need one more element that can really make their Farm to School Program soar: It’s you!!! When a parent, guardian or grandparent becomes involved, they add a depth of experience and enthusiasm that provides a precious resource. Time after time, we have seen involvement by families and friends create

Agriculture and Natural Resources By Eric Houghtaling New Jersey Assemblyman

Celebrating a New Jersey Thanksgiving

more than its fair share of turkey farms, and it wouldn’t be fowl play to suggest that you can get a better-quality organic turkey right here at home than in any frozen aisle at the supermarket. And if you’re vegetarian or vegan, no need to worry – the Garden State’s soil is the perfect place to cultivate the perfect eggplant. After all, you don’t become the “Eggplant Capital of the World” without having the evidence to back it up. With 66 percent of the world’s eggplant grown right in our backyards, I don’t doubt that you’ll be able to find the most succulent produce possible for baking, frying, and everything in between. The possibilities don’t end there. New Jersey potatoes – from mashed Yukon Gold

potatoes to baked Fingerling potatoes – make for the perfect starch to pair with protein and produce alike. If your family has a tradition of green bean casseroles, it’s easy enough to pick up a hefty helping of string beans at the nearest farmer’s market. Once baked, I guarantee that those homegrown vegetables will leave you heading back for seconds. Speaking of baking, we’ve got pumpkins and apples aplenty in fields and orchards across the state, more than ready to become delicious pies, turnovers, and other pastries. There’s nothing better than baking a pie from Honeycrisp apples you’ve picked yourself just hours before or topping off a slice of pumpkin pie with a dollop of whipped cream. The only exception, of course,

is enjoying the fruits of your labors alongside a room full of friends, family, and loved ones. That, of course, is the true reason for the season - giving thanks for the health, company, and love of our families. Beyond that, though, I’m thankful for the efforts of the hard-working farmers who grow the food we serve at our tables. I’m thankful for the farm-to-table restaurants that support them, and for the opportunities they provide for local patrons to sample real, Jersey Fresh produce. I’m thankful for the diversity of agriculture in New Jersey, and for the voices of the farmers, researchers, and fishermen I’ve spoken with in my time as Chair of the Assembly’s Committee on

community ties that are nurturing and bonding. Part of the Jersey Fresh Farm to School Program also includes Jersey Tastes! It encourages schools to have students try a different fruit or vegetable each month. For example, squash is the featured item for November and cabbage is featured for December. There is a wide array of resources available for schools and farms to use to help begin or enhance a farm to school program. They can be found on our website at 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:// Agriculture and Natural Resources. I’m thankful for their hospitality as I’ve visited their businesses, for their willingness to share their experiences, their hopes, and their concerns. Beyond that, however, I’m thankful for the simple opportunity to serve - not only my own constituents, but every farm, nursery, fisherman, gardener, and outdoorsman across New Jersey. As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any thoughts on how we can better support our Garden State, or if there is anything I can do to be of service. Thank you, and I look forward to speaking with you soon. Until then – Happy Thanksgiving! 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@, or by mail at 802 W Park Ave, Ste 221, Ocean Township 07712.

November 2019 5

Support NJ Agriculture JERSEY GROWN

Nursery Stock JERSEY GROWN

Sunflower Birdseed JERSEY GROWN



When you’re shopping for JERSEY GROWN nursery stock, you know the trees, shrubs, plants and flowers are checked for quality, disease, are pest free, and accustomed to the Garden State’s climate and soil conditions.

Annuals & Perennials Made With


Wood Birdhouses & Bird Feeders

Governor Phil Murphy Secretary of Agriculture Douglas H. Fisher

6 November 2019


The Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) Water Resources Program and the Township of Woodbridge partnership continues to yield great results! The Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) Water Resources Program and the Township of Woodbridge partnership continues to yield great results, completing the latest in a multi-year series of rain garden projects. At the intersection of Fulton Street and the Fulton Street Overpass, the latest gardens receive stormwater from an approximately 8,000-square-foot impervious roadway drainage area. The gardens were excavated and built by the Parks Department and the Department of Public Works under the Water Resources Program’s supervision, with assistance from the Roads Department and the local water authority. Approximately 1,000 native plants populate the gardens, bringing habitat for native birds and pollinators and beauty to the neighborhood. A novel inlet structure was invented by the Parks crew, adapting a cast metal inlet with a custom concrete channel to bring stormwater from the street under the sidewalks and into the gardens. In the upper gardens, the water flows into the first area, spreading out and infiltrating into the soil, part of which was replaced with a high-infiltration “bio-retention mix” composed of sand, soil, and compost to increase storage and infiltration. After spreading in the first upper area, the stormwater overflows into a lower area where it continues to infiltrate into the ground and provide the plants with moisture. During the largest rainstorms, the gardens are designed to overflow into the existing sewer system via a stone-lined cascade and an existing Fulton Street catch basin. The site will soon receive a special sign that will welcome visitors and residents to Woodbridge, calling out the innovative practices of green stormwater infrastructure that are happening all over town, making Woodbridge not only more sustainable but more beautiful as well. 

Monmouth County Partners with Rutgers NJAES to Develop Hazelnut Demonstration Research Orchard Worldwide demand for hazelnuts is exceeding supply and this presents an incredible opportunity for farmers. Except here in the Northeast, Eastern Filbert Blight (EFB) has made growing this valuable crop impossible…until now. On September 24, the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Rutgers Fruit and Ornamental Research and Extension Center to announce the partnership between the County’s Grown in Monmouth program and Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station to develop a hazelnut demonstration research orchard.  The Hazelnut Farmer Demonstration Plot will help NJ farmers explore a new agriculture opportunity that has potential to create generational security for farmers in our state and perhaps the Mid-Atlantic region as well.  Hazelnuts have far reaching impacts in agriculture, the environment, health, jobs and value-added products.   Presently, Rutgers has conducted R&D for the EFB resistant cultivars at a breeding nursery in New Brunswick. However, this nursery is not suited to establishing a commercial demonstration orchard where growers can learn how to form hazelnut orchards and see the various stages of growth.  “From the research side, after 23 years of focused effort, we are very excited to see our new hazelnut cultivars being planted in this new commercial-scale demonstration orchard at the Rutgers Fruit and Ornamental Research Extension Center in Cream Ridge,” said Thomas Molnar, hazelnut breeder and associate professor in the Department of Plant Biology.  Rutgers has produced six varieties of cultivars, or hazelnut tree plants, which are EFB resistant. EFB is a fungus that attacks and kills hazelnut trees. Because of EFB, commercial hazelnut orchards on the east coast have ceased to exist.  “The partnership with Monmouth county gives us even greater reach,” Molnar continued, “as we strive to provide substantial opportunities for farmers and others interested in hazelnuts to observe the plants, see how they grow and are managed, and learn alongside us as we begin to grow this new low-input, high-value crop on farms across New Jersey,”  “The County is excited to work with Rutgers,” said Freeholder Director Thomas A. Arnone, liaison to the Division of Economic Development. “Our goal is to give Monmouth County agricultural businesses the opportunity to learn about and grow the hazelnut here, which will lead to new commercial markets as there is a growing demand for the hazelnut.”  “Monmouth County and Rutgers have a unique opportunity to not only to cultivate this new crop on the east coast, but also revitalize the Rutgers Cream Ridge Research Extension Center,” said Freeholder Lillian G. Burry, liaison to the Board of Agriculture and Rutgers Cooperative Extension. “In addition to County growers, the Future Farmers of America, County 4-H members and Master Gardeners will be able to utilize the orchard and facility for hands-on, learning experiences.”

From the Director’s Desk

Rutgers Outreach Provided by Brian Schilling Director

Which is Tallest: A Coast Redwood or the Statue of Liberty?

An Insider’s View of the Master Tree Steward Program

Acorn badge and leaf brooch pinned to my lapel, I roll my green suitcase full of tree seeds, bark, and twigs down the hall of a local school and peek in the open door of the 4th-grade classroom. “I’m the tree lady,” I say. The teacher greets me with a smile. Under the scrutiny of curious 9 year olds, I put up posters and pull out the specimens I use in my role as a volunteer 4-H Master Tree Steward. For the first 20 minutes, I talk about how trees create buds and burst into flower, how their seeds travel (by air, water, and squirrel power) and how many tree products exist (from rubber tires to rayon to maple syrup). Then, I lead the class into a “Tree Jeopardy” game, which tests and teaches tree facts. Giving out cinnamon sticks, I ask each team to sniff and identify the type of bark. A riddle follows: “Which is tallest: Shaquille O’Neill, the Coast Redwood, or the Statue of Liberty?” A scale drawing confirms the answer: the Coast Redwood, which can grow to 360 feet. Questions about two other record-setting species amaze kids – the oldest tree (the Bristlecone Pine, at more than 4,000 years) and the heaviest (the Sequoia, at 1,400 tons). I show off my samples of small Sequoia cones and the tree’s tiny seeds, each one-eighth the weight of a grain of rice, and then get the kids to form a circle. As an 83-foot long piece of string is unrolled from person to person, I reveal that our large circle approximates the circumference of one of the largest Sequoias. To my delight, the students send me thank-you notes. “I just want to thank you for showing me where the seeds grow in a pine cone,” writes one student. “My favorite part was Tree Jeopardy,” says another. Can you see now why I’ve become a tree nut? Far from being a certified arborist or teacher, however, I received my training in a series of weekly sessions run by the Rutgers Cooperative Extension 4-H Youth Development program of Union County. After the training held each Wednesday afternoon during the fall at 4-H headquarters in Westfield, Master Tree Stewards are asked to volunteer 30 hours during the spring. Those hours are spent teaching a ready-made lesson plan to 10 classes in participating Union County public and parochial schools, from Elizabeth to New Providence, Union to Rahway. The Master Tree Steward program was conceived 27 years ago by James Nichnadowicz, the county’s 4-H Agent. “Our goal is environmental education,” says Nichnadowicz. Fourth graders are targeted because they tend to be curious and knowledgeable. “They are at an age when they can research things and see how they, personally, can affect the environment,” says Sylvia Weisbrot of Linden, who has been a Master Tree Steward since the program began. “I want them to look around and see that nature is as close as their own front yard, their own school yard.” The game, Tree Jeopardy, was designed with the help of two early Tree Steward graduates. The questions, from various children’s books on trees, were then checked against dendrology (tree science) textbooks. Some questions include hints from simple arithmetic, while others count on common sense or memory. “The kids love the game,” says Tree Steward Dean Talcott. “In one class two of them wanted to win so badly, they tried to look up New Jersey’s state tree in a book.” The Master Tree Steward program began its 27th year of operation in September 2019. An evaluation of the program showed that the program affected the children in a number of ways. The majority responded affirmatively that they were less likely to damage trees; were more likely to take better care of trees around their homes; and were more likely to take better care of trees around their schools. These future Tree Stewards also indicated they will observe trees more closely; they are more likely to plant a tree; and they learned that there are many different kinds of trees. Good stewardship also means spreading the knowledge: the majority said they were more likely to stop others from damaging trees; they want to learn more about tree care and planting; and they will tell someone about what they learned. For more information about the program, contact James Nichnadowicz, Union County 4-H Agent, at 908-654-9854 ext. 3, or by email at Note: While the Tree Stewards program is unique to Union County, throughout New Jersey Rutgers Cooperative Extension Master Gardener and Environmental Steward programs offer various opportunities for volunteers to “speak for the trees.” Find your county office information at Editor’s note: This month’s contribution is by Jean Crichton 4-H Master Tree Steward of Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County.


