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How To Store Your Bumper Crops Safely
vegetables, be careful not to break, nick or bruise them.
need different storage conditions. Temperature and humidity are the main
storage factors to consider. There are three combinations for long-term
Old School Root Clamps and Root Cellar Alternatives
I will concentrate on the veggies you'd like to keep in storage longer-term, not those few veggies and fruits you would want to store only in your fridge anyway.
are generally cool and dry. If storing vegetables in basements, provide
your vegetables with some ventilation. Harvested vegetables are not
dead; they still breathe and require oxygen to maintain their high
quality. Protect them from rodents.
Some vegetables, like cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes, require cool (55°F) and moist storage. These conditions are difficult to maintain in a typical home. Tomatoes and onions should never be refrigerated, so best to dehydrate, freeze or can these. Storage areas need to be well-ventilated, dry and as dark as possible. Bins need to be made of something that can be easily washed— plastic works the best, as you can use bleach on it and it dries quickly. Wire basketscause “pressure points” that will bruise, so these need to be well-padded. Make sure you have a lid for the containers if your basement is not sealed against rodents.
Esimated shelf-life of commonly stored vegetables
Harvest the third year after planting when spears are six to nine inches long.
Store in cold and moist conditions. Keep upright during storage.
The expected shelf-life is two weeks.
Harvest when leaves are still tender.
Store at room temperature.
Keep stems in water. Basil will discolor if kept in the refrigerator for 10 days.
The expected shelf-life is five days.
Basil can be dehydrated, dried on a counter, or frozen.
Store dried basil in a cool, dark place in spice jars or containers.
Freeze basil into ice cubes, then drop them into your sauces or soups when you need them.
My note: You can store carrots in a cool, dark area of the basement in boxes filled with sand that are misted now and then.
My Note: It's best to preserve them by canning then as pickles and relishes for long-time storage.
My Note: Leave a few inches of stem, and braid the into a long rope and hang them - These last for months hanging in your kitchen.
Peel the cloves and store in containers in the fridge, pickle them, dehydrate or in jars with olive oil, for short-term storage.
Onions and garlic can be stored separately in paper bags. Store scallions, chives and other members of the allium family in cold and damp storage.
Onions do not need to be, and should not be,
Parsnips can stay in the ground until late in the
fall, until a hard freeze is expected. The cold
makes them sweeter.
My Note: Don't store potatoes in the fridge. It's not necessary. except for perhaps longer-term storage. I do not refrigerate potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, shallots, tomatoes or winter squash in the fridge. They sit in baskets on my counter, or on shelves in the cupboard in linen produce storage bags.
Fruits that don't need refrigeration
Oranges, lemons, limes and most citrus don't need refrigeration. Keep and use them from the counter.
How To Store your crops
If you have the outdoor space, try using a traditional "Root Clamp"
I don't use these outdoor or soil root cellars because of rodents, and I won't get a cat, trap them or poison them in the house..... I'm just passing this info on to you brave and inventive souls. You definitely need rodent control for any of these "cellar" or outdoor methods. My idea of rodent control is 50 gallon galvanized trash pails with layers of straw or sand inside where my root crops would reside. I drill a few teeny holes in the top for air. These work really well. I add additional bungee or trash pail straps to keep the lids on tight and rodents out. Hanging bins work well, too.
Be sure to check your stored produce regularly whatever storage method you use, and remove anything that has started to spoil
A "clamp" is a traditional method used to store an over abundance of root vegetables such as turnips, carrots and potatoes over winter. Simple to construct with minimal materials.
Select an area that doesn’t collect or retain water.
Place a layer of straw about 6-8 inche deep over a circular area about 5ft wide.
Take the green tops off of your vegetables as they will rot in the clamp. Check for any damaged or rotten veggie which should be discarded.
Create a stable mound of vegetables – largest at the bottom.
Cover the entire mound with more straw and heap another layer of soil over this. Pat down with a spade to help rain run off.
It is important to construct a ‘chimney’ by leaving a clump of straw sticking out of the top. This allow excess heat from reactions inside the mound to escape, maintaining the correct environment instead of cooking your vegetables.
When you need to use vegetables from the mound open up the top or side and take what you need before sealing properly again afterwards.
You can initially add a layer of sand for the base of your mound if you think you may require more drainage.
If you have large amounts of spare veggies either make additional clamps, or increase the length, not the height, keeping it consistently 5ft wide to retain maximum efficiency.
Easiest Room Clamp for small gardens - Just dig out holes in the hard ground to store cabbages, potatoes, and other root vegetables. Use hay in between each vegetable. Cover with a thick layer of straw, and then the dirt to keep out any frost. Then cover with a bale or two of straw. That's old-school and it works.
Alternatives to Root Cellars
A shovel is all you need
to make a trench silo.
The temperature and humidity levels below ground are perfect for preservation, so you will be able to harvest from your trench silo right through winter and into spring. Because your vegetables will be deeper underground after you replant them in a trench silo, they’ll be better protected against winter temperatures than if you simply covered them with an organic blanket. If you live in a region that has cold winters, and the soil freezes too hard to dig, you may have to leave your root veggies in their trench until spring, before harvesting them.
Garbage Can Root Cellar
Keeping water out is one of the challenges of a hole-in-the-ground pit cellar, but using a garbage can will help. Dig a hole slightly larger than the diameter of the can and deep enough so that the can’s lid will sit 6 inches or so below the soil level. Set the can inside the hole, then layer in the veggies with some straw or dead leaves. Set the lid on the can, use a stick to pack soil all the way down into the gap around the outside of the can, and then flare the soil out at a tidy angle around the opening. Long-keeping root vegetables will live happily down there, even in the coldest weather. Good storage apple varieties will too, but keep your veggies separate from them. (Apples release ethylene gas as they ripen, which will shorten the storage life of vegetables.)
Cut a couple of 2-inch-thick pieces of rigid foam slightly larger than the diameter of the lid and place the foam on top of the can to keep out frost. Cut another circle of 3/4 inch exterior wood to about the same size and place it over the foam, with a stone on top to keep it securely in place. This method also works well with other containers or wooden barrels buried in the same way.
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