University of Vermont
Department of Plant and Soil Science

Summer News Article
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FREEZING VEGETABLES AND OTHER AUGUST GARDENING TIPS

Leonard Perry, UVM Horticulturist
and Charlie Nardozzi, Garden Consultant

Freezing vegetables, harvesting garlic, and visiting fairs and farmers markets, are some of the garden-related activities for this month.

Many vegetables, either from your garden or local farm stand, can be frozen fairly simply.  If from your garden, this will save on your food bill in coming months.  Wherever from, frozen fresh vegetables will be nutritious and a treat in fall and winter.

Make sure you have the correct containers or freezer bags for freezing, marked as such.  Sandwich bags and dairy containers, for instance, won’t work.  Then make sure you boil briefly, or "blanch", prior to freezing to stop the enzymes that make vegetables keep ripening.  Just boil until they are barely cooked and still quite tender, then submerge in a pot of water and ice to cool quickly. Blanching examples are one and a half minutes for tender greens (not lettuce), two minutes for cut carrots, three minutes for green beans, and four minutes for corn kernels.

For many, the “tray pack” method works best.  Spread the blanched vegetables, once drained, in a thin layer on shallow trays.  Stack these in the freezer just until the vegetables are frozen, then pack into containers.  This way they can be removed as needed, and don’t freeze together as one big lump.  You can find more vegetable freezing details, including for specific crops, online
 (extension.missouri.edu/p/GH1503).   
   
Garlic is harvested in mid-summer, early to mid July in the north, but stage of growth not the calendar is the indicator of when to harvest.  You should start checking the bulbs when the foliage begins to die off.  You need to check the bulbs, not just use the tops dying, as yearly climate conditions can affect the tops and not the bulbs. Ideal harvest is when there are two to four of the papery sheath layers present, which occurs over about a 2-week period.
   
Once harvested, wash the bulbs and allow to dry for a week or so out of direct sun.  Then trim off the roots, remove the outer dried sheath layers, and then braid (if you wish) for storage.  Cool (50 to 65 degrees F), dry, and well-ventilated are ideal conditions for storage.  Check monthly to discard any soft bulbs that may be rotting internally.  Set aside the largest cloves for planting again in fall.

Trees, shrubs, and perennials are on sale, and late summer into early fall is a great time to plant. Get new plants in the ground then so they can begin expanding their root systems. If you don't have the final spot ready, sink the pots or root balls temporarily in an empty area in the veggie garden. Water them if nature doesn't provide enough.

Make a point to visit your local farmers’ market if you haven’t already done so, or visit some others around the state.  They’re a great source of the freshest local food, some less common and specialty ag crops and products, prepared food to go, and often entertainment.  Most the vendors will vary among markets. Some markets are on weekday afternoons, others on weekends (agriculture.vermont.gov). 

Check out dates for local fairs.  These are a great place to get ideas on new flowers and arranging them.  Try entering some of your own—you may just be surprised that you have more talent than you think!  You can find a list online of Vermont fairs and other events including farmers markets (www.vtliving.com/fairs/).

(Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally known horticulturist, author, gardening consultant, and garden coach; gardeningwithcharlie.com).

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