Did You Know?
- In the US, the average grocery store’s produce travels nearly 1,500 miles between the farm where it was grown and your refrigerator.
- About 40% of our fruit is processed overseas.
- Even though broccoli is likely grown within 20 miles of the average American’s house, the broccoli we buy at the supermarket travels an average 1,800 miles to get there.
- 9% of our red meat comes from foreign countries, including locations as far away as Australia and New Zealand.
- According to the USDA, the US has lost over five million farms since 1935.
- Only 3.5 cents of each dollar (spent on food) actually goes to the farmer.
What’s Growing in Our Gardens?
Princeton Garden Project at 79 Alexander
- Cherry Tomatoes and Regular Size Tomatoes- towering at about 6 feet tall the plants have many ripe red and golden tomatoes, late in the season these caught “tomato blight” and developed spots- not harmful to humans, just plants
- Bell Peppers and Jalapeño Peppers- lots are ready to harvest (The Jalapeño’s are SUPER spicy- Lindsey can confirm this)
- Summer Squash- HUGE squash are being harvested each week
- Watermelon- sprouting in progress
- Basil- leaves can be taken at any time
Forbes/ Greenhouse Garden
- Pumpkins are growing beautifully
- Basil- purple, cinnamon (green leaves with purple stalks), sweet (classic basil color), lemon (light green leaves)
- Thyme- original and lemon
- Mint- lots and lots of it!
- Marigolds- great for attracting butterflies
- One sunflower!
More About Our Herbs
Basil is a key ingredient for tasty pizzas and pesto. The plant is an annual because it is highly sensitive to frost and cannot survive the winter. It does not store well dried, and is best used right after picking. To pick basil one simply has to pinch the leaves from the stem. We have a variety of basil flavors including cinnamon, purple, sweet and lemon. Cinnamon basil is best used with fruit and sweet dishes, while purple basil is spicier and best used with savory dishes. Tip: Removing any stalks with flowers is key in keeping the leaves sweet and flavorful.
Oregano is another important pizza flavor, and commonly used in Italian foods. It is frost tolerant and therefore a perennial in New Jersey. Its flavor is at its peak right before it blooms, so that is the best time to pick oregano leaves. However, picking at any time of year is fine for the plant.
Thyme has tiny leaves that are great for flavoring savory spreads, broths, or meat dishes. The lemon variety can be used in teas and is especially good on seafood. In New Jersey thyme is a perennial and it needs to be cut back by one third its size each spring to prevent it from getting too woody. It is important to continue trimming shoots through the growing season but never cut into the woody stems. Original thyme is a sprawling ground cover plant, while lemon thyme is more upright.
Lavender is well known for its aromatic qualities and essential oils. It can easily be dried for use in flavoring dishes, especially desserts. The plant is a perennial, meaning that it comes back every year, and it doesn’t spread in the way that oregano and mint do. Instead, it grows woody stems in a bush like form. For this reason we can plant multiple small lavender plants in one plot, or one big bush.
Sage has soft green leaves that are most often used around Thanksgiving in turkey stuffing. It is best sauteed before using in a dish. In New Jersey sage is a perennial, but further south it is considered an annual because it cannot tolerate the year round warmth. Typically a sage bush will last for three to five years before it needs replacing because its stems get woody and unusable. The leaves can be green or green with purple.
Mint leaves are a common sight atop desserts and in teas. Its refreshing scent is also used for essential oils. Mint is a hardy perennial in the northeast and its crawling “runners” will quickly overtake a garden if not tended to. Tip: Clipping off the flowers in the summer months will help to prevent unwanted spread of mint.