Here I will tell you more about storage of various crops.
Storing crops maximizes their season of availability
Many crops can be stored without electricity, perhaps in buildings that serve other uses at the height of the growing season.
The Washington State University Extension publication,Storing Vegetables and Fruits at Home, is a good introduction to alternatives to refrigerated storage, using pits, clamps and root cellars. Drawings below are from WSU Storing Vegetables and Fruits at Home
There is also good information in old versions of the USDA Agriculture Handbook 66.
Some vegetables need to cure before storage in different conditions from those needed for storage. Curing allows skins to harden and some of the starches to convert to sugars.
Four Sets of Vegetable Storage Conditions
See the chart in my book Sustainable Market Farming, for more details.
By providing storage spaces with just 4 types of conditions, at least 25 crops can be stored.
A=Cold and Moist: 32°F–40°F (0°C–5°C), 80%–95% humidity — refrigerator or winter root cellar conditions. Most roots, greens, leeks. Use ventilated crates, or perforated plastic bags (or mesh net bags for cabbages) indoors. If above 45°F (7°C), roots will start to sprout. Greens benefit from light. See more about root cellars below. Roots can be stored in clamps or pits outdoors – more on those options below.
B= Cool and FairlyMoist: 40°F–50°F (5°C–10°C), 85%–90% humidity — root cellar. Potatoes. Use ventilated crates. Keep in darkness to prevent greening. See the links to my potato storage info.
C=Cool and Dry: 32°F–50°F (0°C–10°C), 60%–70% humidity — cooler basements and barns. Garlic and onions. Use net bags or shallow racks. Avoid temperatures of 40°F-56°F (4°C-13°C), or they will sprout. Also avoid reversals of temperature (warm conditions after cold ones). Newer info says 32°F-40°F (0°C-4.5°C). is best for garlic.
D=Warm and Dry to Fairly Moist: 50°F–60°F (10°C–15°C), 60%–70% humidity — basements. Sweet potatoes and winter squash. Use shallow racks or perforated trays. Sweet potatoes need curing at higher temperatures and humidity before storing.
Potatoes can be stored for five to eight months with a good in-ground root cellar.
Potatoes are best stored in a moist, completely dark cellar, at 40°F (5°C) to 50°F (10°C). Ventilate as needed for air exchange and to keep the cellar in the ideal temperature range.
Also for apples, cabbage, or root vegetables, but be careful what you mix, because ethylene from the apples, for example, will cause potatoes to sprout!
Some people pack unwashed vegetables in boxes of sand, wood ash, sawdust or wood chips. Perforated plastic bags are a modern alternative.
Cabbages or pepper plants can be hung upside down in the cellar to ripen, or simply to store.
Celery and leeks can be replanted side by side in tubs of soil.
See Nancy and Mike Bubel’s book Root Cellaring to learn how to design, build and use a root cellar.
Depending on your winter temperatures, some cold-hardy root crops (such as turnips, rutabagas, carrots, parsnips, Jerusalem artichokes and horseradish) and also leeks can be left in place in the ground, with about a foot (30 cm) of insulation (such as straw, dry leaves, chopped corn stalks, or wood shavings) added after the soil temperature drops to “refrigerator temperatures.”
Hooped rowcovers or polyethylene low tunnels can keep the worst of the weather off.
There could be some losses to rodents, so experiment on a small scale the first winter to see what works for you.
Besides being used as a method for storage of hardy crops deep into winter, this can be a useful method of season extension into early winter for less hardy crops such as beets, celery and cabbage, which would not survive all-winter storage this way.
In colder regions plan to remove the crops before the soil becomes frozen, or else wait for a thaw.
Drawing credit WSU Storing Vegetables and Fruits at Home
Storage Clamps (Mounds)
Cabbage, kohlrabi, turnips, rutabagas, carrots, parsnips, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, salsify and winter radishes can be stored with no electricity use at all, by making temporary insulated outdoor storage mounds (clamps).
Mark out a circular or oval pad of soil, lay down some straw or other insulation, pile the roots up in a rounded cone or ridge shape, and cover them with straw and then with soil, making a drainage ditch round the pile. As a chimney for ventilation, leave a tuft of straw poking out the center. Slap the soil in place to protect the straw and shed rainwater.
