Harvesting and Storing Vegetables for Winter - part 3

by Isabel Vinton

This is the final chapter of our series on how to harvest and store vegetables for winter written by Long Season Farm farmer, Erin Enouen (see part 1 and part 2). This week Erin looks at how to handle and store the most cold hardy of winter vegetables.

HARVEST BEFORE GROUND FREEZES SOLID

A few roots are extremely cold hardy and can be left under mulch layers until after the ground freezes. We prefer to harvest them before this point for ease of access. The ground freezes solid once day lengths are under 10 hours and temperatures are consistently in the low 20's at night.

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1. Carrots

Harvest: Our storage carrots elicit Ooos and Ahhhs. While we'd love to attribute their sweetness to expert farming prowess, the secret is simply that we time our seeding so that they mature in mid-November and experience very cold temperatures. If the temperatures are going to reach the mid-to-low 20's, we cover them with several layers of row cover to keep the very tops of the roots from getting freeze burn. Handling: Do not wash the roots, but remove any loose or clumping dirt from them by shaking them off. Trim, do not rip, the tops off, leaving a 1/2 inch of stem.

Storage: Carrots prefer a cold, humid environment and will keep for several months if properly stored. 33-42 degrees is perfect. Placing dry roots in a plastic bag or bin is ideal. Excess moisture on the roots will cause them to rot, however, check them periodically to make sure they are not too dry, and spritz them with water to keep them moist.

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2. Parsnips

Harvest: Parsnips are the hardiest root of all. They will readily over winter in our climate. Like carrots though, we prefer to let them experience a freeze, then harvest. Make sure the roots are not frozen when digging. Use a garden fork, but take extra special care not to spear the roots. (Parsnips are the most tricky to fork.) Handling: Do not wash the roots, but remove any loose or clumping dirt from them by shaking them off. Trim, do not rip, the tops off, leaving a 1/2 inch of stem.

Storage: Like carrots, parsnips prefer a cold, humid environment and will keep for several months if properly stored. 33-42 degrees is perfect. Placing dry roots in a plastic bag or bin is ideal. Excess moisture on the roots will cause them to rot, however, check them periodically to make sure they are not too dry, and spritz them with water to keep them moist.

What did we miss? Leave a comment and let us know!

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