February 18, 2014
Capsicum: Ripe red capsicums are the sweetest, but they take some time to mature. In the meantime, you can pick and use the immature green ones as long as they have reached their full size. Use sharp secateurs to snip the fruit from the bush to avoid damaging the brittle plants, and leave some stem attached to the fruit. Extreme heat may cause sunburn on the fruit so protect them with a cover of shade-cloth on hot days.
Onion: You can lift and cook immature onions, but keep some in the ground to fully mature; this is when the tops have completely died back. If it has been raining, wait until the soil dries before digging them out as they will store better this way. To prepare them for storage, dry onions in the sun, trim the tops and then spread them onto a dry surface in the shade to cure for two to three weeks. Store in mesh bags in a cool, dark and dry place.
Pineapple: Pineapples are at their sweetest when left on the plant to fully mature. Pick them when they have turned a golden yellow and emit a sweet pineapple odour. To avoid hungry rats and other vermin eating your fruit, wrap it loosely in chicken wire for protection. Use long-handled loppers to cut the fruit away from the plant to avoid scratching your skin on the spiky foliage. Store in the fridge for a few days.
Sweet potato: Sweet potatoes need three to four months of warm weather growing to be ready for harvest. They keep well in the ground, so use a garden fork to just take what you need when you need it. If frost blackens the leaves, then dig up the lot or they will rot. Lay tubers in the sun to dry for a few hours, then place in newspaper-lined boxes in a warm, airy room for a week, then store in a cool spot.