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Harvesting and Preserving the Flavor and Nutrients of Root Crops

It’s time to start reaping the benefits of your spring plantings.  So break out the garden fork and get busy harvesting.

Carrots and other root crops are ready to harvest when the root has reached full size.  They will have the best flavor and longest storage life if you give them proper care from the garden to the fridge and finally to the table.

Pull a few to check on their development.  You may want to use a garden fork or shovel to dig instead of pulling up the crop.  It’s easy to end up with a handful of leaves and no root when trying to pull these crops out of hard clay soil.

Place the shovel several inches away from the root crops.   Push it straight into the soil to avoid damaging the roots.  I like to wiggle the shovel to loosen the soil and then pull the root crops free.  You may need to water the garden prior to harvesting during hot dry weather.

Trim the leaves back to an inch and store in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. Wash, and further trim your vegetables right before using them.  The scraping, cutting and slicing process increases the loss of vitamins and flavor.

A bit more information:  Fall maturing carrots and parsnips can be stored right in the garden.  Mulch the soil after the ground has a thin layer of frost.  Dig carrots and parsnips as needed throughout the winter.  Mulching helps minimize frost, so digging is easier.  The sweetest carrots I ever grew were harvested in February.  I do not know if it was the cold temperatures or my longing for fresh-from-the-garden produce that made them taste so good.

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