Cellars Aren’t Just for Wine: A Guide to Storing Winter Crops

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What am I trying to store right now? Acorn squash, Blue Hubbard squash, butternut squash, red cabbage, radishes, onions, sweet potatoes, French Fingerling potatoes, Adirondack Blue potatoes… you get the idea.

If you participate in the Beckett Farms CSA program, getting these items is non-negotiable! If you stopped by one of our farmers’ markets and have been stocking up on these things, more power to you. The art of storing root crops and winter vegetables has essentially been lost. I’ve never lived in a house or apartment with a root cellar, and I don’t think they are a hot item on any HGTV show to pave the way for future construction projects. Luckily, though, Beckett Farms makes it easy for you, even if you don’t have a cold storage room.

What are some essentials that we’ve already done?

    • Cured all winter squash for 10+ days
    • Scrubbed all dirt off of root vegetables
    • Cut tops off of radishes

For the longest lasting root vegetables, store your crops in an area of your house that stays between 32º–38º. Impossible? Keep the produce in the dark northeast or northwest corner of your basement or garage. Temperatures are cooler and the light exposure, which can lead to shriveling, is minimal.

Oh, you live in an apartment with no shared basement storage? Me too! I keep my box of vegetables in the breezeway between the kitchen and the back porch, which is darker (north facing), and always feels cold. I also cover my storage box with a lid to try and keep the light out. That is especially important for potatoes, radishes, and other root vegetables.

There’s no one way to store your crops. The basic idea is to keep them cool and dry. Root crops can be a little tricky, since they prefer a moist atmosphere. If you want to put peat moss in a ventilated bag with the potatoes, that should help. In my experience, if you break the eyes off as they sprout the potatoes won’t shrivel too much.

Remember, if things do shrivel up and get dehydrated, don’t worry! You’re going to be cooking the food anyhow.

For more detailed information, visit these sites: University of Georgia, Modern Farmer, and The National Gardening Association.

Leah Beckett