We're renting a house with a yard here in South Jersey. I've spent the entirety of my adult life in apartments, usually in urban areas, so the large expanse in back of our little house seems rife with challenges and opportunities. This weekend I spent the better part of two days raking up the leaves in the backyard, something I should have done in October. We filled about fifty bags and my back hurts. It's amazing how much foliage these old growth monsters can generate. Anyway, it's spring break. One of the things I've been looking forward to since moving is planting a vegetable garden. We've got some seeds germinating in the kitchen. Maybe I'll do a little photoblogging this spring and summer as this little adventure in growing things in the earth proceeds. I have a lot of fond childhood memories of helping my grandma to pick things from her backyard garden (for some reason rhubarb sticks in my head, though I remember that rhubarb pie was always too sweet for my tastes). Jersey is the garden state, famous for its tomatoes, blueberries, and whatnot. There seems to be a garden supply store on every other block.

Some gardening links:, Rutgers Gardening and Landscaping publications, Purdue Hort 410-Vegetable Crops, Gardening in New Jersey Forum. Incidentally — the origin of the state's nickname

This nickname seems to have originated at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia on Jersey Day, August 24, 1876. Alfred M. Heston states in his 1926 work, Jersey Waggon Jaunts, that “The Garden State” was used by Abraham Browning, of Camden. “In his address Mr. Browning compared New Jersey to an immense barrel, filled with good things to eat and open at both ends, with Pennsylvanians grabbing from one end and the New Yorkers from the other. He called New Jersey the Garden State, and the name has clung to it ever since.

Also, Shelly and I recently had a discussion concerning which fruits we consider the “sexiest.” My list:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Mangoes
  3. Kiwis
  4. Cherries
  5. Grapes

I suppose that I should give at least a passing nod to “blood oranges,” as immortalized by John Hawkes.

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