For the back-yarder, various roots can be mixed, or sections of the clamp can be for different crops. Those growing on a large scale would probably want a separate clamp for each crop. It is possible to open one end of a clamp or pit, remove some vegetables, then reseal it, although it takes some care for it to be successful.
There is a balance to be found between the thermal buffering of one large clamp and the reduced risk of rot that numerous smaller clamps provide.
Drawing credit WSU Storing Vegetables and Fruits at Home
Pits and Trenches
Dig a hole in the ground, line it with straw, lay in the vegetables, then cover with more straw and soil.
To deter rodents, bury large bins such as metal trash cans, layer the vegetables inside with straw, and cover the lid with a mound of more insulation and soil.
Trenches can have sidewalls made with boards to extend the height.
You can bury insulated boxes in the ground inside a dirt-floored shed or breezeway. Insulated boxes stored in unheated areas need six to eight inches (15–20 cm) of insulation on the bottom, sides and top.
Drawing credit WSU Storing Vegetables and Fruits at Home
Ethylene is associated with ripening, sprouting and rotting.
Some crops produce ethylene in storage — apples, cantaloupes, ripening tomatoes all produce higher than average amounts.
Chilling, wounding and pathogen attack can all cause damaged crops to produce ethylene.
Some crops, including most cut greens, are not sensitive to ethylene and can be stored in the same space as ethylene-producing crops.
Other crops are very sensitive and will deteriorate in a high-ethylene environment. Potatoes will sprout, ripe fruits will go over the top, carrots lose their sweetness and become bitter.
Drawing credit WSU Storing Vegetables and Fruits at Home
Here we are with my monthly series of 14 Workhorse Crops (including two pairs). These crops are reliable under a wide range of conditions. My goal with this series is to help you become more efficient, productive and profitable (if selling) as you deal with another strange year. Maybe you are not at home as much as last year, or maybe your helpers have gone back to school, but you deeply appreciate growing your own food. You want less time-consuming crops and growing methods. You can use the search box to find previous month’s entries, such as August.
Workhorse Crops to Plant in September
In September in central Virginia, the heat is less oppressive, especially since Tropical Depression Ida washed by. The day-length is definitely shorter, soon we will be at the equinox with only 12 hours of daylight. Gardening is more focused on harvesting and less on planting. Food processing is at its busiest.
This month we will put our fall and winter garden plan into action. Plants take longer to mature from September onwards, so don’t delay any plantings. Try a few different dates, and keep good records, especially if you’re a new farmer or gardener, and improve your plan for next year.
In September we only have enough good growing conditions to plant 5 of our 14 Workhorse crops in central Virginia. Down from last month’s 8. We can still transplant cabbage, collards and kale, and sow carrots, and chard (or transplant the chard.)
Cabbage and Collards:
September is much too late for us to start cabbage, but we could still transplant early in the month, if we have transplants with four true leaves (3-4 weeks after sowing). If you only have bigger transplants, remove some of the older leaves until four leaves remain. This will help the plants survive by reducing evaporation (transpiration) losses. Collards can be sown here until September 15.
If insect pests are a problem, cover the transplants for four weeks, until they are big enough to survive. Nets are better than rowcover in hot weather, as airflow is better and heating is less. I wrote last month about ProtekNet Insect Exclusion Netting from Dubois Agrinovation.
Another advantage of nets over rowcover is that you can see what’s growing! Back before ProtekNet I found one year that I had been studiously watering a covered bed that was mostly galinsoga! It was quite big, and I had assumed it was greens!
Two weeks after transplanting, till or hoe around the plants. Four weeks after transplanting, remove the netting entirely, and hoe and till again. At that point you could undersow with a mix of clovers to be a long-term cover crop, unless you plan to plant an early spring crop in that bed.
This is actually late for carrots but if you failed to establish them in August, hurry out and sow some early in September. You won’t get big carrots, but you’ll still get carrots! Hoe between the rows as soon as you can see them, because carrots grow slowly and fall weeds grow fast!
