Frost Means Harvest Time
Many local vegetable gardens have been hit by a killing frost this past week and are ready to be harvested.
Some of the hardier vegetables, such as potatoes, onions, carrots, beets, turnips/rutabagas and cabbage can withstand a couple of degrees of frost. Vegetables such as kale, brussels sprouts, leeks and parsnips all taste better after a good frost and can remain in the garden for a little longer. The remaining vegetables should be harvested now.
Potatoes are ready to be dug up and stored after the foliage has died back and the potato is mature, This is determined by rubbing the skin to see if it rubs off easily. If it does not rub off, it is matured enough to be stored. Dig up the potatoes and only store the healthy, disease-free potatoes, tossing out any that are damaged or have turned green. Potatoes become green when they are exposed to too much sunlight and these are not healthy to eat. You only want to store the healthy potatoes as you don’t want the damaged or rotten ones to affect the healthy potatoes and cause to rot in storage. If potatoes have scan, they can still be eaten and stored, but don’t use them for see next spring. For the best results, only use certified see potatoes every year and plant them in a different area of the garden where potatoes were not grown before for he past 2-3 years. Sprinkling “Tiger 90” in the soil before planting the potatoes also helps with preventing scan and never mix wood ashes in the soil where you plant potatoes as this can cause scab. Potatoes are best stored in a root cellar or cold room that is a dark space where the temperature remains between 5-10 Celsius.
Carrots in the garden can handle a few degrees of frost if they are properly covered. They should be dug up before the frost sets into the ground. Carrots are stored by breaking off the green top, not washing them and storing them in sand or vermiculite and placing them in a room where there is good humidity and the temperature is a few degrees above freezing. If there are only a few carrots, place them in a loosely tied plastic bag and put them in the fridge. Beets can be stored in the same way as carrots.
Onions can be stored throughout the winter months very well. Pull up the onion after it has naturally died back and is mature. Onions should be dry in order to store properly so they should be allowed to air dry until the neck of the onion is dry and the outer peel is dry. Store onions in a cool, dry area where there is good air ventilation.
After all the vegetables have been harvested, the garden soil can be dug up, exposing insects and weed seeds to the elements and the birds. Don’t forget to make a diagram of this season’s vegetable garden as to where everything was planted. This diagram will come in handy next spring when it is time to plant the garden as you want to practice crop rotation. Also, keep notes of what varieties and methods worked best or did not work out for you so that next spring you will know what, or what not, to do.
Jos Van Hage owns and operates two Art Knapp Home and Garden Centres in Prince George.
- Highway 16 West at Kimball Road
- Highway 97 North at Northwood Pulpmill Road. ( closed for the season)wp-admin/post-new.php#edit_timestamp
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