Garden Goodies

Get Ready for International Eat an Apple Day

Are you ready for International Eat an Apple Day on Saturday, September 19th? Think about your favorite way to eat an apple. Do you like them sliced and dipped? The peel left on or taken off? Do you like your apples juiced or in a pie? However you like them, autumn is apple season in New Jersey and you don’t have to go too far to find apple orchards close to home. Even though New Jersey has over 2,400 acres of apple orchards, and produces 20 million pounds of apples each year, our state is ranked 8th in apple production in the United States.

Did you know that in 2018 the Red Delicious apple lost its honored place as the number one apple preferred by Americans? Red Delicious had held first place for over fifty years. Can you guess which apple took first place? It was the Gala apple, which originated in New Zealand in the 1930s. The current top five apple rankings are Gala, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, Fuji, and Honeycrisp.

When you eat an apple you help your body get the vitamins and nutrients it needs to be healthy. Apples help your heart and brain and build a strong immune system. Be ready to eat your favorite apple on September 19th!


Listen to Gail Gibbons book Apples.

Want to learn about the legend of Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman? Listen to Jodie Shepherd’s Johnny Appleseed: My First Biography Read Aloud.

Delicious Tomatoes

Did you know tomatoes are the most popular vegetable in the world? According to a 2018 article published by, tomatoes take first place, and not by a small margin! Although a tomato is technically a fruit because it forms from a flower and its seeds are on the inside, this did not disqualify it. Nearly 400,000 pounds of tomatoes are grown each year. Onions, the second place winner, were not even close to tomatoes in the running, with just over 200,000 pounds produced annually.

George Macculloch (1775-1858) recorded growing tomatoes in New Jersey in his garden journal as early as 1829. Even though many things have changed, it still holds true that if you start growing New Jersey tomatoes no later than mid-May, you can harvest and enjoy them from midsummer to early October. George Macculloch’s garden notes state that 10 to 12 plants were sufficient for his family, including his grandchildren. His notes don’t refer to specific varieties of tomatoes, but today there are many options.

If you are interested in spending a little more time with George Macculloch’s garden journal, MHHM is still inviting citizen scholar volunteers to transcribe one year of his journal. Please email Cynthia Winslow at for more information.


Join Macculloch Hall Historical Museum on Facebook Live today at noon for a story about tomatoes live from the museum’s historic kitchen.

Visit Rutgers’ New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station for tomato planting tips and for a selection of varieties that do well in New Jersey.

See a complete list of the 10 most popular vegetables in the world from

Peas Please!

There is nothing like eating freshly picked peas right from the pea pod when their sweetness is at its peak.

From 1829 to 1856, George Macculloch (1775-1858) recorded in his garden journal the dates he planted, the dates he gathered and how far apart he planted his crops each year. In 1840, Macculloch wrote, “late pease never answer”. This meant his second crop of peas didn’t do as well as the first crop. Despite this, according to his garden journal, Macculloch did try planting a second crop of peas again in 1846. He learned that if he planted the second crop 12 to 15 days after the first crop (March 20) the results were more successful.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was also fond of growing peas and he had 15 varieties of English peas grown in his garden. Jefferson and other farmers held an annual contest to see which farm could bring to the table the first peas of spring.


Listen to the story First Peas to the Table by Susan Grigsby, geared for 2nd grade, and use this Teacher’s Guide for the story.

If you have picky eaters not interested in eating their peas or other veggies, try showing them these videos.

Plant a late crop of peas for a fall harvest according to your zone planting schedule.

Need more reasons to plant peas? Read 5 great reasons to grow peas from Garden Gate magazine.