Watermelon

Wash thoroughly in cold water; pat dry. Store uncovered up to 1 week; cover cut surfaces with plastic wrap.

COLD STORAGE: KEEPING VEGETABLES FRESH ALL WINTER

Cold storage is an old-fashioned but time-tested method for keeping raw, whole vegetables through the winter. If you've planted a big vegetable garden and if you've got (or can construct) the storage space, storing can be the most practical way to go.

You'll find many vegetables from your garden well-suited to cold storage, including beets, carrots, onions, parsnips, potatoes, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, turnips, winter squash, and many others. For a complete list, see "Directions for storing vegetables," later in this chapter. Other vegetables should be used fresh or preserved. Vegetables that are not suitable for cold storage include asparagus, fresh shelling beans, green beans, chayote, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, fresh greens — beet greens, chard, cress, dandelion, endive, lettuce, mustard, and sorrel — fresh lentils, mushrooms, okra, green onions, fresh peas and chick peas, fresh peanuts, new potatoes, radishes, rhubarb, fresh soybeans, spinach and New Zealand spinach, summer squash, and ripe tomatoes. Shelled dried beans, lentils, peas and chick peas, soybeans, and dried peanuts can be kept up to one year in cold storage.

Late-ripening and maturing vegetables are the best choices for cold storage. Certain varieties take better to this method than others — late cabbage, for example. Check seed catalogs and packets before you buy and plant, and talk to the specialists at your County or State Extension Service Office. They can help you decide what vegetables to plant when you're planning your garden, and what storage methods work best in your area.

How cold storage works

Like any other method of food preservation, cold storage keeps food from decomposing by stopping or slowing down the activity of enzymes, bacteria, yeasts, and microbes that can eventually spoil food. In cold storage, this is done by keeping fresh, raw, whole vegetables at temperatures between 32°F and 40°F. In this range, the food won't freeze, but it stays cold enough to stop the spoilers. The length of storage time varies with each vegetable, from a few weeks for broccoli or cauliflower to four to six months for potatoes. Dried beans and peas will keep the longest—10 to 12 months.

One of the advantages of storing your vegetables is that you don't risk eating unwholesome, spoiled food. If the food goes bad, you can tell almost immediately by the way it looks, smells, or feels. But there's still a lot to learn about storage. For example, squash have to be kept warmer than do carrots, so these two vegetables can't be stored In the same spot. Or, if you plan to keep cabbages or turnips, don't store them indoors in the basement; you'll soon find their strong, distinctive odor penetrating up into the house. And, if you live in a climate where heavy snow is common in winter, outdoor storage of vegetables in mounds or barrels isn't going to be practical for you, because deep snow will make them inaccessible In winter.

Although storing vegetables may sound easy, it's a lot more complex than at first meets the eye. Although you don't have to do any chopping, blanching, or processing of vegetables to be stored, each vegetable does have to be handled in a special manner. Perhaps the trickiest part of all is that you've got to keep a weather eye on your stored food. Since the temperature of cold storage depends on the temperature outdoors, you may sometimes have to move or change the location of stored vegetables, open windows or vents, or adjust the humidity level. When storing food indoors, keep a thermometer as well as a humidity gauge in the storage area so you can accurately monitor temperature and moisture conditions.

Because it's harder to control the temperature of stored food, spoilage can happen more easily than with any other form of food preservation. Routine checks for spoilage will help you prevent food losses when storing vegetables indoors — but, once you open up an outdoor mound or barrel, you'll have to empty it of all the stored vegetables at once.

Storage methods for vegetables

Before the days of refrigerators, freezers, and supermarkets, most families depended on cold storage to keep a supply of vegetables all year long. In colonial times, a certain portion of every harvest was kept in cool caves or in straw-lined pits that could withstand freezing temperatures. In later times, most houses were built to include root cellars or cold, damp basements intended as storage areas. These chilly spots were perfect for keeping root vegetables, celery, pumpkin, squash, potatoes, arid other vegetables through the cold months.