November 2019 7

A Flowering Star for the November Garden Let’s face it, November is not a month that is noted for flowers. The spectacular fall colors of trees and shrubs abound, but for the pollinators, there are scant few flowers left to visit. Even most of our native plants have succumbed to the autumn frosts. However, over the past few years, I have noticed one plant that has a sustained bloom and pollinators well into November – Aster tataricus, commonly known as the Tatarian Aster. Aster tataricus is native to the cold regions of Siberia, Northern China, Mongolia, Korea and Japan, where it is native to moist meadows and wetlands. It is a member of the Asteraceae or Aster family, which contains around 180 species. The genus name was first penned by Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) in 1753 from the Greek Astēr for star, referring to the star-like form of the flowers. Linnaeus established

Aster amellus, the European Michaelmas Daisy, as the type flower to which all the other plants for this genus are referenced. The Tatarian Aster was named by Linnaeus’ son, Carolus Linnaeus the Younger (1741-1783) and published in Supplementum Plantarum in 1781. The species epithet of tataricus comes from Tartay, an outdated term for the geographic region that extended from the Caspian Sea and Ural Mountains east to the Pacific Ocean, including most of the areas to which this plant is native. Aster tataricus is a robust plant, to say the least. The basal green leaves are 16 to 24 inches long and up to six inches wide, with their coarse, paddle-like shape reminding me of Horseradish foliage. The plants are rhizomatous in nature and can spread to cover a fairly substantial area of the garden, providing a pleasing groundcover appearance for the first half of the season. In late-August to midSeptember, the flowering stems

elongate, reaching impressive heights of five to eight feet before blooming. The stems are hispid or clothed with straight bristly hairs along with more modestly sized leaves of three to four inches long and one inch wide. The top of the flower stem branches freely, producing abundant flower buds that open from late-September through mid-November. The flowers typically have an outer whirl of 12 to 18 sky-blue to lavenderblue ray florets that resemble petals, surrounding a center of yellow disc florets, producing a very attractive display. The stems are very sturdy and unless the plants have been excessively fertilized, they do not require staking. Although the traditional thought would be to place the plant at the back of the border, due to its great height, the plants also look great when worked in among grasses, such as Calamagrostis x acutiflora “Karl Foerster” (Feather Reed Grass) that typically mature to five to six feet tall. The blue flowers look

great peaking above the grassy foliage, providing an appearance similar to the meadows where it is native. If the species form is a bit too tall, the selection named “Jindai” grows to a more controlled height of three to four feet tall. It was discovered at the Jindai Botanic Gardens in Tokyo during a 1985 excursion by Rick Darke of Longwood Gardens and Sylvester “Skip” March of the U.S. National Arboretum. Although shorter in height, they are still spreading in nature and need to be watched to ensure they do not grow beyond their bounds by removing unwanted rhizomes early in spring. I have also found this habit to be beneficial, since the plants will spread into neighboring shrubs and create some very attractive combinations. At Rutgers Gardens, the plant has spread into a Bonica® Shrub Rose and the sky-blue flower of the Aster looks great growing amongst the soft pink flowers of the Rose. Both the cultivar “Jindai” and the straight species produce copious amounts of nectar late

into the season and are beneficial to a number of pollinators, including bees, beetles, moths and butterflies. The plants are best grown in full sun in moist to average garden soil that is slightly acidic. Other than occasionally rogueing out some rhizomes that have ventured too far afield, Aster tataricus is very low in maintenance and truly is the Flowering Star for the November Garden. Editor’s Note: Bruce Crawford is a lover of plants since birth; is the managing director of the Rutgers Gardens, a 180-acre outdoor teaching classroom, horticultural research facility and arboretum; an adjunct professor in Landscape Architecture at the Rutgers School of Environmental and Biological Sciences; regularly participates in the Rutgers – Continuing Education Program; and past-president of the Garden State Gardens Consortium. He can be reached at (732) 932-8451. For more information, please visit

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

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

8 November 2019

Legislation would create an official New Jersey horse license plate

Tom Castronovo/Photo

New Jersey Assemblyman Kevin J. Rooney, right, is moving ahead with a plan to create a new horse motor vehicle license plate in the Garden State. In early-October, Assemblyman Rooney met with Guy J. Torsilieri, president of the National Steeplechase Association and Chairman of the Far Hills Races, to discuss the legislation in the Far Hills Race Meeting Conference Room at Mooreland Farms in Far Hills, Somerset County, N.J. In 1977, horses were designated as the official state animal of New Jersey after fifth-grade students from Our Lady of Victories School in Harrington Park in Bergen County and an eighthgrader from Freehold, Monmouth County lobbied the state Legislature. This legislation would create an official New

Jersey horse license plate where “the proceeds would help support therapeutic riding for special needs [and] help with wounded warriors.” Therapeutic riding, or equine therapy, involves activities with horses to promote well-being in individuals with mental and physical disabilities. The bill also states that the Department of the Treasury will create a special non-lapsing fund to be known as the “State Animal License Plate Fund.” Monies deposited in the fund shall be appropriated annually to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture to support any departmental program to support the health and welfare of horses and to provide therapeutic riding to individuals with special needs in the State. Assemblyman Rooney’s bill is Number A4800 in the 218th Legislature. A companion bill has been sponsored by Senator Christopher “Kip”

Bateman. That Bill Number is S3325, also in the 218th Legislature. The Far Hills Race Meeting is New Jersey’s premier social and sporting event. For nearly a century, this annual gathering has attracted a large and loyal fan base who return, year after year, to watch the world’s finest steeplechases, reconnect with family and friends, network, support worthy causes and make memories to last a lifetime. Over the years, the Far Hills Race Meeting has given more than $18 million to support local health-care organizations. The Far Hills Race Meeting is sanctioned by the National Steeplechase Association (NSA). Over 30 race meets are run each year from March through November, each raising funds for a variety of local initiatives such as open space preservation and hospitals.

The official New Jersey state animal is the horse, proposed legislation A4800 and S3325 would create an official New Jersey horse license plate where “the proceeds would help support therapeutic riding for special needs and help wounded warriors”. Please contact your state legislators to support this vital piece of legislation. You may call or write to legislators at their District Office or write to them at: c/o New Jersey Senate, State House P.O. Box 099, Trenton, NJ 08625-0099 or c/o New Jersey General Assembly, State House P.O. Box 098, Trenton, NJ 08625-0098.

November 2019 9

Around The Garden By Tom Castronovo Gardener News

Your Vote Counts

It’s ironic. Farmers are right at the top of the list when it comes to being self-sufficient. Their skills sets involve not only knowing everything they need to know about the crops they are growing and livestock they are raising. They also must be mechanics, accountants, H.R. experts, teachers, and bring to bear any number of other skills to keep their farms running efficiently and effectively. The ironic part is that maybe no other industry outside of agriculture is impacted as heavily as agriculture is by the actions of government. Tax policies, environmental policies, labor policies, safefood regulations, and many other actions government takes hit agriculture both coming and going. So these highly self-sufficient businessmen and businesswomen are also constantly trying to find a way to coexist with a torrent of laws and rules that are imposed upon them. And that is why it is so incredibly important to elect people to public office who understand and appreciate agriculture, especially here in the Garden State. Now, I’m not talking about political parties or even hard-fought political principles. There are elected officials of all political stripes who “get it” when it comes to agriculture. I’d like to point out a few of them as great examples of officials who will help sustain this state’s agricultural industry. The first is Assemblyman Eric Houghtaling. Assemblyman Houghtaling first and foremost is chair of the New Jersey Assembly’s Agriculture and Natural Resources. He also is a featured columnist for the Gardener News. Each and every month, Assemblyman Houghtaling provides the publication’s readers with up-to-date agricultural and legislative interests and happenings to the readers. According to the latest Census of Agriculture, the state’s more than 9,880 farms generated cash receipts of more than $1 billion. The nursery/greenhouse/sod industry remained the leading commodity group, followed by fruits and vegetables, field crops, equine, poultry and eggs and dairy. Food and agriculture are New Jersey’s third largest industry, behind pharmaceuticals and tourism, bringing in billions of dollars in revenue to the state. Assemblyman Houghtaling committee leadership makes him a true champion for the agricultural community. The second public official who I think deserves mention is Assemblyman Kevin Rooney. Assemblyman Kevin Rooney is moving ahead with a plan to create a new horse motor vehicle license plate. In 1977, horses were designated as the official state animal, after fifth-grade students from Our Lady of Victories School in Harrington Park and an eighth-grader from Freehold lobbied the state

Legislature for that recognition for equines. Assemblyman Rooney has said it’s important to note that New Jersey has one horse for every 323 people in the state. This legislation would create an official New Jersey horse license plate where “the proceeds would help support therapeutic riding for special needs [and] help with wounded warriors.” Therapeutic riding, or equine therapy, involves activities with horses to promote well-being in individuals with mental and physical disabilities. The bill also states that the Department of the Treasury will create a special non-lapsing fund to be known as the “State Animal License Plate Fund.” Monies deposited in the fund shall be appropriated annually to the New Jersey Department of Agriculture (NJDA) to support any departmental program to support the health and welfare of horses and to provide therapeutic riding to individuals with special needs in the state. Have you ever looked closely at the state seal? Because if you have, you’ve probably noticed the prominent horse head right on top. Assemblyman Rooney was also named legislator of the year by the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association. His support of the issues important to landscape contractors garnered him this recognition and honor. The third official I want to hold up as an example of someone who “gets” agriculture is Assemblyman John McKeon. Assemblyman McKeon has been a great personal friend of mine and the Gardener News for well over 10 years. Assemblyman McKeon sponsored legislation to create a silver pesticide flag to warn the public where pesticides have been applied at the recommendation of the Gardener News. He has also supported the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association during their special anniversary celebrations by providing them with Joint Resolutions from the Assembly and the Senate. He was also a prime sponsor of a bill that would establish the “Jersey Native Plants Program” in the Department of Agriculture. The bill, as amended, requires the department, in conjunction with the State Board of Agriculture, to develop a program that would: (1) encourage and promote the sale of New Jersey native plants at retail garden centers and nurseries; (2) increase consumer awareness of the important role of native plants in the ecosystem through advertising campaigns and marketing programs; (3) provide for the dissemination of information about the variety and availability of New Jersey native plants; and (4) create a labeling program to identify native plants as “Jersey Natives” similar to the Jersey Fresh and Jersey Grown programs. Please vote for these legislators if agriculture matters to you.