Once the carrots are 1” (2.5 cm) tall, hand weed, cultivate with claws (to kill weeds that haven’t even emerged yet) and thin to 1” (2.5 cm) apart. Simply pulling the weeds is not as good as also lightly disturbing the surface of the soil. Heavy rains can cause crusting, which makes it hard for seedlings to grow. Breaking up the crust lets air and water in. I have noticed that crops make a growth spurt after hoeing. If you think you might have carrot rust flies in your area, collect up all the carrot thinnings and take them to the compost pile, so that the pests won’t be attracted by the smell of carrot leaves, and move in to eat your carrots.
Later thin your carrots to 3” (7.5 cm) and weed again. That’s a September task, if you sowed in August. The tiny ones you pull out may be big enough to wash and throw in a salad. Before they develop the orange color they don’t have much flavor, but they are a treat for the eyes anyway!
We grow Vates dwarf Scotch curled kale, the most cold-hardy variety I’ve found. I’ve tried every type of kale I could get my hands on, including some imported from Europe. Vates isn’t huge – we plant 4 rows 10″ (25 cm) apart in each bed. We want 6 beds of kale to over-winter, and there isn’t time to transplant it all. We direct sow, two beds at a time, every 6 days. We water the two newly sown beds, daily as needed, until the seedlings emerge.
Often we get patchy emergence in those hot August days, so we use carefully dug thinnings to fill gaps. Our goal is one plant every foot (30 cm). Our mixed direct-sow/transplant method requires less watering than if direct sown all at once and gives us a solution if we get patchy germination. September 15 is our last sowing date for kale for harvests in late fall and through the winter. We cover the beds with netting, until the plants are large, or the weather gets too cold for pests.
Kale makes some growth whenever the temperature is above about 40°F (5°C), which happens in our winters on many days, making this a valuable winter crop. We will also sow more kale in late January, to give us a spring crop.
Chard: Swiss chard can be sown here in August, and transplanted in September for a good fall harvest, with the option of overwintering under rowcover. It grows small leaves after only 35 days, and full-size leaves after 50 days. Chard is our poster-child insurance crop! So easy! So productive! It is not eaten by bugs, and does not have problems germinating in hot weather like spinach does.
You could direct sow chard in September and protect it for the winter, for a late winter and early spring harvest.
Workhorse Crops to Harvest in September
Eleven of our 14 workhorse crops can be harvested in September (also true in August, but now with one substitution!)
Beans can be harvested until the first frost (or later if we cover the beds with rowcover when a frost threatens). We also cover the bean beds (and squash, cucumbers, zucchini and other tender crops) whenever there is a chilly spell. This keeps the plants warmer and growing faster. Vegetable crops begin to take longer to ripen in September. It’s certainly true that pollinating insects can’t get at the flowers to perform their pollination services and make more beans, etc. But that doesn’t matter. We are more interested in fattening up the already pollinated beans!
Cabbage We eat about 50lbs (25 k) a week. Fall planted cabbage will be ready from September 25. We like Early Jersey Wakefield and Farao for fast-maturing cabbage.
Carrots: We generally hope not to need to sow carrots between June and the beginning of August, because carrots grown in hot weather don’t taste sweet and can even be soapy. If we did not grow enough carrots in the spring, we sow in June, or July and harvest those carrots about 2-3 months later (less time in warm weather, longer as the weather starts to cool in the fall). So, some years we harvest carrots in September.
Chard can be harvested whenever you want some. Snap or cut off some outer leaves and refrigerate them promptly. We use our Leafy Greens Mantra “8 for later” meaning that we make sure to leave at least eight of the inner leaves on each plant, as we harvest the outer leaves. With chard, we can take a couple more than this, but we do want to harvest at sustainable levels.
To overwinter chard in our climate, we cover the bed with rowcover on hoops. We can continue to make harvests into early winter. The mulch and rowcover help keep warmth in the soil, which keeps the crop growing.
