In fall, it’s great to see the actual results of your work, appreciate the harvest, and look forward to the upcoming winter feast. However, growing vegetables is one thing, but harvesting them and storing them at the right time is another. Each crop has its own maturity conditions, its own harvesting vegetables and storage preparation requirements, and its own storability conditions. Knowing them and using them skillfully – means really getting results.
One of the main crops grown in our gardens is potatoes. And there is no substitute for them at the dinner table. That’s why it’s important to store potatoes properly so that they last until spring.
When and how to harvest potatoes
Potatoes should be unset as soon as their stalks dry. If you delay harvesting, the tubers will begin to lose weight.
Both a spade and a pitchfork can be used to pull potatoes out of the ground. The latter method is more practical in areas where the soil is loose.
Many people also sort potatoes as soon as they are dug up, mainly into seed and “edible” potatoes. However, subsequent sorting after the vegetables have been dried is also important before storage, as not only seed potatoes but also damaged or irregularly shaped potatoes must be removed.
In addition, size influences storability: large tubers can be stored until mid-winter (after which their flavor deteriorates significantly), medium-sized tubers can be stored until spring, and very small tubers are better suited for immediate consumption.
Preparing potatoes for storage
Preparation for storing potatoes begins during the so-called “healing period” or post-harvest ripening. This is preferably about 2 to 5 days but can last several weeks (depending on weather conditions). During this period, the tuber wounds heal, the skin thickens, carbohydrates are converted to starch, and stored vitamin C.
At this time, the “edible” potatoes are kept in a cool, ventilated place, protected from dew and rain, but instead, the seed material is left in the sun for a few days to turn green – this increases their storability and makes them unsuitable for rodents.
Then, ideally, there should be a cooling period. This involves gradually lowering the temperature of the potatoes to between 35-39 °F (2-4 °C). However, it is difficult to carry out such a procedure at home, and you will have to rely on spontaneous temperature reductions associated with fall weather changes.
The main storage period for potatoes is during their physiological dormancy period, which lasts until about March. During this time, tubers should be kept in the dark and cold at 35-39 °F (2-4°C) with 85-90% air humidity. Lower temperatures will cause tubers to deteriorate, and higher temperatures will cause them to germinate.
In addition, negative temperatures will cause the starch contained in the fruit to be converted into sugar, which has a negative impact on the taste. However, potatoes were not significantly affected by the rare short-term fluctuations in temperature toward 32 °F (0°C) or below.
From about the end of February (early varieties) to the beginning of March, potatoes begin to wake up. New shoots appear on the tubers. These should not be left behind, as they draw nutrients from the potatoes and thus affect not only the appearance but also the taste of the vegetable. Therefore, the tubers should be collected and cleaned of everything that has sprouted on them. But this process can be delayed to some extent by lowering the storage temperature to between 34-35 °F (1.5-2°C), let’s say by ventilating the potatoes in the morning.
In most cases, potatoes are stored in bulk in bundles no higher than 60 inches (1.5 m), but it is equally practical to sort them into crates. Potatoes should not be stored in plastic bags.
More Related Information About Planting & Growing Potatoes
Cabbage is no less popular in Asian cuisine. Some are salted, others pickled, but a particularly delightful option for the winter table is fresh cabbage salad. To preserve Cabbage until spring, there are also a few rules.
First, it must be a medium to late maturing variety. Second, the Cabbage must be picked without damage and must be firm and full. And third, Cabbage for storage must not be harvested earlier than the daytime temperature of 35-46 °F (2-8°C).
When and how to harvest Cabbage
Harvest Cabbage on a dry, sunny day by trimming the heads with a sharp knife. When harvesting, you can immediately discard those not suitable for storage and remove unwanted leaves from the good stuff, leaving 3-4 top leaves on the head. The length of the cores will vary 1-3 inches (2.5-8 cm)), depending on how they are stored.
Preparing Cabbage for Storage
If cabbage cannot be harvested during periods of full sun and it is raining, cabbage should always be dried before being stored.
If you choose, it is a good idea to sort them by size: keep the large heads close together (they store less) and the small heads in the main storage.
Blistered, rotten, and soft cabbage is best disposed of immediately.
How to store Cabbage
Cabbage can be stored in different places: in the cellar, in the basement, in the pantry, on the balcony. The storage temperature should be between 30 and 33 °F (1 to -1°C) with a relative humidity of about 95%. The best way to store cabbage heads is to store them so that they do not touch each other.
The easiest way is to stack the heads in crates or on shelves with the core facing up. Less popular is to hang their cores on hooks or twine, bury them in dry sand – in both cases at least 3 inches (8 cm) long – or wrap them in paper or plastic wrap.
When placing the forks in the box, remember that the container should be vented, and the heads face inward. When stacked on a shelf, several layers can be formed by staggering the forks. When packing with paper, it is important not to use newspaper as its dye is quite harmful. If sand is used, the sprouts can be buried completely.
More Related Information About Planting & Growing Cabbage
The next most popular vegetables are probably beets and carrots. Without these vegetables, it would be impossible to make borscht or prepare salads.
When and How to Harvest Beet Roots
The timing of harvesting beets is indicated by the drying of their lower leaves, the diameter of the beetroots matching their variety size, and the formation of characteristic knots on individual beetroots. Depending on the earliness of the variety, these signs may be observed at different times. Still, in general, beets are harvested from September to the end of October (depending on the climatic zone).
It is best to pick the roots by hand, but if the workload is high enough, a pitchfork can also be used.
Preparing beetroots for storage
The dug plugs should be gently stripped from the ground (best done w