15) Storage tips for your harvest

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This post describes tips for storing the harvest from your garden. And how to ripen sweet peppers and tomatoes.

In this tip:

  • A)# Green beans, runner beans, snow peas
  • B)# Cauliflower
  • C)# Broccoli
  • D)# Potatoes
  • E)# Onions
  • F)# Winter carrots
  • G)# Sweet peppers
  • H)# Beetroots
  • I)# Leek (winter leek)
  • J)# White cabbage
  • K)# Curly kale
  • L)# Endive
  • M)# Witloof, Chicory
  • N)# Tomatoes
  • O)# Zucchini (Courgette)
  • P)# Cucumber

A)# Green beans, runner beans and snow beans

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Lay beans or snow peas in a plastic bowl. Cover them with 2 layers of moist kitchen paper (absorbing paper). Put a lid on. Place the whole in the refrigerator.

If you have many beans or snow peas, put them in the “vegetable drawer” in the refrigerator. Cover with 2 layers of moist kitchen paper (absorbing paper). Put lids on against drying out.

In this way beans or snow peas stay firm. The lids keep the kitchen paper moist. The low temperature in the fridge prevents the beans or snow peas from rotting.

Storage time is about 7 days for dry and clean harvested beans or snow peas. For water rinsed or wet harvested beans or snow peas, storage time is about 4 days.

Check the beans or snow peas daily and remove the bad or rotting ones. Spray water on the paper when (too) dry.

Instead of moist absorbing paper you can put a moist dishcloth, cotton cloth or linen cloth on the beans or snow peas.

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B)# Cauliflower

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Remove or shorten the outer leaves. Cut the stem under the cauliflower straight horizontal. When needed, cut a big cauliflower in half so it fits in a pan or vegetable drawer (bottom photo). 

Pour cold water (height is about 1.5 centimeters, 0.5 inch) in a big empty pan or in a vegetable drawer and put in the cauliflower with its stem down.

Put a lid on the pan. If the lid closes hermetically, put a thin object, e.g. a clothes pin between pan and lid.

Put the pan or vegetable drawer in a refrigerator.

The cauliflower absorbs water via the stem, does not dry out and stays firm. The low temperature in the refrigerator prevents or delays rotting of the cauliflower.

Storage time is about 7 days. When needed, cut small brown spots from the cauliflower.

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C)# Broccoli

Remove or shorten the outer leaves. Cut the stem under the broccoli straight horizontal.

Pour water (height is about 1.5 centimeters, 0.5 inch) in a vegetable drawer and put in the broccoli, with its stem down.

Put the vegetable drawer in a refrigerator.

The broccoli absorbs water via the stem, does not dry out and stays firm. (No plastic foil or bag needed, as used at greengrocer broccoli). The low temperature in the refrigerator prevents or delays rotting of the broccoli.

Storage time is about 5 days. When the stem of the broccoli has become soft or brownish, cut away a small piece of the stem. And put the broccoli back in storage again.

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D)# Potatoes

D1) Shopping crate and cardboard boxes

Handle potatoes “like eggs” during and after the harvest; pick up and lay down potatoes carefully, don’t throw. Throwing causes dark spots on potatoes.

After harvesting, let potatoes dry on dry garden soil, on newspapers or on cardboard. After drying, remove adherent garden earth with a soft brush.

Remarks:

  • You can immerse potatoes in water to remove garden earth. That’s no problem for the potatoes. But hereby the potatoes get soaking wet and they need to be dried for a long time before storing in a crate.
  • You can keep the garden earth on the potatoes (and not brush off or wash off). That’s okay when storing potatoes in a “potato clamp”, a heap of potatoes covered by straw and garden earth. In a crate, not all earth falls from “earthy potatoes”. So before peeling, you still have to remove the clinging earth. That’s not useful.

So you better brush off dried potatoes before storage.

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In the Netherlands you can buy these low cardboard boxes in a plant shop for €0.19 each.

Needed: 1 shopping care and 2 cardboard boxes.

Adapt the cardboard boxes (see photos above); loosen 3 glued corners and remove 1 short side.

Lay 1 adapted cardboard box in a crate, with the open side to the right. Make a new fold at one long side flap, to have the box fit well in the shopping crate.

Then lay another adapted cardboard box in the crate, with the open side to the left. Make a new fold at one long side flap too.

Always lay potatoes in (on) cardboard boxes. The potatoes lie on soft material, so less risk of damage or dark spots at the potatoes.

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Extra drying: You can lay potatoes in crates on cardboard until half full and have them dried for a few days. You can put 2 half filled crates “across” on each other.

After this, lay potatoes in a crate until a few centimeters (1 inch) under the top of the crate. Let the potatoes dry at an airy, dry spot for 1 to 2 days. The dryer the potatoes are, the less chance of rotting potatoes later.

Store potatoes in the dark, otherwise they get green. Green parts of a potato are poisonous. You can put newspapers on and against the crates to shield the light. It’s very easy to put a “newspaper skirt” around the crates. In Tip 2  (no 14)  you can find a description.

Put 2 shopping crates on each other. Put the newspaper skirt around the crates until a few centimeters (1 inch) from below. Fold the top part of the newspaper skirt inwards. Lay a newspaper (or a piece of cardboard) on top.

In this way potatoes are stored airy and dark. The newspapers and the edges of the cardboard boxes retain the surrounding light. There are many openings to let through air.

Put the whole in a cool room (cellar, barn, roof).

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D2) Basket

You can store potatoes lightproof in a small basket;

  • Put a piece of folded newspaper in the basket at at each small side of it.
  • Lay potatoes in the basket.
  • Put a piece of newspaper (with folded sides) on top of the basket.

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D3) Affected, diseased or dark colored

During the beginning of the storage time, check the potatoes every 2 weeks. You can find dark colored potatoes (at the left on photo). Normal colored, good potatoes at the right.

Two dark potatoes, cut in halves, affected by the plant disease . These potatoes have the plant disease “Late Blight”. Put them in the municipal green waste container or trash container.

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One affected potato between many healthy potatoes. This “rot” potato has not affected the surrounding potatoes. According to this    wikipedia-page   this disease is called “Fusarium dry rot”.

