Fredericksburg is located in the Piedmont area of Virginia, where the last killing frost is in late April and the first killing frost is in mid- to late October. That range of more than 180 frost-free days makes the area suitable to grow any vegetable as long as the garden site has at least 6 hours of sunshine, preferably 8 or more. An easy way to preserve excess produce is to blanch it to kill harmful bacteria and freeze it. Blanching involves dipping the vegetable in boiling water for a specific length of time, then transferring the vegetables to ice water to stop the cooking process before bagging and freezing.
Green beans, bush or pole varieties, can be planted in late April to mid-May. One ounce of planted seed can yield 3 to 5 lbs. of bush beans and 6 to 10 lbs. of pole beans. Green beans should be blanched for 3 minutes before freezing.
Plant sweet corn in late April to early May. One-half ounce of corn seed can produce 7 to 10 lbs. of corn. With a 7-inch ear of corn weighing about 1/2 lb., 14 to 20 ears of corn could be harvested. The cornels on the cob can be removed, blanched for 4 minutes and frozen.
Plant cucumbers from late April to early May. One-tenth ounce of cucumber seed can produce 8 to 10 lbs. of cucumbers. A cucumber roughly weighs around 1/4 lb., giving a harvest of 32 to 40 cucumbers from just 1/10 oz. of seed. Cucumbers are typically eaten fresh, not frozen for later use, but they can be pickled.
Leaf lettuce can be planted in early spring, from March into early April. Because the seeds are so small, a mere 1/40 oz. can produce 5 to 10 lbs. of lettuce. Leaf lettuce should be eaten fresh.
Peas can be planted between mid-March and early April. One-half ounce of seed can yield 2 to 6 lbs. of peas. Shelled peas (peas removed from the pod) should be blanched for only 1 1/2 minutes.
Plant summer squash (zucchini) from late April to early May. One-tenth of an ounce of seed can yield 20 to 80 lbs. of squash. Because the weight of squash varies greatly from about 1/4 lb. up to 2 lbs., it's difficult to predict how many individual squash will be produced. Cut the zucchini into large chunks or slices and blanch 3 minutes before freezing.
Plant tomatoes between late April and early May. Rather than starting with seeds, it's quite economical to buy tomato seedlings. Five plants can yield 25 to 30 lbs. of tomatoes or over 100 tomatoes. Try making tomato juice or sauce.