Store Extra ProduceWith any success, you will probably produce more vegetables than can be used. Consider storing excess produce that is not immediately used or preserved in some manner.
Remember that good quality produce is necessary. Overripe, rough, hard vegetables do not improve in quality during storage. Store only vegetables that are mature and at the best stage for eating.
Consider the following general guidelines for harvesting vegetables from your garden for immediate use as well as storing:
- Harvest garden vegetables at the proper stage of maturity, not before or not after.
- Harvest when foliage is dry. Moving through the garden when the foliage is wet helps spread diseases.
- Don't damage plant foliage by stepping on vines or breaking stems. This creates areas where disease organisms can enter and cause severe problems.
- Don't harvest when the plant is wilted or under any form of stress. This can result in damage to the plant.
- Immediately place fresh harvested vegetables in the shade and keep them cool. Use harvested vegetables as soon as possible, whether they are to be eaten fresh, processed or stored.
Temperature control is the most important factor in vegetable storage. Generally avoid high temperatures because of rapid growth of decay organisms.
The second factor in good storage is humidity. A moist atmosphere prevents water-loss from stored vegetables and helps root and leafy crops stay fresh longer. You may need to make sure that humidity remains fairly high in the storage area. Moist sand, wet burlap bags or a layer of wet sphagnum moss helps increase the humidity if the storage area is relatively dry. However, do not let excess moisture collect on stored produce.
Ventilation is also important. Avoid excessive ventilation but keep sufficient air movement in the storage area to keep the temperature down, the humidity correct and foul odors out.
Another hint to successful storage of garden products is to keep the storage area clean and sanitary at all times.
The type of storage structure may be as varied as your imagination just as long as it fits the requirements of space, convenience, temperature, humidity and ventilation.