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Potatoes with “brown ends”; light attack by Late Blight. This attack does not grow (much) during storage, is my experience.

You can cut the brown ends as shown on the photo above. After cutting, put the potatoes in the crate again (on top of the other potatoes).

The same potatoes. After 2 weeks of storage, there is a grey layer on the cutting edge.

After removal of the grey layer, the potatoes look normal.

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D4) Shoots

After 1 to 2 months of storage, potato shoots can there. Break them off the potatoes. Lay checked potatoes in another shopping crate with cardboard in. You end up with 1 empty crate.

Store potatoes as cold as possible (but frost free), shoots grow slowly then. After harvesting and drying, store them in a cool cellar barn or garage. In autumn, winter, and early spring outdoors under a roof, but when freezing in a garage or barn.

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D5) Newspaper skirt for 2 crates; how to use it for 1 crate

The newspaper skirt, described at D1), fits well around 2 crates on top of each other. When you use only one crate, you can fold the same newspaper skirt “in another way”;

  • Put the newspaper skirt around 1 crate. Keep the fold(s) in the skirt.
  • Lift the skirt a few centimeters (1.5 inch) to form an air opening below.
  • Fold the top sides of the newspaper skirt flat, towards each other.
  • Lay a newspaper (or piece of cardboard) on the folded newspaper skirt.
  • In this way the high newspaper skirt fits around 1 crate.

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E)# Onions

  • E1) When summer months were rather dry (many dry days)

During a dry summer, leave the onion plants in the ground until the foliage has discolored to yellow/brown. Pull the onion plants out, lay them in low cardboard boxes and let them dry in the sun or under a roof. See   E3) Storage   .

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E2) When summer months were rather rainy (many rainy days)

During a rainy summer, onion plants in the soil will only slowly discolor to yellow/brown. You better harvest the onions when many (green) leaves have been fallen down. Waiting much longer can result in rot onions.

Lay the onions in low cardboard boxes. Place each box on a “plank bridge” with green leaves hanging “out of the box”. Let the onions dry in the sun or under a roof until the foliage is dry.

At tip   “2) Simple tools and tips”    there is a description of the plank bridge.

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Remark (cutting short the leaves):

You can cut the green or yellow/brown leaves from the onions before drying. The onions end up with 1 to 2 centimeters (0.5 to 1 inch) of foliage. Let them dry in a cardboard box. More onions fit in a box. Onions dry faster, better and there are less rot onions during storage later.

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In the Netherlands you can buy these low cardboard boxes in a plant shop for €0.19 each.

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E3) Storage

  • Put a plank bridge on the floor and put a cardboard box on it.
  • Fix a string around the box to prevent “expanding” of the side walls.
  • Load the onions in the box.
  • Place a new plank bridge on when the box is full.
  • The top box can be loaded to a higher level.
  • You can stack the boxes in another way, see the photos above.

Lay onions in the box like this . Many onions fit in and are not stacked too high.

Let the onions in cardboard boxes dry outside on a dry, windy place. After a few days, store the onions in a dry, cool place, like in a cellar.

In autumn, winter and/or spring you can put the onions outdoors under a roof when not freezing. At such a cool place, onions don’t sprout that easy. Have them indoors when freezing.

As described above; when you shorten the leaves of the onions right after harvesting, more onions fit in a box, drying goes faster and there are less rotten onions later.

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Checking:

Check the onions regularly (monthly). Smell (rotting onions stink) or pinch (rotten onions are soft). During this checking, transport the onions to an empty cardboard box. Remove bad onions or cut away the bad part. Use sprouting onions (onions that have a new stem) in the kitchen first.

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E4) Bad onion

Cut away the bad, rotten part of the onion. Then rinse the onion in streaming tap water (and dry with absorbing paper).

This is left from a bad onion. Lay the onion on top of the box so it can dry. Use this onion first in the kitchen.

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E5) Another bad onion

This onion has soft material on top. Cut the onion in half. Remove the bad part at each half.

This is left from this bad onion. Use this onion first in the kitchen.

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E6) Onion fly

In this soft onion there are brown pupae of the onion fly. Put this onion and the pupae in a garbage bin or deposit them with municipal waste (not in your compost container).

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E7) Green parts after cutting and drying

At this onion, a part has been cut away. At the next storage, parts of the onion have turned green. Remove the dry parts and cut a little from the green parts. Then use the onion in the kitchen.

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E8) Sprouting onions

From march (late winter) on, many onions start “sprouting”; a new green stem is growing. Squeeze the top of the onion. At a sprouting onion, you can feel the new stem and leaves. Use these onions first in the kitchen.

  • To slow down sprouting;
    • Put the onions outdoors in autumn, winter and spring (under a roof).
    • At freezing weather, have the onions in a barn or garage or cellar.

Tip: Lay each onion in the box with its stem up (or slanting up) so sprouting is clearly visible.

There can be green stripes or spots on the onion skins. This is due to too much daylight during storage. These onions can still be used in the kitchen.

Lay a piece of cardboard on top of the box, so the onions aren’t exposed to daylight.

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E9) Onions with “loose” skins

Long stored onions can have wrinkled outer skins; the new stem is coming. Use these onions within a few days for preparing a meal.

This is the right onion with outer skins removed. A small stem is visible.

The is the left onion with outer skins removed.

The left onion cut in half. Remove the stem and brown onion material. Then use it in the kitchen.

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F)# Winter carrots

Harvest the winter carrots in October or November (mid autumn). There are 2 ways of storage described here:

F1) Bulk storage

Put a layer of dry garden sand (or masonry sand or sandbox sand) in a box. Lay all carrots in the box. Don’t clean the carrots; the “dirtier” the carrots, the better they can be stored”. Sprinkle dry sand between and on the carrots.

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F2) Layer by layer storage

Put a layer of dry garden sand (or masonry sand or sandbox sand) in a box. Put 1 layer of carrots in the box. Don’t clean the carrots; the “dirtier” the carrots, the better they can be stored. Sprinkle dry sand between and on the carrots.

Put a new layer of carrots in the box. Sprinkle dry sand between and on the carrots. Continue until the box is full or all carrots have been stored.

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Remark:

Use dry sand for this storage. The sand does not need to be bone-dry. The sand may be a little moist and sticky. During storage the sand will dry out.

