October 15, 2012

Area harvest still producing

The days and nights are getting chilly and the days are getting shorter, but the harvest isn’t over yet. 

Spinach, lettuce and Brussels sprouts thrive in these cool conditions, and later plantings of broccoli and kale are still going strong. Brussels sprouts and kale actually improve in flavor after being exposed to a couple of hard frosts. 

Your winter squash should be all in now; you do not want to expose them to frost. These hard-skinned squash will store best at temperatures in the 50s, no lower. Room temperature is OK, but a little cooler is better if possible. Onions, leeks, garlic, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, cabbage, carrots and beets are all long keepers. They have different storage needs, so it helps to read up on them in order to maximize how long you can hold them. 

Regular potatoes will turn green if exposed to light for more than a few hours, so keep them covered or in a dark cupboard. The green parts are poisonous, even if cooked, but you can just cut the green sections away, and the remaining white sections are fine.

Carrots and beets need cool, humid conditions, so place them first into loosely closed plastic bags then store them in your refrigerator. Onions and garlic do best with temperatures either just above freezing or at room temperature. Do not store either of these in your refrigerator.

I still have green tomatoes on my kitchen counter that I picked when a frost threatened. Most of these will ripen up just fine right there. They do not need or want a sunny windowsill to ripen. If you have a lot, you can even store them in a cardboard box with sheets of newspaper between each layer. Just be sure to check them every few days and compost any that begin to crack or rot. Do not store tomatoes in the refrigerator; they do best at room temperature.

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