Rutgers Master Gardeners of Somerset County celebrates new graduating class

The Rutgers Master Gardeners of Somerset County added 19 new members in a graduation ceremony at the NJAES Rutgers Cooperative Extension Office on Milltown Road in Bridgewater. Rutgers Master Gardeners are trained volunteers who assist Rutgers Cooperative Extension in its mission to deliver horticulture programs and information to Somerset County residents.

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Researchers work on chestnut tree hybrid that can thrive in N.J. woods

They were among New Jersey’s tallest trees, majestically rising 120 feet from the forest floor. Their rot-resistant wood was prized to make shingles, railroad ties, telegraph poles – and coffins. Their nuts, which fell with reliable abundance each fall, not only provided food for wildlife, but also served as a cash crop for some people, who collected and sent the nuts to New York and other cities, where they were roasted and sold on street corners… The effort by Rutgers to study a protected stand of American chestnuts and American-Asian hybrids is taking place at Duke Farms in Somerset County. Workers removed stands of Norway maple and other invasive trees from the grounds several years ago, leaving gaps in the forest. The Rutgers research team, led by Brad Hillman, a plant pathologist and biologist, decided to use those gaps to plant chestnut trees. In November 2010, they planted 270 saplings that had been grown from seed in a greenhouse. So far, none are showing signs of blight, said Christina Kaunzinger, a senior ecologist at Rutgers.

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GARDENER STATE: Jersey Fresh: Loud and proud!

Jersey Fresh. Now, you might be thinking this may be more about that stray salad item that landed on your lap or the food fight tomato or pie in the face? While those may be embarrassing or even a bit funny, this is really about promoting NJ agriculture long before your backyard garden is ready for harvest… Now that the onion grass has started poking through your lawn and thoughts of gardeners everywhere turn to tilling the great outdoors, Rutgers Master Gardener programs across the state have opened their Garden Helplines. With weekday hours available for calls, emails, and of course walk-in gardening and landscape questions, these trained volunteers of Rutgers Cooperative Extension will research and assist in finding the solution to insect, disease, soil health, and many other seasonal questions.

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4-H youth from 13 N.J. counties learn about leadership

A group of 41 4-H members from 13 counties will be participating in the Discover the Leader in You! 4-H Leadership Conference being held Saturday on the George H. Cook Campus at Rutgers University in New Brunswick in Middlesex County. The conference provides an opportunity for middle school age youth to learn about and develop leadership knowledge and skills through large and small group interactive workshops and hands-on activities, according to Rutgers Cooperative Extension.

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GARDENER STATE: Just a few cures for your cabin fever

Are you suffering from extreme irritability and restlessness during these post-holiday weeks with seemingly no one visiting and nothing to do? The tree is long recycled or boxed and the lights and decorations are all put away. And even your New Year’s resolutions just seem like nasty reminders of things you haven’t done yet, and possibly give up on. There are plenty of post-holiday events, programs, destinations, and happenings that have nothing to do with winter, but everything to do with getting you out and about and thinking more about where you are, what you’re standing on, and what’s up above. The Gardener State column is written by Nicholas Polanin, Agricultural Agent, Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station.

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