Another method of over-wintering chard in reliably cooler climates, is to make a big harvest of all the sizeable leaves, just before the daytime temperatures are around freezing, then pile tree leaves, straw or hay over the bed for the winter. Covering the whole stack with rowcover is even better. Our winter conditions are too variable for this – we get cold spells interspersed with warm spells in almost every month, causing the plants to make some growth among the mulch.
The outdoor killing temperature for unprotected Bright Lights chard is 22°F (–6°C); red chard survives down to 15°F (–9.5°C) and green chard to 10°F (–12°C).
Collards can be lightly harvested in September, if you started them early enough. What’s more likely true for us, is being able to harvest leaves of senposai. No, not the same as collards! But it fills the same spot on the dinner-plate – fresh leafy greens. It’s been a long summer with only chard, this year, as we were short of spring cabbage, and don’t have any fall cabbage or broccoli yet.
Potatoes: We can plant potatoes between mid-March and mid-June, leading to harvests in July-October. It’s as important not to leave potatoes baking in the sun as it is to protect them from frost, both when planting and when harvesting. Read more aboutpotato harvest here.
Our March-planted potatoes are in the root cellar. By mid-September, we need to cool the cellar to 60°F (16°C)
Sweet Corn harvest is still going strong. Sweet corn is ready to harvest about three weeks after the first silks appear. Some growers say you should harvest daily, but we find that 3 days a week is often enough, and gives us a nice amount from our 1050-1325 ft (320-400 m) plantings to feed our community. We sow sweet corn six times, for continuous harvests from early July to mid-October.
Corn is ready when the silks are brown, not before! If they are brown, and the ears are plump and filled to the end with kernels, take a closer look. Mature ears stand away from the stalks. If you are still learning, slit the husks at the side of the ear with your thumb nails and look at the kernels. (Don’t puncture the husks on the topside of the ear as the dew and a million tiny beetles will get in and make a mess.) The kernels should be a bit square and fairly tight-packed, not round and pearly with rounded diamond-shaped spaces between them. An opaque, milky juice will seep out of punctured kernels. If your sample ear wasn’t ready, push the husks closed over the ear and wait a few days.
Be sure to shade your corn after harvest and get it cooled as soon as possible, as the flavor deteriorates if it sits around.
Tomatoes are cranking out their fruit but starting to look “back-endish” – spotty, and smaller. To minimize the spread of fungal diseases, wait for the leaves to dry in the morning, before harvesting. We plant maincrop tomatoes (sown in mid-March) and late tomatoes (sown in mid-May). This way the late ones peak after the maincrop, and keep the plentiful supply going longer. This year our late bed includes a few Black Cherry and Sun Gold cherry tomatoes as well as lots of our standards: Tropic, a heat-tolerant, disease-resistant round red one, and Jubilee, a lovely flavorful orange that is also a feast for the eyes. This year I have been particularly impressed with its healthiness – the fruits are reliably unblemished and do not readily split. Truly a workhorse variety!
Watermelon harvest is peaking. They don’t ripen further after harvest, so get good at determining watermelon ripeness. I wrote about that in my August post. An unripe watermelon is a sad waste, as most plants only produce two melons.
We store our watermelons outdoors, under the eaves of the house, where they will stay in good shape for a few weeks. We used to store them under the trees further from the building, but the squirrels learned to bite their way in, and taught each other the trick!
When we have enough watermelon harvested (500-600), we roll up the drip tape and disk the plot, to get a good stand of winter cover crops. We use winter wheat and crimson clover if before October 14. I’ll address this more next month. We used to try to harvest every last watermelon until the year I realized that we can only eat so many, and that watermelons in October are of limited interest. Good cover crops are important for taking care of the soil mini-livestock.
Winter Squash harvest happens once a week throughout September and October. This is next week’s blog topic. Winter squash is very rewarding to grow, providing high yields for not much work. Stored winter squash can provide meals all winter and also in early spring when other crops are scarce.
Zucchini and summer squash are still being harvested every day. Our last sowing was August 5. We harvest beyond the first fall frost, by covering that last planting with rowcover on chilly nights. See above, under Beans for our thinking about fattening up the last fruits.
From storage: spring cabbage, carrots, garlic and potatoes; watermelon from under the trees or the roof overhang.
