Ward House

Food preservation and root cellars

We are new to the homesteading scene so much of what some take for granted we are learning fresh. I say that in hopes that those of you reading, if you have some helpful advise on the subject or a blog that addresses my question, please share!

Our potatoes are getting ready to bloom and once they die back we will need to dig them up. It suprises me that we may have potatoes in just a month – now we need to plan out what to plant in it’s place. I realize this topic may be elementary to some and if you fit that some, please bare with me. =) Suggestions are good too! It would appear that the potatoes have flea beetles so whatever I plant here needs to be ‘immune’ from these critters.

How does one store potatoes for the winter, or in our case, for the summer, fall and winter. Since the harvest will be early, does this mean that I can plant more for a second harvest this fall?
The other morning Ronnie talked about building a root cellar to house our potatoes and other crops; the 1/4 hand dug basement was our first choice because of ease of access, general humidity and has 10 foot ceilings.

What we will need to store includes:

  1. Potatoes
  2. Cabbages (regular and purple)
  3. squash
  4. winter squash
  5. onions
  6. apples?

The other items we planted will be canned (tomatoes, beans, beans, beans, corn, brussel sprouts, water mellon rind).

Now I am hunting on how to build a root cellar. This site has some great links (sweet use for an old school bus, eh?) We have a bank of dirt at the back of the garden, beside the back grape arbor, that I think would be a great place for a dug-in root cellar – do not know if that is the best choice. Mother Earth News has this article on building one in the basement and it is the design I am leaning towards. Our IT person was in today and said they just throw theirs into a plastic tub in the basement and it usually lasts a few months (which is about as long as it takes them to eat what was in the tub). Then the store bought produce is thrown in after.

Once we have this built, how do we arrange crops within the cellar? I fell in love with this site. Pretty cut-and-dried (no pun intended). Our basement stays about 40 degrees through the winter and I will have to measure the temperature this summer to make sure it stays cool enough. I can remember shivering when going down in the summer last year so perhaps we are ok.

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May 29, 2009 - Posted by | economy, Gardening, self sufficiency

4 Comments »

  1. I would lazy bed another batch of potatoes since you are harvesting so early. Make sure you mulch them in very very good. As winter approaches, place even more mulch onto of the plants. Just reach in to harvest through out the winter, no need for a root cellar for them. Just make sure they don’t freeze.I have a concrete root cellar. It is a tornado shelter, but works well all the same, but I also do a few other things, like burying refrigerators and barrels, and we are building an Ice House. You can also use your bed as a storage area, a box full of sweet potatoes and newspaper fit under mine nicely. Some things like apples, can store nicely in just a barrel, but you have to go through it, and remove the bad ones. It is so true that 1 bad apple will spoil the bunch. Layers of straw or newspaper in your containers will help with insulation and the spread of some rot.Hope I was some kind of help.

    Comment by Phelan | May 29, 2009 | Reply

  2. fantastic help as always!! I will pass the on to the ‘master builder’ (Ronnie). =) Thank you Phelan!

    Comment by Annette | May 29, 2009 | Reply

  3. Check out my post on Kansas preppers yesterday. There is some more info on this subject and a link to a blue print for an ice house.Also, you don’t have to waste those soft apples. Place them in a food grade plastic barrel, cover with water. Place four layers of cheese cloth over the top and allow to sit and ferment. poof! Apple vinegar.

    Comment by Phelan | May 29, 2009 | Reply

  4. I will definately check out yesterday’s post and the ice house. Great tip on the Apple Vinegar – perfect save!You are da bomb!

    Comment by Annette | May 29, 2009 | Reply


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