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F3) Put a lid on

Put a lid on the box (cats poop in soft sand). The storage must be airy. Metal wire netting in the handles keeps mice away (see tip 2   no 75).

Put the box in a dry, cool, frost-proof room (garage or barn). Or outdoors under a roof when not freezing. In case of frost have the carrots in a barn or garage.

From March or April (early spring) on, store the carrots 5 centimeters (2 inch) deep in garden soil at a shady spot. Put a pot or bowl (upside down) over it. The carrots stay firm in the garden soil (in dry sand, carrots get soft).

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F4) Check

Check carrots regularly for shoots and rotting. Remove shoots and rotten parts. Lay checked carrots in a “new” box on dry sand. And scoop dry sand from the “old” box into the “new” box.

When the sand is bone dry, pus some moist sand on top in the box.

Remove the shoots (short leaves and stems).

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Remove dark colored (rotting) material. Use a sharp knife to cut off the bad material together with some good material.

Store the good pieces of carrot in dry sand or consume these pieces at first.

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F5) Brush

Before preparing in the kitchen, use a brush to remove the earth from the carrots. Or use a brush and water to remove the sand.

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F6) Deep cracks in carrots

Winter carrots can have deep cracks.

Cut it into pieces.

Remove the skin. Use it in the kitchen.

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G)# Sweet peppers

G1) Storage

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Peppers can be stored or ripen on moist kitchen paper. For example in a washing up bowl with plastic foil over. This is going great.

My first tests (storing and ripening peppers) were in a small greenhouse with a transparent cover. Below a short description.

Sweet peppers starting to change color.

Lay sweet peppers on 3 layers of moist kitchen paper.

Put on the transparent cover with air openings open. Put the whole in a room at 15 to 25 C (59 to 77 F).

The same peppers after 14 days in the little greenhouse.

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G2) Remarks

  • Lay peppers on the paper with the stem pointing sideways or upwards. When the stem is down, a peppers rather starts rotting. See below;

This pepper was on moist paper for 7 days with its stem down. Rotting has begun. After this, the pepper has been turned, with its stem pointing upward.

The same pepper, 7 days later. The stem has dried up, turned brown, but has not rotted further. The pepper itself is whole, not affected.

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You can put peppers in a washing-up bowl on 3 or 4 layers of moist kitchen paper. Cover the bowl with plastic foil (cut from a plastic bag) with 1 air opening.

At one side, put the plastic foil about 2 centimeters (0.8 inch) from the edge on the bowl. One air opening is enough. This way, the moist kitchen paper does not dry out quickly.

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Useful; use 3 clothes pins to fix the foil; 2 (red) pins near the air opening and 1 (blue) pin at the opposite side.

Opening: remove the blue pin and flip the foil towards the opposite side.

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Storing or ripening many sweet peppers; use thin laths to stack more washing up bowls. See below.

Four (4) washing up bowls on top of each other. On each bowl there are 2 wooden supporting laths.

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Or you can put many sweet peppers in a big cardboard box with plastic foil;

  • Put a cardboard box in a big plastic bag. Or lay a big plastic box in a big cardboard box (with the sides of the box covered with plastic).
  • Lay 3 or 4 layers of absorbing (kitchen) paper in the box on plastic.
  • Spray water on the absorbing paper.
  • Put sweet peppers (with stem pointing sideways or upwards) on the absorbing paper.

More than 30 sweet peppers fit in this cardboard box.

  • Put a piece of plastic (or a big plastic bag) on top of the box.
  • Use clothespins to fasten the plastic to the box.

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Another cardboard box with folded away plastic foil. In 4 weeks, many sweet peppers are colored to red, orange or yellow.

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My experience:

  • Lay 3 or 4 layers of kitchen paper on each other.
  • (Instead of kitchen paper, you can use a piece of cotton or linen).
  • Spray or pour rather much water on the kitchen paper. The peppers lay on “very moist” paper. That’s okay.
  • The paper does not dry so fast; it remains moist for 1 to 2 weeks.
  • But you can make the paper less moist. Check every 2 days; are the peppers hard and not rotting, is the paper moist.
  • Storage temperature 15 to 20 C (59 to 77 F).
  • Absorbing (kitchen) paper retains water very well. The sweet peppers stay hard. The low temperature prevents the peppers from rotting quickly.
  • Peppers with a “deviation” (dent, damaged spot, eating hole) get soft or start rotting first.

Sweet peppers ripen while they remain firm (hard). After a few weeks you have firm red (or yellow or orange or …) sweet peppers.

  • Check for rotting or soft peppers regularly (twice a week).
  • At G3) info about what to do with a rotting sweet pepper.
  • When you can move the stem independently from the pepper; rotting has begun.
  • Soft peppers can be made robust (hard) again, see  G4).
  • My experience: sweet peppers on moist kitchen paper stay well for over 2 weeks and only few peppers rot.
  • You can put a ripe banana or apple between the peppers. Perhaps ripening goes faster then. But without a banana or an apple, ripening goes well too.

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Long time storage:

  • During cold nights, sweet peppers hanging on the plant can get black spots.
  • Or the peppers get “almost completely black”.
  • Black peppers ripen very very slowly to red (orange, yellow).
  • Peppers on the photos above have been stored (ripened) for 9 weeks.
  • The sweet peppers are rigid (hard) and look well (except the color).
  • After this storage time, peppers have been cut in pieces and frozen.

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G3) Rotting

During storage, a sweet pepper can start rotting. This can be near the stem of the pepper.

The pepper on the left side photo has a brown stem. Cut away the stem. Check if there are still brown spots on the pepper (as visible on the right side photo).

When there are brown spots, cut away the bad part and some good pepper material.

Lay the sweet pepper in a tray on 2 layers of moist kitchen paper. Lay the pepper on the paper with the “cut away part” upwards.

Put plastic foil or a lid with holes on the tray. Put the whole in a refrigerator. Check regularly if paper is moist. When needed, add water.

The pepper will not ripen, but it can be stored for some days.

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G4) Soft peppers

After a long storage period, a sweet pepper can be soft. Or a pepper was hanging on a broken branch of a pepper plant.

The pepper is not rot but has a wrinkled skin; you can push in easily.