Workhorse Crops Special Topic: Garlic Storage
Between late September and early October, we move our stored garlic from the basement to the walk-in cooler. the garlic was stored in the basement from June to the end of September, where the temperature was above 56°F (13°C) which is a perfectly fine storage temperature for garlic. Once the basement gets colder than that, we move the garlic to the refrigerator, where it will be below 40°F (10°C). The temperature range of 40°F to 56°F (10-13°C) is where garlic sprouts readily.
Divide and replant Egyptian onions and perennial leeks
Divide and replant perennial alliums in September (August-October) to increase the size of the patch and get more next year.
Plant large potato onions (2-2½”, 5-6 cm)
It’s better not to try to store very large potato onions over 2½” (6cm) for planting, just eat them (they sprout easily).
All large potato onions store poorly, so keep planting stock in the refrigerator until planting in late September or early October. Jeff McCormack does not recommend planting before September.
For 360′ (110m) @ 8″ (20cm) you need 540 bulbs plus 30%-40% spare. Approximately 760 bulbs. 150 large bulbs weigh about 25# (11kg)
Plant them at 8″ (20cm). If there are not enough large onions available, increase spacing or fill out with medium onions.
Cover with ½-1″ (1-2cm) soil, and add 4″-8″ (10-20cm) mulch.
Refrigerate any leftovers for November planting with the medium-sized onions, or eat or sell now.
Yields can be 3 to 8 times the weight of the seed stock, depending on growing conditions.
Individual bulbs can be grown indoors in a pot to produce a steady supply of green onions during the winter.
Sow ramp seeds in woodlands
In zones 3-7, sow ramps seed during August and September (see August blogpost)
Ramps (also known as Wood Leeks or Wild Leeks) are a native woodland perennial, and can be found throughout the eastern-half of the United States, as far west as Oklahoma and as far north as the central and eastern provinces of Canada.
Ramps, (Allium tricoccum) have some of the flavor components of leeks, onions, and garlic. There are projects to re-establish ramps in a number of regions in the Eastern United States. Carriage House Farm is one such attempt by Grow Appalachia, which is a program of Berea College in Kentucky, Grow Appalachia works with farmers, gardeners, ranchers, and conservationists across a five state area to reintroduce old native and heirloom species of plants. Ramps is/was one plant in this program. It takes two years for ramp seeds to germinate and another 2-3 years till they hit harvestable levels.
Harvest Egyptian walking onions (topset onions, tree onions) for pickling, leaves of Egyptian onions and perennial leeks (September-April for cutting those)
Egyptian onions produce tiny red-purple bulbs in the umbel instead of flowers, and were previously named Allium cepa var. proliferum. According to Wikipedia, they are now known to be a hybrid of A. cepa and A. fistulosum.
Japanese bunching onion and Welsh onion (native to China, not Wales) areAllium fistulosum. They are sometimes used as scallions, as are some A. cepa bulbing onions. Young plants of A. fistulosum and A. cepa look very similar, but may be distinguished by their leaves, which are circular in cross-section in A. fistulosum rather than flattened on one side. A. fistulosum has hollow leaves (fistulosum means “hollow”), scapes and does not develop bulbs – the leaves are the part that is eaten. Welsh onions are also known as cibol, chibbles (in Cornwall), escallion (in Jamaica), negi (in Japan), pa (in Korea), as well as green onions, salad onions, spring onions,. These general last names are also used for other kinds of onions where the leaves are the part eaten.
Perennial leeks are Allium Ampeloprasum. Common leeks are Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum (more about leeks in October and March). Elephant garlic is botanically a leek (A. ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum).
Other Allium Tasks for September
See Alliums for August for more on all of the following jobs which continue into September:
Snipping and sorting garlic and potato onions
Trimming, sorting and storing bulb onions
Eating onions and garlic from storage
Inspect onions and garlic at least once a month. Remove bulbs which are sprouting or rotting or else the whole batch may spoil.
At the end of September I make the decision about how many potato onions to keep back for planting (see August for our calculations).
