University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
PRESERVING CORN AND OTHER AUGUST GARDENING TIPS
Charlie Nardozzi, Horticulturist and
Leonard Perry, UVM Extension Horticulturist
Preserving corn, freezing berries, and making pesto from basil, are
some of the gardening activities for this month.
Preserve the fresh-picked (well, almost) flavor of corn on the cob
for winter meals. Cook the cobs as usual, then using a special corn
scraper or a sharp knife, cut off the kernels and freeze them in
freezer bags. They will be much tastier than any store-bought frozen
or canned corn.
Berries such as blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are easy
to freeze for smoothies over the coming months. Rinse the berries
and let them dry on paper towels. Spread them in a single layer in
cake pans or whatever size pans will fit in your freezer. When
frozen, pour them into labeled freezer bags or plastic containers,
and pop them back in the freezer. If you just put them in bags or
containers and freeze there first, they stick together into a hard
When harvesting basil, instead of just removing individual leaves,
cut back whole side stems (but not the whole plant or main stems).
This will create a bushier plant that will produce more leaves
subsequently, and less flowers and scraggly growth. Pick basil in
the morning for the best flavor. This is when the oil content in the
leaves is highest.
Even if you didn’t grow basil this year, you can buy bunches at
farmer’s markets and farm stands. Use the leaves to dry for
seasoning later, or cook into pesto you can freeze for the coming
year (or even longer). Soup with vegetable broth, sugar pea pods,
tortellini and pesto is an easy, healthful, flavorful and welcome
meal, particularly in winter or cool days of fall.
Once you harvest crops, build the nutrient levels and organic matter
in garden beds by sowing cover crops like annual ryegrass or
buckwheat into empty annual beds. They will grow until winter kills
them and then can be incorporated into the soil in spring. Cut down
buckwheat before it flowers so seeds don't become a problem.
After a few days without rain, take a hose to the compost pile and
moisten the materials to keep them decomposing. Use a compost fork
to mix the ingredients, moving the stuff around the outside of the
pile into the middle where most of the decomposition takes place.
Take cuttings of favorite geraniums, coleus, begonias, and any other
annual flowers that you want to grow again next summer. Also, you
can bring these plants indoors for the winter if you have a sunny
spot. Several popular bedding plants are perennial in warm climates
and can be brought indoors as houseplants if you don't wait until
the weather gets too cool, which can set them back and make it hard
for them to recover. Gradually move the plants into shadier
locations so they are better adjusted to the reduced light levels
when you move them indoors.
You should have stopped pruning most trees and shrubs by now.
Pruning woody plants stimulates new growth that may not have time to
harden off before the first cold snap of autumn. Allow roses to form
hips. Leaving spent rose flowers so they form hips signals roses
that they, too, should begin winding down.
Other gardening activities for this month include lining up a plant
sitter for vacations (group plants in pots to make their job easier,
or move into shade for less watering), removing garlic stalks once
dried and storing in a dry and well-ventilated space, mowing less
and higher if grass isn’t growing, and visiting nurseries to pick up
some late season blooming perennials (like Joe Pye, Helen’s flower,
tall garden phlox, cimicifuga, sedum, Russian sage, and asters).
(Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally known horticulturist,
author, gardening consultant, and garden coach; CharlieNardozzi.com).