What do you do with your Produce after harvest? How do you handle your produce after Harvest and how long does your produce take before decay?
The goal is to know when and how to harvest fruits and vegetables.
Storing your harvest is a great way to deal with a surplus of vegetables. There are many ways to store your vegetables; these include drying, freezing and preserving.
Some fruits and vegetables store well for months if they are kept in the right conditions. The key to success is choosing unblemished specimens and checking them regularly, removing any diseased items. For example, one rotten apple can ruin the whole batch. Storing the crop in a dry, well-ventilated place will prevent it from rotting. You can buy storage boxes but a wooden crate or shallow cardboard box will work just as well. Some boxes and crates will be designed so you can stack them but if you do this make sure that air can circulate between the levels.
Avoid bruising or damaging vegetables as this causes decay. Stepping on vines or breaking stems creates openings through which diseases can enter the plant. If ripe vegetables are not easily removed from the plant, cut them off with a knife. Tramping through wet foliage helps to spread plant diseases. Harvest vegetables when they are dry. Check the farm frequently for ripe produce during harvest time. Vegetables continue to grow and before long they are overgrown.
There are some basic guidelines on how to determine when vegetables and fruits are ripe. Most leafy vegetables can be harvested as soon as they have some size. Pick the outer leaves and allow the inner leaves to continue to grow. However, each variety and growing situation is a little different so it is important to keep records for your own crops and farm. Determining maturity and harvesting some of the fruiting vegetables can be challenging.
Apples and pears are well suited to storing. Wrap each fruit in newspaper and place in a single layer in the bottom of your container.
Root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes and beetroot also store well. Cut the leafy tops off beetroot and carrots and place them in a single layer without wrapping them. Both benefit from being covered by a layer of sand to prevent them becoming rubbery. Potatoes can be stored in hessian or paper sacks. Harvest them on a dry day and leave out in the sun to dry. Remove any mud from the potatoes to prevent mould forming. Store them in a dark place to avoid poisonous green patches forming on the skins. Parsnips are best left in the ground over winter and harvested when needed.
Onions, garlic and shallots are best dried thoroughly then plaited before storing in a dry place. You can also cut the tops off and hang the bulbs in an old pair of tights or netting.
Plants in the squash family such as pumpkins and zucchini can last for up to three months, depending on the variety. Pumpkins and marrows don’t keep after midwinter, but other squashes (such as butternut and spaghetti) may keep until early spring. Ensure they are in good condition and store them in a cool, dry place such as a cupboard. Zucchini don’t store well, and should be kept in the fridge for a maximum of three weeks.
Leafy crops such as lettuce and spinach do not store well and should be eaten within a few days of harvesting. Sow regularly right into early autumn so that you still have leaves to harvest in the colder months.
Legumes such as peas and beans can be dried for use in stews or blanched and frozen.
The key to good and fresh produce is good storage facilities and better handling. What you produce for your customers and their consumers should be of good quality. Imagine delivering bruised produce to the food market. Which consumer would go for a bruised apple or lettuce? None. And what does this mean for your customer? Less money. What does this mean for you? The customer leaving you for a better supplier. Think well before delivering decaying or bruised produces. Your storage Facilities should be to do and the temperature and relative humidity should better suit your produce.
Separate your fruits as they may escalate to each other’s ripening process and we do not need that. Happy selling.