We also move garlic from warm storage to cool storage (more info below)
Potato onions store very well through the winter so long as they are well-cured, dry, well-ventilated, and not packed over 4″ deep. Ideal conditions are a temperature between either 32–41°F (0–5°C) or 50–70°F (10–21°C) with 60-70% humidity.
Special Allium Topic for September: Garlic Storage
Before trimming your garlic, I hope you were sure it was fully cured, and you set aside any non-storing bulbs, such as those with damaged cloves, or any over-mature, springing-open bulbs. It usually works to select your seed-stock bulbs at the same time.
Commercially, garlic is stored in the dark at about 32°F (0°C) and 65% humidity, and depending on the species and variety, it may keep six months or more. I have heard that garlic can be stored for up to nine months at 27°F (-2.7°C), but I have not tried that myself. It does not freeze until 21°F (-6°C). Do not store peeled garlic in oil, as garlic is low in acidity and the botulin toxin could grow.
For storage, garlic (like onions) does best with a humidity of 60%–70%. Refrigerators are usually more humid than ideal.
Garlic will sprout if kept in a temperature range of 40–56°F (4.4–13°C), or if it is allowed to get cold then warm. So long as temperatures remain over 56°F (13°C) you can store garlic almost anywhere. You can use an unheated room in your house, a root cellar, garage, etc. Maintain good air circulation. Most varieties store reasonably well in a cool room if hung from the ceiling in mesh bags, or spread on shelves in a layer less than 4″ deep.
In our climate, with a long period in the danger zone temperatures of 40–56°F (4.4–13°C), we keep alliums in the warmer storage range (60-70°F (15.5-21°C) or hotter) in a basement until late September or sometime in October when ambient temperatures in the basement drop close to 56ºF (13°C). We then move our eating garlic from the basement to the walk-in refrigerated cooler at 32–41°F (0–5°C), 95–100%. The low shelves in the cooler near the compressor are damper and do not work well. We use the high and dry shelves.
Juggling space for various crops, moving the garlic out of the basement makes space available for the winter squash harvests in September and October. By this time most of the apples from the walk-in cooler have been eaten, and space is available there. Also there is no longer the problem of ethylene emitted by the apples, which causes garlic to sprout. Ideally ripe fruits and garlic would never be in the same storage space.
Softneck garlics store longest. Silverskins store up to 12 months under the best conditions. Most hardnecks last 4-6 months but Music and Chesnok Red can keep 7 months or more here in central Virginia.
Storage of Seed Garlic
We store our seed garlic on a high shelf in the garden shed, at quite variable ambient temperatures, where it does fine until late October or early November when we plant it. Seed garlic does not require long-term storage conditions! The ideal storage conditions for seed garlic are 50-65°F (10-18°C) and 65-70% relative humidity. Storing in a refrigerator is not a good option for seed garlic, as prolonged cool storage results in “witches-brooming” (strange growth shapes), and early maturity (along with lower yields). Storage above 65°F (18°C) results in delayed sprouting and late maturity.
Here’s our list of tasks for October. If you garden in zone 6 or 7, your list might be similar. If you live in a very different climate zone, leave a comment about your list for October, and how many weeks different your area is from ours.
During the month
Weed and thin fall crops in raised beds, especially spinach and kale. Thin carrots to 3”, kale to 12”.
Lettuce Factory: Transplant sowing #37 to fill cold frames; #38, 39, 40, 41, 42 in Greenhouse beds (9″ spacing).
Watch the forecast and if frost is expected that night
Harvest peppers facing the sky, tomatoes, cauliflowers, corn, cowpeas, limas, eggplant, melons, cukes, okra, winter squash, Blues cabbage (hardy to 25°F), if not already done.
Double hoop and cover: lettuce, celery (hardy to 16°F with row cover).
Spring hoop and cover: squash, cucumbers.
Rowcover (no hoops): beans, Chinese cabbage, pak choy, Tokyo bekana, seedlings for hoophouse, collards (hardy to 10°F, but cover keeps quality).
Cold frames: Row cover between 32-28°F. Add lids between 28-15°F. Add quilts below 15°F.
Foliar spray greens with seaweed a few days before frost, to toughen them up.
