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Master Gardener: Waste not, want not

Gardening is expensive business these days. It’s even more costly if you let your produce go to waste. Following are tips to more effectively use up your produce.

Immerse lettuce and other greens immediately in cold water and spin or shake them thoroughly dry, then refrigerate in a breathable cloth bag.

Your carrots, celery and radishes will last and stay crisper longer if they’re chopped and stored in water in the fridge.

Fruits like apples and bananas need to be set out in plain sight, not stored away where you may forget them.

Sliced hot peppers and cucumbers store well in a jar of vinegar for several weeks in the fridge.

Beets and tomatoes on the verge of going bad can be roasted, cut in chunks and stored in olive oil in the fridge where they’ll keep for about a week.

Whole fruits of summer and winter squash can be rubbed with vegetable oil and stored in a cool, dark area of the pantry, where they should last for several months.

Asparagus will last longer if its thick ends sit in cold water.

Cure fresh onion by hanging them in a cool, dark place inside a bag made of discarded pantyhose. Once the outer layer is dry, onion can go into storage.

Kale, collards and Swiss chard last longer when their ends are trimmed and they are set in the fridge in a container of water with a loose bag over them.

At season’s end, pull whole tomato plants and hang them upside down in a protected area. The remaining tomatoes should ripen out nicely.

Plan meals with an aim to using up the produce that will ripen first.

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