Cut away the stem plus adjacent pepper material. Also remove some ribs (membranes) and seeds. Such a pepper is called a “cut open pepper“.

Put all soft “cut open peppers” in a tray, all with the openings upwards. Put them against the side edge of the tray or against each other to prevent toppling.

Pour cold tap water in each pepper until full. In some peppers, seeds can float on the water. The plastic tray also services as a drip tray.

Put the whole in a refrigerator. After a few days in the refrigerator, many peppers will be robust again.

Pour water out of the peppers. When needed, cut a narrow (soft) edge of pepper material near the opening. Use the peppers in a dish or freeze them.

Or store the peppers 1 or 2 days longer in a refrigerator in a tray with moist paper and lid, as described at G3) Rotting.

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Remarks about this procedure

  • During the “refrigerator time” you don’t have to refresh the water in the peppers.
  • Check regularly (each 12 hours) if peppers get firm (hard).
  • When a pepper isn’t robust after 3 days, it will not get firm anymore. Use the robust parts of this pepper in a dish or freeze them.

  • You can use a small bowl to treat only a few soft peppers.
  • At a “leak” sweet pepper, water flows out. Take that pepper out of the tray and immerse it in water as described below.

  • When only 1 or a few peppers are soft, or at a “leak pepper”, use this method:
    • Fill a beaker or so with cold tap water.
    • Plunge the “cut open pepper” completely in water.
    • After letting go (releasing) the sweet pepper, a small piece of pepper will go above the water level.
    • Put the whole in a refrigerator.
  • The soft pepper absorbs the water via the inner side. Immersion in water works as well as pouring water in a pepper. Use the method that suits you best.

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Remark (cut in the side of a soft pepper):

You can leave a soft pepper whole, make a long cut in its side and fill the pepper with cold water. After 2 days in the refrigerator, the pepper is firm again. With this method, no pepper material gets soft. You don’t have to cut away pepper material (or much less).  See below;

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  • Use a sharp (potato) knife to make a long cut in the side of the sweet pepper.

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  • Immerse the pepper in cold water.
  • Use the knife to keep open the cut.
  • Let the water flow into the pepper.
  • Take the knife out of the pepper.
  • Squeeze the pepper softly to let air out (and water in).
  • Have as much water as possible in the pepper.

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  • Put a lid on the bowl filled with water.
  • Put the whole in the fridge.

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G5) Freezing

  • You can freeze pepper pieces it is easy to use zip lock bags.
  • To have little adherent water in the freezing bag:
    • rub (wipe) the dry sweet peppers clean with kitchen paper or dishcloth,
    • cut the (dry) pepper open and remove the stem, seeds and membranes,
    • cut the (dry) pepper into small pieces,
    • lay the pepper pieces on a dry dishcloth or kitchen paper and pat dry.
  • Put the pepper parts in a freezing bag, roll up the bag and push much air from the bag.
  • Close the zip lock bag and unwind the bag again.
  • Distribute the pieces in the bag into a thin layer.
  • Lay the bag with pepper pieces in the freezer. The pepper pieces will freeze fast in the thin layer. And you can easily see the contents of the bag.

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G6) Mold on a peppers stem

  • When there is mold on a peppers stem, use a sharp knife to remove the stem and extra pepper material.

  • Put the pepper in a tray on moist absorbing paper. Lay the pepper on the paper with the “cut away part” upwards.
  • Put plastic foil or a lid with holes on the tray. Put the whole in a refrigerator. Check regularly if paper is moist. When needed, add water.
  • In a refrigerator, rotting stops or slows down. But in a fridge, ripening stops too.

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At a bell pepper with mold on its stem, the pepper can start rotting.

This yellow pepper has rotting material around its stem.

  • Remove much pepper material.
  • The lower part of the pepper (at left) is good for use in the kitchen.
  • The hood, stem and seeds (at right) are rotting and can be put in a compost container.

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G7) Low tray with a straight edge (\___/)

  • When using a low bowl and clothes pins, the plastic foil touches the peppers.

  • You can put the plastic foil on the bowl in this way; the clothes pins hang at the side of the bowl and keep the plastic foil tense.

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G8) “Black peppers”

During cold weather or cold nights in autumn, peppers can get dark spots (black, purple spots) or peppers can get dark completely.

My experience: “black” sweet peppers can be stored long time. But it takes a long time before these peppers turn into red (or yellow or….). Or they remain “black”.

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G9) Many ripened bell peppers.

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Many stored and ripened bell peppers, 2360 grams (5 lbs,  3.25 oz).

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The bell peppers have been cut into small pieces, 2170 grams (4 lbs, 12.5 oz)

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H)#  Beetroots

Storage of beetroots looks like storing winter carrots:

  • Remove the foliage by turning it off from the beetroots.

  • Fill a bucket with a layer of dry garden sand (masonry sand or sandbox sand).

  • Put a layer of beetroots in the bucket on the sand.

  • Sprinkle dry sand between and on the layer of beetroots.

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Next layer:

  • Put beetroots on the sand forming a new layer and sprinkle dry sand between and on the beetroots.
  • Continue until the bucket is full or until there are no more beetroots.
  • Always end with sprinkling dry sand on the beetroots.
  • Put the bucket with beetroots in a cool, frost-proof place.
  • When desired, you can cook beetroots, cut in pieces and freeze.

Check:

Regularly check the beetroots. Remove foliage or leaves. After checking, lay the beetroots in another bucket with dry sand. Recycle the sand. When the sand is bone-dry, add some fresh moist sand on top.

In this way you can store the beetroots until next spring.

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I)# Leek (winter leek)

You can harvest fresh leek during all winter when it’s not too cold. But at sharp frost, plants are hard to dig out of the soil. And the leaves of the leeks can get soft.

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I1) Storage in the garden soil

When you put tunnels of transparent corrugated plate over the leeks, you can harvest leeks at freezing weather. See below.

I1a) Tunnel is on the soil

  • Trim the outer long leaves of the leeks to fit them under the tunnel.

