NEW JERSEY — Important dates are coming up for New Jersey residents eager to get outside this spring and start digging in their gardens. The big question: When is the danger of frost over, making it safe to put plants in the ground?
The Old Farmer’s Almanac offers a handy tool to find the average date of the last frost by city and state, right down to your ZIP code, and offers advice on when to plant a variety of crops around the Garden State.
In New Jersey, dates of the last spring frost vary widely but generally fall in the month of April.
New Jersey is in USDA plant hardiness zones 6-7. Here’s when the Farmer’s Almanac says to expect the last spring frost this year around the state:
- Asbury Park: April 16
- Collingswood: April 20
- Edison: April 21
- Hoboken: April 3
- Newark: April 8
- Paramus: April 7
- Pleasantville: March 31
- Toms River: April 30
- Trenton: April 25
- Westfield: April 18
Bear in mind, this isn’t a fail-safe date. It’s based on historical climate data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, and the probability of a frost after the average date is about 30 percent.
The publication, which has advised readers how and when to grow things since 1792, also has a 2023 planting guide calculator that allows Garden State gardeners to narrow down when they should be putting different vegetables in the ground.
Some plants to start with in New Jersey are peas, radishes, carrots, and leafy greens like spinach, kale, cabbage, and lettuce. Add more as the growing season progresses.
Another good resource is the Rutgers University Cooperative Extension, which has plenty of information locally-tailored for your home, lawn, and garden. The scientists and specialists experience the same gardening challenges when it comes to weather conditions and pest management, and can provide geographically specific advice to plant what food crops.
Rutgers researchers have a list of produce varieties that have grown well in NJ. Thinking of asparagus? Try the “Jersey Giant,” “Jersey Knight,” or “Jersey Supreme” varieties. Craving carrots? “Scarlet Nantes” is said to grow well in the Garden State.
Interest in growing their own food was increasing among Americans before the pandemic, but one analysis of Census Bureau and gardening industry sales data found an estimated 18.3 million people, most of them millennials, became first-time gardeners during the pandemic. Another survey suggests new gardeners are here to stay.
Some of those new and existing gardeners grew their vegetables in containers placed in sunny locations on decks, balconies and other open-air spaces. Almost anything that grows in the ground can be put in a pot.
The same frost dates apply. Some plants, like asparagus, can live and produce for 20 years, according to Harvest to Table, which offers practical guides to gardening no matter the setting.