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

Theft of New Commemorative Sign Installed on Smokey Bear’s 75th Anniversary

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Rangers are asking for the public’s assistance regarding the destruction and theft of a sign erected at DEC’s Otis Pike Preserve - West, at the intersection of Line Road and Grumman Road in Manorville. The sign was installed on Aug. 9, 2019, to honor Smokey Bear’s 75th anniversary as the nation’s forest fire prevention symbol. The sign appears to have been cut down during the week of Oct. 7.  The sign was located on 20-acre grassland field east of Line Road and just south of Grumman Road in Manorville. The field has long been used by DEC Forest Rangers and volunteers to teach about wildfire control efforts, such as prescribed fires.  Anyone with information that could assist with the investigation is encouraged to call DEC’s Office of Public Protection at (518) 408-5858. 

Gramoxone/paraquat Mandatory Training Required Before Use

All pesticide certified applicators must successfully complete an EPA-approved training program before mixing, loading, and/or applying paraquat. Anyone using Gramoxone, Firestorm, Helmquat, Parazone, and other paraquat products must complete an EPA-mandated training before application.  After November 14, 2019, the EPA requires companies to have newly labeled products on the market.  The following are items related to the new label for paraquat products: Only certified applicators, who successfully completed the paraquat-specific training, can mix, load or apply paraquat; No longer allow application “under the direct supervision” of a certified applicator; Restricting the use of all paraquat products to certified applicators only; EPA required Online Training – users must create an account with username and password; A certificate will be delivered by the end of the training after successful completion of the online exam; and Applicators must repeat training every three years.  For additional information and FAQs about the paraquat training go to the EPA Paraquat Training at

U.S. Winter Outlook: NOAA Forecasters predict above-average temperatures, wetter North

Warmer-than-average temperatures are forecast for much of the U.S. this winter according to NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. Although below-average temperatures are not favored, cold weather is anticipated and some areas could still experience a colder-thanaverage winter. Wetter-than-average weather is most likely across the Northern Tier of the U.S. during winter, which extends from December through February. While the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) climate pattern often influences the winter, neutral conditions are in place this year and expected to persist into the spring. In the absence of El Nino or La Nina, long-term trends become a key predictor for the outlook, while other climate patterns, such as the Madden-Julian Oscillation and Arctic Oscillation (AO) will likely play a larger role in determining winter weather. For example, the AO influences the number of arctic air masses that intrude into the U.S., but predictability is limited to a couple weeks.  “Without either El Nino or La Nina conditions, short-term climate patterns like the Arctic Oscillation will drive winter weather and could result in large swings in temperature and precipitation,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.  This spring saw significant and historic flooding across the central U.S. that impacted nearly 17 million people. However, during the summer and early fall, drought rapidly developed across much of the South, with drought conditions now present across approximately 20% of the country.  

10 November 2019

USDA NEWS USDA to Collect Vegetable Data in the Northeastern United States In the coming months, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) will conduct the Vegetable Grower Inquiry Survey. The agency plans to visit vegetable growers across the United States, including over 4,000 in the Northeastern Region. NASS conducts this vegetable survey once per year to obtain the final acreage, production, and value of sales for fresh and processed vegetables. “When growers respond to these surveys, they provide essential information that helps us determine the production and supply of these commodities in the United States for the 2019 crop year. Everyone who relies on agriculture for their livelihoods is interested in the results,” explained King Whetstone, director of the NASS Northeastern Regional Field Office. NASS gathers the data for these surveys online, by mail, over the phone and through in-person interviews. The surveys will be conducted from October 29, 2019 through December 19, 2019. Growers provide information on crop acreage, production, and value of sales. NASS will compile and analyze the survey data and publish the results in a series of USDA reports, including the Annual Vegetable Release, scheduled for February 13, 2020.   “NASS safeguards the privacy of all responses and publishes only State and National level data, ensuring that no individual operation or producer can be identified,” stated Whetstone. “We recognize this is a hectic time for farmers and ranchers, but the information they provide helps U.S. agriculture remain viable and capable. I urge them to respond to these surveys and thank them for their cooperation,” said Whetstone.  All reports are available on the NASS website: 

USDA Files Action Against New York Mart Group Inc. in New York for Alleged PACA Violations As part of its efforts to enforce the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act (PACA) and ensure fair trading practices within the U.S. produce industry, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has filed an administrative complaint under the PACA against New York Mart Group Inc. The company, operating from New York, allegedly failed to make payment promptly to 23 produce sellers in the amount of $896,107 from October 2016 through December 2018. New York Mart Group Inc. will have an opportunity to request a hearing. Should USDA find that the company committed repeated and flagrant violations, it would be barred from the produce industry as a licensee for three years, or two years with the posting of a USDAapproved surety bond. Furthermore, its principals could not be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee for two years, or one year with the posting of a USDAapproved surety bond.  The PACA Division, which is in the Fair Trade Practices Program in the Agricultural Marketing Service, regulates fair trading practices of produce businesses that are operating subject to PACA, including buyers, sellers, commission merchants, dealers and brokers within the fruit and vegetable industry.  In the past three years, USDA resolved approximately 3,500 PACA claims involving more than $58 million. PACA staff also assisted more than 7,800 callers with issues valued at approximately $148 million. These are just two examples of how USDA continues to support the fruit and vegetable industry.  For further information, contact Travis M. Hubbs, Chief, Investigative Enforcement Branch, at (202) 7206873, or by email at

ARS and U.S. Army Join Forces to Revitalize Soil with Paper

The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is helping to arm the U.S. military with a solution to two major environmental problems: the disposal of paper waste and revegetating damaged training grounds. Under federal regulations, U.S. Army classified papers must be pulverized to a fine consistency, which leaves the material unsuitable for recycling. Continued disposal of this waste in landfills presents environmental concerns and is expensive. Secondly, army training areas become barren of vegetation from constant use by heavy equipment and foot soldiers. Soil erosion can occur, making it difficult to reestablish native grasses.  ARS teamed up with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to help address these issues. Their research focused on evaluating the use of pulverized or finely ground paper as a soil amendment to improve soil health and the ability to establish desirable native grasses on degraded Army training lands.  Pulverized paper, which is like a very fine confetti, is a cheap, highquality organic material that is useful as a soil amendment, said Henry “Allen” Torbert, research leader at the ARS National Soils Dynamics Laboratory in Auburn, Alabama. ARS worked with the Army to determine the right rates of application and to make sure there were no environmental concerns from the application of paper.  Earlier trials conducted on research plots, located in Fort Campbell, Kentucky and Fort Benning, Georgia, showed positive results for vegetation restoration where a processed waste paper product material was applied. This recent study, published in Elsevier in 2019, on the finely ground paper was conducted at Fort Polk, Louisiana by Torbert and Ryan Busby, an ecologist with the U.S. Army Engineer Research

and Development Center. It demonstrated that adding this type of paper waste to Army training grounds improves soil health, increases growth of native grasses and provides a solution for disposing classified paper waste. Using the material as a soil amendment also is a big economic win, according to Torbert.  Native plant establishment was improved, with plant cover 45 percent higher on sites with the recommended application rate compared to controls. Pulverized paper material applied at the recommended application rate on training grounds resulted in a cost savings of approximately $4,700 per acre—an estimated annual cost savings of $20,000 for each military facility—with 70 tons of paper diverted from landfills.  There is also an environmental benefit as restoring the plant cover protects the soil from erosion, promotes the accumulation of soil carbon and provides improved wildlife habitat, according to the scientists. Paper application rate was positively correlated with native plant cover, deficient plant and soil nutrient concentrations and soil pH, and negatively correlated with invasive plant cover and biomass and soil bulk density, Torbert said. The study showed that pulverized paper can be safely applied to degraded training areas to improve establishment of desirable vegetation without any noticeable negative consequences.  The Corps of Engineers has published a “Users Guide,” based on this research, for use by all U.S. military facilities, according to Torbert.  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 $20 of economic impact. 

USDA Announces $16.2 Million to Support Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it will issue $16.2 million in grants to provide training, outreach, and technical assistance to underserved and veteran farmers and ranchers. This funding is available through the USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also known as the 2501 Program), managed by the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE). “All farmers and ranchers deserve equal access to USDA programs and services,” said Mike Beatty, director of the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement. “2501 grants go a long way in fulfilling our mission to reach historically underserved communities and ensure their equitable participation in our programs.”  The 2501 Program was created through the 1990 Farm Bill to help socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers, and foresters, who have historically experienced limited access to USDA loans, grants, training, and technical assistance. The 2014 Farm Bill expanded the program’s reach to veterans. Grants are awarded to higher education institutions

and nonprofit and community-based organizations to extend USDA’s engagement efforts in these communities. Projects funded under the 2501 Program include -- but are not limited to -- conferences, workshops, and demonstrations on various farming techniques, and connecting underserved farmers and ranchers to USDA local officials to increase awareness of USDA’s programs and services while filling the needs for increased partnerships. Additionally, Alcorn State University will continue to administer the Socially Disadvantaged Policy Research Center (The Center) with a $525,000 grant funded under this program. The Center specializes in policy research impacting socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers in order to make policy recommendations that will improve their success.  Since 2010, the 2501 Program has awarded 484 grants totaling $119.5 million.  Learn more at fy2019-2501-grant-projects.pdf 

Scientists Release First Map of Areas Suitable for Spotted Lanternfly’s Establishment in U.S. and World

A map identifying the areas suitable for establishment of the spotted lanternfly (SLF) in the United States and other countries has been published in the Journal of Economic Entomology by Agricultural Research Service scientists. The SLF, originally from China, has spread to Korea and Japan, and has been found most recently in the United States in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Delaware. These insects are pests of many agricultural crops including almonds, apples, blueberries, cherries, peaches, grapes and hops as well as hardwoods such as oak, walnut and poplar, among others. USDA and State partners have been working to contain SLF populations since 2014.  There is the potential for far reaching economic damage if the SLF becomes widely established in the United States.  Within the United States, SLF could eventually become established in most of New England and the mid-Atlantic states, the central United States, and Pacific coastal states, explained ecologist Tewodros Wakie with the ARS Temperate Tree Fruit and Vegetable Research Unit in Wapato, Washington, who led the project.  “Earlier attempts to predict the spread of the spotted lanternfly using a less sophisticated model had indicated a potential for the pest to become established in warmer areas such as southeastern Florida and in tropical countries,” Wakie said. “But we made use of a more complex model called MAXENT that depends on a wider number of environmental factors including temperature, elevation and rainfall as well as the current known locations of the species.  MAXENT has proven to be much more accurate at predicting where

species are likely to spread compared to 16 other methods on 266 species. “There are numerous examples where new populations of species were discovered following MAXENT predictions. Our lab group used MAXENT to predict the potential distribution of oriental fruit moth, and apple maggot, and predictions have been more accurate than anything previously,” said Wakie.  Eleven European countries and large parts of the Northeast United States and the Pacific Northwest were found to be prime habitat for SLF establishment in place of tropical locales with MAXENT.  The most important factor in predicting SLF establishment is the mean temperature of the driest quarter of the year; it cannot be too hot or too cold, about 0 degrees C plus or minus 7 degrees C (a temperature range between 19- and 45-degrees F), Wakie explained.  Another important factor in predicting SLF’s possible range is the presence of the tree of heaven—an invasive plant that also originated from China. Although not the only host plant for SLF, it is a highly important host plant for the insect. Studies are underway to identify additional host plants and to find the right biocontrol system.  Results from this study can be used to guide SLF surveys and prioritize management interventions for this pest, Wakie added.  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 $20 of economic impact.  Learn more at toz259/5572115/

