Fall Garden Harvest and Storage Tips


Root crops such as beets, carrots, rutabagas, parsnips and turnips can be left in garden into late fall and early winter. A heavy mulch of straw will help prevent the ground from freezing so the roots can be dug when needed. When temperatures drop low enough to freeze the ground under the mulch, finish harvesting the roots. Cut off all but one-half inch of the leafy tip and store at 32 to 40 degrees F in high humidity to reduce shriveling.

Irish potatoes – after harvest, cure late potatoes by holding them in moist air for 1-2 weeks at 60 – 75 degrees F. Wounds will not heal over at 50 degree F or below. After curing, lower the storage temp to about 40-45 degrees F. Potatoes will keep well for several months in a cool basement or cellar. Keep best in moist air which helps prevent shriveling. Do not wash before storing.

Onions – harvest after tops have fallen over and begun to dry. Cure onions after harvest by spreading them in a single layer on screens in the shade or well-ventilated garage or shed for 1-2 weeks or until tips are completely dry and shriveled. Store in shallow boxes, mesh bags or hang them in old nylons in a cold, dry, well-ventilated room. Tops may be left untrimmed and braided together. Temp close to 32 degrees F will give longest storage. Don't store close to other foods.

Tomatoes – harvest just before first killing frost. Store without stems. Reduce rot by disinfecting tomatoes. Wash in 1 ½ teaspoons chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Dry with soft cloth. Pack tomatoes 1 – 2 layers deep in shallow boxes. Reduce bruising by separating those showing red; they will ripen sooner and can be used first.

Pumpkins and winter squash – harvest mature fruit with hard rinds before frost. Leave stem on to prevent decay organisms from entering. Keep best if cured 10 days at 80-85 degrees F. Acorn squash should not be cured but stored at 45 degrees F to prevent stringiness.