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Salvaging Flooded Garden Produce

Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

Some garden produce may be salvaged. Sanitizing, peeling and cooking is recommended. Follow these guidelines:

If the floodwater contained waste from septic tanks, sewage lagoons or a pasture, your garden will take about a month to become clean. Don't eat or preserve food during this time.

Ask your local Extension office or health department hot to test the garden soil for harmful bacteria. This may determine if immature root crops are safe.

Discard leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach and cabbage, as well as soft berries. These are highly susceptible to bacterial contamination. Silt and other contaminants may be difficult to remove from them.

Wash beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers and summer squash in water. Then soak in a weak chlorine solution of 2 tablespoons chlorine bleach to a gallon of water. Peel and cook them thoroughly before eating.

For underground vegetables such as carrots and potatoes, wash in water and sanitize as above. Peel and cook them thoroughly before eating.

Produce with a protected fruit or impervious outer skin, such as peas, melons, eggplant, sweet corn or winter squash, should be washed and disinfected before the outer shell, skin or husk is removed. Then shell, peel or husk the produce and cook if possible.
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