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Ways to deal with the bounty of a good garden harvest

 Ways to deal with the bounty of a good garden harvest

How many cucumbers can one human eat? can your vegetable drawer fit one more cherry tomato?

If you are lucky to have to worry about answers to these questions, then you are probably trying to figure out ways to utilize the abundance of your 2011 crops.

Whether it’s being inventive, frugal or benevolent, here are a few ideas on what to do with your bounty:

* ICE, ICE BABY — Freeze your crops for use in the winter months. Slice up those red, green and yellow peppers — or whatever you’ve grown — put them in a plastic bag and throw them in the freezer. In February, when it’s 0 degrees outside, chuck a few of those beauties in a frying pan for the taste and smell of summer.

* PUBLIC RELATIONS — Make friends with your neighbors — and score points with your relatives — by offering some of your bounty to them. A couple of ears of corn here, a few zucchini there, can go a long way toward keeping everyone happy.

* DIVIDE AND CONQUER — Autumn is the perfect time to split perennials (temperatures are cooler and there is still time for plants to establish roots). Fill in your garden in a hurry — and spend no money — by breaking up large existing plants and transplanting them elsewhere. Black-eyed Susans, hostas and bee balm are a few plant varieties that are perfect for dividing. Oh, and don’t forget your neighbors and relatives when handing out the offspring.

* SAY IT WITH FLOWERS — Gather up all those late-blooming flowers and hangers-on and treat your favorite person to a late-summer bouquet. There should still be a few sunflowers, zinnias and wildflowers around to bunch up and brighten someone’s day.

* NATURE PRESERVES — If fresh-cut flowers aren’t quite your cup of tea, gather some dried flowers and herbs and reuse them. Herbs can be frozen or dried and kept to add to recipes. Flower petals can be used in sachets. And seeds, from both your favorite flowers and herbs, can be planted again next year.

* PAY IT FORWARD — these have been trying times for many North Jerseyans. your bounty of fresh fruits or vegetables could help a family that may be down on its luck or washed out from the flooding. If you don’t know where the nearest food pantry is, head to ampleharvest.org for information.

This just in: according to the 2012 old Farmer’s Almanac, the end of the Mayan calendar on Dec. 21, 2012, will not mark the end of the world.

That’s just some of the good news coming out of the latest edition of the 219-year-old almanac.

Other useful information in the 2012 edition includes tips on hydroponic gardening, home remedies from the hives, macaroni and cheese recipes, and, of course — one of the first things that most almanac readers look for — the “80 percent accurate” weather forecasts.

The 258-page softcover book sells for $5.99.

Information: 800-almanac or almanac.com/shop.

COMPOSTINGS: Bergen Bonsai Society will hold its next monthly meeting at 9:45 a.m. on Sept. 18 at the Nature Center, 154 Ruckman Road, Closter. The guest artist for this meeting is Eric Auger from Montreal Botanical Gardens. He will demonstrate all the finishing touches required for exhibiting bonsai plants in a show. Information: 201-569-8731 or visit bergenbonsai.com. … at the Sept. 27 meeting of the Bergen County Master Gardeners, Nancy Bristow, manager of the wildflower garden at the new Jersey State Botanical Garden, will present a slide program on new Jersey ferns. she will feature both native and non-native ferns that grow in different areas of new Jersey. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. at the county administration building, 1 Bergen Plaza, County Place, Hackensack, in the first floor meeting room. Information: 201-768-1856 or mgofbc.org.

E-mail: edel@northjersey.com. for the latest in gardening news, head to Ray’s garden blog at northjersey.com/compostings or follow him @ twitter.com/njgardening.

Ways to deal with the bounty of a good garden harvest

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