We need some storage solutions for all our home grown garden vegetables just as we do for the vegetables thay we buy at the store. Good storage solutions are needed since the majority of home vegetable gardeners do not root cellars or the time for canning. There are some easy ways to store our fresh vegetables and fruits from the gardens for later enjoyment.
Shallots, onions, garlic, winter squash, and potatoes, when stored properly will stay in good condition for many months. Any of the produce that is purchased from a farmer’s market can be stored in the same way as the produce we grow in our backyard vegetable gardens.
Harvesting of the crops that we plan on using for the future needs to be done before cold temperatures or the first frost damages the plants tissues. These crops that we have harvested now need to be “cured” before we can store them away. Garlic and onions should be kept in a cool dark area for several weeks until their outer skin and the stems are dried crispy. Winter squash, potatoes, and pumpkins need to be cured in a warm, dry place from five to ten days so that their skin will toughen up. Potatoes need to stay away, during this time, from direct light and they should not be washed. After this curing is complete we need to check for damage or rot to the crops, if there are any signs of decay they will intensify once they get stored and it will get passed on to the other crops nearby.
The storage area we use will tell us how long the crops will last. Temperature, humidity, and light are all very important aspects to consider. Onions and garlic need to be in a dry, dark place between 32 and 40 degrees F.; if this temperature gets to warm it may cause them to sprout. Potatoes need complete darkness with temperatures between 45 and 50 degrees F. along with a 70-75 percent humidity level. Sweet potatoes on the other hand should be stored at 55 degrees F. with an 85 percent humidity level. Winter squash stores best at temperatures between 50 and 55 degrees and a 70-75 percent humidity level.
For the cool storage of onions, garlic, and winter squash, the air circulation is also a very important factor. If we are going to store a large amount of these vegetables we should think about running a small fan, use an old-fashioned orchard rack or some other type of open storage cabinet which allows excellent air circulation and makes it easier to reach our crop.
We can also use a stand alone freezer that has space for preserving our fruit, vegetables, and herbs. We can also the kitchen freezer that is attached to our refrigerator but the stand alone keeps food colder. Herbs are considered to be the easiest to freeze; we just need to chop them up to the size we want and place then in freezer storage containers or freezer bags. If our garden has produced berries we can freeze them whole as ir or with a small amount of syrup.
If we only have a small amount of produce, our storage solutions are simple by just placing them in the refrigerator. They should be stored unwashed but we should wipe away any dirt with a soft rag and placed in open storage bags. Fruits and vegetables should not be stored together, fruits on a shelf and vegetables in a drawer or vice versa. Potatoes can be kept in a cool, dark pantry but not in the refrigerator. This should take care of our storage solutions for home grown vegetables.