Posts Tagged ‘Raritan’

Notes from Garden & Afield in Jersey Midlands

July 3, 2017

By  Joseph Sapia – NWNL Guest Blogger, from a Pine Barren outlier region in New Jersey’s Raritan River Basin  All content and photos © Joseph Sapia.  His email is Snufftin@aol.com.

“From the Raritan River to the Mullica River,

From the Delaware River to the Atlantic Ocean.”

2017:  
Sunday,  June 25, to Saturday July 1

Note:  The yard references are to my house in the section of Monroe between Helmetta and Jamesburg in South Middlesex County. My yard is in a Pine Barrens outlier on the Inner Coastal Plain, the soil is loamy, and my neighborhood is on the boundary of Gardening Zones 6b (cooler) and 7a (warmer). Afield references are to the Pine Barrens around Helmetta, unless otherwise noted. Notes and photographs are for the period covered, unless otherwise noted.

clip_image002Pickerel weed flowering in Helmetta Pond.

     PINE BARRENS AROUND HELMETTA:  Continuing flowering at Helmetta Pond were pickerel weed, “Pontederia cordata,” and fragrant water lilies, “Nymphaea odorata” Heads up on chiggers, family “Trombiculidae.” It may sound early, but I was scratching a little above my ankle and it felt like the beginning of a season of itchy chigger bites. Then, a local woodsman told me chiggers are indeed out. Avoid chigger bites by staying out of low brush. Another pest this time of year is the pine fly, genus “genus “Chrysops.”

clip_image004Sunset at Helmetta Pond.

     TURTLES:  I am still hearing a lot of talk about people coming across turtles, including misidentifying box turtles, “Terrapene carolina Carolina,” as water turtles. While a box turtle will go into water, it is generally a land turtle. So, if it is necessary to move a turtle for its safety, simply move it in the direction it is traveling. In recent days, Garden and Afield reader Bill McGovern came across two box turtles in his yard in Brick, Ocean County, and he reported, “Of course, I didn’t disturb the moment!” But he did supply a photograph of the mating turtles.

clip_image006Mating box turtles in Bill McGovern’s front yard in Brick, Ocean County. An easy way to identify the gender of box turtles is by their plastrons, or underside. A female’s is flat. A male’s is concave, so he can ride the female in mating, as shown in the photo.

     BLUEBERRIES:  Sophie Majka, a long-time neighbor of my family in the Pine Barrens around Helmetta, told me a little bit of local lore: Blueberries are ready to pick on St. John’s Day.

     Saturday, June 24, was St. John the Baptist Day. So, a few days later, I did a quick check of the woods and found a few berries — actually, probably black huckleberry, “Gaylussacia baccata.” A few ripened blue, most still green. Based on reports I have been seeing from the main Pine Barrens to the south, they have been ripe there for several days. The berries will be around for the upcoming weeks.

     Black huckleberry — along with low-shrub blueberries of the genus “Vaccinium” — are found on the uplands as the shrub understory of the forest. In the fall, these low-shrub berry plants are easy to identify because they turn flame red with the changing of “fall foliage” colors.

     For those more daring, head to the swamps for taller blueberry bushes of the genus “Vaccinium.”

     Just a note: Wild blueberries are not commercially cultivated berries, so they are smaller.

     A few years ago, Mrs. Majka and I spent some time up Jamesburg Park, picking the low-shrub blueberries. Mrs. Majka died at 92-years-old in March. This week, in the area where she and I picked, berries were ripening, providing a nice memory of Mrs. Majka.

clip_image008“Blueberries,” probably black huckleberries, at Jamesburg Park.

     IN THE GARDEN:  I am harvesting carrots, but not to the extent I thought I would. Lettuce has taken on a bitter taste, so I stopped harvesting that. Cantaloupe and zinnia plants are flowering. Also watching tomato, cucumber, and sweet corn grow. Aside from harvesting carrots, I am back to the three Ws:  Weed, Water, and Wait.

clip_image010Zinnia, with which I hope to attract pollinators for the food plants, beginning to bloom in the garden.