November 2019 11

Expert Panel Assembled for Judging AIPH International Grower of the Year Awards 2020

To recognize the very best ornamentals growers around the world, it’s only logical to look to the judgment of those who know best. To judge the International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH) International Grower of the Year (IGOTY) Awards 2020, a panel of prestigious growers and experts has been assembled to determine who will be next year’s awards winners and ultimately who will claim the title of International Grower of the Year. The esteemed international judging panel is chaired by Mr. Tim Edwards, Vice President of AIPH and Chairman of Boningale Nurseries (UK).  Jury members are Mr. Jan-Dieter Bruns, President of the European Nursery Stock Association (ENA) Germany; Mr. Mike Rimland, Vice President of Costa Farms (USA); Mr. Andre van Kruijssen, General Director of the Veiling

Holambra Cooperative (Brazil); Dr Zhao Shiwei, Vice President of the World Federation of Rose Societies and Mr. Poul Graff, CEO of Graff Breeding A/S (Denmark).  All entries for the IGOTY Awards 2020 have been received and judging has now commenced. The awards, supported by Headline Sponsor Royal FloraHolland, consist of five categories – Finished Plants and Trees, Young Plants, Cut Flowers and Bulbs, Inspiring Business and the Sustainability Award. For each category a gold, silver and bronze may be awarded. From among all the entrants, one overall winner will receive the ‘Gold Rose’ and will be named International Grower of the Year 2020. In 2019, the coveted Gold Rose was won by Gediflora, Belgium, a breeder and propagator of potted Chrysanthemums.  All winners will be announced at the IGOTY

Awards ceremony which takes place on the evening of Tuesday 28th January 2020 at the AIPH approved trade show IPM ESSEN, held at Messe Essen in Germany. IGOTY venue partner IPM ESSEN is an industry-leading, international horticultural trade show and ruby sponsor of the IGOTY Awards 2020. Early bird offers for individual tickets and corporate hospitality packages are available to book online at: until the 1st December 2019. The IGOTY Awards 2020 provide the perfect opportunity to enjoy elegant dining, high-class entertainment and international networking at IPM Essen and IGOTY guests receive a complementary ticket to IPM for their preferred day. IGOTY sponsorship packages are also available by contacting Mr. Treve Evans, AIPH Senior International Relations Manager by email:

New Jersey Legislative Update Doherty Moves to Control Nuisance Gnats on the Delaware River

Senator Mike Doherty introduced legislation today to ensure the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) annually budgets for black fly suppression on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River. “Black flies are a terrible nuisance that plague the health and well-being of Hunterdon County residents, visitors, and small businesses alike,” said Doherty (R-23). “The State must step up and pay to spray the New Jersey side of the Delaware River to suppress the gnat population. Fighting back against black flies will improve the quality of life for Hunterdon County residents, and boost shopping and dining tourism along the scenic Delaware.”

Doherty’s bill would require the NJDEP to annually pay for the spraying for black flies, or gnats, in the riverfront marsh lands. For the past few years, the State of New Jersey, in partnership with Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP), have shared the cost of aerial spraying to suppress the gnat population along the Delaware River.  In July, it became know that the State stopped contributing to the Black Fly Suppression Program. Without financial support from New Jersey, Pennsylvania could no longer manage and spray the New Jersey portion of the Delaware River.  Doherty wrote to NJDEP Commissioner

Catherine R. McCabe requesting immediate funding for the program. In August, the Hunterdon County Freeholder Board paid $10,500 to the PADEP to spray the New Jersey side for the insects.  “I commend our Hunterdon County Freeholders for taking the lead and funding black fly suppression while our State DEP looked the other way,” added Doherty. “This inaction is unacceptable of a state agency and must be rectified. The residents of New Jersey deserve what the residents of Pennsylvania have come to expect – an annual and dependable Black Fly Suppression Program.”

Ruiz Donates 1,500 Pounds of Apples to Table to Table

Senate President Pro Tempore M. Teresa Ruiz donated produce collected at her gleaning event to Newark Central High School to Table to Table. The event and donation was held in partnership with Newark Public Schools, the New Jersey Farm Bureau, the New Jersey Agricultural Society, Farmers Against Hunger and Giamarese Farm. “Fresh fruits and vegetables are a key component to living a healthy life. Unfortunately, even here in the Garden State, many children do not have access to fresh produce on a daily basis. Our gleaning event is part of a larger effort to elevate the conversation about nutrition in our school food program,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex). “In the coming months I will be introducing a bill package to improve the health standards and accessibility of our school meals. By serving healthier meals we can improve the

wellbeing of the children in our state and ensure they understand the meaning and importance of a well-balanced diet.” The New Jersey Agricultural Society and Table to Table helped facilitate the delivery of the produce to the school. The Agricultural Society works to preserve and enhance agriculture, farming and related activities and businesses in New Jersey through educational, informational and promotional programs. Table to Table is a community-based food rescue program that collects perishable food that would otherwise be wasted and delivers it to organizations that serve the hungry in Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Passaic counties.  “We love any opportunity to connect those in our state’s urban centers to our flourishing agriculture industry,” said Al Murray, Executive Director, New Jersey Agricultural Society. “It

was wonderful working with Senator Ruiz to organize this donation and we look forward to working with the Senator further on her efforts to connect the farm to the classroom.” “Access to healthy, nutritious food is critical for a child’s ability to learn and grow.  Table to Table rescues only healthy, fresh food and delivers it free of charge to feed our hungry neighbors, including children in 26 Newark schools,” said Suzanne Brown, President of Table to Table. “Since January, Table to Table delivered 440,000 pounds of fresh food to Central High School, just one of our five distribution “hubs” so students and their families have free access on a weekly basis.  We are proud to work with Senator Ruiz to provide NJ school children with healthy, nutrient rich food that allows them to learn, grow and thrive.”

12 November 2019

Snow Meeting Provides a Forum for Landscape and The New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association (NJLCA), which represents the entire Green Industry in New Jersey – including landscape contractors, landscape architects, sod growers, nurseries, greenhouse growers, garden centers, horticulturists, and the floriculture industries – hosted their annual snow membership meeting at Bobcat of North Jersey in Totowa, Passaic County, on Thursday, Oct. 10. Attorney Justine Baakman of Freeman, Mathis and Garry, LLP. detailed the practices successful snow contractors must employ to protect themselves, their clients, their insurance carrier, and the general public. Kevin Gilbride, executive director of the Accredited Snow Contractors Association discussed slip-and-fall legislation and the future for the snow and ice industry. Michael Lindenbaum of SiteFotos discussed how taking pictures of sites can help protect contractors. Nelson Lee, NJLCA President, announced a new benefit program for the association’s associate members. And, George Futterknecht, NJLCA Chairman of the Board, announced the nominations for the upcoming elections.

Tom Castronovo/Photo

Gail Woolcott, NJLCA Director of Operations, encourages members to join one of the association committees.

Tom Castronovo/Photo

The NJLCA Membership sign proudly announces the membership meeting in the driveway of Bobcat of North Jersey in Totowa.

Tom Castronovo/Photo

Bobcat of North Jersey staff get ready to serve dinner to the NJLCA membership at the association’s annual snow meeting.

November 2019 13

Snow Contractors to Learn About the Trends Ahead

Tom Castronovo/Photo

NJLCA Vice President Richard Goldstein, left, discusses the future of the snow industry with Kevin Gilbride, Executive Director of the Accredited Snow Contractors Association.

Tom Castronovo/Photo

Patrick Barckett, left, Director of Sales and Marketing for Bobcat of North Jersey; and Vincent Ryan, Owner and President of Bobcat of North Jersey, right before the NJLCA annual snow membership meeting got underway.

Over 120 attendees packed the Bobcat of North Jersey shop area for the NJLCA membership meeting in Totowa.

Tom Castronovo/Photo

14 November 2019

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16 November 2019 Landscapers (what we call landscape professionals here at the NJLCA) get a bad rap. When people talk about them, often the image of an unkempt, uneducated, dirty individual is used to depict them. I’m not sure if you have spent any time talking to your landscape professional, but this depiction could not be further from the truth! Last month I spoke about all of the opportunities in the landscape and nursery industry for people looking to start new and rewarding careers. This month, I would like to dispel three myths about the “lawn guy.” Myth 1: Landscapers are uneducated. Fact: Most landscape professionals that I have worked with in our association and across the United States are very well educated. Some have college degrees and even doctorates in everything from agronomy to horticulture, business management to landscape architecture and more. Even those that did not attend college may have certifications and often required licenses to perform their particular duties. Have you had a tree cut down or had branches removed? It is required that the person performing those duties (excluding ground-based activities) be a licensed tree-care operator or The NJLCA Today By Gail Woolcott Director of Operations

Green Industry Myths

tree expert. In order to receive that license, one has to take several weeks of intense training and pass a strenuous test covering anything from tree and disease identification to proper climbing methods. Does someone come to your home to spray for pests or weeds? That person needs a pesticide license, which also requires classroom work, on-thejob training and, depending on their position, an exam. Does someone fertilize your lawn several times a year? He or she must sit in a three-hour class, then take a full exam on proper application rates and methods. Furthermore, many other landscape-related jobs require different certifications, registrations and licenses, including Landscape Irrigation Contractor, Certified Organic Landscape Professional, Home Improvement Contractor, Interlocking Concrete Paver Institute, OSHA, Landscape

Industry Certified Technician, Landscape Architect and more. And most of these certifications, registrations and licenses required continuing education classes each and every year. Myth 2: They are fly-by-nights or chucks in a truck. Fact: Again, not at all. To stay in business in the landscape industry, we are constantly being regulated because of those “fly-bynight” companies. There are blower bans, salary requirements (expect a minimum of $15-$17 per hour, not the New Jersey $10-per-hour minimum wage), labor restrictions and more that a landscape company encounters on a daily basis. They pay quite a bit of insurance to stay in business, especially if they are offering snow and ice services, which requires an exorbitant premium to pay for frivolous slip and fall litigation. Those that have taken the time to join an association

are likely very professional and trustworthy, as at the NJLCA we require them to be fully insured, abide by all local, state and federal regulations and have no outstanding complaints with the Better Business Bureau. Myth 3: They charge too much. Fact: They charge too little! Landscaping rates have increased very little and sometimes not at all since the 1980s. Do you know any other industry that has kept their rates even close to what they were in the 1980s? A Big Mac in 1980 was $.49 on average. Today, it is about $3.99, an increase of almost 90 percent. Despite increases in gas prices, salaries, equipment, vehicles and rent, landscape companies are rarely ever able to increase their prices more than 1 percent. When they do increase it more than that, many clients opt to leave the professional for the “chuck in a truck.”

The landscape and nursery professionals that make up the majority of our industry are real businesspeople. They didn’t pick the industry because they couldn’t do anything else. They have to love what they do to be able to contend with the regulations, costs and requirements of this industry. And they do. They also work hard at professionalizing themselves and their employees. So, the next time you talk about your landscaper, remember that he or she is just as professional as your dentist or doctor and performs a highly specialized and educated service for an excellent rate.

