Given the weather forecast for the next week (rain/snow/cold/frost), we knew we'd better harvest cabbages and dig carrots today.
Remaining in the garden were 21 heads of cabbage, some red and some green. The red cabbages didn't get as big as the green ones this year, but that's fine with me. I've been planting both varieties that don't get as big as Rhode Island because 1) they're easier to work with, and 2) unless I'm making sauerkraut, a giant head is sometimes hard to use up before it goes bad.
This year we're going to try hanging the cabbages by their roots in the root cellar. I'm also going to cover the heads with a perforated plastic bag. We'll see how this method works to keep them fresh for an extended period.
Our main crop of carrots is always Scarlet Nantes which did much better (hooray!) than the pencil-thin roots I got last year. Last year and this year, I also planted a 4' row of the Deep Purple variety and a 4' row of the Dragon variety. They are both "purple" carrots, but the Dragon is dark only on the outside with a more regular orange color underneath the skin. The Deep Purple is a dark color all the way through. Looks great on a relish tray, but I've learned not to put them in a soup or stew because they "bleed" and turn most everything an unappetizing gray. Yuck.
Those few in the wheelbarrow above are in the process of getting the tops cut off leaving about an inch of stem.
Then we hose them off before storage. Don't these look almost glow-in-the-dark? (Anybody have an idea what that renegade light colored one is?)
Here's about half of the purple carrot harvest in a five gallon pail. They are HUGE this year. Or as Papa Peas says, "Almost scary." Many of them are a full 12" long. I'm eager to taste test them and hope they didn't get too big and are woody or have a bitter flavor.
After experimenting with storing our carrots in all kinds of ways (in sand, in sawdust, in a pail with a moist towel on top), we've found what works best for us is to package them in perforated plastic bags and stack the bags in a container in the root cellar. I know some people say washing the dirt off them before storage shortens their keeping quality, but we haven't found that to be so.
As of this moment, the cabbages, carrots, beets, potatoes and apples are all resting in the very cool feed room so next on the list is to carefully sort through them, toss (to the poultry) any with outstanding bad spots and then get them down to the root cellar. We were going to get that all done today (hahahaha!), but after working outside in the 32 degree weather (with water) for a few hours, we decided to stagger inside and call it a day. At least it's all harvested now which is more than half the battle.
I tell ya, this gardening fun stuff just never ends, does it?