Dishing the dirt: Wow, that’s a lot of food

Published 7:12 pm Thursday, August 6, 2015

From the Beaufort County Cooperative Master Gardeners


Harvesting your garden fruits and vegetables is what it’s all about. All that hard work through the spring and summer has paid off to bring you a bountiful crop. So now what do you do with all the produce you are not able to eat right away? Don’t let it go to waste. Here are a few ideas of what to do with your extra crops.


There are several ways to save those perishable fruits and vegetables so you can enjoy them at a later time. Check out the many online tutorials about the storage method that best suits your needs. To get started look here:

Cook and Freeze: It’s often said, it’s just as easy to cook a lot as a little. Make a large quantity of food for dinner with the intention of freezing the leftovers. You can freeze just about any food to preserve the shelf life.

Canning & Preserving: It’s economical and allows home cooks to experiment with foods that might not be in the supermarket and know exactly where their ingredients came from. Everything you need to know about canning and food preservation is available in the USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning. This resource is for people canning for the first time or for experienced canners wanting to improve their canning practices.

Pickling: It is a great way to preserve nutrients while also preserving the shelf life of your food. In pickling, the process is about adding acid (vinegar or lemon juice) to a low-acid food to lower its pH to 4.6 or lower. Acidic foods include all fruits (except figs), most tomatoes, fermented and pickled vegetables, relishes, and jams, jellies and marmalades. The National Center for Food Preservation at the University of Georgia has developed a great resource on pickling, including some great recipes to try.

Dehydrating: Dehydrated food will keep for an extended period of time, and makes nutritious and delicious snacks. Fruit is the most common food to dehydrate, but vegetables and meat can also be dehydrated. Commercially available dehydrators vary significantly in price from around $40 to several hundred dollars. Food can also be dehydrated in an oven:


If your produce is already on the verge of spoilage, composting is a great way to put nutrients back into your soil to enrich it for better future growth.


Twenty percent of the people living right here in Beaufort County are “food insecure” and depend on local food pantries to meet their food needs. It’s estimated that 100 billion pounds of food are thrown away annually in the United States. That’s enough to totally eliminate hunger. There is no reason your extra produce should add to that enormous number. Eagle’s Wings Food Pantry, the largest food pantry in Beaufort County, will accept your extra produce, so you can help eliminate waste while feeding the hungry right here at home.

Gardening Calendar August

Lawn Care
• Treat all lawns for grubs with the recommended insecticides.
• One-third of the growth should be removed when mowing warm season grasses.
• Try to change direction when mowing your lawn. This will help strengthen the root system and expose different sides of the plant to sunlight.

• Be sure to fertilize strawberries with nitrogen this month.
• Do not fertilize shrubs this month.
• Now is a good time to take soil samples from your lawn especially if you plan to put out cool season grasses. Soil boxes can be picked up at the County Extension office.

• Vegetables to be planted in August: beets, Chinese cabbage, cucumber, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, radish, rutabaga, spinach, squash and turnips.
• Transplant broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower plants in mid-August.
• Continue repotting overgrown houseplants.
• Plant pansy seeds in flats this month so they can be transplanted to the landscape in September.
• Perennial seeds to sow this month: hollyhock, delphinium and stokes IA.
• Spider lily, colchicum and sternbergia bulbs should be planted this month.

• Late summer is not a good time to prune trees and shrubs because pruning will stimulate new growth. That new growth will not have enough time to harden before it turns cold. Late January and February are the best times to do major pruning.
• Any dead or diseased wood can be pruned out anytime of the year.
• Excessive growth on wisteria vines should be stopped to encourage blooms. Cutting back runners and root pruning can do this. Use a sharp spade and insert the blade to its full depth in a semi-circle about 6 feet from the main stem.

• Watch shrubs for the following insects: spider mites and lace bugs.
• Use recommended herbicide to control poison ivy, honeysuckle, green briar, kudzu, trumpet creeper and wisteria if desired.
• Continue with rose spraying program.
• Continue fungicide program for fruit trees and bunch grapes.
• Peach and nectarine trees need a trunk spray for peach tree borers at the end of August.
• Spray the following vegetables if insects are observed: broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and squash. (Pesticides should be used sparingly! Use only when needed and always follow the label)

Other Activities
• Prepare a planting plan if you intend on doing some fall landscaping.
• Now is a good time to construct a compost bin, if desired.
• Irish potatoes can be dug up this month.

The information for this article is given courtesy of the Extension Master Gardeners who are volunteers under direction of the Beaufort County Cooperative Extension. They are available to answer your questions concerning lawns, vegetables, trees, ornamentals, fruits, plant problems and diseases, pests, soil and many other horticulture issues relating to gardening in North Carolina. Reach a Master Gardener through the hot line at 252-946-0111 where you can leave a voice message or email the Master Gardeners your question at and a volunteer will respond to you inquiries.