Editor’s note: Gail Woolcott is the Director of Operations for the New Jersey Landscape Contractors Association. She was presented with a community service award from the Borough of Fairview for her assistance in leading the 9-11 Memorial Park project and the Legislative Champion of the Year award from the Federation of Employers and Workers of America. She is currently the State Licensee Chair on the National Association of Landscape Professionals International Certification Council.

Why Don’t My Native Plant Seeds Grow? By Hubert Ling You paid $20 for four packs of assorted native plant seeds and nothing has come up after one year except weeds. Were you ripped-off? Did you get bad seeds? Not necessarily! You were probably a victim of seed dormancy. When you buy flower seeds from large commercial seed companies, you expect to see seedlings in one or two weeks. In fact, the seed company may guarantee that the seeds will grow and often gives you an expected germination rate of 70 to 95 percent. However, these are domesticated plants which have been selected over hundreds of years to germinate quickly and grow big and beautiful. Native plant seeds are from plants that have not been domesticated and may act quite differently. In fact, native plant growers pride

ourselves in the fact that our plants and seeds are directly from the wild and retain the ability to take care of themselves when grown under varying conditions. A big problem for native plants is when to allow the seeds to germinate. Obviously, plants in the desert must time germination, growth, flowering, and seed setting carefully or face disaster, but all plants constantly face life-threatening situations. A solution to this problem is by carefully setting the controls of seed dormancy and permitting growth only when conditions are favorable for allowing a plant to mature and produce seed. Allowing seeds to germinate only when conditions are favorable is understandable, but deliberately delaying seed growth for five to seven years, as in American holly, is much more difficult to explain. Another technique plants use for increased survival is allowing only

some of the seeds to grow at any one time. This makes sense since if conditions originally are good but turn suddenly oppressively hot or dry; the seeds which remained dormant can try again the following year when overall conditions may be better. However, it is hard to understand why it is advantageous to delay germination of some evening primrose seeds for 60 years or even more. Several mechanisms are known which delay seed growth. Seed quiescence is the term used when seeds do not germinate until growth conditions are acceptable over a suitable period. Some plants such as cardinal flower and great blue lobelia will not germinate unless exposed to light. This is reasonable because seeds in these two plants are very small and will run out of energy if they try to germinate when buried too deep. This fact has given rise to the general rule: cover seeds

with soil whose depth is two times the diameter of the seed. Fleshy fruits generally contain seed growth inhibitors which keep seeds quiescent; therefore I remove the fruits before sowing Solomon’s seal, strawberry bush, and Jack-in-the-pulpit. True seed dormancy is caused by factors intrinsic to the seed. A common example is a tough seed coat, which prevents oxygen and water from entering. In nature, this is overcome by freezing and thawing cycles or passage through an animal’s digestive system. Several species of roses and members of the bean family germinate better if rubbed between two sheets of sandpaper or nicked with a file. This process if called scarification. Many plants which set seed in earlysummer must be planted as soon as ripe or they will go dormant and are hard to grow thereafter; this is true for bloodroot and many trilliums.

On the other hand, many plants which set seed in the fall, such as the milkweeds, often germinate better if given a cold period first. This makes sense since this mimics the natural conditions. I simply plant all my fall ripening seeds in outdoor seed flats to give them a natural moist, cool period and watch some of them grow in May and June the next year. When I couldn’t get my paw-paw seeds to germinate, I buried them in my compost pile and forgot about them. Obviously, they germinated well; so if your native plant seeds don’t germinate the first year, ignore them for a while and they may surprise you in a few years by all coming up at the same time.

Editor’s Note: Hubert Ling is the Horticulture Chairman for the Native Plant Society of New Jersey. He can be reached at

November 2019 17

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18 November 2019 Unique Plants By Bob LaHoff Nursery Specialist

Visiting Denizens in the Bayou

Whenever I think about Bald Cypress, Taxodium distichum, it always conjures up memories of Jerry Lewis and the MDA Labor Day Telethon’s he did. Raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Mr. Lewis would often perform the Radio Announcer’s Test, a complicated tongue-twister testing one’s memory. Professional announcers were asked to recite the entire test, within a single breath, without ever sounding winded. It is here, specifically the 10th and final line, where the words “denizens of the deep” appears. And for whatever reason, I have always had a sort of a word association with this phrase and the aquatic Bald Cypress. This past September my friend Tony and I had yet another excellent adventure. Surprising me with Saint’s-Cowboys tickets in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, our friend Brenda helped arrange a whirlwind 48-hour trip. And while I was “over the moon” excited about the experience I had to ask, will there be enough time to take a swamp tour and gawk at Louisiana’s “denizens of the deep?” Cajun Encounters offers a fascinating few hours on the Bayou where you not only see Taxodium in their natural habitat, Honey Island Swamp also has ample numbers of raccoon, alligator and wild boar. Captain Eddie, our nautical extraordinaire, seemed brilliant with all things swamp related and beyond. Eddie masterfully handled our boat as if it was a simple extension of his hand. Along the way, our captain pointed out Black Willow, Salix nigra, and told us of how Native Americans used this plant to make tea as well as how its bark contains a chemical compound similar to aspirin. The next plant “ID” seemed to be pointed directly at me. Perhaps because I was more interested in the trees than

the subjects inhabiting them? Asked what the plant was, I exclaimed “Swamp or Redbay Laurel,” Persea borbonia! Another native thriving, in this case, in waterlogged soil. Redbay Laurel has an aroma similar to European laurel or bay tree, Laurus nobilis, and apparently can be used for similar culinary purposes. Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides, seemed to drape itself from every Bald Cypress, swamp gum, live oak and red maple in the swamp. A fibrous and rootless perennial related to pineapple, Spanish moss is not a true moss, nor is it native to Spain. “French settlers in the southeastern U.S. in the 1700s called this plant Barbe Espagnol (Spanish beard) in reference to the long beards worn by Spanish explorers of that time. Several legends suggest that the name Spanish moss is simply a refinement on that French name” (Missouri Botanical Garden). A hollowed out swamp tupelo/swamp blackgum, Nyssa sylvatica var. biflora, caught our attention next on our trip. Captain Eddie told us that termites created its enormous cavity and that the honeybees would soon be on their way. Capable of surviving in “organic muck”, swamp tupelo is an important wildlife species and often planted as an ornamental tree. Giant Salvinia, Salvinia molesta, while pretty to look at, skim coating the swamps water surface, is actually an invasive aquatic. Native to South America and often confused with Duckweed, Lemna minor, this “floating fern” quickly grows and is dangerous to the health of ecosystems. Finally, Louisiana’s State Tree, the Bald Cypress! Cypress wood, while not only beautiful, is resistant to decay. Used for caskets, fortresses and ship building, these tree forests help protect the shoreline from violent storms. Long lived

“denizens” become towering pyramidal trees, capable of surviving well within the belly of a swamp. “Trunks are buttressed (flared or fluted) at the base, and when growing in water, often develop distinctive, knobby root growths (“knees”) which protrude above the water surface around the tree” (Missouri Botanical Garden). And on many of the “knees” we saw was what looked like pink bubblegum. In fact, they were Apple Snail eggs (invasive mollusks), believed to be having a negative impact on native wildlife. Soft, feathery, flat green needles turn a cinnamon-brown on Bald Cypress in the fall too. Certainly one of my favorite trees capable of surviving almost anywhere, it seems. Following our tour, Tony and I stumbled upon an art gallery in New Orleans on Royal Street. Inside we found works by artist Frank Relle. One work in particular spoke to us as it was a giant Taxodium photographed in Lake Fausse Pointe State Park. Located in St. Martinville, Louisiana, this monstrous tree almost certainly has company in his surroundings? Perhaps there are “Ten, lyrical, spherical, diabolical denizens of the deep who all stall around the corner of the quo of the quay of the quivery, all at the same time.” It would have been fun to have had that conversation with Mr. Jerry Lewis. Editor’s Note: Bob LaHoff is co-owner of Hall’s Garden Center and Florist in Union County, a member of the Union County Board of Agriculture, the New Jersey Nursery and Landscape Association, ReevesReed Arboretum Buildings and Grounds Committee, a lifetime member of the Conifer Society and past member of the retail council for Monrovia Growers. He can be reached at (908) 665-0331.

Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show Celebrates 50 Years The Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS) announced that registration is now open for its 50th annual event that will take place at the Baltimore Convention Center in January 2020. Green industry companies and businesses interested in exhibiting or attending The Masterpiece of Trade Shows™ may register online at   MANTS 2020 will be held from January 8-10 in Baltimore, MD, where it has been hosted for the last 40 consecutive years. For the show’s 50th year, horticulture vendors from across the world will come together for the premier green industry marketplace. Since its inception in 1970, MANTS has grown into one of the largest trade shows in the country serving the ornamental horticulture industry. MANTS is where the industry comes to buy, shop, meet, see and be seen every January.  “It has been an honor to follow in my parent’s footsteps and lead the team that brings MANTS to life each year,” says Vanessa Akehurst Finney, Executive Vice President of MANTS. “Since 1970, our goal has been to connect professionals throughout the country, and around the world, in order to facilitate industry commerce and networking. We work hard to make sure that MANTS is the place to buy, shop, meet, see and be seen every January.”  In 1970, the Mid-Atlantic Nurserymen’s Trade Show, Inc. was established by the Maryland and Virginia Nurserymen’s Associations. Two years later, the West Virginia Nurserymen’s Association joined in as the third and equal sponsor of the show. The first trade show was held in Williamsburg, Virginia in January 1971 with 64 exhibitors and the second in 1972 at the Hunt Valley Inn in Cockeysville, Maryland with 79 exhibitors. During the ensuing years, the show continued to grow and move between venues in Maryland and Virginia before finding its home in the Baltimore Convention Center in 1980 where it has stayed for 40 years.  In 2019, MANTS welcomed more than 11,600 registrants to the Baltimore Convention Center, the largest number of registrants since 2008. These industry professionals had the opportunity to visit 956 exhibiting companies, spread throughout more than 1,550 booths. The exhibiting companies and event attendees traveled from 48 states and 16 foreign countries – all of whom represented a wide variety of products, services and trends on the show floor.   For all those interested in attending or exhibiting, please find more details and registration information at Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show (MANTS): The Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show, MANTS®, is known as the Masterpiece of Trade Shows TM and is sponsored by the State Nursery and Landscape Associations of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. MANTS is the place industry leaders gather every January because MANTS means business. The show covers over 300,000 square feet of contiguous exhibit space at the Baltimore Convention Center and draws exhibiting companies and attendees from throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Asia. MANTS 2020 is scheduled for January 8-10 at the Baltimore Convention Center. For the latest information visit or call us at (410) 296-6959. One of Governor Phil Murphy’s priorities centers on combating global warming. This has resulted in a laudable goal to have 100 percent of New Jersey’s energy come from “clean energy” sources by 2050. Examples of clean energy include solar and wind energy. Currently, 95 percent of New Jersey’s energy is created via natural gas and nuclear sources. Wind energy, derived from turbines placed out at sea, figures to be the centerpiece of achieving the 100-percent goal. In June, the state awarded a contract to Orsted, a Danish company who is a leader in wind energy. Known as the Ocean Wind Project, this $1.6 billion project, located 15 miles off Atlantic City, is expected to power 500,000 New Jersey homes when it becomes operational in 2024. Upon completion, it will be the third-largest wind farm in the world. Despite any measurable results, state officials already have plans to launch two more projects in 2022 and 2024. With New York and Delaware poised to enter the market, we could eventually have six wind farms spanning the New York Harbor to the Delaware Bay. As more states consider wind farms, energy from the wind will drastically change how the United States derives its energy. Some analysts predict this could ultimately become a $70 billion In September’s article about historic New Jersey nurseries and nurserymen, we met several from the 18th century to the early 19th century. During the second half of the 19th century, many more seed and nursery companies came into being. Mail-order became common due to improved transportation networks and postal reforms that lowered the cost of shipping seeds, plant material, and catalogues. The growth of cities and towns created huge potential markets, but also competition. Catalogues used names like “Mammoth” and “Giant’ and fancifully colored lithographs abounded. As American settlers became more permanently established, ornamental plants, in addition to fruits and vegetables, were added to gardens. Catalogues of this time catered to the widespread American passion for flowers. Finally, thanks to expanding railroad lines, people could commute to work in cities and the “suburbs” were created. Grass seed was in demand, as lawns were important for the status-conscious suburbanite, especially after rotary push mowers came into widespread use in the 1870s. The trains that ran through Madison, N.J. during the Gilded Age carried wealthy businessmen to New York City, and they also carried roses. At first a hobby of the rich, it was soon realized that a profit could be made in growing roses. A.M. Treadwell and T.J. Slaughter were two of the first and most famous rose growers. By 1889, the Madison Eagle reported trains carrying between 40,000 and 50,000 roses a day into Manhattan for the retail florist trade. Rose

