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Vegetables have different time for harvesting and they can be used fresh, stored or both, depending on the nature of the vegetable. Most vegetables are harvested at maturity but some of them, especially leafy vegetables and brassicas may be harvest at different stages of their development and will often resprout for a second and even third crop. This last method is called cut-and-come-again harvesting and is suited to certain types of lettuce, endive, sugar loaf chicory, Oriental greens and Swiss chard. This way crops may be harvest starting with their seedling stage until they are semi-mature or mature.

Harvesting and Storing

Seedling harvest is mainly suitable for salad rocket, salad rape and cress. They are harvest by cutting them to about 2 cm above soil level. Some semi-mature or mature crops are harvest by cutting them at about 2.5-5 cm above soil level. They will all resprout after few weeks producing more leaves or in some case edible flowering shoots. This technique is useful in cool climates in autumn and early winter as plants treated this way will survive lower temperatures than they would otherwise and may be very productive under cover.

After harvesting vegetables, we need to find ways to store them if we are not using all of them fresh. The length of time vegetables may be stored depends on the storage conditions and on the vegetable type or cultivar. When storing vegetables make sure you do not store damaged or diseased specimens since they will rot and may contaminate the others around them. Most vegetables will freeze well, and almost all of them need to be blanched and cooled quickly before freezing.

The main cause of deterioration after harvesting is water loss, so keep the water loss to a minimum. Many vegetables with high water levels will not store well. For example leafy vegetables and many types of bressicas are some of them. The exception is the winter storing cabbage which may be stored hanging in nets or on a bed of straw in a frost-free shed or cold frame. Some other brassicas can be stored by freezing.

Other vegetables with high water levels are tomatoes, aubergines and cucumbers. They can all be harvest mature or immature but if they are to be stores this can only be done by making them into preserves or deep frozen. Sweet peppers can be freeze or they can be left on the plant and the whole plant pulled up and hanged for many months in a dry, frost-free place. Some cultivars of marrow and squash may be stored for several months if they are first left on the plant until mature then picked and cured in the sun to harden their skin. Place them in a dry and frost-free place.

Bulbous vegetables, like onion, garlic and shallot will keep for many months if they are harvested when mature and dried in the sun until their outer skin is papery. Store them hanged as plaited strings, in nets or spaced out on trays in a well ventilated, frost-free place.

Root vegetables, like carrots and potatoes may be harvest and eaten immature or left to mature and lifted and stored at the end of the season. Store potatoes packed in light-proof sacks in a frost-free place. Carrots and beetroot need to be stored in layers in boxes of moist sand, peat substitute or peat as they easily lose moister. Place them in as cool shed or cellar. They may also be stored in outdoors clamps. Parsnips are extremely hardy and may be left in the ground until needed except in sever winters.

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