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How to Store your Garden Harvest

Wednesday, August 12, 2009
How to ‘squirrel’ your Produce

For centuries families have squirreled away their garden surplus to feed their family through winter. Plenty of crops will keep for months if stored correctly with no need for freezing, bottling or preserving.

The golden rule is to store only fruit and vegetables that are in perfect condition. Allow air circulation and maintaining a constant temperature also helps. Sheds or garages or sellers are a good option, rather than lofts and pantries.

Root Vegetables


Twist off green tops of carrots, sweede, kohlrabi, beetroot and parsnips and arrange in a wooden box, layering with damp sand or untreated sawdust.

Potatoes


To store potatoes only dig when the green tops have wilted and are drying. This means that the pototo is mature and has formed a thick skin, suitable for storing. Allow skins to dry in air, remove obvious dirt and then store in Hessian sacks in the dark. If you have a large crop to store you can make a ‘potato clamp’. Heap potatoes onto a thick layer of straw, cover with more straw, pile the layer with fresh earth on top. Pack earth but leave an air hole at top. Create a drainage trench around pile for excess rainfall to drain away.

Squash


Pumpkins, squash and marrows need to be harvested with at least a 5cm long stem attached to prevent rotting. They will last longer if hung in nets which allow air to circulate. Place in cool, dry place.

Brassicas


Cabbage heads can be kept in nets, on a slatted shelf or laid on straw. They mustn’t touch each other. The other leaves will wilt but just remove before eating.

Leeks


Leeks will happily sit in the garden until required but if you need the space for growing further crops pull out leeks retaining as much soil as possible. Dig a shallow trench and place leeks in, cover roots with soil and firm. This is called ‘heeling in’ and the leeks will survive until needed.

Hard Fruits


Late-season apples store well. Wrap individually in newspaper and keep where air can circulate. Pears should be picked for storage when firm. They can be wrapped but only store in a single layer. Bring them into a warm place to ripen before eating.
 
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