Harvesting and conserving vegetables

As the vegetables become denser and heavier, the number of days to the harvest point extends. But what is the best harvest day for each one?

In addition to consulting the lunar calendar and harvesting according to each lunation and planet, it is worth keeping a small calendar with the date of planting, which may help when the time comes to harvest. In each seed packet, crop data is provided, and it changes according to the variety of the species, so be sure to mark the type of each crop.

It is important to know for what purpose the plant to be harvested will serve. If it is for human consumption, the ideal time of harvest does not always coincide with the ripening of the fruits from the botanical point of view. An example of this is the case of cucumbers, eggplants, okra, string beans, and peas. To eat it, the idea is to harvest them still immature when they are still tender and little fibrous. But if the goal is to collect ripe seeds, and complete the plant cycle, then the timing of the harvest should be when the fruit reaches full maturity, generally becoming more fibrous, hard and dry. Be sure to signal when a plant is chosen for matrix, put strips tied to the branches to prevent anyone unsuspecting from picking the wrong fruits.

Excessive moisture in the roots of the tubers can favor the proliferation of fungi and bacteria, and the same occurs with delicate peel fruits, especially those with higher sugar content, such as tomatoes and cucumbers, therefore, cleaning after harvest. It is critical to prolonging the life of your food.

Harvest time should also be taken into account so that heat does not interfere with conservation. Harvesting should be done early in the morning, especially when it comes to leaves and fruits. When transportation and accommodation are not possible before the hottest hours of the day, it is recommended to shade them or even interrupt the process and harvest in the late afternoon.

The increased heat from the perspiration of the fruits favors the proliferation of bacteria, which can be very harmful to our health.

In other crops, such as garlic and onions, harvesting involves some precautions prior to the day of harvestings, such as suspending watering up to two weeks prior to favor the drying of stalks and leaves. Only when harvested, then the process of curing and drying the rhizomes begins, so that they dry out the formation of fungi and preserve for long periods.

These procedures are of fundamental importance for the conservation and storage of these types of vegetables, because of the high nutrient content they conserve in their roots and their direct contact with the soil, naturally full of microorganisms.

So keep in mind that soil is the first contaminating factor in the garden, although it is also the cradle where all plants grow. Try to avoid direct contact of your crop with it to avoid contamination.

Once thoroughly washed, the vegetables should be dipped in a mixture of chlorine and water that can be from 1 liter of chlorine to 5 liters of water. After draining and drying, they should be stored in clean, leaky baskets or boxes that allow the perspiration of vegetables to evaporate, which after harvesting naturally release moisture.

Tubers, such as potatoes, should dry in the shade, away from insects and rodents. The rhizomes (garlic, ginger onion) should, after being cleared of all the soil, dry their stems and leaves, and then detach them and from there start the curing process, which consists of drying the heads, It can take up to 11 days in dry, warm and well-ventilated environments.

The pumpkins should be harvested after the fruit lose its luster, as the potatoes after their branches wither and cucumbers still green, that is, before ripening.

Be sure to take advantage of any non-consumable organic mass that comes from the harvest, such as discarded leaves and stems). Use all of this material for composting or feeding worms. Or even in the ground cover. Garlic leaves and onions can be used to prepare infusions to make natural repellents for other vegetables, just boil the roots and peel, filter and sprinkle. Thus, the harvest also benefits other vegetables in the form of fertilizer and natural remedies.

In harvesting herbs, the biggest secret is on time. Give preference to mornings and the full moon. When cutting branches, use sterile scissors to prevent fungal and microorganisms from entering these perennial plants that will last for many years. Make the cuts gently by removing the branches at the fork above the leafless branches. Cutting down woody branches are only used to prune and direct plant growth on one side over the other. Wash the herbs and dry them hanging in small bundles with the ends down. In a week they will be ready to store in bags or to flavor gourmets salts and oils.

Now that you understand the difference between being mature to harvest and being mature from a botanical standpoint for seedling propagation, you can better discern the stages of fruit ripening in the garden and harvest them according to the various objectives of use.

Corn can be harvested green or later, depending on the desired use of it. Beans can be planted for use as green manure to harvest and incorporate into the soil before fruiting.

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