  • Put a tunnel greenhouse on the soil over a row of leeks.
  • Each tunnel has open ends; airy and dew drops can dry fast.
  • Under a tunnel there is less risk of rotting.
  • There is no snow falling on the leeks (snow and frost makes the leeks soft).
  • At freezing weather, the soil under the tunnel is softer; digging leeks is easier.
  • The tunnel can freeze to the garden soil. Harvesting the leeks is very hard. Put straw underneath the long edges of the tunnel to overcome this problem.

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I1b) Tunnel is “hanging on iron pens”

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  • Put the tunnels “high” over the leeks.
    • Under these tunnels, leeks have more space.
    • The tunnels don’t freeze to the garden soil.

Putting high can be done as follows:

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  • At 4 spots, put a thick iron pen under the loop of the bow.
  • A thick pen without a piece of garden hose fits well between bow and the other iron pen.

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Harvested leeks on March 16 (late winter). I trimmed these leeks and put a tunnel greenhouse over in late December (early winter). The leeks have grown a little since then.

During preparing these leeks in the kitchen, a few pupae of leaf miner flies were found. More info about the leaf miner fly in    tip 4) Insects and diseases of plants  .

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I2) Digging leeks and storage

You can harvest many leeks in late autumn.

Store the leeks in groups in the garden soil. Cover the leeks with straw and a big bucket or flower pot.

Or take the leeks home and store them in big flower pots or buckets. This method is described below.

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Storage of leeks “at home” in flower pots

Needed:

  • A big flower pot or a masonry bucket each one with bottom holes.
  • Moist garden earth.
  • Leeks with shortened (trimmed) leaves.

Leeks have trimmed leaves. Easy when putting leeks in the flower pot. And less risk of rot or wet leaves during storage.

  • Lay the flower pot or bucket at its side (on a brick or something like that).
  • Scatter moist garden earth in the pot against the side wall. Because the pot is slanting on its side, the garden earth stays in place during the next steps.

  • Lay one layer or leeks on the earth in the pot.

  • Scatter moist garden earth on the leeks in the pot.

  • Lay another layer of leeks on the earth in the pot.
  • Continue scattering garden earth and putting in leeks until the pot is “full” or there are no leeks left.

  • Put the pot with leeks and garden earth upright.
  • Shake the pot to distribute the garden earth evenly.
  • After shaking, the leeks are in a layer of moist garden earth (layer thickness 10 to 20 centimeters, 4 to 8 inch).

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Early November (mid autumn): 3 flower pots filled with leeks in moist garden earth.

  • Put the pots under a roof or under a garden table during a rain period.
  • Put them in a barn or a garage during freezing weather. Put the pots outside when not freezing.
  • Regularly pour water on the earth in the pots.
    • Use a watering can with no shower head or use a garden hose,
    • Don’t pour water on the leeks, this can cause rotting or soft leeks.

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Early January (early winter: my leek storage in 2 big pots (leeks of 1 pot used in my kitchen).

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Early February (mid winter): my leek storage in the last big pot.

End of February (late winter): my last leeks in the last pot, 15 weeks after putting the leeks in.

The leeks have dried, brown outer leaves.

End of February (late winter): my last 3 stored leeks. After cutting in rings and rinsing in water, leek rings look well and taste well.

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I3) Storing thick leek from a greengrocer in the soil

You can store a “greengrocer leek” as follows;

Usefull: a tube (diameter about 40 millimeters, 1.5 inch) with elastic band around at 15 centimeters (6 inch) from one end.

  • Push the tube in the garden soil, depth about 15 centimeters (6 inch).
  • Pull the tube out of the soil (and tap against the tube to remove the earth)
  • Put the greengrocer leek in the hole.

  • Water the leeks in the holes.
  • After a few days the leeks have new small roots.

Greengrocer leeks can be stored for about 1 to 2 weeks.

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I4) Preparing leeks with pupae (leek miner flie) in the kitchen

Leek can contain maggots and pupae of the Leaf Miner Fly. More info about these in tip   4) Insects and diseases of plants    , chapter B)# Leek .

A pregnant female leaf miner fly lays eggs on (leek) leaves. The eggs turn into maggots, “little white worms”. During eating, a maggot creates a mine (tunnel) into the leek leaf material. After a while, a maggot turns into a pupa. A pupa is a brown, motionless small “barrel” and looks like a brown rice grain. After many months, a young miner fly emerges from a pupa.

I have researched the floating and sinking of these maggots and pupae in cold water. These are the results;

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  • All white maggots sink in cold water (sink to the bottom of the small bowl).
  • When there are many white maggots in the leeks, the accompanying brown pupae are still “young”. Young, brown pupae sink in cold water (sink to the bottom of the small bowl).
  • On the photo above, all maggots and young pupae lie on the bottom of the small bowl filled with cold water.

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  • When there are many (or only) pupae in the leeks, these pupae are “old”. Old pupae float in cold water. I think that pupae “dry up” and decrease weight during their lives.
  • On the photo above, 1 maggot is on the bottom of the bowl filled with cold water, see yellow arrow. All “old” pupae float on water.

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Below 2 procedures to handle leeks with maggots and pupae in the kitchen.

A) Remove many leaves from the leek, starting at the outside. Remove maggots and pupae from the leaves. Assemble the leek again and cut it into narrow rings.

B) Cut the leeks into narrow rings and put them in a (washing up) bowl filled with cold water. Stir the water to detach the maggots and pupae from the leek rings. Use a trick to remove floating pupae. Scoop the leek rings from the water. When needed, repeat these steps in fresh water.

At both methods you can flatten the maggots and pupae or dispose of in a garbage bag.

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I4A) Remove many outer leaves

Pupae and maggots are mainly located in the outer leaves of a leek. Reason: outer leaves are more accessible than inner leaves for Mrs Miner Fly. The outer leaves are open and have flat, horizontal parts (easy for the fly to land on).

Actions in short: strip from the outside many leaves from the leek until the next leaves don’t have miner fly maggots or pupae. At each stripped leaf, remove the maggots and pupae. “Assemble” the leek again. Prepare the leek in the kitchen.

Below a step by step description.

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  • One harvested leek.

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  • Use a knife or scissors to cut the tops of the leek leaves.
  • Use a knife to cut off the roots together with a small piece of leek.