November 2019 19 NJ Agricultural Society By Al Murray Executive Director

Is the Answer Blowin’ in the Wind?

industry. State officials eagerly point out the economic benefits to New Jersey. According to the administration, this enterprise is expected to provide 15,000 jobs and generate $1.17 billion in economic benefits over the life of the project. In a state that seems to be perpetually in budget crisis, I certainly understand their desperate enthusiasm. Time, of course, will tell, but how many times do we hear politicians breathlessly tout huge economic benefits that are neither huge nor provide benefits - except for the few? Excuse my skepticism, but as a lifelong New Jerseyean, it is my birth right. Oh, and by the way, let us not forget there is already a vibrant, 300-year-old industry operating within the very waters slated to become wind farms along our coast. Apparently, this administration has.

New Jersey’s commercial fishing industry is a domestic and international provider of over 100 varieties of finfish and shellfish that contributes over $1 billion directly to the state’s economy. There are six major commercial fishing ports, and Cape May has the second-highest value of catch next to New Bedford, Mass. The economic benefits associated with this industry reach far beyond the harvest and provide direct economic support to other industries, communities and their families. According to a 2016 report prepared by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, nationally New Jersey’s commercial and recreational fishing ranked fifth in total sales ($8 billion combined) and seventh in jobs (52,000). The potential of hundreds, if not thousands, of turbines being placed in prime commercial fishing waters rightly has fisherman nervous. Despite their requests for

information, very little has been forthcoming. Issues that remain unresolved include commercial and recreational fishing access within the wind farms, turbine interference with navigational instruments, electromagnetic effects on marine populations, the lack of environmental impact studies, and numerous other issues. Fortunately, these pleas for information reached federal ears. A couple of weeks ago, Congressman Jeff Van Drew (D-2nd Dist.) and Congressman Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) held a Congressional Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral resources in Wildwood, N.J. Approximately a dozen witnesses representing industry, government and fishing testified. It was clear by the end of the hearing that New Jersey’s commercial fishing industry had virtually zero input during the current project. Congressman Van Drew

The Garden Historian By Lesley Parness Garden Educator

Historic New Jersey Nurseries, Part II

authority, R.L. Ellwanger proclaimed “the most beautiful tea rose blooms in the world are from Madison.” Among the rose varieties developed there are “Vanity Fair,” “Matchless,” and “Spellbound.” Rose growing remained strong for decades, and in 1950, one million plants were growing in and around Madison. The rose greenhouses are gone now, but the name “Rose City” can still be seen in the town’s logo and on many street signs. Standing today at the intersection of Hobart and Highland Avenues in Short Hills, N.J., surrounded by multi-milliondollar homes, it’s hard to imagine that extensive greenhouses growing the rarest of orchids, forests of tree ferns, and 20-foot-tall palms once stood here. Two companies, North Jersey Nurseries and Pitcher & Manda Nurseries, were propagators and importers of trees and plants. Their owner, W.A. Manda, came to America in 1883 and secured a position as Superintendent of the Harvard Botanic Gardens in Cambridge, Mass. But the horticultural wizard was also

an astute businessman and soon left the academic world for the burgeoning nursery world. In 1895, he acquired the parent plant for Chrysanthemum “Mrs. Alpheus Hardy” for $1,500 – the highest price ever paid for a mum. In nearby Springfield, N.J., the Flemer family owned F&F Nursery, established in 1882. Seeking to expand their property, they relocated to Kingston, N.J. in 1911. Over decades and through hard work and real estate consolidations, the business became Princeton Nurseries. Of national significance for its contributions to commercial horticulture, Princeton Nurseries was once the largest commercial nursery in the United States, occupying 1,000 acres. The legendary Princeton Elm was developed there, as well as scores of varieties of shade trees. The Flemer family developed innovative horticultural practices and technologies still in use today. Further south, in what is now Little Silver, N.J., Benjamin Hance, nurseryman and well-known landscape architect, operated Rumson Nurseries. His father, Asher Hance, was one of New

Jersey’s largest peach growers. In 1854, the Rumson Nursery was given the highest award at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition for their peaches. Their catalog of that year offered 50plus varieties of peaches – cling, freestone, early and late, red, yellow, pink and one called “Pineapple.” The Rumson nursery was eventually sold to the Lovett Nursery Company. J.T. Lovett grew the business to cover almost half of the borough, supplying plants to large companies like Sears Roebuck, including grass seed for those new lawns. In Riverton, N.J., there was William Parry’s Pomona Nursery, with its multitude of berries and exotic fruits like Russian Apricots. His revolutionary single-color lithographed catalogue riveted customers. Then came Henry Dreer’s 300-acre nursery and a catalog with six colors! Nearby, in Delair, Joel Horner and Sons grew 70-plus types of grapes, including “the grape for the millions” – “White Niagara.” Fruit growing was so important to the American economy at this time that in

asked the packed room to raise their hands if they were part of the commercial fishing industry. Nearly every hand went up. He then asked how many have received regular updates about the wind farm project. Every hand went down. The Congressman concluded by recognizing the importance of wind energy, but also stressed it is vital the fishing industry have a seat at the table and be part of the decision-making process. “We are not here to destroy one industry over another,” Van Drew commented. Hopefully, this hearing will begin the process of inclusion. Editor’s Note: Al Murray is the Executive Director of the New Jersey Agricultural Society. Established in 1781, the Society is New Jersey's oldest organization whose purpose is to advocate, educate and promote on behalf of New Jersey's agricultural industry. Mr. Murray previously spent his entire career at the NJ Department of Agriculture, serving as the Assistant Secretary. He can be reached at njagriculturalsociety@ 1886 the government commissioned the U.S. Pomological Watercolor Collection – 7,500 beautiful watercolor paintings of fruits and nuts. It includes 3,800 apple cultivars. View it at It’s fun to think about these historic nurseries and seedsmen, and marvel at the growth of horticulture in New Jersey. Through their efforts, many heirloom flower, fruit and vegetable cultivars are still available today. The tradition of horticultural excellence continues with much fine ornamental breeding taking place in nurseries, large and small, and the development of agriculture in our universities. Over the centuries and now, New Jersey has earned its moniker, the “Garden State.”

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 This column will appear in the paper every other month.

20 November 2019 The phrase “Timing is Everything” is probably one of the most overused clichés in the English language. But I am sure that with a little prodding, everyone could relate a story of their own about how if they had just timed things a little differently, the results would have been so much different. This could not be more true when it comes to agriculture either. And while this might be rather obvious to most people, many might not be aware of the steps that need to be taken in order to ensure that crops can be harvested, marketed and sold in a timely manner. Growing a good crop is only half of the battle. But what good is a great crop if it does not generate enough income to cover the cost of production? Sure, maybe someone will give you a blue ribbon (that’s a participation trophy in millennial speak), but if it does not pay the bills, you would have been better off staying in bed. This year, we had very mixed results when it came to our crop of pumpkins. Although they were markedly much better in 2019 than they were in 2018, they still left Wow, what a year we have had! The weather was great in March and April, and then a lot of rain came in May and June. Heat and drought arrived during July and August, causing much lawn damage, and as I write this article, it has been quite dry for a few weeks. Newly planted grass seed has had trouble germinating and fertilizer applications have been slow to greenup established lawn areas. I hope by now your lawn has had a chance to recover and fill in damaged areas. What curveball will Mother Nature throw at us next? Depending on how long the warm weather stays around, you need to keep mowing until the grass stops growing. Be sure your last mowing for the year is cut slightly shorter to help prevent snow mold from occurring. If you have not fertilized your lawn yet, do so now, be mindful of the last date in New Jersey that you can apply fertilizer to lawns is November 15, it’s the The Town Farmer By Peter Melick Agricultural Producer

Timing is Everything

quite a bit to be desired. First of all, we had one field which was hammered by some torrential rains three times in the first month after it was planted in early-June. These heavy rains caused some diseases to get a foothold in the field and caused the pumpkins to be a total loss before the middle of July. But because this started fairly early, we were able to see the inevitable coming and were able to obtain some more seed, and plant them in another location, albeit three weeks later than they should have been planted. Fortunately, we had other fields that actually fared quite well. “What’s the big deal?” you might ask. “So, they will just be three weeks late,” you might say. The problem lies

with when they will be ready to harvest and sell. Normally, with autumn-related vegetables such as pumpkins and other fall squashes and ornamentals, there is a five- to six-week marketing window where these types of products can be sold. Early in September, it is usually too hot and people are still going to the beach. During the last week of October, people have usually already purchased what they need, so it is too late. That leaves those few weeks in between where the large majority of these items have to be sold. So, as you can see, pushing the harvest back on these items really puts the pressure on when it comes to getting these harvested in sold. In one respect, we were

very lucky in 2019. We had a warmer-than-normal September, which allowed some of the late-planted varieties to catch up somewhat so that they could still be marketed without too much difficulty. But this warmer weather caused some different issues as well. The excessive heat caused some of our regularly planted pumpkins to actually mature a little earlier than we would have liked. What this does, is cause some of the stems to shrivel and dry up sooner than we would have liked, which decreased their marketability and overall yield. But no growing season is ever perfect and from time to time these things happen. If it would have been colder than

Turf ‘s Up By Todd Pretz Professional Turf Consultant

Is it time to button up your lawn?

