Welcome to the 2019
Ottawa Seed Library Newsletter
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Planting a Fall Crop
Its isn't too late to sow another crop and save seeds, although you wouldn't get the seeds until next summer. You would be surprised how these cool loving plants thrive in fall weather. Mostly biennial crops and some annual root crops may be sown now and overwintered and replanted in spring in order to get seeds from them. Only catch is, you need a root cellar-like storage space. If you don’t have a root cellar than you can build a make-shift one.
Dig a pit to place a 20L pail into the hole. Crops can then be buried in the pail with a moistened media. Common media include sawdust, sand, and shredded leaves. They shouldn't be wet- you want the media to be dry enough that it doesn't support the growth of molds. Avoid having the crops in contact with your container.
Packing the crops into a storage medium and putting them into a refrigerator can work just fine too. A cool basement would also do fine, temperature range must be between 0 degree to 5 degrees Celsius.
Some crops will store better than others. Radish and turnips might not store as well but try storing twice as many as needed and then you can ensure survival of at least half.
When to Sow:
Ideally one would start sowing at the beginning of August for crops that need at least 60 days to mature. You can still plant some now, just choose an early maturing variety. Crops like turnips, and rutabaga can be planted now. Just make sure to chose a variety that mature in less than 50-55 days. Carrots and beets can be planted now. Winter radish like daikon can also be planted.
Preparing for storage:
Select the healthiest looking plants, with the desirable characteristics you have decided on. Cut leaves off. Roots should look good and be well formed. When harvesting the root crop for storage, shake and wipe excess dirt. Roots crops often require curing, which means thickening of the skin for resisting spoilage. Leaving them in sun/garage/kitchen and turn them over to expose all parts to the air. Handle them carefully so no further damage is done as any small blemish can cause it spoil slowly in storage.
Storage and planting outside:
It is crucial to inspect for spoilage during storage. Watch for excess moisture accumulation, and stay on top of any moisture by drying crops again and putting them back in storage. In early spring, prepare to plant them outside as soon as the soil is workable. Planting these outside in heavy frost up to -5 degrees Celsius would be alright.