Successfully Cure Potatoes and Squash

Cure and store fall potatoes and squash for a healthy harvest that’ll last well into winter.

| Winter 2019

storage-crops
Photo by Adobe Stock/Brent Hofacker

Three years ago, I remember staring in bewilderment at the bright-green stem sprouting from my garlic bulb. The closest thing to gardening I had done up to that point was climbing barefoot into my family’s weedy raised bed scavenging tomatoes for my mother’s summer salads; I had no concept of how to sow, maintain, or harvest plants, much less how to store crops after they’d been plucked. So here I was years later, a college student baffled by the garlic on her kitchen counter.

What seemed odd to me at the time was simply the result of not properly storing a crop. And as I became a novice gardener, I discovered there’s more to the harvest-and-storage flow than grabbing a potato, dusting it off, and sticking it on the counter. In fact, the process of curing and storing is perhaps just as important as growing the plant. With a little bit of care and the right conditions, you can successfully prepare your crops for a long winter’s hibernation, and enjoy the bounty for months to come.

More Than Primping Your Produce

Curing fall crops isn’t a beauty pageant. In fact, for them, it’s more like beauty sleep. Crops need time to prepare for long-term storage, and curing gives them a chance to heal small skin wounds, seal up any cracks, release extra moisture, and properly dry. That way, when they’re tucked away, their hardened skins will protect the inner flesh from rotting.



potatoes
Photo by Adobe Stock/OlesyaSH

There are numerous storage crops you can cure for winter, but let’s focus on two of the most popular: squash and potatoes. The latter is the fifth most important crop across the globe, according to the National Potato Council. Idaho alone produces 13 billion pounds of potatoes per year. And squash is another important American crop. Apart from growing it domestically, the U.S. imports the most squash in the world, around 300,000 metric tons each year. If you’re among those who love their squash and potatoes, envisioning a winter full of soups, pies, and other hearty dishes, it’s best to get the curing process right.






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