Fruits and Vegetables in NJ that You May Not Know About

Just like the amazing array of fruits and vegetables one would find at the local grocery store, there are many fruits and vegetables that for various reasons you won’t find there.  However, these hidden gems can sometimes be found at some of Jersey’s farmer’s markets and often times you may not have to go any farther than your own backyard garden or even your neighbor’s yard (although you may want to check with your first before frolicking through their yard, it would be a shame to catch a shotgun blast to the rear end).

Mulberry Trees:

Red Mulberry

The Red Mulberry also known as Morus Rubra, is native to the good old US of A, with deep red, almost black fruit. There is also White Mulberry and Paper Mulberry which both are fast growing and considered to be invasive, both claiming Asia as there homeland. There is also Black Mulberry, less common, which is from Iran.

Important facts regarding Mulberry Trees:

  • Must wait until the fruit is ripe as there is a mild toxicity prior to ripeness
  • The berries are simply too fragile to get them to market and often ooze juice.
  • Trees must be planted well away from septic tanks and homes as the roots are aggressive.

Garlic Scapes:

scapes

Typically the garlic root is the most commonly used part of the garlic plant, however, the green shoots that grow from those roots – known as garlic scapes – are also edible, and are becoming a more common staple on the tables of backyard gardeners and farmers’ market shoppers.

Some additinal points about Garlic Scapes:

  • They have a mild garlic flavor.
  • Often available at farmer’s markets.
  • Can be added to soups, salads, stews, or to make pesto.
  • There can be decorative uses for older garlic scapes curls.

Figs: Fig

Figs trees grown in the colder regions of the country are self-pollinating. Due to the difficulty in growing figs in the Northeast, most figs sold in supermarkets are brought in from California, warmer southern states and Mexico, and pollination of these figs involve a fig wasp as figs don’t get pollinated by bees.

Fig Facts:

  • Not considered a fruit at all but an inverted flower.
  • Figs grow on the Ficus tree, which is a member of the Mulberry family.
  • Most figs are considered not vegan because during the flowering stage they often trap the wasps trying to pollinate them.
  • Figs have been in existence about 100,000 years.

Ground Cherries or Husk Cherries:

Ground CherrysThese plants grow to be about two feet high and feet wide. They can be contained in tomato cages and are prefect if you don’t have much space for growing.  Here are some other facts:

    • Small, pale orange fruits in a crinkly paper like husk
    • The flavor is mild, a cross between a tomato and a pineapple
    • They require full sun and warm temperatures.
    • This is another fruit that must be eaten when fully ripe as it is a member of the nightshade family.

There are many other vegetables and fruits that don’t make it to your local supermarket, but can be found at farmer’s markets, farm co-opts or even your garden!  Precision Tree Service can help with picking the best for your landscaping. Some additional ones are black radishes, fiddleheads, ramps also known as wild onions, and tomatillo which are in the same family as the ground cherries. Go forth and explore, you may only need to go as far as your own backyard!