Gardening with Children

Family Zone

Harvest, Store and Preserve your crops

Date Posted: 01 September 2015

September is traditionally the month when we begin to harvest and store our crops, Harvest Festivals are held to celebrate the food grown on the land, traditionally Harvest Festivals are held on or near the Sunday of the Harvest Moon (Sept. 28th) this is the full moon that occurs closest to the Autumn equinox (Sept. 23rd).

Each year can be different with crops producing exceptional or disappointing yields, it is important to harvest, store and preserve your precious crops to make them last during the winter months after all you have spent many hours sowing, planting, watering and tending to them, now it is time to enjoy the fruits of your labour.

It can be quite daunting especially when everything seems to be ready all at once, so here is a guide to harvesting and storing your crops. 

Apples and Pears

Wooden Fruit and Vegetable Larder, Rack and StoreStore each type of fruit separately, place on slatted shelves in a wooden fruit store or in stacking wooden crates that will allow air to circulate. Lay fruits in a single layer, not touching each other and handle carefully to avoid bruising. Wrapping apples individually in newspaper or tissue paper can help them keep longer but can be a hindrance when checking the fruit regularly. Pears tend to ripen quicker especially in warmer temperatures, it is advisable to remove any ripe fruit as it can speed up the ripening of the remaining fruit. 

Potatoes

Potato Havesting SacksFirst Earlies are ready to harvest in approx. 10 weeks (June/July), harvest when needed and eat fresh.

Second Earlies are ready to harvest in approx. 13 weeks (June/July), harvest when needed and eat fresh or alternatively cut the stems down to the ground and leave for about two weeks to allow the skins to set, then harvest in dry conditions drying prior to storing in hessian sacks in a dark cool frost free place.

Early Maincrop varieties are ready to harvest in approx. 15 weeks, Maincrop varieties in approx. 20 weeks, harvest from September in dry conditions drying prior to storing in hessian sacks in a dark cool frost free place.

Root Vegetables

Tubby Stack Pack Wooden Storage Boxes and CratesCarrots, Beetroots, Swedes will store well, cut off the leafy tops and place them in a single layer in wooden crates covered in sand or peat to prevent them from drying out and becoming rubbery. Parsnips can be left in the ground, their flavour will sweeten with the frost.

Onions, Shallots and Garlic

OnionsWhen the foliage start to turn yellow/brown and flops over gently lift the bulbs out of the ground carefully with a fork underneath them, leave them on the top of the soil to dry out if the weather is fine and sunny or lay out on a bench/potting table in a greenhouse/polytunnel/shed to dry out, when completely dry they can be plaited in strings and hung up or alternatively cut off the tops and hang up in net bags

Marrows, Pumpkins and Squashes

DSC04671Remove any excess leaves to allow the fruits to ripen on the plant, cut and bring indoors before frosts and store in a cool dry place. Marrows and Pumpkins can keep up to 3 months, Squashes may keep longer until Spring. Courgettes do not store well, they can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or alternatively cook and freeze in ready meals or add to chutneys.

All stored fruit and vegetables need to be in perfect condition without any signs of disease or damage, they will need checking regularly and bad specimens removed and should be kept in a dry, frost free, well ventilated place.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes can be frozen whole, but once thawed they will become mushy. The best way to preserve tomatoes is by making tomato and pasta sauces, ketchups, soups and chutneys and including them in frozen ready meals.

Peas and Beans

Can be dried for use in stews or can be blanched and frozen.

Soft Fruit

Strawberries 2Strawberries and Raspberries can be frozen, but once thawed will become mushy. Blackcurrants, Gooseberries and Blueberries freeze well and will hold their shape, if you are freezing soft fruit wash and dry out as much as possible then lay out on trays in the freezer, that way the fruits will freeze separately and not in large clumps, remove and return to the freezer in plastic containers. They can be used in smoothies, porridge, museli or yoghurt or you can use them in crumbles, cakes, pies or jams and jellies.

If you still have lots of fruit and vegetables to spare swap or give to friends or neighbours or take them to your local Harvest Festival where they can distributed locally to those in need.

Here are some fruit and vegetable recipes that you may find useful:

Easy Pizza with home-made Tomato Sauce 

Toffee Apple Pie

Apple Crumble

Redcurrant Jam

Strawberry Jam

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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