Harvest storage, part one

Larry G. Field
Thursday, September 12, 2019
Karla Field shows off this part of this year’s cucumber harvest.

Karla Field shows off this part of this year’s cucumber harvest.

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Storage is a challenging issue. The safest way to preserve most foods is to freeze or can. If storing fresh picked produce most require one of two storage types, either dry cool environment or refrigeration. Root cellars or equivalent are good for root crops and some fruit. Some gardeners leave certain root crops in the ground; perhaps covered for protection but this can be risky.

Consider your storage availability when selecting the items that you will grow.

Root Cellar (RC): As the name implies, “root” crops such as potatoes, carrots, parsnips, beets plus cabbage & apples. Cover root crops with sand to minimize dehydration. Some folks hang entire tomato and cabbage plants from the ceiling. If you have no RC, refrigeration will work for sm. portions, burying in pails of sand (cool dry basement) will keep longer than open storage.

Refrigeration, normally in plastic bags and at least in crisper drawers: Ripe fruit, mild onions, nearly any vegetable. Life expectancy is limited.

Dry cool location such as basement: Winter (WS) squash, vegetable (VS) spaghetti, pumpkin, strong onions, un-ripened fruit, dry veggies such as popcorn. I normally “confine” the first three listed in a plastic livestock watering tank to reduce storage space. The drawback is that if one molds, all will be exposed to the spores produced by the mold. Spreading on newspaper or tarps reduces this risk of spreading mold but requires more storage space.

Most authorities suggest that WS, VS and pumpkins be allowed to frost prior to harvest. I question this because lots are grown further south than “frost country.” It is also suggested that potato plants be left until drying prior to harvesting. I do practice both. I confine all refrigerated onions into zip lock plastic to reduce the spread of odor.

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