Sunday, May 09, 2010

Potato/Carrot Storage

Last fall we had an abundant harvest of carrots and potatoes. We don't have a root cellar, so Plan B had to be activated in order to store them over the winter.

Last month I read about the clamp that Herrick Kimball of The Deliberate Agrarian made to store his carrots. Well, we too had quite a few vegetables to take care of last fall, so we created a different type of storage for them.

Our friend Steve was helping us clean out corn stalks, etc. and Jim asked him if he would dig a trench for us.

The trench was four feet deep and approximately 2-1/2 feet wide -- just high and wide enough to fit 55 gallon plastic barrels.

David finished cleaning out the loose dirt, and we were ready to roll.

We didn't finish the job until our Indian summer was over, so the actual digging and placing of the vegetables into the barrels took place under a bit different circumstances -- after a snow!

This time Andrew was down in the hole, placing layers of vegetables and a mix of straw and wood chips in between. The sides of the barrel were also lined with straw in order to help with air circulation.

After the potatoes and carrots were in place, Peter rolled hay bales on top of the barrels in the trench and the whole area was covered with a tarp. The guys also placed loose straw on all sides to help prevent any cold air from filtering into the hole.

Not too long ago I was completely out of the potatoes, so Jim had David and Andrew uncover some of the barrels.

At first check the carrots didn't seem to fare as well as the potatoes, since they were mushy. We have yet to dig down further and see if the whole barrel's contents are also soft.

However, after discarding some potatoes that had been nibbled on by mice and some that were mushy, they discovered most of the rest of the potatoes were just as fresh and firm as when they were placed into the barrels. They are great -- even better than the ones we had wintering in the basement. The ones in here were soft and kept sprouting. Some of the potatoes we brought into the house have also begun to sprout, but nothing like the ones that were already in here.

We can enjoy baked potatoes once again!


Anonymous said...

That was quite a project.

Glad you have good potatoes for now.

Good story.

Like the pictures

Gp B

Kelle said...

It's always a learning experience, isn't it? Now you will like us rethink the use of the trench and possible ways to keep them better preserved in the trench :o) Our root cellar storage options are still evolving and this last winter we found out that carrots don't keep well in straw or hay, as it absorbs the moisture and made the carrots moldy. Dry dirt works best for us, when storing carrots.

I know you dug in the snow, but spuds actually need to harden off their skins before storage, carrots can be stored a bit wet in dry soil/ sand. These are our observations anyway*wink* :o)

Farmgirl said...

What a great idea! I was just thinking of how I could store down here. I can't go into the earth- too wet. And above the earth its too hot.... Will keep persevering!

I'll be in Stanley, ND sometime late May/early June. Would love to stop by. I'll keep you posted on travel plans.

Daniel Halsey, Photographer, Designer, Teacher said...

I have also heard that wet sand and soil can hold the carrots better. Just as if they were overwintering in a warmer soil. Thank for doing the research and technique.