New Jersey gets a jump on the planting season

Former New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Art Brown has started his crops about three weeks earlier than usual this year on his South Jersey farm.  (photo by Phil Gregory)

Former New Jersey Agriculture Secretary Art Brown has started his crops about three weeks earlier than usual this year on his South Jersey farm. (photo by Phil Gregory)

The trees in your neighborhood may have already burst open into bloom. It’s also an early start to the spring planting season for New Jersey farmers.

Former state Agriculture Secretary Art Brown, who grows vegetables at his South Jersey farm in Pomona, started putting in spinach, lettuce and other crops about three weeks earlier than usual.

“We haven’t had that much rain, so the soil is not waterlogged,” he said. “We can get out there, and you can work the soil. So you have a nice soil bed to plant into.”

Jim Giamarese, a vegetable farmer in East Brunswick, said the  good weather also allowed him to get a jump on the growing season.

“I have peas in. I have peas up. I planted sweet corn already. I cover it with plastic, so we’ll get it early. I’m putting in even some string beans,” he said. “I gamble a lot, so if we get them early, we get them early. If not, we’ll just replant.”

The threat of frost is a concern, Giamarese said.

“It keeps a lot of us praying at night. As long as it doesn’t go below 30, anything below 30, we start losing peach buds,” he said. “So we’re not out of the woods really until about the middle or third week of April.”

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