     GARDENING KNOW-HOW:  I use various sources to learn about my food gardening:  my colleagues at the Rutgers University Cooperative Extension/Middlesex County Master Gardening program, other gardeners, farmers, farm-garden shows and articles. In her column this week in the Philadelpehia Inquirer newspaper, Sally McCabe talked about gardening deadlines associated with the Fourth of July, including it being the last time of the season to plant tomatoes. I had already planted tomato by seed and plant, but with the early lettuce done, I had gardening space to spare. After Sally’s column, I happened to be near one of my favorite gardening centers, Tony’s Farm and Garden Center in Windsor, Mercer County. At Tony’s, I picked up 12 plants in six varieties of Chef Jeff’s tomatoes. And following grandson Tony Ciaccio’s advice, I got them in the ground immediately.

clip_image012A last planting of tomatoes – various Chef Jeff’s brand – in the garden.

     WATERING THE GARDEN:  I water the garden daily, giving it a good soaking before 10 a.m. I either use hose-and-sprinkler, tapping house water, or I use a sprinkling can, using mostly rain, recycled cellar dehumidifier water, or recycled water from my sprinkling. When I use the hose-sprinkler system, I aim for 20 minutes; When I use the sprinkling can, I probably would use about 30 gallons to cover my entire garden of approximately 315 row-feet, or about 950 square feet. But, now, I am re-thinking this – Perhaps, I should go to a more soaking sprinkling, but fewer times a week. Thoughts?

     AROUND THE YARD:  Knock Out roses are starting to bloom for a second time this season.

clip_image014Rain clinging to a pitch pine, “Pinus rigida,” in my backyard.

     FEEDING BIRDS IN THE YARD:  This summer, I am trying something different – essentially not feeding birds, except with the finch feeder. I am keeping the finch feeder because I love the colorful males of the state bird, the eastern goldfinch, “Spinus tristis.” The idea of not feeding this summer is to let the birds enjoy my yard, with the three birdbaths I keep filled, and help me by eating insects. Birds, nature’s pesticide! Of course, not buying expensive bird seed saves money. However, I still have seed in a garbage pail in the garage. When I am home, I usually have the garage door open and, of course, the squirrels, “Sciurus carolinensis,” have discovered the garbage pail. Clang! That is the sound of the squirrels knocking something down as they open the garbage pail.

clip_image016A birdseed thief trying to hide in the garage.

     PEDDIE LAKE:  Peddie Lake, created by the damming of Rocky Brook, is approximately 15 acres in Hightstown, Mercer County. Rocky Brook is a tributary of the Millstone River, part of the Raritan River-Bay watershed.

clip_image018Peddie Lake

     SUNRISE/SUNSET:  For July 2, Sunday, to July 8, Saturday, the sun will rise at about 5:35 a.m. and set about 8:30 p.m.

     WEATHER:  The National Weather Service forecasting station for the area is at http://www.weather.gov/phi/.

     Joe Sapia, 60, is a lifelong Monroe resident. He is a Pine Barrens naturalist and an organic vegetable-fruit gardener.  He gardens the same backyard plot as did his Italian-American father, Joe Sr., and his Polish-immigrant, maternal grandmother, Annie Poznanski Onda. Both are inspirations for his food gardening. Joe is active with the Rutgers University Master Gardeners/Middlesex County program.
He draws inspiration on the Pine Barrens around Helmetta from his mother, Sophie Onda Sapia, who lived her whole life in these Pines, and his Grandma Annie.  Joe’s work also is at @JosephSapia on Twitter.com, along with Facebook.com on the Jersey Midlands page.

Signs that you are an Environmentalist

November 4, 2015
New Jersey, Raritan River Basin

New Jersey, South Branch of the Raritan River

Have you ever posted about Climate Change on social media?

Do you care about animals and their habitat?

Have you used the word “sediment?”

Have you ever talked about soil in casual conversation?

If you answered YES to any of the above questions, think about becoming a Rutgers University Certified Environmental Steward. No previous environmental training is necessary. Anyone with an interest in the environment and a passion for creating positive change in their community can become an Environmental Steward thanks to this upcoming lecture series.

You will get training in:

New Jersey, stream water monitoring training

New Jersey, stream water monitoring training

•Soil health
•Climate change
•Habitat protection & restoration
•Stormwater management
•Energy conservation
•Geology
•Invasive species
•Municipal planning & ordinances
•Volunteer Monitoring
•Civic Science

The program is designed to give participants a better understanding of local issues that are important and to improve their own watersheds. Special focus will be on the Lower Raritan River Basin and invasive species management.

The program will be conducted at multiple locations in New Jersey.  It will include 60 hours of lecture and a 60-hour internship.  Classes will be on Wednesday evenings starting January 27th at 6:30 pm, continuing through June. The program is $250.00.  More info on the program website here.

Pass this along to folks who may be interested! It’s a great program!

