Wednesday, January 7, 2009

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!

10 comments:

Erica said...

I'm jealous of all the potato's you must have grown! My squash are going strong though, this year I let them sit out in the sun for a week or so, then brought them into a cool place. I have quite a few left and just made one tonight.

I don't know a lot about the different types, but the Sweet Meat Squash, are supposed to store very well. I know the one I had, I loved, and we will definetly be growing some of our own in the future. Spaghetti and Delicata Squash not keep well long term.

And speaking of Gourds, hahaha (I'm full of it tonight, eh?), I love the Snake Gourds. They could be a lot of fun for someone who is artistic!

Kelly or Alex said...

We had to work this year so no CGF but next year we are putting in our request early! I wish I had the veggies that didnt do well. Our chickens would be in heaven. I was at Hannaford the other day and they had this big, beautiful box of culls (veggies not good enough to sell, but looked great to me)they wouldn't let me buy it or give it to me for my chickens. We buy cabbages for the girls. They love them. chicken pinata~
Kelly

Jodi said...

We've been lucky with the squash we stored (a few acorn, buttercup and butternut). So far, we haven't had any issues. T is actually going to plant our own (besides summer squash) this year!

Good luck experimenting and hopefully you find the best solution for you quickly!

warren said...

We grew cushaw squash this year and I still have 4 big ones in my kitchen. They are in great shape and look to make it through til spring at least. We've eaten a bunch but they are hugs so it takes us awhile to get through them. Anyhow agree with storing garlic in the kitchen too...no worries!

YD said...

You are right, I have Johnny Seed's catalog and the cover looks just like that picture!

citygirl said...

You are so welcome!

Country Girl said...

ERICA, WE PUT AWAY APPROX 4 BUSHELS ACCORDING TO MM. I WILL KEEP BETTER TRACK THIS YEAR.
WE DID EAT LOTS OF SQUASH AND STILL HAVE A FEW BUT WE DID HAVE QUITE A BIT GO TO THE CHICKENS AND THE PIGS. I LIKE THOSE SNAKE GOURDS TOO. I PICKED SOME SEEDS UP LAST SPRING BUT THEY NEVER GOT PLANTED.

KELLY, MAYBE WE COULD MEET UP NEXT YEAR. I WENT TWICE. ONCE WITH KIDS AND ONCE WITHOUT. I STILL DID NOT SEE EVERYTHING.

THANKS TO EVERYONE ELSE FOR STOPPING AND AND FOR YOUR LOVELY COMMENTS.

Heather said...

I have a friend that grows and decorates gourds. I even think she bought the house she lives in now so she could have the 5 acres of water rights to do it!

I wish I was that productive, but I don't have a large area to grow a garden in town. Hopefully by spring of 2010 the house will be done and I can plant my garden!

Your carrots look beautiful. You don't see them that nice in the store!

frugalmom said...

Sigh. A root cellar. That has to be so awesome. I cant even begin to imagine the amount of food that you can store in there....thats one thing that I am eager to learn is how better to store things so they will last longer thru the off season.

coastrat said...

Oh wow, those squash look good! Our family always eats a lot of squash!