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  • Remove outer “dirty” leaves of the leek (put them in a  bucket).
    • (further in I4B) is described what to do with the dirty leaves).
  • Rinse the leeks in cold water to remove earth and mud.
  • Rinse the white part and the green leaves.

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  • Use a sharp knife to cut open the leek lengthwise.
  • Remove leek leaves starting at the outside.
  • Check each leave for maggots and pupae.
  • Continue removing leaves until there are no more maggots or pupae on the leaves.

Photo above: removed leek leaves and (at the bottom) the residual middle part of the leek.

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  • Check each leaf for maggots and pupae.
  • Maggots are not well visible; white maggots on white (or light green) leek material.
  • (Use a knife to) remove all maggots and pupae.
  • Turn the leave and remove all maggots and pupae on that side too.

In this way you can remove the maggots and pupae from all removed leek leaves.

  • This was in 1 thick leek; 5 pupae and 18 maggots of the Leaf Miner Fly.
  • Squash the pupae and maggots or deposit them with municipal waste.

  • Rinse all “clean” leek leaves in cold water.
  • And rinse the middle part of the leek in cold water.
  • Assemble the leek; put the outer leaves over the middle part of the leek.

  • Cut the leek into pieces or narrow rings.
  • Rinse the leek pieces or rings in cold water.
  • Scoop the leek rings or leek pieces out of water into a bowl.
  • Check of there are maggots or pupae in the rinsing water;
    • If yes, there can still be some pupae in the leek rings or leek parts.
    • Then use the other procedure to remove pupae and maggots in the kitchen (I4B). See procedure below.

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I4B) First cut the leek into narrow rings

Actions in short: cut leeks in narrow rings and rinse them in cold water. Scoop floating pupae from the water. Then scoop the leek rings from the water. Below a step by step description.

(In this description, “leek pieces” are pieces of leek and/or leek rings).

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  • One harvested leek.

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  • Use a knife or scissors to cut the tops of the leek leaves.
  • Use a knife to cut off the roots together with a small piece of leek.

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  • Strip off the outer “dirty” leaves and put them in a bucket.
  • These dirty leaves (and the cut tops of leaves) get a special treatment later.

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  • Leek after stripping off outer leaves.

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  • Rinse the leek in cold water to remove sand, mud and garden earth.
  • Rinse the white part and the green leaves.

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  • Cut the leek in rings and pieces.

Do the above mentioned actions at all leeks.

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  • Put all “leek pieces” in a big bowl (washing up bowl).
  • This bowl contains “leek pieces” from my 3 leeks.

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  • Fill the bowl with much cold water.

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Trick:

stokje 1

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  • Use a (wooden) spoon to stir in the water with “leek pieces”.
  • Stir vigorously to release maggots and pupae from the “leek pieces”.
  • Leave alone the water with “leek pieces” for a few minutes;
    • Lightweight pupae can move upward to the water surface.
    • And heavy pupae and maggots can sink to the bottom of the bowl.

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  • Lay a metal cake cooling rack on top of the “leek pieces” in the water.
  • My rack fits in the bowl. When needed adapt your rack, see further.
  • The metal rack sinks a little under water until it doesn’t sink deeper;
    • The immersed “leek pieces” “carry” the metal rack.
    • (When needed, lift the rack, put more water in the bowl and lay the rack on the leek pieces again).
  • Almost all “leek pieces” are immersed under water. A few “leek pieces” slip through the rack and float on the water surface.

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  • Check if there are brown pupae floating on the water surface.
  • Photo above: 2 pupae (and 1 green piece of plastic) are floating on water.
  • These miner pupae have slipped through the rack and float on water.

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  • Use a tea strainer to scoop the floating pupae (and plastic) from the water surface.
  • Use fingers or tweezers to pick the scooped “leek pieces” out of the strainer.
  • Squash the scooped pupae or dispose of with municipal waste.

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  • Remove the rack from the water. The “leek pieces” start floating again.

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  • Use hands or a skimmer to scoop floating “leek pieces” out of the water. Put the “leek pieces” in a (blue round) tray.

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Remark:

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A different model of skimmer, also useful for scooping.

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  • All floating “leek pieces” have been scooped out and put in the bowl.
  • In the rinsing water, there are maggots, heavy pupae, small leek pieces and sand on the bottom of the bowl.

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  • Pour the used rinsing water through a big kitchen sieve.

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  • Knock the kitchen sieve empty (on white paper);
    • Result; 3 pupae, small leek pieces, tiny stones (sand).
  • This time no maggots in the sieve.
  • Squash the pupae (and maggots) or deposit them with municipal waste.
  • You can repeat these steps in fresh water to remove more pupae and maggots from the “leek pieces”.

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  • After flushing; many “leek pieces” in a (blue round) tray.

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  • You can put a (smaller) pan lid on the “leek pieces”,
  • Press hard on the lid (to keep leek pieces in the tray) and  turn the whole. Drain the rinsing water from the tray.
  • Put the whole straight again.

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  • Take away the lid from the “leek pieces”.
  • You end up with “dry” (less moist) “leek pieces” in the tray.

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Treatment of “dirty” leaves;

Often there are many miner fly pupae on (in) outer leek leaves. You better dispose of the outer leaves with municipal waste.

When you want to put these outer leek leaves on your compost container, you have to remove maggots and pupae first. You can do that as follows;

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  • Submerge and rinse the dirty leek leaves in cold water, e.g. in a bucket.

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  • In the bucket, miner pupae float on the water surface.

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  • Take the leek leaves (one by one) out of water. Meanwhile rinse them in water (to remove adherent mud, pupae or maggots).
  • Check if there are maggots or pupae on the leaves. If yes, remove them from the leaves.
  • Put the checked leaves in a (square white) tray.
  • In between, use a kitchen sieve to scoop floating miner pupae out of the water.

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  • Tap the scooped pupae from the kitchen sieve into a (white round) tray.
  • Continue until all leek leaves have been taken out of the water.

You end up with maggots, pupae, small pieces of leek and mud/garden earth in (a bucket filled with) water.

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  • Use a big  kitchen sieve to scoop the floating objects (mainly pupae and pieces of leek) out of the water.
  • Knock the sieve empty into a (white round) tray.
  • Go on until “all floating objects (pupae)” have been scooped out of the water.

