With all the people sickened from Romaine Lettuce lately, it is no surprise that people are wanting to grow their own food for safety. Vegetable gardens can provide a steady source of fresh food that can be completely safe if you take certain steps to ensure the food is grown and harvested properly. Growing season is here so be sure to use this wonderful information!
When you begin to plant, choose a place that is a good distance away from contamination. These include areas close to septic tanks and places where animals (domestic and wild) frequent. Too be extra safe, be sure to have your soil tested for contaminants ahead of time. Keep the garden free of debris. Piles of plant matter will encourage animals to nest in them. Do not let clutter accumulate and animals will not contaminate your produce.
Hygiene in the Garden
When maintaining your plants, be sure to practice good personal hygiene. Don’t work in the garden if you are ill. Also, keep your gloves and boots clean so you don’t contaminate your product. Always wash your hands after using the restroom to wash away bacteria before handling produce again.
Be sure to have your well water tested yearly to make sure it is safe to water with.
Be sure to sanitize all produce collected after harvesting. The vegetables can be cleaned with cold water. Any excessively dirty produce should be scrubbed with a brush. Drying the produce with a paper towel will also keep bacteria at bay.
Be sure clean the surface you are using to prepare the food for storage. A frequently used solution is diluted bleach. Store produce that needs refrigeration at 40 degrees F or less. Fruits and vegetables that don’t need refrigeration, like potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and peaches, should be stored in a clean, cool, dry spot. Anything frozen should be placed in a food grade storage bag.
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