Use overhead irrigation on peppers & tomatoes at night and some raised beds with tender crops.
Early Oct: Finish sowing spinach, kale by 7th for overwintering (last chance).
Transplantlettuce #37 to fill cold frames; #38, 39 in Greenhouse (9″ spacing).
Roll updrip tape from winter squash and sweet potatoes.
Movestored garlic from basement to fridge – store below 40°F or above 56°F, never 40-50°F.
Mid Oct: Till finished raised beds and sow wheat or rye before the end of the month.
Garlic Beds: Compost (5-6 tractor buckets), till and prepare beds.
Transplant lettuce #40, 41, 42, 43 in Greenhouse as needed, filling any gaps.
Get soil tests done, when soil is not too wet.
5thfall disking: By mid-month disk and sow cover crops where possible. Sow wheat or rye as covercrops – too late for oats or most clovers (Austrian Winter Peas Sept 15-Oct 24). Could sow winter wheat mid-Sept to early Nov (good for small plots that are hard to reach with the tractor) and after sweet potatoes).
Harvestpeanuts mid-late Oct after a light frost. Wash, dry, cure 6 days in solar dryer facing east (don’t heat over 85°F), store.
Harvest sweet potatoes before soil temps go much below 55°F, or night air goes below 50°F: on 3 mild days – generally in the week that first frost usually occurs (10/7-14). Even a few hours exposed to temps below 50°F will cause chilling injury. (Frost on the leaves does not of itself damage the roots). Clip vines, dig carefully, set tubers in plant-clusters to dry on the soil. Select seed tubers (med-size tubers from high-yielding plants). Save 100 Georgia Jet, 100 Beauregard, 20 each White and Jubilee. Cure in boxes with wood spacers and cover with newspaper, in basement with furnace going full time, for 7-10 days (85-90°F, 80-90% humidity). Use fans. Splash water on floor. Curing is complete when skin is undamaged after rubbing two together. Restack boxes in storage cage.
Harvest white potatoes before the first frost (average Oct 14) if possible. Cure in root cellar at 60-75°F for 2 weeks, with good ventilation, then cool the cellar to lower temperatures: 50°F by 10/31, then 40°F for the winter.
Late Oct:Transplant lettuce #44, 45, 46 as filler in Greenhouse. Double hoop and cover spinach.
Planning: List successes & failures from labels. Prepare Garden Planning Schedule, Crop Review Sheets. Clean labels after info is recorded. Pray for a killing frost. File crop record info. Audit labor budget and plan endgame. Plan main garden layout. Hold Crop Review meeting.
Clearwinter squash, tomatoes and peppers in order to sow cover crops, by 10/24 if possible. Sow rye alone or with crimson clover or winter peas. Crimson clover by 10/14; AWP, wheat by 11/8
6th fall disking: After the killing frost, or end of Oct if no frost: pull up tomato stakes and roll up drip tape, disk nightshades, melons, winter squash, sweet potato and white potato patches.
Check through veg in storage, squash once a week, white potatoes two weeks after harvest.
Perennials:Last mowing of clover in grapes in early Oct, not too short, and not too late in the year. Weed & mulch strawberry beds, and remove extra runners. Renovate if not already done. Start weeding, fertilizing and mulching the blueberries, raspberries, rhubarb and grapes.
October Harvests: Asparagus beans, beans, beets and beet greens, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupes, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, chard, Chinese cabbage, collards, corn, cow peas, cukes, edamame, eggplant, horseradish, hot peppers, kohlrabi, komatsuna, leeks, lettuce, limas, maruba santoh, okra, pak choy, peppers, radishes, Roma paste tomatoes, scallions, senposai, spinach, tatsoi, tokyo bekana, tomatoes, turnips and turnip greens, winter radishes, winter squash, yukina savoy, zucchini. Could lightly harvest rhubarb before frost.
Weed and thin carrots and brassicas (kale to 12”).