law. Professional licensed fertilizer applicators have until December 1 for their last lawn fertilizer application. Check local lawn fertilizer laws in your state if you live outside of New Jersey. If you fertilized in earlyfall, applying a “winter” food now is still a good idea to thicken grass and help your lawn green-up earlier next year. If this is the last time you use your spreader for the season, be sure to give it a good hosing and “car wash” type cleaning. Let it dry in the sun and then apply lubricant to all moving parts. The first frost most likely occurred in October and this is what kills any leftover crabgrass plants. The leaves first turn purple and then to a

brown death. Be sure to apply a pre-emergent crabgrass preventer next spring if you experienced crabgrass this past summer. Many of us did due to the severe drought. If you had a large amount of crabgrass this year, apply a spring and again a late-spring application of crabgrass preventer to increase control. Be aware if you are planting grass seed to read the label for all directions concerning seeding. The fall season brings on leaves. While leaves play an important part in the circle of plant life, they can also kill areas of the lawn if they are not removed. Leaves combined with fall rains can smother established lawns. If leaf cover is not excessive,

perhaps you can “mulch” them with your mower, adding nutrients and organic matter to the soil. Excessive leaf cover stops the photosynthesis process that allows the grass to grow. As leaves decompose, they acidify the soil, which slightly lowers the soil pH value. Now is a good time to test our soil pH (how many times have I suggested this over the years?) to see if any soil amendments need to be added for better grass growth next year. Just like the leaves, clean up excessive grass clippings on your lawn before you put your mower to bed. Speaking of your mower, it’s time to clean and service it so it starts up next year

normal, we would have been looking at fields full of green pumpkins for Halloween, which is certainly not an ideal situation either. That is why we like to spread out our risk somewhat by using different locations as well as planting dates to ensure that we can at least get to sell some of what we planted. As you can see, simply growing a good crop does not necessarily mean that it is a successful crop. The growing part of the equation is only the first step. Everything still has to be marketed and sold in a timely fashion. At least until participation trophies are worth something. Editor’s Note: Peter Melick is co-owner of Melick’s Town Farm in Oldwick and a 10th-generation New Jersey farmer. Peter is currently a Tewksbury Township Committee Member. He also served as a director for the New Jersey Farm Bureau and is a past president of the New Jersey State Board of Agriculture. Peter has also been featured on NJN, News 12 New Jersey and on the Fox Business Network. when you want it to. Clean the housing deck and sharpen the blade, but be sure to have a professional mower repair shop do this if you do not know what you are doing, as your mower can cause severe injury. Every year your lawn seems to be a challenge. Mother Nature likes to test your grass-growing ability. I’m here to help, and remember the best things to do next year are buying quality grass seed, testing your soil, and applying any soil amendments as needed to adjust soil pH values to 6.2-7.0 range. Also, consider reducing soil compaction with gypsum-based products containing calcium sulfatedihydrate. Time to enjoy some football. Happy Thanksgiving! 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:

November 2019 21

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22 November 2019


Delaware Electric Cooperative and the Delaware Department of Agriculture Launch New Grant Program

The Delaware Department of Agriculture has partnered with the Delaware Electric Cooperative to launch a new irrigation grant program to help Delaware farmers install environmentally friendly irrigation systems. The program will provide $10,000 in funding to farmers to convert dieselpowered irrigation systems to electric. Under the program, Delaware Electric Co-op will offer farmers up to $5,000 to cover the cost of running electric to converted systems. Funding from the Delaware Department of Agriculture will provide farmers up to an additional $5,000 to cover costs including parts and labor associated with the electric motor and starter installation, removal of the existing gear head and components, and electrician costs involved in the irrigation system conversion. The State funding was approved by the Delaware General Assembly in June. The grants are only available to farmers served by Delaware Electric Cooperative.  “The availability of this program is important to Delaware family farms that are still utilizing dieselpowered irrigation systems to water their crops,” said Secretary of Agriculture Michael T. Scuse. “There are approximately 500 of these systems remaining throughout the state. By replacing them with more energy efficient electrical systems, there will be a decrease in carbon emissions thereby

improving air quality, and a reduction in noise pollution. The conversion will help to increase farmers’ long-term profitability and the ability to utilize smart technology.” Farmers, who receive a grant from the Delaware Electric Co-op, will also save money by participating in the Co-op’s load control program, which allows the Co-op to cycle-off power to irrigation units during peak energy usage times. Participants in the load control program typically enjoy a savings of 18 to 25 percent on their energy bills.  According to Bill Andrew, President and CEO of Delaware Electric Co-op, “This new program will allow Delawareans to breathe cleaner air and will also help to lower the cost for farmers to irrigate their crops. Electric powered irrigation pivots are cheaper to operate and maintain than diesel systems and have less of an impact on the environment.  To be eligible for the program, proposed irrigation systems must have a minimum 20 kilowatt load. Farmers will also be required to sign a contract for controlled load service with the Co-op for 60 months. For more information about the program, contact Tony Rutherford, Manager of Engineering at 302-349-3144 or by email at  

CONNECTICUT DEPARTMENT OF AGRCULTURE Theft of Hemp Plants Reported by Licensed Connecticut Growers

The Connecticut Department of Agriculture has received three reported incidents of theft from licensed hemp growers in Simsbury, North Stonington and Redding, CT. Reports include uprooting of plants and missing tops, totaling nearly 200 disturbed plants, or the equivalent of one-eighth of an acre.The agency reminds the public that while hemp plants look like marijuana, hemp is not an intoxicant. The 2018 Farm Bill redefines hemp as a raw agricultural commodity provided the THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol)

content is not more than 0.3% on a dry matter basis. THC is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants. To date there are 86 licensed hemp growers with 318 licensed acres in Connecticut. Growers who experience a theft or disturbance of plants are required to report to the Connecticut Department of Agriculture. Please contact the agency at 860-713-5202 or, as well as your local police department. For more information on the Connecticut Hemp Research Pilot Program, visit


Emerald Ash Borer Discovered in Portland, Maine’s “Forest City”

The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) is reporting that emerald ash borer (EAB), a destructive forest insect from Asia, has been detected in Cumberland County. Officials with the USDA Animal and Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) have confirmed the identification of an adult beetle found on a trap in Portland, Maine. An initial look by City and Department staff did not reveal additional signs of the insect. Further surveys are planned during the insect’s dormant period. Emerald ash borer was discovered in northern Aroostook County in May 2018 and later in York County in September 2018. The State of Maine established a quarantine to regulate the movement of ash trees, ash wood, and all hardwood firewood to slow the spread of this very destructive pest. The Maine Forest Service will issue a stop movement order on the same materials from Portland and towns within a 10-mile buffer, including: Cape Elizabeth, Chebeague Island, Cumberland, Falmouth, Gorham, Long Island, North Yarmouth, Portland, Scarborough, South Portland, Westbrook, Windham, and Yarmouth.  The new find is likely the result of firewood transport into the area, since the closest known infestation is over 40 miles away in Lebanon. On their own, the beetles only travel to 2 miles a year. The City of Portland, known as the “Forest City,” has had an active urban and community forestry program for over 100 years and has already done much work to prepare for this destructive pest and other forest threats.  The City maintains an inventory of all public shade and street trees. There are just over 600 individual ash trees planted along city streets and public parks. There are also many native ash trees in the forests and pockets of woods that skirt the city, especially along waterways such as the Presumpscot River. The city plans to monitor for expansion of the infestation with the Maine DACF and local conservation groups and will prioritize treatment and removal of infested ash.  Emerald ash borer was first discovered in the Detroit, Michigan area in 2002, though it is believed to have arrived in the 1990s. The beetle is about one half an inch and metallic green. Its larvae tunnel through the wood just under the bark of ash trees (Fraxinus spp.) and can kill even healthy trees in 4-5 years. Tens of millions of trees across the country have been killed.  Ash trees comprise 4% of Maines forest and are an important street and shade tree. Emerald ash borer threatens all species of ash trees (but not mountain-ash) and can have significant ecological and economic impacts. There are no practical means to control EAB in forested areas, although pesticide treatments can protect individual trees. Biological control, in the form of tiny, non-stinging wasps that attack EAB, has been started in Maine with releases in forested areas in the Madawaska area. In urban and residential areas, highvalue trees can be protected using insecticides. This approach is recommended only after EAB has been found within 10 miles of the trees in question.


Northumberland County Tree Farm Provides White House Christmas Tree

Pennsylvania’s $28.9 million Christmas tree industry was highlighted today when Agriculture Deputy Secretary Fred Strathmeyer joined the National Christmas Tree Association at Mahantongo Valley Farms in Northumberland County where a tree was chosen for the White House. “Pennsylvania Christmas tree growers have a big impact on the state’s economy,” said Deputy Strathmeyer. “And now, a Pennsylvania tree is making

its way to America’s living room.” With more than 1,400 tree farms in the commonwealth and nearly 31,000 acres of trees, Pennsylvania ranks third in the nation for Christmas tree production.  As grand champion winner of the National Christmas Tree Contest, Mahanotongo Valley Farms owner Larry Snyder had the honor of providing this year’s Blue Room Christmas tree. Since 1929, the Blue Room tree has been known as the White House’s official tree and

is traditionally trimmed by the first lady. The tree will be cut and transported in November, when Pennsylvania’s tree-buying season is just beginning.  “We’re proud to have a piece of Pennsylvania on display at our nation’s capital through the holidays,” added Strathmeyer. “I hope Pennsylvanians will make the same choice to buy a local, renewable tree this season.”

November 2019 23

OF AGRICULTURE NEWS NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE NYS Agriculture and Markets Deputy Commissioner Receives National Award for Work with Dairy Industry and In Food Safety

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball announced that Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Trodden has received the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture’s (NASDA) 2019 James A. Graham Award for her outstanding service to help New York’s agricultural producers. Deputy Commissioner Trodden received this prestigious award while attending NASDA’s annual meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Trodden was recognized for her dedication to supporting New York State’s dairy industry and for her leadership of the Department’s food safety advancements.  Commissioner Ball said, “Commissioner Ball said, “I want to congratulate Deputy Commissioner Trodden for this award and express appreciation on behalf of all of us at the Department for her hard work and dedication to the industry.  The energy and expertise that she brings to lead our staff and assist our food industry partners is instrumental in supporting our farms, as well as maintaining our position as a national leader in the dairy industry

and in food safety.” NASDA commended Trodden’s efforts, on behalf of Commissioner Ball, to assist the dairy industry, including her collaboration with both state and national partners to address Canada’s dairy trade policies.  Deputy Commissioner Trodden also helped to revive the Milk Marketing Advisory Council in New York State.  The group, which includes farmers and dairy processors, works together to overcome challenges in the dairy industry and engage in solutions.  Under Deputy Commissioner Trodden’s leadership and guidance, the Department has also made tremendous progress in its food safety mission.  The Department has increased testing, streamlined reporting of food safety issues and promoted the work of the Department’s food safety inspectors and food laboratory staff that are responsible for numerous consumer protection actions. The Department’s Food Safety and Inspections Division issues an average of approximately 300 food safety

recalls annually and has assisted in several highprofile investigations to protect consumers from foodborne illness. “Congratulations to our 2019 Honor Awards recipients! Our state departments of agriculture are homes to incredibly talented people who often go unrecognized in the world of public service. NASDA’s Honor Awards Program provides our members the opportunity to recognize their staff for their work on a national stage,” said NASDA President and New Mexico Secretary of Agriculture Jeff Witte.   Trodden was one of four individuals honored by the non-partisan group through its national awards this year. Other recipients include Washington State Congressman Dan Newhouse and top officials in agricultural departments in Tennessee and Colorado.  Trodden joined the Department in 2016. She leads the Divisions of Food Safety and Inspections, the Food Laboratory, and Milk Control and Dairy Services. 