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  • Pour all water from the bucket through the kitchen sieve.
  • Knock the sieve empty into a (white round) tray.

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  • Pour cold water in the (white round) tray.
  • Heavy things (sand, soil and so on) sink to the bottom of the tray.
  • Light pupae float on the water surface mainly against the side wall.

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pincet 1

  • Use tweezers and a tea strainer to scoop the floating pupae from the water.

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  • You can put the scooped pupae in a tray.
  • (Tap the tweezers against the side of the tray to drop the pupa).
  • Use the tea strainer (and the tweezers) and stir in the water to find and catch all pupae (and maggots).
  • Squash the pupae and maggots or deposit them with the municipal waste.

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As learned above, cleaning leek leaves and catching pupae and maggots is hard to do. You better deposit the leek leaves (with maggots and pupae) with the municipal waste.

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  • My harvest from the 3 leeks. From left to right;
    • 2 pupae (scooped out above the metal rack),
    • 3 pupae (sieved from the rinse water under the rack,
    • 44 pupae (were in the rinse water of dirty leaves).
  • In total 49 Miner Fly pupae in 3 big leeks from my backyard garden.
  • I have found no maggots in these 3 leeks.
  • Treat all pupae and maggots as described above (squash or deposit).

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Remarks about this procedure:

  1. The procedure with a cake cooling rack works very well.
  2. During immersion, 10 to 20 “leek pieces” slip through my metal rack.
  3. When using an other model of metal rack this can be less or more.
  4. These floating “leek pieces” don’t bother the scooping of the floating pupae.
  5. The rack may not sink too deep in the bowl; this results in maggots and heavy pupae between “leek pieces”.
  6. When many “leek pieces” are in the bowl with water, the metal rack sinks only a little; the submerged “leek pieces” carry the metal rack.

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Adaptation of the rack

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This rack (diameter 32 centimeters, 12 5/8 inch ), price €12.00, is too big for my washing up bowl. The rack can be adapted as follows:

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  • Use sharp cutting pliers to remove the outer ring(s).
  • Remove so many rings until the left over outer ring is smaller than the bowl.
  • You end up with a rack that has (6) protruding (sticking out) pens.

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  • Use a hack saw and a vice to shorten the protruding pens.

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  • At my rack, all protruding pens have been shorted.
  • This rack fits well in my washing up bowl, see below.

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  • My adapted rack in my washing up bowl.
  • This rack clamps to the side of the bowl, a little (0.5 inch) above the bottom.
  • That’s because this bowl has slanting sides,    \___/.
  • But the rack may also lay loose on the bottom of the washing up bowl, that works well too;

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  • My rack in an other (wider) bowl.
  • The rack is (almost) at the bottom of the bowl.

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  • My rack on leek pieces in water in the wider bowl.
  • The metal rack pushes the leek pieces a little under water.
  • (When needed, lift the rack, put more water in the bowl and lay the rack on the leek pieces again).
  • My metal rack works also well in a wider bowl with leek pieces.

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J)# White cabbage

You can store a white cabbage in a big flower pot in the garden soil.

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  • Dig the white cabbage plants out of the soil and put them in flower pots filled with garden earth.
  • Put the flower pots with plants into the garden soil. Pour water on the soil in the pots.

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  • Before severe frost, lift the pot with plant out of the soil.

  • When the soil is frozen, carefully lift the pot (with spade and brick).
  • Put the pots with plants under a roof or in a barn.

When not freezing, put the pots with plants back in the round pits in the garden soil.

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J1)  Harvesting a half cabbage

When desired, you can harvest one half cabbage;

  • Cut one half of the cabbage (photos above).
  • Keep the half plant (with stem and roots) in the soil or in the pot.

The “half” cabbage plant stays alive when growing in the soil or in the flower pot with earth. At the next harvest, you can cut a piece of cabbage again.

This method works well. Probably also at savoy cabbage or red cabbage.

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J2) End of storage time

You can use this method until March (late winter), not later.

In April (early/mid spring), shoots and stems are growing between the cabbage leaves.

Then put all leaves and shoots in your compost container. Put the stem and roots in your compost container (or deposit them with municipal waste).

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J3) Remark

This “storage trick” doesn’t work in summer.

In summer, mini cabbages grow from the half cabbage. These can be used in a meal.

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K)# Curly kale

Before freezing period, you can dig the curly kale from the garden  soil.

Put the plants with root ball (and adherent earth) in a big flower pot or masonry bucket with bottom holes. Put extra garden earth on the root balls. Keep the pots with plants in your backyard (or on the sidewalk behind your house). Water the earth in the pots regularly.

You can store the curly kale plants for some months. Harvest when desired. At heavy frost, have the pot or bucket with kale plants under a roof or in a frost-free place.

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L)# Endive

In October or November (mid fall), put endive plants with root ball in flower pots with garden earth. Regularly water them or put them in the rain. At heavy frost, put the pots with plants under a roof or in a barn.

In this way you can store endive for some weeks.

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Or have a (tunnel) greenhouse over the endive plants in the garden soil during freezing weather. At non freezing weather no tunnel greenhouse over. The endive can get brown leaves during storage.

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M)# Witloof, Chicory

At tip    24) Growing chicory   you can read how to spread the witloof harvest.

Lay witloof heads in the vegetable drawer of the fridge. Put 2 layers of kitchen paper on the heads. Spray cold tap water on the kitchen paper. Put the tray back in the refrigerator. Spray cold water on the kitchen paper when the paper is dry.

Storage time is about 1 week.

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M1) Longer storage time for witloof

Wrap witloof heads in kitchen paper. Spray cold tap water on the kitchen paper

Witloof can be stored like this for 2 weeks. After storage, the witloof heads can have a few white leaves with brown spots.

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N)# Tomatoes

In websites, you can read that it’s too cold in a refrigerator to store tomatoes. The low temperature changes the structure and the taste.

But I have still tested that storage method. Tomatoes laid in a tray on 2 layers of moist kitchen paper, plastic foil over the tray (with air opening). In the middle of the refrigerator.

  • At each tomato remove the “little green crown”.
  • Don’t put the tomatoes with the “navel” on moist paper; this can cause the tomato to “burst”.

Tomatoes after 12 days of storage in the fridge. Tomatoes are still firm. There are no rotten tomatoes.

