Public Info

Learn How to Grow Fresh Vegetables in Your Own Backyard

Union County, NJ – For Union County residents who know the secrets of growing a healthy garden, fresh vegetables are ripe for the picking all summer long. Now the experts are going to share those secrets at a series of three free programs on July 22, July 31, and August 15 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., at Union County’s Trailside Nature and Science Center.

The Trailside Nature and Science Center is located in the Watchung Reservation, at 452 New Providence Road in Mountainside. All three sessions include a visit to the adjacent Union County Demonstration Garden, where volunteers with the Rutgers Master Gardeners Program of Union County grow thousands of pounds of fresh vegetables for local food pantries each year.

The series is free but pre-registration is required at Attendees can register for one, two, or all three programs in the series.

“These programs are designed to help Union County residents grow successful vegetable gardens in their own backyards,” said Freeholder Chair Bette Jane Kowalski. “Our expert speakers have sound, reliable guidance to share with seasoned gardeners and beginners alike.”

The upcoming July 22 session is “Keys to Successful Composting.” Rutgers County Agent Michele Bakacs will explain how gardeners can help their vegetables thrive by recycling kitchen scraps and yard waste into nutrient-laden, natural compost. The session includes do’s-and-don’ts for what to compost, how to get optimal results, what kinds of compost bins are available, and how to choose a good location for the bin.

“Household composing is a win-win because it adds valuable nutrients back to the soil while helping to reduce waste,” said Freeholder Chair Kowalski. “It’s a good example of thinking globally and acting locally to achieve benefits in your own home and community.”

The July 31 session will provide guidance on keeping harmful pests out of the garden, and the August 15 session will help gardeners learn about harvesting and food safety.

The Rutgers Master Gardener program in Union County is an all-volunteer program supported by the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders and Rutgers, the NJ Agricultural Experiment Station, with offices at the Union County Complex in Westfield at 300 North Avenue East.

The Master Gardeners welcomes new members each year. No experience is needed to join. All members are trained and certified by Rutgers.  For more information about the Master Gardeners program contact the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County 908-654-9854 (ext. 2) or visit

 For directions and more information about all programs at the Trailside Nature and Science Center, visit

Quick links to all Union County environmental programs and activities are available at The Green Connection,

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For all Union County programs and services visit, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email or use the online Contact Form.

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