VERMONT DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Over $305K In Grants To Benefit Vermont Specialty Crop Producers 

The Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets (VAAFM) announces grants totaling $305,929 for eight projects to benefit Vermont fruit, vegetable, and value-added producers and increase consumer access to locally produced food. These grants, funded through the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP), were awarded to seven agricultural organizations to undertake a range of technology development, research, education, marketing, and program-building projects. The grants will leverage an additional $203,468 in matching funds. “Specialty Crop Block Grant funds are critical to enhancing the long-term viability of agriculture in Vermont,” said Agriculture Secretary Anson Tebbetts. “This year’s funding will help protect Vermont’s pollinators, strengthen local food markets, and invest in research to improve production methods and control pests. We are thankful for our Congressional delegation’s continued commitment to the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, which works to strengthen Vermont’s agricultural economy and maintain our working landscape.”   Since the program’s establishment in 2006, the Vermont SCBGP has invested over $2.9 million in projects to benefit Vermont specialty crop producers. The program supports projects led by producers, researchers, and agricultural service providers, including a recently completed project, Maximizing Nitrogen from Cover Crops on Vermont Vegetable Farms, directed by Vern Grubinger and Rebecca

Maden at University of Vermont Extension. Maximizing Nitrogen from Cover Crops on Vermont Vegetable Farms focused on research to quantify nitrate availability from legume cover crops. This research found that vegetable growers who utilized legume cover crops could reduce manure and fertilizer applications and still maintain optimal levels of soil nitrogen in their fields. Over forty percent of the 196 growers reached through the project reported a decrease in annual fertilizer applications, which helps to minimize phosphorus runoff from farm fields.  VAAFM awards SCBGP funds through a competitive review process guided by industry, nonprofit and government stakeholders. A stakeholder advisory committee identified the development of innovative horticultural production practices and efficiencies, pest and disease management, food safety, value chain enhancement, market access, and producer collaboration as funding priorities for 2019. A proposal review committee selected the following projects out of nineteen applications representing total funding requests of over $621,000: Food Connects to develop new wholesale customers, supply chain relationships, and marketing materials to serve markets in the Upper Valley ($45,000); University of Vermont College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to improve available resources for pest and disease monitoring, diagnosis, and education for Vermont beekeepers and the Vermont Apiary Inspection Program ($52,000);

University of Vermont Extension Vegetable & Berry Team to develop comprehensive fertilizer recommendations for high tunnel vegetable crops, with a focus on tomatoes ($32,785); University of Vermont Department of Plant and Soil Science to survey heirloom and feral hops varieties for resistance to fungal and insect pests ($20,000); University of Vermont Extension Vegetable & Berry Team to evaluate the benefits and challenges of implementing brassica cover crops in vegetable production systems ($47,584); University of Vermont Department of Plant and Soil Science to control the spread of Asian earthworm pests (Amynthas species) and disseminate results to the horticultural industry ($23,805); Vermont Quince Company to support commercial and backyard quince (Cydonia oblonga) growers in the region with field research, historical data aggregation, and outreach to existing and prospective quince growers ($10,000); and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets to incorporate local specialty crop market opportunities into community development and revitalization projects ($74,755) The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service awards Specialty Crop Block Grants to the 50 States, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories. In Vermont, VAAFM administers these funds to enhance the competitiveness of Vermont and regionally-grown specialty crops, defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).”











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November 2019 25

The History of the Blue Star Memorial Program Project (Continued from page 1)

of 1944, as World War II appeared to be in the final stages, that the President of the Garden Club of New Jersey, Helen Hull, and her Roadside Chair, Elizabeth Hood, met with New Jersey State Highway Commissioner, Spencer Miller, Jr. Their meeting was brought about as they “sought to protect the beauty of the countryside for the return of the men and women from New Jersey who were at war defending the safety of the nation.” The proposed plan called for a five-mile planting of flowering dogwood trees in a landscaped area along U.S. Route 22 (old Rt. 29) between Mountainside and North Plainfield, “where all who passed might share in the beauty and homage. The blue star of the service flag would be its name.” Thus, a partnership was formed between the Garden Club of New Jersey and the New Jersey Highway Department with the “inspired idea” launched in June 1944, with the slogan “A Dollar Plants a Tree on the Blue Star Drive,” an offer made possible by the cooperation of nurserymen of New Jersey. The Blue Star itself had its origins during World War I, with the Congressional Record stating: “The world should know of those who give so much for liberty. The dearest thing in all the world to father and mother – their children.” Families proudly display the service flag to this day, with its service flag in a field of white bordered by red with a blue star in the center, standing for hope and pride. This service flag is hung in a front window and replaced by a gold star for a fallen soldier or a silver star for a wounded and disabled soldier returned home from the battlefield. World War II and succeeding wars have continued this means of honoring our servicemen and women and families for their sacrifice. Service clubs, industry and citizens contributed for those

whose names were listed on their honor rolls. In January 1945, the New Jersey State Legislature commemorated the Blue Star Drive by joint resolution, and through subsequent legislation, provided for the acquisition of all undeveloped land bordering the Blue Star Drive for plantings of 8,000 dogwood trees along this 5-plus mile stretch. A book of the memorial names and donors resides in the Statehouse in Trenton. At the close of World War II, the National Council of State Garden Clubs (now National Garden Clubs, Inc., GCNJ’s parent organization) was seeking a suitable means of honoring our servicemen and women. They felt the need to establish a “living” memorial, not marble or granite, and one that would promote preserving and beautifying our country that our servicemen and women had so valiantly fought to preserve. New Jersey Highway Commissioner Spencer Miller, Jr, a guest speaker at the annual convention of the NCSGC in 1945, suggested that this program begun in New Jersey become a nationwide project using New Jersey’s Blue Star Drive as a model. The national organization embraced this project, calling it The Blue Star Memorial Highway Program. The NCSGC made a study of the inter-regional highways of the United States in order to create a “ribbon of living memorial plantings traversing every state.” Highway commissioners were informed of the plan, as were garden clubs in each state. Helen Hull, President of the Garden Club of New Jersey from 1944-46, and subsequently NCSGC President from 1947-49, along with Elizabeth S. Hood, GCNJ Roadside Chair, assumed responsibility for implementing the program for the NCSGC. The Blue Star Memorial Marker itself was designed by Cornelia Van Wyck Kellogg, a founding member

of the Garden Club of New Jersey from Morristown, who was GCNJ’s second President from 1927-1929, and subsequently became NCSGC’s second President from 1930 to 1933 and Honorary Life President from 1933-1967. By May 1949, Blue Star Memorial Highways totaled 16,000 miles in 33 states and stretched from New Jersey to California. The American Association of Nurserymen drew up a landscaping plan for the sites. Helen Hull and Elizabeth S. Hood had nurtured the dream of a Blue Star Highway in New Jersey and now were seeing it being fulfilled on a national stage. NCSGC celebrated its 20th anniversary by purchasing 40 acres of giant redwoods and giving it to the California State Parks System. This grove was the western terminus of the eastwest route of the Blue Star Memorial Highway, with the next NCSGC administration adding another 40 acres. In 1951, the tribute of the memorial marker was extended to include all men and women who had served, were serving or would serve in the Armed Forces of the United States of America. New Jersey pioneered another phase of this project as the need for an extension to accommodate other-thandedicated highways became apparent. The Verona Garden Club of New Jersey placed the first By-Way Marker in Verona in 1971 and urged others to follow their lead. In 1972,

Blue Star By-Ways were initiated and established by joint resolution of the Senate as a New Jersey project on areas off the beaten path. NCSGC adopted By-Way Markers in 1981 as a “Tribute to the Armed Forces of America.” A third marker was added in 1996, identical to the original Blue Star Memorial Highway Marker except for the removal of the word “Highway.” his change allowed the marker to be placed on the grounds of a National Cemetery or Veterans Administration Center, and in 2004 the scope of this marker was enlarged to include other appropriate civic locations. There are now over 3,000 markers throughout the United States! While New Jersey boasts 35 markers, we still have several counties out of our 21 counties with no markers, and the Blue Star Committee comprising members of the DOT and the GCNJ has set a goal to have a marker in every county by spring, 2021. To that end, the committee has been working with various clubs as well as with the GCNJ to find sites and start the process to bring markers to those counties. Later this fall, a new marker will be dedicated in West Trenton, thanks to West Trenton Garden Club and the NJ DOT’s Lois Johann for getting this done. In 2020, we expect to bring markers to Camden and Cape May County, which currently do not have any Blue Star Memorials. Thanks

to Haddonfield Garden Club and Lois Johann for their work on that site as we look forward to the marker’s dedication in 2020. Cape May’s marker is tentatively planned for a location along Route 9, and this marker will be co-sponsored by GCNJ and the N.J. Department of Transportation, as we have no participating garden clubs in Cape May County. Our goal is to encourage our garden club members and our Gardener News readers to participate in this outstanding project by helping us erect a Blue Star Memorial Marker in Sussex, Passaic, Hudson and Gloucester counties prior to the National Garden Clubs, Inc. Convention coming to New Jersey in May 2021. Details on how to proceed may be found on the GCNJ’s website, along with contact information for GCNJ’s Blue Star Committee Chair, Joan Cichalski. As Joan says, “What better way to honor all who serve and thank them for their service?” Editor’s Note: Jeannie Geremia is The Garden Club of New Jersey, Inc.’s President, GCNJ Milkweed for Monarchs Chair, and is a National Garden Clubs, Inc. Master Flower Show Judge for the GCNJ. Jeannie is a member of Neshanic Garden Club, The Raritan Township Historic Committee and the Raritan Township Board of Health. Jeannie’s email address is:


26 November 2019

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Full Moon November 12, 2019 Eastern Daylight TIP OF THE MONTH Water any plants you added to the landscape during the previous growing season. Continue to irrigate until the ground freezes if rain is scarce. More plants die during their first winter due to lack of moisture. Now is also a good time to dig a hole for live Christmas trees. Stuff the hole with leaves and cover with a tarp. Store soil you removed from the planting hole in a spot where it won’t freeze. And, you can help prevent sunscald (freeze/thaw-induced cracking) on young tree trunks and thin-barked trees (like maples and fruit trees) by wrapping the trunks with paper tree wrap to (reflect sunlight) about four inches wide. Overlap layers as you go, and secure ends with several windings of tape. Finally, mow the lawn one last time before dormancy sets in. Lower the blade down one setting. Shorter turf is less susceptible to snow mold. Lower the blade down one setting. Shorter turf is less susceptible to snow mold.

November 2019 27

28 November 2019

Profile for Gardener News

Gardener News November 2019  

Serving the Agricultural, Gardening, Landscaping and Nursery Communities

Gardener News November 2019  

Serving the Agricultural, Gardening, Landscaping and Nursery Communities