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

LNG Threat to Hudson and Raritan River Estuaries

November 3, 2015
LNG pipeline to cross the western Lower NY Bay, which is the Raritan Bay

LNG pipeline to cross western Lower NY Bay’s Raritan Bay

USA: Fishing in Raritan Bay off Sandy Hook right above proposed route for the LNG pipeline

Raritan Bay off Sandy Hook over proposed LNG pipeline route

NY/NJ Baykeeper is a strong voice fighting an LNG terminal (see definition below) that would threaten the biodiversity and water quality of the Hudson and Raritan River Estuary, one of the largest ports in the world. LNG usage, which furthers greenhouse gas emissions, is also a concern.

Dolphins swimming this summer just outside the Raritan Bay

Dolphins swimming this summer just outside the Raritan Bay

WHAT is Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)?

Liquefied Natural Gas is natural gas that has been super-chilled to minus 260 degrees, turning it into a liquid that is 1/600th the original volume of gas. It is clear, colorless, odorless, and extremely volatile. This gas is compacted so large volumes can be shipped overseas. LNG should not be confused with gasoline or compressed natural gas.

LNG is Expensive. The intensive energy use required to liquefy natural gas and shipping costs makes LNG up to three times more expensive than domestic natural gas.

LNG is Dirty. It results in up to 40% more greenhouse gas emissions than domestic natural gas due to a life cycle that requires super-cooling, transporting overseas in giant tankers, and heating back to gaseous form.

WHAT is Port Ambrose?
As proposed by Liberty Natural Gas (confusingly also called “LNG”),  “Port Ambrose” would be an offshore port for importing or exporting LNG to or from the coasts of New York and New Jersey. This port would allow two LNG vessels (which are as long as the World Trade Center Tower is tall) to directly connect to the region’s natural gas system, with a capacity that could be expanded.

Read more from the “Port Ambrose Fact Sheet: A Proposed Offshore Liquefied Natural Gas Facility”

PROTECT THIS ESTUARY and OUR OCEAN by supporting “The New Jersey/New York Clean Ocean Zone Act,” which is bi-partisan, bi-state legislation to permanently protect the waters off the NY/NJ coast from polluting activities and facilities, such as LNG ports.

USA: NY/NJ Baykeeper  headed downstream towards Middlesex County Landfill

NY/NJ Baykeeper , on the Raritan River, is actively fighting this Port Ambrose LNG proposal

An Educational Resource For Teachers: Exploring the New York New Jersey Harbor Estuary Region

Beautiful new book on the Raritan River

October 14, 2014

No Water No Life applauds Dr. Judy Auer Shaw on the publication of her new book, “The Raritan River: Our Landscape, Our Legacy.”  For 8 years, NWNL has observed the power of Judy’s outreach upstream and downstream along the Raritan.  Her personal passion for this river and local stewardship has brought together residents, scientists, industry and other stakeholders in a ground-breaking effort to restore the services and legacy of the Raritan River to the State of New Jersey for future generations.

Check out NWNL expedition photos featured in the book and pre-order it here!

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 11.39.59 AM

About the Author: Judy serves as an Advisor for NWNL. She is a researcher at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, Rutgers University, where she also leads the Sustainable Raritan River Initiative. This initiative earned the Somerset County Regional Planning Award in 2010. In addition, Shaw has received the Elwood Jarmer Award for Environmental Leadership. Read her full bio here.

the art of addressing water conservation

May 30, 2013

NWNL would like to spotlight artists utilizing art as a platform to raise awareness of water issues.

Currently on view at Pace Gallery in NYC -Maya Lin creates sculptural topographies of disappearing watersheds. With recycled silver, steel pins, marble and wood, Lin presents aerial views of waterways exploring environmental issues. Watch a 5 minute video of Lin discussing this body of work.

Photographer Ian Teh exhibits Traces: Landscapes in Transition on the Yellow River Basin at Open Society Foundations on view until Dec 13, 2013. “Few rivers have captured the soul of a nation more deeply than the Yellow River in China. The river’s plight also underlines the dark side of China’s economic miracle, an environmental crisis leading to scarcity of the one resource no nation can live without: water. ~ Ian Teh

Lauren Rosenthal depicts numerous watersheds in drawings, prints, and sculpture. “By giving priority to rivers, not as resources to be exploited, but as an integral part of a social/biological system, I hope to provoke dialogue and stimulate change around how we understand ourselves in relationship to the hydrological world.” ~Lauren Rosenthal

– Posted by Jasmine Graf, NWNL Associate Director

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