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Harvesting and storing

Fruit and vegetables require careful harvesting and storage to make the most of your growing efforts.  Storing can extend the season and deal with a glut in produce.  Fruit and vegetables need to be picked in their prime to ensure they will store as long as possible. This usually means whilst they are still young and tender.

Water the plants the evening before and pick the veg early in the morning. Alternatively, harvest your veg on a cool evening. The key thing being not to pick during the heat of the day and to get the veg into a cool environment, such as the house, as soon as possible.

Vegetables will start to lose their vitamin levels as soon as they are picked so harvesting and storing vegetables is best done on the same day, where possible.

Root vegetables  – are the storage organs of biennial plants, and therefore can generally be lifted and stored or left in the ground until you need them.  Though beware of hard frosts and wildlife; it is preferable to harvest and store if your soil gets waterlogged in winter. Remove excess soil, but do not wash or scrub as this may damage the skin. Remove leaves by twisting off close to the crown and store in a cool dark place.

Peas & Beans - You can freeze these by blanching in boiling water a minute or two and bagging. For some reason beans are not eaten dried as ‘pulses’ in the UK as often as on the continent. Pods can be left on the plant until they are dry, (then hung in a dry room) or podded and spread out on trays or plates with good airflow and shake every so often until fully dry, usually early Dec. Store in airtight containers and use within 2 years. More info here

Further advice and reading

‘Food from your Garden’, a rather old book published by Readers Digest, any edition will have very detailed information on harvesting and storing as well as freezing, pickling etc

The Kitchen Gardener’, by Alan Titchmarsh, has a useful section on storing surplus crops

Garden Organic website has some useful information.

Suttons has a useful guide on storing vegetables, including information on preserving, pickling and brewing,