An early snowfall and wet, cold weather has put an end to the growing season. All tender plants and crops were either brought inside or lost to the cold.
When plants are brought inside, they should be examined for insects and segregated from other plants for the first couple of weeks. If insects and/or eggs are present, they will be on the underside of the leaves. Eggs are laid close to the veins, making them harder to spot. A variation in leaf colour is often a sign that insects are present.
Spraying the leaves and insects with soapy water immobilizes the insects, killing them. Unfortunately, it doesn’t affect the eggs and the solution will need to be reapplied at regular intervals until all the eggs have hatched. It is better to keep a plant in segregation for a long period as opposed to allowing insects to spread to other plants.
Before storing produce, check its condition.
Items that are damaged, have cuts or bruises should be used immediately or discarded.
Produce with broken skin or bruises are likely to rot and spoil others in close proximity.
Produce is often placed on the floor to dry, cure or for storage. Always place a barrier between the produce and cement.
Direct contact with the cement over a period of time will spoil the taste of the produce.
Squash, which includes pumpkins and zucchinis, should be wiped clean and stored in a cool area.
Onions will keep a number of months in a cool area if they are dried and placed in a mesh basket or bag allowing air to circulate around the bulbs. They do best if they are not stored near potatoes.
Garlic is cared for similar to onions.
Ideally, potatoes should be dug on a warm day where they can sit in the sun for a while to allow the soil to dry and drop from the tubers.
If this is not possible, spread the tubers out on a tarp on a floor.
Cover potatoes with another tarp and allow the soil to dry and fall off. Once dried, place the tubers in a gunny sack or cardboard box to be stored in a cool, dark area.
Potatoes turn green and become bitter if they are exposed to light for an extended period of time. The green portion is poisonous and should always be removed before cooking.
It is rare that all the tomatoes ripen on the vine outside, which means that tomatoes are picked green and brought inside.
Place green tomatoes in a single layer in a basket or box and cover with newspaper. Check frequently, removing tomatoes as they become ripe or show signs of spoiling.
Peppers can be kept in the fridge for a number of months. Hot peppers will slowly dry if hung in a warm, dry room.
Once carrots are dug, the green needs to be removed and the roots washed. They can then be placed in a perforated plastic bag that contains a paper towel and placed in the fridge. The paper towel will absorb excess moisture and should be changed when it becomes soaked.
To keep apples crisp, place them in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Produce, with the exception of onions, garlic, tomatoes and squash, should be stored in areas where the humidity is high — 90 to 95 per cent makes it hard for produce to release moisture in an atmosphere.
Perforated plastic bags or a pan of water in a cold room will increase the humidity around stored produce.
By storing and processing produce, you are taking a little bit of the garden into winter and can share the excess with others.
Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist who lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at email@example.com.