Growing and Storing Locally Grown Produce Beyond the Growing Season
As the nights get longer and the days get shorter, the growing season begins to wind down in the Northeast. This time of year farmers are busy harvesting the last of their storage crops. Some farmers have a cold storage facilities on their farms, so are able to store cold season crops. Other farmers extend their season with high tunnels which allows them to grow cool season crops beyond the first frost date. High tunnels or hoop houses are non-permanent structures that are heated by solar radiation. Farmers typically grow a variety of crops in high tunnels including salad greens, spinach, turnips, beets, Swiss chard, radishes, collard greens, kale and herbs. You can find farmers selling season extended crops at your local farmers’ market.
Storage crops are products that are held post-harvest in a semi-controlled or controlled environment, for use or sale over the ensuing weeks and months. Most are harvested in the fall, and held for winter storage on the farm under cold storage conditions. Some of the crops that can be stored over the winter minter months include beets, carrots, celeriac, parsnips, potatoes, rutabagas, sweet potatoes, turnips, leeks, onions, shallots, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, pumpkins and winter squash.
If you purchase storage crops, remember to refrigerate them or keep them in a cool space depending on the type of vegetable. Please see the guidelines below for the appropriate temperature and humidity conditions.
Cold and moist: beets, carrots, celeriac, kohlrabi, parsnips, potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, leeks, Brussel sprouts and cabbage.
Cold and dry: onions and shallots
Cool and moderately moist: sweet potatoes
Cool and dry: pumpkins and winter squash
Also remember, for proper storage, use a mesh bag for your vegetables in cold or cool and moist conditions.