Posts tagged storing

Parsley, sage, (oregano) and thyme, oh, and pumpkins and roses, too

The following is from Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith:

 

 

    Dare I say that we needed the recent rain?  It is hard to imagine after the summer we endured that the ground is dry.  Just a few thoughts as we stroll through fall:

·         Today is a good day to reflect on what you really, really liked or didn’t about your garden.

·         Can’t get gardening out of your system even in winter?  Plant a windowsill garden and impress your friends with fresh seasonings all winter long.  Try Oregano, Thyme, Parsley and Sage in small individual pots, or even in one large pot.  Place the pots in a bright sunny window or under artificial light (that includes any herbs you’ve moving from outside).  Water thoroughly until the water fills the saucer then pour off the excess.  Small pots and young plants need watering more frequently; larger pots can go a week or more.  

·         Go ahead:  pick green tomatoes. Enjoy them fried or ripen them indoors at 60-65’. 

·         Do not fertilize your roses now.  Stop deadheading.  Allow rose hips to form and plants to harden off for winter.

·         Remember to remove stakes and supports from your flower beds.  Clean before storing.

·         Clean your recent pumpkin purchase by dipping  the pumpkin in a solution of four teaspoons of bleach per one gallon of water.  Allow the pumpkin to dry and cure at room temperature for one week.  Create your own masterpiece.  Store in a cool place and with some luck the pumpkin should last two months.

·         Want winter interest?  Standing stems, flower heads and seedpods will do the trick. Hosta flowers even attract birds.

·         Purchase sand, not salt for deicing. 

 

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Overwintering geraniums

The following is by Richard Jauron, horticulture specialist at Iowa State University Extension:

Geraniums are popular flowering plants, blooming from May through frost.  However, you don’t have to let the first hard frost destroy your geraniums.  Geraniums can be overwintered indoors by potting up individual plants, taking cuttings, or storing bare-root plants in a cool, dry place.  Regardless of the method, the plants should be removed from the garden prior to the first frost. 

Potted Plants

Carefully dig up each plant and place in a large pot.  Water each plant thoroughly, then place the geraniums in a bright, sunny window or under artificial lighting.  Geraniums prefer cool indoor temperatures.  Daytime temperatures of 65 to 70 degrees F and slightly cooler night temperatures are ideal.  During their stay indoors, water the plants thoroughly when the soil becomes dry.  The geraniums are likely to become tall and lanky by late winter.  In March, prune back the plants.  Cut the geraniums back by one-third to one-half.  The geraniums will begin to grow again within a few days and should develop into nice specimens by May. 

Cuttings

Using a sharp knife, take 3- to 4-inch stem cuttings from the terminal ends of the shoots.  Pinch off the lower leaves, then dip the base of each cutting in a rooting hormone.  Stick the cuttings into a rooting medium of vermiculite or a mixture of perlite and sphagnum peat moss.  Clay or plastic pots with drainage holes in the bottom are suitable rooting containers.  Insert the cuttings into the medium just far enough to be self-supporting.  After all the cuttings are inserted, water the rooting medium.  Allow the medium to drain for a few minutes, then place a clear plastic bag over the cuttings and container to prevent the cuttings from wilting. 

Finally, place the cuttings in bright light, but not direct sunlight.  The cuttings should root in six to eight weeks.  When the cuttings have good root systems, remove them from the rooting medium and plant each rooted cutting in its own pot.  Place the potted plants in a sunny window or under artificial lighting until spring. 

Bare Root Plants

Dig the geraniums and carefully shake all the soil from their roots.  Then place one or two plants in a large paper sack and store in a cool (45 to 55 degrees F), dry location.  An unheated bedroom or indoor porch might be a suitable location.  An alternate (somewhat messier) method is to hang the plants upside down in cool, dry location.  The foliage and the shoot tips will eventually die.  In March, prune or cut back each plant.  Remove all shriveled, dead material.  Prune back to firm, green, live stem tissue.  After pruning, pot up the plants and water thoroughly.  Place the potted geraniums in a sunny window or under artificial lighting.  Geraniums that are pruned and potted in March should develop into attractive plants that can be planted outdoors in May. 

The overwintered geraniums can be planted outdoors in May (after the danger of frost is past).  Before planting, harden or acclimate the geraniums outdoors for several days.  Initially, place the geraniums in a shady, protected location and then gradually expose the plants to longer periods of sunlight.  Plant the geraniums in the garden after the plants have been properly hardened. 

 

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Harvesting winter squash

Richard Jauron, Horticulture Specialist at Iowa State University Extension, offers timely advice on harvesting winter squash:

 

 

    Harvest winter squash when the fruits are fully mature. Mature winter squash have very hard skins that can’t be punctured with your thumbnail. Additionally, mature winter squash have dull-looking surfaces.

   When harvesting winter squash, handle them carefully to avoid cuts and bruises. These injuries are not only unsightly, they provide entrances for various rot-producing organisms. Cut the fruit off the vine with a pruning shears. Leave a 1-inch stem on each fruit.

    After harvesting, cure winter squash (except for the acorn types) at a temperature of 80 to 85 degrees F and a relative humidity of 80 to 85 percent. Curing helps to harden their skins and heal any cuts and scratches. Do not cure acorn squash. The high temperature and relative humidity during the curing process actually reduce the quality and storage life of acorn squash.

    After curing, store winter squash in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location. Storage temperatures should be 50 to 55 degrees F. Do not store squash near apples, pears, or other ripening fruit. Ripening fruit release ethylene gas which shortens the storage life of squash.

   When properly cured and stored, the storage lives of acorn, butternut, and hubbard squash are approximately 5 to 8 weeks, 2 to 3 months, and 5 to 6 months, respectively.

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