If you're planning to start your spring planting, why not purchase 'Jersey Grown' annuals?

The State Department of Agriculture has announced the expansion of the Jersey Grown program to include annual bedding plants.

Similar to the Jersey Fresh program for local produce, Jersey Grown was launched in 2004 to draw consumer attention to the availability of New Jersey trees, shrubs, plants and flowers. "Jersey Grown indicates a high-quality product that is disease and pest-free and the plant already is accustomed to the state's climate," said State Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher. "So, the chance for success with your garden is that much greater."

Since its inception, the Jersey Grown program has been expanded several times and now includes cut Christmas trees, firewood, sunflower seed birdseed and wood products.

"By purchasing Jersey Grown, you're supporting the producers and growers, farmers and nursery folks. You're also keeping business in New Jersey," said Fisher. "These days, people want to know where their food and plants come from. This is just an extension of that."

All annual and bedding plants would be eligible to be labeled Jersey Grown if they were grown in New Jersey and meet or exceed the Department's standards. The Department is adopting two Rutgers Cooperative Extension publications: "Pest Control Recommendations for Shade Tree and Commercial Nursery Crops" and "Insect Control Recommendations for Shade Tree and Commercial Nursery Crops, 2011," for use as guides.

Find a list of all Jersey Grown growers online.