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Flooded Garden Produce May Be Usable

You may be able to save some garden produce that was flooded.

“Discard leafy greens such as lettuce, spinach and cabbage, as well as soft berries,” says Julie Garden-Robinson, North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist. “These are highly susceptible to bacterial contamination, and silt and other contaminants may be difficult to remove.”

If the floodwaters were contaminated with 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 to test the soil in your garden for harmful bacteria. This may determine if immature root crops are safe.

Here are other guidelines on which produce you can keep and how to sanitize and prepare it:

  • Wash beans, peas, tomatoes, peppers and summer squash in water. Then soak them in a weak chlorine solution of 2 tablespoons of chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Peel and cook the vegetables thoroughly before eating them.
  • Wash underground vegetables such as carrots and potatoes in water and sanitize them as you would with vegetables grown above ground. Peel and cook them thoroughly before eating them.
  • Wash and disinfect produce with a protected fruit or impervious outer skin, such as peas, melons, eggplant, sweet corn or winter squash, before removing the outer shell, skin or husk. Then shell, peel or husk the produce and cook it if possible.

For more information, visit www.ag.ndsu.edu/flood or www.extension.org/Floods.

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