What’s in Season from the Garden State: The Historic Rutgers Tomato Gets Re-invented in University’s 250th Anniversary Year

Breeder of the 'Rutgers' tomato, Lyman Schermerhorn (left) in a field of tomatoes (circa 1930s)

Breeder of the ‘Rutgers’ tomato, Lyman Schermerhorn (left) in a field of tomatoes (circa 1930s)

Of the hundreds of varieties of tomatoes grown by home gardeners or commercial growers, there are a few standards that have become household names. One of those is the ‘Rutgers’ tomato – a leading home garden and processing variety of the 20th century. While the Rutgers tomato is no longer commercially grown for canned tomato production, it is still a favorite among home gardeners and widely available from seed catalogs and garden centers.

The development of the Rutgers tomato is a lesson in the history of the early 20th century industries of canning and agriculture and a chapter in the story of the famed Jersey tomato. Introduced in 1934 by Rutgers vegetable breeder Lyman Schermerhorn, the variety was named for the university where it was developed. The name, however, belies the tomato’s origins, for the original cross was made at the Campbell Soup Company in 1928, with leading processing tomatoes as the parent varieties. In cooperation with Campbell’s, Schermerhorn selected the best plants from the cross and for the next six years conducted field tests on New Jersey farms and made further selections until in 1934 the most superior selection was released as the ‘Rutgers’ tomato.

At the time of the tomato release, the tomato canning industry was predominant in New Jersey, which went hand in hand with local tomato production. In the book Souper Tomatoes, author Andrew F. Smith described the industry as it first gained a foothold in New Jersey in the late 1800s, “Most farms in southern New Jersey from Trenton to Cape May cultivated tomatoes…Wagons and carriages of every description filled the roads on their way to the canneries. The roads were virtually painted red with squashed tomatoes that fell from the wagons. Most towns had one or more canneries.” [Read more…]

Plant sale on tap at Rutgers Day

Excitement is building as we approach the 250th anniversary celebration of Rutgers University this Saturday, April 30. Since 1906, "Ag Field Day" on G.H Cook Campus in New Brunswick has been celebrating the spirit and accomplishments of Rutgers among the School of Environmental and Biological Science students, staff, alumni, volunteers, and residents… Bill Hlubik is a Rutgers University professor and Middlesex County Agricultural Agent; Gillian Armstrong is a research assistant for  Rutgers Cooperative Extension, NJAES, Rutgers University.

Read the entire article at Gannett New Jersey »

Where to Find Rutgers 250 Plant Varieties

Plant Sale at Ag Field Day/ Rutgers Day

Plant Sale at Ag Field Day/ Rutgers Day

Recently, there has been a lot of news about Rutgers plant varieties, especially the ‘Rutgers 250’TM tomato and ‘Rutgers Scarlet’TM strawberry. What you might not know is where to find them.

Whether you are an experienced home gardener or are just starting out, it’s the time of year to start preparing garden beds and getting containers ready for planting. Specifically, it is recommended to start planting outdoors in New Jersey on or after May 15. Word to the wise: based on this year’s strange weather pattern, take extra precautions to protect your young plants from high winds and heavy rain.

Upcoming plant sales will have lots of great varieties to choose from, all suitable for New Jersey’s growing zones. You will find a Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station (NJAES) information booth at these events with material about this year’s highlighted varieties. Rutgers Master Gardeners will also be in attendance to help you get started. [Read more…]

Plan now for a glorious garden

Spring is the perfect time to take stock of your yard. Are the plants healthy? Are the flowerbeds crowded or sparse? Could you use more trees or shrubs?.. "Once you have some understanding of the space to be planted, it’s a good idea to look at books and magazines, and find out what you like," says Bruce Crawford, director of Rutgers Gardens and adjunct professor of landscape architecture at Rutgers University. "What style of garden you like? Do you prefer a lot of different shapes and texture combinations or do you like extreme simplicity?"

Read the entire article at The Record »

You Can Have Bed Bugs And Not Know It—Here’s What To Look Out For

It’s no secret that bed bugs are seriously freaky creatures. After all, they like to live in your bed and feed on your blood while you’re sleeping. Now, scientists at Rutgers University are trying to determine where bed bug outbreaks happen, and how to prevent and control them. In a new study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, Rutgers researchers examined more than 2,000 low-income apartments in New Jersey for the presence of bed bugs. What they discovered: 12 percent of apartments had bed bug infestations.

Read the entire article at SELF »