Winter Storage

One of the benefits of buying a 200 year old house is a built in root cellar. Our foundation walls are constructed of brick and ledge and the cellar floor is dirt. This past fall we we put up lots of root vegetables including: carrots, onions, garlic, potatoes, and several varieties of squash.
The potatoes were a success. I could not tell you the last time I bought a bag. We stored those in wooden bushel baskets. Carrots were stored in a plastic tote buried in sawdust, they are still crisp. The onions did ok but are starting to sprout and soften a bit. MM thinks they may have done better in an environment with less humidity. The garlic has done well stored in the kitchen.

Our squash didn’t fair so well in storage. We had a very wet, rainy end to our summer which made for a great environment for mold to grow. In addition, we had issues with fruit flies when we first brought the squash in the barn from the garden.
We further hastened our successes with poor storage methods. We had tried to store in a refrigerator in the shed. They stored nicely when it was running but shortly after we unplugged it they started to mold. MM had also stored a batch in a tote in the cellar and they also molded from the moisture and inability to breathe.

What will we do differently next year?
Store the squash is a closet upstairs (directly after picking from garden). It is cool and dry with lots of ventilation.
Check on our vegetables frequently. One bad vegetable can ruin a bunch.
Pick top quality root vegetables (without blemishes)
Grow more potatoes! We have enough for another month if we are lucky.
Does this picture above look familiar? Anyone get the 09′ Johnny’s Select Seed catalog? I’d say they got their picture the same place I did, The Common Ground Fair. They had a much better shot but I had to chuckle when I saw it because it was a great looking display and I even had an eye for that.

On a final note, totally unrelated… I want to grow lots of gourds next year so I can make some of these. This was also a display at this past CGF. Wouldn’t they make a nice Christmas present?
Here are a few good websites that have lots of great information on root cellars and many other topics if you would like to learn more.
Thanks for the references City Girl!