Most areas in North America it’s not to late to harvest crops that are to be stored for later use. Here is a bit of information that ‘Generally’ applies to harvesting / storing late fall harvested crops.
* Do not wash freshly harvested vegetables. After digging, wipe dirt off root crops such as onions, garlic, potato’s of all kinds, turnips and such.
* Removing vegetable foliage(tops) cut about 1 inch above your vegetable. Do not remove vegetable roots. Small hair like roots can be ‘brushed’ off by hand once your vegetable has hardened off. (Skin has dried and become tough).
* Winter squash and gourd harvesting. Cut vine stem leaving 1 to 2 inches of the stem attached to the squash or gourd.
* Apples and pears that you wish to put in winter storage should be treated much as you do root crops. Allow them to harden off a few days before being boxed for winter storage.
Hint Frost and rain is not your friend. Fruits and vegetables must be protected from being rained on or being exposed to frost or freezing temperatures. If rain or frost is in your forecast, move your fruits and vegetables into a dry frost free area during the hardening off process.
Carefully inspect your fruit and vegetables at harvest time. Fruits and vegetables having harvest or insect damage should be consumed within 2 days or you should cut away damaged areas and can or freeze them for later use. If you can not can or freeze damaged fruit or vegetables, feed them to your chickens or livestock. As a last resort chop them and add to your compost pile. Grin .. if you don’t have a compost pile, get one!
Note Sweet Potato’s is most likely the most temperature sensitive vegetable you will have to deal with during you fall harvested vegetables. Sweet Potato’s are extremely sensitive to wet and frost damage. If your garden is hit by an unexpected frost, (1) cut at ground level and remove potato vines. (2) Dig sweet potato’s within 1 day or at most 2 days to salvage your potato crop.
Under these conditions your best choice is to can or freeze potato’s after digging.
Harding off can be accomplished in about 10 to 14 days. During hardening off process, keeping vegetables and fruits in a frost free place. The best temperature is 75 to 80 degrees. After hardening off fruits and vegetables in a dry, well ventilated area winter storage at 55 to 60 degrees is idea with a relative humidity of 75 percent to 80 percent if possible.
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