Lettuce Factory: Sow hardy lettuce every 2 days till 21st, (3 rows/planting) then every 3 days. Sow #34-46 this month. Transplant 120 every 3-5 days (1/3 bed) #27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 for last outdoor planting (Dec harvest). Transplant #34, 35, 36 9/24-9/30 for frames
Root cellar: air and cool to 60°F by mid-September
Collect seed from Roma tomatoes if necessary.
Screen compost and fill old greenhouse beds before October, for winter lettuce and spring seed compost.
Early Sept: Prepare and plant new strawberry beds if not done in late August, using rooted potted runners or plants carefully thinned from last year’s beds (see August for details).
Transplant collards and kale if necessary. Transplant lettuce #27, 28, 29, 30.
Retrieve spinach and onion seeds from the freezer. After acclimating spinach seeds, sprout 4oz/bed (1 cup/10,000 seeds) for spinach #1 in fridge for one week, then direct sow (if <68°F, and dead nettle has germinated). If still hot, sow (preferably pre-sprouted) spinach in Speedling flats in float tank. 9/20 is last sowing date for fall harvesting. [Could broadcast oats into spinach at planting time for weed control & cold weather protection.]
Sow if not done already: kale and collards by 9/15; turnips by 9/30; radishes, kohlrabi, daikon and other winter radish, miscellaneous fall greens, scallions.
Plant large potato onions this month or early in October, at 8” (wider if supply limited). Cover with ½-1” soil, mulch with hay.
2nd fall disking: Watermelon plot when 800 have been harvested. Roll up drip tape first, or move to new strawberries.
Mid Sept: 7-14 Sept is the best time to sowvetch & rye, 1:2, 2# of mix/1000 sq ft (75#/acre) on old spring broccoli patch; crimson clover and rye, 1:2, at 55#/acre.
Transplant lettuce #31, 32.
Sow 1st sowing of hoophouse seedlings (hoop and cover).
Bring 6 tractor buckets compost to hoophouse for fertilizing fall and winter crops.
Move stored onions from basement to fridge, after apples peak in mid-September, and space available.
3rd fall disking: corn #3, #4, #5. Part of corn #3 plot may be used for new strawberry beds.
Late Sept: Sowspinach #2 for spring harvesting (9/20-9/30), and 2nd sowing of hoophouse seedlings and cover.
Transplantkale for spring, filling gaps; lettuce #33, finishing up the last outdoor bed; [#34, 35 & 36 in cold frames?] Plant large potato onions (>2”) if not done earlier.
Move garlic from basement to fridge late September-late Oct as needed to make room for winter squash.
Weeding: this is a good catch up time on weeding in the raised beds.
4th fall disking and seeding: Sow cover crops wherever possible (in unused raised beds too). The last chance for oats is early Sept (9/15??). Can sow winter wheat (winter-killed in zone 4) or winter barley (dies in zone 6) if oat planting date missed. (Oats winter-kill in zone 8). Can sow hardy Austrian winter peas in late Sept at 8oz/100sq.ft. with rye. Can sow red clover this month.
Bush-hog late corn if undersown with oats and soy cover crop.
Perennials: New strawberry beds: Prepare and plant by mid-September if not done in late August. Weed strawberries. Could till up grass in grape alley & sow clover if not done in March. If clover sown earlier, let it seed.
Harvest and store winter squash: Acorn (pepo) types (stem still green, ground spot “earthy” or orange), store 1-4 months; Maximas: Cha Cha, Jarrahdale, Kabocha (stem 75% corky) store 3-5 months; Moschatas: Butternuts, Cheese (peanut colored skin, no mottling or streaks) store 4-8 months, or more. Leave on live vines as long as possible, avoiding frost on fruits. Cut leaving long stem using pruners; handle gently.
September Harvests: Asian melons, asparagus beans, beans, beets and beet greens, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupes, carrots, cauliflower, celery, chard, Chinese cabbage, corn, cow peas, cukes, edamame, eggplant, horseradish,leeks, lettuce, limas, maruba santoh, okra, pak choy, peppers, hot peppers,radishes, Romas, scallions, senposai, summer squash, Tokyo bekana, tomatoes, turnips, watermelons, winter squash, yukina savoy, zucchini. It is possible to lightly harvest rhubarb during September, if wanted.