Storing Vegetable Gardens
There are many ways to store your vegetable crops once they’re harvested from the vegetable garden. Whether you store them in the barn or under the carport, creating a storage area for your vegetable crops is important. Aspects like good airflow, shade, and temperature should be considered to keep your crops stored for their maximal lifespan.
Dry vs. Cold Storage
Dry: When it comes to storing crops like onions, garlic, shallots, winter squash, Irish and sweet potatoes, you want to make sure they are in an area that has good airflow and that is shaded and dry. Here in the South, most people have pole barns which are open-air, covered barns. For these areas, many people build a storage rack with hardware cloth or chicken wire to place their dry storage vegetables.
Cold: Other vegetable crops should be stored in a cool environment to preserve their longevity. These would include crops like greens, lettuce, squash, cucumbers, peppers, okra and many others. In addition to having a cooler temperature, airflow is also important. Travis prefers to use plastic produce bags, much like you would find at the grocery store, to store his cool-storage crops. He places the vegetables in the bag, ties a knot in the top and pokes a few holes in the top for airflow. This creates a similar environment to a plastic clam shell, which is also great for storing cold vegetables. Greg explains that it’s best to not wash vegetables until they are ready to be prepared or consumed. This will decrease the risk of introducing bacteria and spoilage. He also suggests washing squash and cucumbers in a dilution of baking soda as this will help to preserve them longer. Once washed with the baking soda solution, allow them to air dry and then place in cold storage. If allowed to dry, many vegetables like carrots, squash and cucumbers will store for up to two weeks in the fridge.
Tomatoes are a crop that doesn’t fall into either of the above categories. When storing tomatoes, the guys like to pick them during the pink stage. They will then lay the fruits on a towel-covered table under the carport. It is important to lay them in a single layer to prevent spoilage. The carport will provide shade and keep them shaded from direct sunlight, but will not provide a drastic temperature change while they continue to ripen. As soon as they ripen, they will take them inside and lay them on a table in the cooler, indoor climate. The ideal temperature for tomatoes is 60 degrees, so take them inside where it is 68-70 degrees. Here they will store nicely and be ready to eat.
Show and Tell Segment
On the show and tell segment, the guys discuss how they have both been experiencing perfect gardening weather recently. As a result, all the crops in the garden have been growing nicely. Greg has some indeterminate Sun Gold tomatoes that have been really productive this year. Initially these fruits will be green on the vine, but they will quickly turn yellow to orange. They like to harvest them at the yellow to orange stage as that seems to provide the peak flavor. Travis has dug all of his potatoes except his German butterballs, which have a couple more weeks before harvesting. This is Greg’s first year growing shallots and he is growing three different varieties. His favorite variety that he grew is the Banana shallot. Greg prefers to use shallots for cooking instead of eating them raw like his he does with onions.
Viewer Questions Segment
On the question and answer segment, the guys answer questions about drip irrigation filter setups, watermelon fertilization and nutgrass problems. Travis suggests using a separate filter/regulator setup for each subplot in the vegetable garden. This is much easier than trying to move the filter/regulator setup each time you water a different plot. Greg explains that watermelons require about 120 units of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium per acre. Watermelons need a well-balanced fertilizer to help with decreasing the risk of blossom end rot. Every 10 to 14 days, Greg likes to inject either the 20-20-20 or Chilean Nitrate and add the Micro-Boost each time. Travis has had good luck with eliminating nutgrass, but it is not easy. You can aggravate it to death by using our wheel hoe with the oscillating hoe and cultivator teeth. Rotate them and use them at least twice a week and it will eventually go away.