Plant invaders threaten North Jersey landscape

As peak gardening season lures North Jersey homeowners to landscape supply centers, they buy and cart home many shrubs and trees that – just over the state line in New York – are prohibited in suburban yards… Steven Handel, an ecology professor at Rutgers University, is a member of the state’s Invasive Species Council, which was created in 2004 and issued a report listing steps the state should take to reduce invasives. "To stop selling these invasives would be a big step forward," Handel said. "And there are some beautiful native plants that are low maintenance and protect our preserved natural areas. "Our job as educators is to let the public know there are better plants to use in their yards than the ones that have traditionally been used," he said. "A yard can look green and lush – but still be dangerous."

Read the entire article at The Record »

Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Atlantic County has Added 18 New Master Gardeners

Pictured from left to right: Bob Pickus, Jayne Sullivan, Josie Bellina, Carol Piechoski, Christine Anderson, Leontien Rotteveel, Nancy Perfect, Lorraine Lennox, Elizabeth Egan, and Diane Kummings. Not pictured: Valerie Bragg, Dolores Ciarrochi, Marian D’Amico, Heidi Davis, Richard Eluk, Susan Lazarchick, Jacqueline Scott and Domick Zema.

Pictured L-R: Bob Pickus, Jayne Sullivan, Josie Bellina, Carol Piechoski, Christine Anderson, Leontien Rotteveel, Nancy Perfect, Lorraine Lennox, Elizabeth Egan, and Diane Kummings. Not pictured: Valerie Bragg, Dolores Ciarrochi, Marian D’Amico, Heidi Davis, Richard Eluk, Susan Lazarchick, Jacqueline Scott and Domick Zema.

The NJ Agricultural Experiment Station and Rutgers Cooperative Extension announce the addition of 18 new Master Gardeners to its Atlantic County program. These Master Gardeners have completed 60 hours of intensive classroom instruction and will fulfill 85 volunteer hours over the coming year.

The Rutgers Master Gardeners of Atlantic County spearhead over a dozen educational gardening projects throughout the county. As a part of the national Cooperative Extension System, the Master Gardener program was designed to increase the availability of University-based horticulture information to local communities and individuals. Rutgers Cooperative Extension offers Master Gardener programs in many of the New Jersey Counties. They also maintain the Rutgers Cooperative Extension helpline, which is open Monday-Friday, mornings and afternoons during the late Spring to early Fall, and mornings only early and late in the season. The helpline not active from November – January.

Contact the Atlantic County Master Gardener program for more information.

Ethel A. Jacobsen First-Graders Harvest Garlic Scapes From Schoolyard Garden

It’s spring harvest time at the Ethel A. Jacobsen Elementary School garden in Surf City. Last week Joanne Kinsey, Family and Community Health Sciences educator at the Cooperative Extension of Ocean and Atlantic Counties, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station, joined the school’s first-graders and teachers Sarah Esarey and Kelly Turner to harvest garlic scapes – for eating and for learning… After experiencing the outdoor classroom firsthand, Kinsey remarked, "The kids were fantastic and really enjoyed working in the garden and tasting the garlic scape pasta. I totally enjoyed the entire experience, the pasta was delicious, and I hope to be invited back again."

Read the entire article at The Sandpaper »

Rutgers 250: NJAES Breed of the Month – Dogwood

Rutgers 250 variety, ‘Rutpink’ Scarlet Fire™ dogwood tree blossom. Photo by: Dr. Tom Molnar, Rutgers NJAES.

Rutgers 250 variety, ‘Rutpink’ Scarlet Fire™ dogwood tree blossom. Photo by: Dr. Tom Molnar, Rutgers NJAES.

Scarlet Fire™ Extends Ornamental Dogwood Season

The Rutgers 250 All-Star Variety for June, 2016 is the ‘Rutpink’ Scarlet Fire™ dogwood tree. This is the first Cornus kousa variety released in over 45 years to the ornamental nursery market. Rutgers plant breeder Tom Molnar, continued the decades of work started by renowned breeder and professor emeritus Elwin Orton in the 1970s.

Scarlet Fire™ is a gorgeous deep pink to fuchsia-bracted dogwood tree, known for its deep, consistently pink bracts that contrast beautifully with its dark green foliage. This tree blooms in late May to early June, making it one of the latest-blooming dogwood tree varieties developed at the Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.

[Read more…]

Cresskill environmentalists rolling out rain barrels in attempt to save water

Cresskill’s Environmental Commission is inviting residents to attend a Rain Barrel Making Workshop on June 15 at borough hall. Organizers hope there will be a flood of support for the concept of conserving water in rain barrels… New Jersey State Climatologist David Robinson of Rutgers University said that North Jersey is in an abnormally dry spell right now: "The groundwaters are low. March and April were very dry. May was average. We will have to hope for timely rains and conditions that are not too hot." Robinson, who is an advocate for rain barrels and smart lawn watering, said such measures are important because "it makes people aware of the finite nature of fresh water that’s out there…people put too much water on their lawns."

Read the entire article at The Record »

Hot and (potentially) heavy

Heat and humidity are major factors in determining the severity of an anthracnose outbreak, and initial weather forecasts could spell a long, hot summer for superintendents. Turf specialist Dr. James A. Murphy says anthracnose is an opportunistic pest, and there’s almost always the potential threat of an outbreak… Heat and humidity are major factors in determining the severity of an anthracnose outbreak on turf. If this summer warms up as much as previous ones have in recent years, the potential for the disease will only increase, says Dr. James A. Murphy, specialist in turf management at Rutgers University’s Department of Plant Biology & Pathology.

Read the entire article at Golf Course Industry »

New Jersey Tomato, Victim of Modern Farming, Vies for a Comeback

The Jersey tomato, red, ripe and juicy, was once revered as the best to be had, with a tangy, sweet-tart flavor that was the very taste of summer… "This was the tomato that made the Jersey tomato reputation," Thomas J. Orton, a professor in the department of plant biology and pathology, said of the 1934 variety.

Read the entire article at The New York Times »

How to Fight Mosquitoes This Summer

With temperatures well into the 70s in St. Louis, Leigh Walters is preparing for mosquito season… While many mosquitoes live and breed in tree holes, marshes and woodland ponds, the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes tend to live closer to humans and like to breed in containers, says Dina Fonseca, professor of entomology at Rutgers University.

Read the entire article at The Wall Street Journal »

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 »