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The Heart of New England
Celebrating the unique character & culture of Maine ~ New Hampshire ~ Vermont
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 corn
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.

Freeze berries
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 clump.

Make pesto from basil
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.
Pesto recipe.

Sow cover crops
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.

Hose the compost pile
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 flower cuttings
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.

Stop pruning
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 August tips
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 (  Distribution of this release is made possible by New England
Grows-- a conference providing education for industry professionals and support for Extension's
outreach efforts in horticulture.