  • Many tomatoes have little brown spots. Some tomatoes have a little burst in the skin
  • Before use, put the tray with tomatoes at room temperature for 2 days.
  • After this storage, tomatoes taste somewhat worse than fresh homegrown tomatoes. They taste like tomatoes from a grocery shop.
  • On the internet there are many sites about storing tomatoes, like     here   .

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N2) Ripening tomatoes (latest harvest)

In autumn you can harvest the latest tomatoes from your garden. They will be green, yellow, orange and red. You can ripen the tomatoes indoors.

The most simple procedure is laying tomatoes in a cardboard box. And cover with a newspaper. See the video on this    Belgian site    .

This procedure works well. See photos and description of my tomatoes below.

Lay the tomatoes (fixed to their stems) in a cardboard box. Put a ripe apple (or banana) between the tomatoes, that speeds up ripening (a little).

Lay a newspaper on the box (and let it on). Put the whole in a room at about 18 C (64 F).

After 1 week of ripening under the newspaper, the tomatoes look like this.

My ripened red tomatoes, weight 1100 grams. Almost all tomatoes are cool (undamaged).

At tomatoes with a dark spot, cut off the bad parts.

These tomatoes may ripen further and turn to red.

Lay a newspaper on the box (and let it on). Put the whole in a room at about 18 C (64 F).

After another week of ripening under the newspaper, the tomatoes look like this. Almost all tomatoes are red. Two small green tomatoes will be put in a compost container.

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N3) Soup

The last harvested (and ripened) tomatoes don’t taste as sweet as sun ripened midsummer tomatoes.

You can make a soup out of it, filled with slices of leek and cubes of celeriac.

Here is the recipe for the soup.

  • Use red or orange tomatoes.
  • At each tomato, remove the little green stem and the little green “crown”.
  • Cut each tomato in half.

  • At each half, cut away the small piece (extension of stem), see photo above.
  • Cut each half tomato into small pieces,
  • Put (almost) all tomato pieces in a big cooking pan.
  • Don’t add water in the pan, or only a little,
  • Put the pan on a cooking stove and let the mixture boil for 10 minutes,
  • Mash the tomato pieces in the pan using an immersion blender,
  • Add the “held back, not mashed” pieces of tomato into the pan,
  • Stir in the soup.

At this soup there is no water added. All tomato skins and seeds are in the soup. You can cool down the soup, pour in freezing boxes and put them in a freezer.

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Continued:

  • Cut leeks in slices (rings), thickness about 0.4 centimeters (1/6 inch),
  • Wash the leek slices in a bowl with cold tap water,
  • Scoop the leek slices out of the water and put them in a small cooking pan,
  • Don’t add water in the pan, or only a little,
  • Put the pan on a cooking stove and let the leek rings (with clinging water) cook for 5 to 10 minutes,
  • Put the cooked leek rings (with boiling water) into the pan with tomato soup,
  • Stir the leek pieces into the tomato soup.

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And:

  • Cut a piece of celeriac in small cubes (1 centimeters, 0.4 inch),
  • Wash the cubes in cold water,
  • Put a cooking pan with little water on a cooking stove and let the water boil,
  • Put the cubes of celeriac in the boiling water in the pan,
  • Cook the celeriac for 5 to 10 minutes,
  • Pour the water with celeriac cubes into the tomato soup,
  • Stir the celeriac cubes into the tomato soup.

This soup is thick, filled and tasty. With many fibers. No salt or maggi sauce needed.

Bon Appetit.

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O)# Zucchini (Courgette)

O1) Storage between green beans

You can store zucchini between moist green beans in a fridge vegetable drawer.

  • Lay the (yellow) zucchini in a vegetable drawer on a layer of beans. (on this photo there are also 2 cucumbers, but storing cucumbers like this is not working well).

  • Put a thick layer of beans on the zucchini.

  • Put 2 or 3 layers of kitchen paper on the beans.
  • Spray cold water on the kitchen paper.

  • Lay plastic lids on the moist kitchen paper; this prevents drying out too fast.
  • Put the vegetable drawer in the refrigerator.

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O2) Storage in a vegetable drawer

You can store zucchini in a fridge vegetable drawer under moist kitchen paper.

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  • Put (lay) the courgettes (zucchini) next to each other on the “dry” bottom of the vegetable drawer.

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  • Put (lay) folded kitchen paper and/or 2 layers of kitchen paper on the zucchini.

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  • Spray cold tap water on (to moisten the paper).

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  • Lay (put) lids on moist kitchen paper to prevent the paper from drying out fast.
  • Put the vegetable drawer (with courgettes, paper, lids) in the fridge.
  • Regularly check if the paper is moist.
  • When needed remove lids, spray water on, put lids on again.

Using this procedure, the zucchini are stored well. The moist paper keeps them rigid. Due to the low temperature, the courgettes do not rot so fast. You can store zucchini for about 5 days.

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P)# Cucumber

My storage method;

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  • Put the cucumber in a big tray or in the vegetable drawer; the cucumber must fit in well.

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  • Put the cucumber in the tray or drawer as shown on this photo;
    • the stem and the round end are horizontal or pointing upward.
  • Pour cold water in the tray until 1 to 1.5 centimeters (0.4 to 0.6 inch) high.
    • Make sure that the stem and the round end are always above water level. (When needed, have less or more water in the tray) .
  • Put the tray or drawer in the fridge.

In cold water the cucumber does not dry out and remains firm (rigid). Due to the low temperature and because the stem and the round end are above water, the cucumber does not rot (so easily). Storage time is 5 days at least (my experience).

(My cucumber on the photos above has some small light green spots, because snails have tasted the fruit).

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In this way, 3 cucumbers fit in a layer of water in a drawer or tray.

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11 thoughts on “15) Storage tips for your harvest”

  1. What about growing garlic. What kind is best. How deep do you put them in. I always put mine in the fall. Do you have any info on that?

  2. This is extremely thorough. Thanks for all the effort that went into it. Instead of trying to preserve end of harvest produce, or extra produce any time of the season, I encourage gardeners at our community garden to donate it to a local pantry – those in need almost never get fresh veggies, and I’m told they are thrilled to get it.

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