The Resilience Hub & Portland Maine Permaculture Message Board › Storing the winter harvest--without a root cellar

Storing the winter harvest--without a root cellar

Khimba L.
user 6702953
Hastings on Hudson, NY
Post #: 2
For growers don't have access to a root cellar for storing the winter harvest, there are possible alternatives--heavy mulching, trenching, clamps (piling foods and then covering with insulation), and buried containers are some examples. I am interested in talking with people who have tried any of these methods in Maine's (or a similar) climate. The information gathered will be shared with other growers through MOFGA. Things that didn't go perfectly are just as useful and interesting as success stories. (FYI--this is about fresh food methods, rather than dried, canned, fermented, etc.) Thanks, Khimba
zengeos
zengeos
Gorham, ME
Post #: 65
Khimba, I have an unheated attached garage. I'm thinking about putting a storage cabinet in there for next Winter to store potatoes, etc. Would that be similar to a root cellar, where temps hover usually just above frezing?
Merry & Burl H.
BeMerry
Portland, ME
Post #: 37
Please keep me up-to-date on this.
I am considering shutting down the heat vents in my guest bedroom and converting the closet there for winter food storage. Would that work?
I am also considering building insulated boxes to slide between the bottom of our mobile home and the concrete platform upon which it sits. The problem I see with that is the problem we have had with getting to our woodpile this year. Heavy, frozen snow piles up along the foundation.
I have a book called "Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables" by Mike and Nancy Bubel, if you want to borrow it, Khimba.
I also am writing a book called "Mainely Local Foods." I would be happy to use the materials you gather, giving you full credit, of course, or publish your article intact within the text of my book. Alternative root cellaring would add an important dimension to my book. Meanwhile, I will keep my ears open for any leads I can send your way, as I talk to farmers and locavores.

Blessings, Merry
alder
user 6954726
Sullivan, ME
Post #: 1
hello khimba and others, i'm new to the meetup and am excited to learn from you all on this message forum. i'd like to share some of my experiences from this past winter in storing crops.

i kept carrots in the ground all winter long, mulched under straw... i was planning to do a thicker mulch layer, but the snow came early and stayed all season, so it was perfect. if there was less/no snow, i would do a very thick straw mulch. they kept pefectly, very few rodent sampling, and the carrots were sweet and fresh as could be.

i stored my potatoes in galvanized bins, between thick layers of peat moss. the bins were stored in our unheated attached greenhouse (about 16' by 8'). these kept remarkably well. i found that the innermost potatoes kept the best, those closest to the sides of the bin were more liable to be soft or partly rotted.

i also kept beets in the ground for a time, but when i started to dig some, i discovered that a rodent had begun heavily sampling every one. :) so i pulled them out. since they had already been eaten into, they didn't store well. i washed them and dried them, and put them in one of the bins with the potatoes. however they still molded to a degree due to being "opened," but most were still edible.

cabbages.... i put a thickish layer of straw on the ground under a table in the greenhouse mentioned above. i put the cabbages (pulled from the garden roots and all) on the straw and placed more straw on top/around them. they kept excellently (in fact i've still got one more to eat at this point).

squashes i put in a rather unseemly place and they did excellent. right on top of the fridge, in our one room cabin which can get quite toasty. i've got a few left and they're still perfect.

another aspect of "storage" in my opinion is what will winter over with minimal cover, either to be eaten come spring or during the winter. i covered late seeded greens with coldframes in late fall.... they weren't big enough to eat at the time, but were beyond seedling stage. now in early april i am able to harvest small salads from what survived (mostly asian greens, cress, and a salad greens mix which included deertongue).

i also successfully overwintered spinach, mache, chickweed, cress, claytonia in beds covered only with reemay and partial cover of a greenhouse. by this i mean the plastic steadily deteriorated as the winter progressed until the north and south sides were completely exposed to the elements, but the roof and east-west sides were covered. these beds were subjected to high winds and occasional snow drift. i am pretty amazed at how well these greens wintered over. they didn't even get any watering in fall, and are just shy of harvestable now. with better care/protection i think i would already be eating these guys.

in the past i have also kept apples fresh for months in the crisper drawers of the fridge.

hope this helps,
~katie
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