By Angela Ciroalo ~
The time of year that farmer’s throughout the state have prepared is finally upon us. Throughout the late winter and spring months farmer’s often begin preparing their crops for peak conditions and growth during the summer season. Summer crops offer a variety of delicious, fresh, and tasty fruits in vegetables grown right here in New Jersey.
To determine the peak season of growth for a vegetable or fruit there are a number of variables to consider. Fruits and vegetables rely upon specific weather conditions, altitudes, geographic locations, temperatures and care to ensure optimal growing conditions. Listed below are the projected fruits and vegetables that will be in season and available throughout the state during the summer months.
The educational website, http://www.pickyourown.org/NJ.htm, states that while these projected lists of in-season crops are available, it is advised to call your local farmer and ensure availability as many factors can negatively impact the crop you are interested in purchasing.
The seed distributing company, Urban Farmers, states that planting vegetable seeds and transplanting plants during correct times is crucial for optimal growth of the crop. The Urban Farmers listed the first and last frost dates for various town throughout the New Jersey area to ensure optimal planting conditions and avoid frost or other harsh conditions. The Urban Farmers use the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones 6-7 for the state of New Jersey. The USDA states that there are approximately 180 days between the last and the first frost and it is important to be aware of weather changes to avoid frost conditions. Throughout the state of New Jersey the last frost date varies around mid-to-late April while the first frost date varies between mid-to-late October. Between those dates a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits will be grown, picked and eaten throughout the state of New Jersey.
While New Jersey is commonly known for their blueberries, fruits including blackberries, cherries, peaches, pears, plums, raspberries, and strawberries will also be found throughout New Jersey between June and August. Additionally, in September apples, grapes and other fall fruits will begin to flourish throughout the state.
As far as fresh vegetables in New Jersey, asparagus, spinach and peas are grown through June. Beets, broccoli, cabbage, snap peas, squash, collards, onions, cucumbers, and some lettuce will grow in June through the end of summer and with some even into early fall. Eggplant, okra, lima beans, sweet corn, tomatoes, and peppers will begin to grow into July and into early fall. There are also several fruits and vegetables that generally begin to grow in late summer into the fall such as cauliflower, cranberries and pumpkins.
For a more specific list of New Jersey in-season fruits and vegetables, refer to the NJ Seasonality Chart created by the New Jersey Farmer’s Bureau (NJFB).
According to the New Jersey Farmer’s Bureau (NJFB) reminds New Jersey residents that the state offers hundreds of different fruit and vegetables varieties, therefore purchasing produce at your local supermarket is not necessary during the summer months. Furthermore, the NJFB states that Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber to support optimizing health. The USDA MyPlate recommends that half of our plates consist of fruits and vegetables, so why not get them freshly grown from your local farmer. Some of the reasons to choose Jersey Fresh produce this summer season include: quality, variety, freshness and food safety.
To learn more about the benefits of buying local produce, check out, “The Benefits of Eating Local in Monmouth County.”
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