Compared to houses of a century ago, our modern dwellings are snug, warm, and dry. Today, very few homes offer the cool, damp basement corners, outdoor sheds, or attics that formerly served as food storage areas. That means you'll have to plan, and perhaps construct, one or more special spots for cold storage of your garden's bounty — particularly if you plan to store a variety of vegetables.

In milder climates, where frosAt is infrequent and doesn't penetrate too deeply, vegetables can be kept in specially prepared outdoor locations. In colder areas, you'll have to store the vegetables indoors as an extra precaution against freezing. In the directions for storing vegetables that follow, you'll find the proper storage method for each vegetable.

Four vegetable groups

Where and how you store each vegetable will depend on how much or how little cold it can take and the amount of humidity it needs to keep fresh. Vegetables to be stored fall into four groups: cold-moist, cool-moist, cold-dry, and cool-dry.

Vegetables that should be cold-moist stored make up the largest group, and include beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, turnips, and many others. These vegetables require the coldest storage temperatures — 32°F — and the highest humidity — 95 percent — of all vegetables that can be stored.

The second group of vegetables requires cool-moist: melons, peppers, potatoes, and green tomatoes. These vegetables can be kept at temperatures ranging from 38°F to 60°F and at humidity levels of 80 to 90 percent.

Dry onions and shallots require cold-dry storage temperatures of 32°F to 35°F and humidity of 60 to 75 percent.

The cool-dry group is composed of pumpkin and winter squash, dried peas and beans, and live seeds, all of which must be stored at temperatures of 50°F to 55''F and at a humidity of 60 to 70 percent.

Vegetables in the cold-moist and cool-moist groups can be stored outdoors in a mound or barrel, or indoors in a specially insulated basement storage room that is partitioned off from the central heating area or a root cellar. Vegetables in the cold-dry and cool-dry groups can be stored indoors in a cool area of a heated basement, but they must be kept away from water that might condense and drip down from overhead pipes. Cold-dry storage can also be provided by a dry shed or attic, window wells, or cellar stair storage.

The accompanying chart shows how vegetables in each of these four groups should be stored — at what temperature, at what humidity, and for how long. Any one of the storage methods discussed in this chapter can be used if it supplies the necessary conditions of temperature and humidity. For some vegetables in the cool-moist group, the refrigerator is an ideal storage area. And when cold storage doesn't add significantly to the length of time you can keep a vegetable from the cold-moist group, you may prefer just to refrigerate your crop, as detailed above.

Recommended storage conditions

Vegetable

Temperature

Humidity

Storage Period

Cold-moist group:

Artichokes

32°-34°F

90-95%

1 month

Beets (roots only)

32°-34°F

90-95%

5-6 months

Broccoli

32°-34°F

90-95%

2-3 weeks

Brussels sprouts

32°-34°F

90-95%

1 month

Cabbage

32°-34° F

90-95%

3-4 months

Cardoon

32°-34° F

90-95%

2-3 months

Carrots

32°-34° F

90-95%

4-5 months

Cauliflower

32°-34°F

90-95%

2-3 weeks

Celeriac

32°-34°F

90-95%

2-3 months

Celery

32°-34°F

90-95%

2-3 months

Chicory roots and greens roots only

32°-34°F 32°-34°F

85-90% 90-95%

2-3 months 10-12 months

Recommended storage conditions continued

Vegetable

Temperature

Humidity

Storage Period

Chinese cabbage

32°-34°F

90-95%

2-3 months

Col fard s

32°-34*'F

90-95%

2-3 weeks

Fennel

32°-34°F

90-95%

2-3 months

Horseradish

' 32°-34°F

90-95%

10-12 months

Jerusalem artichokes

320-34°F

90-95%

2-5 months

Kale

32S-34°F

90-95%

2-3 weeks

Kohlrabi

32*-34°F

90-95%

1-2 months

Leeks

32°-34sF

90-95%

2-3 months

Parsnips

32®-34eF

90-95%

2-6 months

Rutabagas

32°-34°F

90-95%

2-4 months

Salsify

32°-34°F

90-95%

2-4 months

Turnips roots greens

32°-34"F 32°-34°F

90-95% 90-95%

4-5 months 2-3 weeks

Coot-moist group:

Muskmelons

45°-50°F

85-90%

2-3 weeks

Peppers, sweet or hot

45°-50°F

85-95%

2-3 weeks

Potatoes

38°-40°F

85-90%

4-6 months

Sweet potatoes

55°-60°F

85-90%

4-6 months

Tomatoes, green

55°-60°F

85-90%

1 month

Watermelons

45°-55°F

80-85%

2-3 weeks

Cold-dry group:

Onions (mature)

32e-34"F

60-75%

6-7 months

Seed, live

32°-40°F

65-70%

10-12 months

Shallots

32°-34° F

60-75%

2-8 months

Cool-dry group:

Beans, dried (broad, dry, horticultural, or lima)

32®-50°F

65-70%

10-12 months

Chick peas, dried

32°-50°F

65-70%

10-12 months

Lentils, dried

32°-50°F

65-70%

10-12 months

Peas, dried (shelling, black-eyed)

32°-50° F

65-70%

10-12 months

Peanuts, dried

32°-50s F

65-70%

10-12 months

Pumpkins

50°-55° F

60-75%

3-6 months

Soybeans, dried

32°-50°F

65-70%

10-12 months

Squash, winter

50°-60°F

70-75%

5-6 months

crops. You can store vegetables in well-insulated mounds or barrels, or in little underground lean-tos. Both cold-moist and cool-moist vegetables can be stored in these outdoor locations.

OUTSIDE STORAGE

Where winters are mild and there isn't much snow, outside storage is an easy answer to holding large

Mound storage

When planning mound storage, first find a spot in your garden where the mound will have good drainage. Dig a shallow, dish-shaped hole six to eight inches deep, and line it with straw or leaves. Spread the straw bed with some metal screening (to keep 6ut burrowing animals), and then stack your vegetables in a cone on the prepared bed. Wrap the individual pieces and separate the layers of food with packing material.

Making a cone or volcano shape, cover the mound with more straw or leaves, then shovel on three or four inches of dirt. Cover all but the top of the cone. Pack the dirt firmly with the back of your shovel. Pile on another thick (six- to eight-inch) layer of straw, but don't cover the top of the cone — it must be left open for ventilation. Put a piece of board on top of each mound to protect it from the weather. If necessary, weight the board with a stone or a brick to keep it in place. Finally, dig a shallow drainage ditch around the mound.

You can store several kinds of vegetables in the same mound, if they're separated by packing material — that way you can enjoy a bushel of mixed vegetables instead of all carrots or all potatoes. However, several small mounds are more practical than one large mound. Once you've opened a mound, it can't be repacked again—which means you'd have to take out all the vegetables at one time. With several smaller mounds, you can bring manageable portions of vegetables into the house, without having to disturb the whole store. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends changing the location of the pits every year to avoid contamination.

Cabbage mound storage

If you want to be able to remove cabbages a few at a time, you can store heads in a mound that's rectangular rather than volcano-shaped. Prepare a long, narrow, rectangular mound with the same base of straw or leaves, metal screening, and more straw, as directed for mound storage. Then put in the individual heads of cabbage head-down in one layer, more straw, and a final layer of dirt. Dig a small trench along each long side of the mound to drain off water. With this type of mound, you can remove just a few cabbages at a time, because there's only one layer of heads.

A storage mound in a garden provides safe keeping for your vegetables. A ground-level screen discourages burrowing animals; layers of straw and dirt topped by a board shelter the vegetables inside the cone-shaped mound.

Barrel storage

Choose a well-drained spot in your garden for barrel storage. Dig out a hole deep enough to cradle the barrel on its side — the barrel doesn't have to be completely buried. Line the hole with straw, and nest the barrel into it. Pack in the vegetables, cover the barrel opening with metal screening or tight-fitting wood covers to keep out rodents, then cover the whole barrel with several insulating layers of straw and dirt. Be sure to mark the location of the barrel mouth, so you can find it easily when you're ready to dig out the vegetables.

