Well we have finally had enough rain. The fields have gone from being to too dry for most of the season, to too wet to work. Luckily there is plenty of work in the greenhouse and inside the farmhouse.
One of our main projects has been a root cellar. Initially, the cellar will serve to store vegetables for us over Winter. Next year it will help keep things cool between harvest and CSA pick-ups.
The vegetables we will be storing include beets, carrots, celeriac, onions, parsnips, winter squash and pumpkins. Since we have given our CSA members an abundance of these, we thought we would share information on storing them.
All vegetables to be stored should be free from bruising or other damage. Storage conditions should help them retain moisture but not allow water condensation, which encourages rot. The key to preventing this is airflow or storage in sand, newspaper or other materials that absorb and diffuse moisture back into the vegetable. Beets, carrots, celeriac, parsnips and winter radish all benefit from this approach. These vegetable also prefer temperatures between 0-2 C and high relative humidity ( RH).
Cabbage is similar, except it prefers air flow. The crisper set to high humidity is probably best for this vegetable.
Onions, shallots and garlic like temperatures close to 0. but they prefer a lower RH of around 65-75%. They will all store well at higher temperatures and lower RH for a month or so, but will become spongy as they lose moisture and will eventually rot.
Winter squash and pumpkin are somewhat unusual in that they prefer storage temperatures between 13-18 C. Like onions they also prefer a slightly lower RH. A good place to store these is in a cool humid part of your home with airflow, maybe a clean basement or back entryway.
See how long you can keep your vegetables. Remember that until recently, this was the way to have a variety of vegetables through the long Canadian winter.