Tender bulbs, rhizomes and tubers all have special care requirements compared with other crops you’re growing, and it’s important to know the difference.
The most important thing you could do is to wait until after the first frost before you start digging. This way your tender plants, rhizomes and tubers have time to get that nice layer of dirt clumped on them and their root systems are frozen in place.
As you dig up your plants, you need to make sure you keep them separated by type and color. It wouldn’t be the first time that someone accidentally mixed up their flower bulbs with shallots or garlic – but you’ll need to make sure you separate them all out as they come out of the ground.
You can reuse old mesh onion bags and label them going forward, that way you know what, how and where to put your plants into the ground when the spring comes in.
Your tender bulbs shouldn’t be held together in clumps, if you can help it. Layering them with peat moss and keeping them separated will help you avoid issues rot, decay and disease. Bulbs should be kept in a well-ventilated container that lets them breathe and stay dry.
Don’t wash your crops before you store them; dust off clumps of dirt but allow a fine layer of dirt to remain to protect and insulate your crops. These crops are living, breathing organisms, even when dormant. You’ll want to keep the temperature as stable as possible.
Mammals like rats and mice love tubers, rhizomes and tender bulbs, just like we do! You’ll want to keep them in containers that aren’t easy for mice and rats to get into. Paper and flimsy plastic are bad choices, as rats will chew through cardboard easily; cardboard and other paper/fiber containers also retain moisture and can spread rot.
Trillions of leaves fall across the world when trees go dormant in the fall – but there has to be a much better way to deal with them than blowing them into a large pile and burning them or throwing them away, right?
Before you start collecting leaves or mulching, make sure you’re wearing glasses, goggles or other eye protection. Those tiny brittle leaves can tear your retina before you know it – and no matter how beautiful your lawn may be, nothing is worth going blind over.
Leaves make excellent mulch, protecting both root systems and ground cover like grass in the winter time – they also nourish and fertilize the ground as they break down in the late fall and early spring months. While few of us like mulching, it’s one of the best ways to give your garden what it needs to have a great spring.
Mulching can be done a couple different ways. Chopping them up into fine particles will benefit earthworms and other little bugs that keep your soil healthy. Larger mulching from leaves can be placed around the base of your bushes, trees and even corn rows to help enrich the soil It all just depends on the kind of plants you’re working with – the larger the plant you’re feeding, the larger particle size your mulch should be.
Leaves are an excellent starter and fuel for your compost pile – but make sure you’re only using organic materials in your compost pile. That means no tossing in plastic bits and junk that got caught up with the leaves in your yard when you were making your pile. You keep a bin, you put in all kinds of scraps (no meat!) decaying material, even the last grass of the season and you cover it up.
It stews over the winter and come spring you spread it across your garden and it fertilizes the ground like nobody’s business – all without having to worry about dangerous petro-chemicals running off your lawn and into your local watershed the next time it rains. A little prep now will go a long way towards making your next spring garden a big success!
Whatever you do, don’t throw your leaves away. Leaves are an excellent source of cover and nutrition for your plants, but you will want to mulch ‘em down as much as possible so your trees, flowers and crops receive the full benefits.
The first step in harvesting and storing your root crops is to plant them as late as possible – and we’re talking LATE. You’ll want to pull them out of the ground after the first frost and before the hard freeze sets in. If you don’t get them out in time they’ll be frozen in the ground and you can pull them out again later in the spring thaw.
No matter whether you’re going to can, freeze, store or eat them right away, it’s important to leave them in the ground until just the right time that they’re ready to be consumed. Preserving, storing or consuming your foods at peak freshness gives you the best taste and nutrition available.
Eat damaged roots immediately, do not store them. Damaged root crops can spread disease and rot to the rest of your store, it’s just not worth it.
Root crops are nothing like other fruits and vegetables – DON’T wash them before storage. Leave them with a light coating of soil on them, cut off the tops and make sure you wash them right before you cook them to keep them fresh.
How extend the storage life of your root crops is to dig them up after 2 or 3 days of nice, dry weather. This way the moisture will have been drawn out enough so they’ll be ready to cure.
While they are handy to have, most of us just don’t have a root cellar to store our crops. Your space needs to be cool, dark, and not too dry. If you have a basement that stays just above freezing with high humidity, this would be a great place to store your root crops.
Insulation is important – even a small variation of temperature can cause your root crops to sprout or rot – and that’s the last thing you want. You need to know that it’s stable throughout the season you’re storing it.
Accessibility is also key. How often will you be able to get to your store, how much will you and your family eat, and how much food/insulation will you need? Even if you’re just storing them in a plastic garbage back filled with peat moss or sawdust with some holes poked in it, it’s still an accessible store that you’ll be able to get into regularly.
Want to keep that crisp, fresh taste months after the first frost? It’s all about proper storage.
But if you want a harvest to last until spring, you’ll want to make sure that you know when the peak ripeness is for each of your crops. There are special care and storage tips you’ll need to follow for rhizomes, tubers and root vegetables, but for the most part keeping it warm enough to prevent damage and cold enough to prevent sprouting is the way to go.
One of the easiest things to do to your harvest is bruise it, so be careful when you’re handling it. All fruits and vegetables should be washed before you move it to storage – all fruits aside from berries. Potatoes should be left with a fine layer of soil on them to protect them, but don’t leave large clumps of soil or store them together on top of each other in large groups – they could rot.
Root crops need to be left in the ground until the first freeze; beets, carrots, turnips, even parsnips will benefit from the cold – but potatoes should be harvested before the first freeze. If the ground hits a hard freeze your produce will be safe to dig out in the spring thaw, just like new.
Potatoes planted late in the season are great for long term food storage. Onions should be harvested once their tops have begun to fall over on their sides and before the hard freeze – onions need to be cured before they’re stored, the outer layers will become crisp like the ones you buy at the store. Keep them in mesh bags in a well-ventilated area.
Bell Peppers and peppers in general will keep anywhere from 3-6 weeks fresh, and hot peppers can be cured to last for months. Late season apples can be stored for months, but you’ll want to store them in shallow lined layers to keep the moisture inside.
Store at 32°F: Carrots, celery, garlic, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, cured onions, pears, parsnips, radishes, rutabagas, turnips, beets, apples, beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbages
Store at 45-50°F: Ripe tomatoes, Potatoes, sweet peppers
Make sure you carefully research curing instructions for your vegetables and fruits – an onion can take 3-7 days to cure while a potato can take 10-14 days to cure, all at optimum relative humidity.
John from http://www.growingyourgreens.com/ takes you on a field trip to Las Vegas to show you what is currently growing in the end of July / Beginning of August. This will provide you with some ideas on what fruits and vegetables can be grown even in the middle of 105 degree weather. In addition you will discover John’s method for learning what will grow sucessfully in your area