Frame storage

Frame storage is a special method that works best for celery and celerylike vegetables, such as Chinese cabbage and fennel. In this little underground lean-to, you store the celery bunches upright with their roots in the ground. Dig a trench about one foot deep, two feet wide, and as long as needed to hold the celery you've grown. Harvest the celery, leaving the roots intact, and stand the bunches up — closely together— in the trench. Water the roots, and leave the trench open until the celery tops are dry. Build a lean-to over the celery with the boards — set a wide board on edge along one side of the trenched celery, and prop another wide board against this support to make a slanted roof over the bunches of celery. Finally, cover the lean-to with straw and then with dirt.

INDOOR STORAGE — THE ROOT CELLAR

If you live in a region where freezing or very snowy weather is common in winter, you'll need to store your vegetables indoors. Your house (or possibly another building on your property) may offer several of the storage areas described in this section, or you may decide to build a basement cold storage room. If you live in an older house, there may be a fruit cellar or cold corner that could easily be closed off to stay cold and moist. Or, your newer house may have a crawl space that's cold and damp. However it's done, indoor storage calls for a bit more upkeep than outdoor storage, since you've got to keep an eye on the temperature, the ventilation, and the humidity to which your vegetables are exposed, as well as make routine checks for spoilage.

An alternative to the traditional mound method of storage is a barrel placed on its side and set in a well-drained outdoor location. Screens or wood over the opening keep out animal intruders; straw and dirt provide insulation.

Vegetables like celery, Chinese cabbage, or lettuce store well in frames. To make a frame, stand the vegetables in bundles in a trench about one foot deep. Cover them with a lean-to of boards and mound straw and dirt over the top.

can be stored all winter in a well-planned root cellar.

Check around your property to see if it offers storage areas like those described in this section. Test the temperature and humidity in any area you're considering before you use it for storing your vegetables. The ideal time to plan your storage area is in winter before you plant.

  1. You'll need to put up a reliable indoor/outdoor thermometer in your storage area. Most vegetables are stored at temperatures below 40°F but above freezing. However, there are some exceptions; watery vegetables such as tomatoes, green peppers, winter squash, and pumpkins, must all be cool-stored at temperatures above 40°F to keep from spoiling.
  2. Unless extra humidity is provided, your cold-moist and cool-moist stored vegetables will dry up and shrivel when stored indoors. Keep a humidity gauge in your storage area to be sure the vegetables are getting neither too much nor too little humidity, and make any necessary adjustments from time to time. You don't need fancy equipment or techniques for maintaining the right humidity. You might put pans of water or a tub of dampened sand on the floor; cover the floor with damp straw, sand, or sawdust; use damp sand or sawdust for packing the food; or line packing boxes with plastic bags.
  3. You need ventilation in your storage area in case the indoor temperature grows too warm for the vegetables you're keeping. If that should happen, you must let in some cold winter air to cool things off. Good ventilation can be provided by a vent to the outside, a window, or a door. Although it's simple enough to open a window or a door to lower the temperature of your storage place, you must also protect your stored vegetables from contact with the air. Oxygen reacts with other substances in food to cause changes that will spoil the food. Since whole vegetables "breathe," they must be wrapped or packed in materials that will prevent oxidation. You must also keep the vegetables separate from one another so any spoilage won't be able to spread. To do this, layer the vegetables with clean, dry leaves, sand, moss, or dirt, or wrap each vegetable individually in paper.

Cellar steps storage

If your house has an outside basement entrance with stairs going down, you can use it as a storage area — the stairs become your shelves. You'll need a door at the top of the stairs, and probably another door at the bottom of the stairs, over the existing house door, to hold in the basement's heat. Which door you use as access depends on the climate. In a

vegetables. In colder climates, you may need to go through the basement. Cover the outside door to keep your vegetables from freezing.

Use a thermometer to check the temperature on each step and put barrels or boxes of food where the temperature is right for each item. It's a good idea to set a wooden plank as insulation on each step. If you need to add more humidity, set a bucket of damp sand on one of the steps.

Window well storage

Window wells can make nifty little storage areas, if they don't collect and hold water. Line the wells with

straw or bedding, put in the vegetables and add packing material, if necessary. Then cover the wells with boards or more bedding. If the windows open inward, you may be able to take vegetables out from the basement, without ever having to go outside and dig!

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Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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