Root Cellaring includes a wide range of ingenious vegetable saving techniques. These techniques make it possible to enjoy fresh vegetables during the winter months. There are many types of rooms or areas that serve as good root cellars. These include caves, garden trenches, rooms with dirt floors, or insulated basement rooms. With a well planned root cellar, you can enjoy potatoes and carrots until April and tomatoes until Thanksgiving. Apples, pears and cantaloupe last well until the holidays and winter squashes and pumpkins can be stored for use in those cold winter soup recipes.
An example of root cellaring is packing carrots and potatoes in sawdust and storing in cold and moist conditions, about 32-40 oF and 90-95% humidity. Potatoes need a two week curing stage out of sunlight. Dig, wipe mud off and allow to dry for two weeks, then pack sawdust. Apples can be stored in boxes or baskets. However, be sure to place apples far away or across the room from any potatoes, as they give off ethylene gas, which promotes ripening, and in the case of potatoes, sprouting. Onions and garlic should be stored in a drier environment. Either braided together or hanging in stockings or mesh. The best location for this is a dark, cool basement. Green tomatoes can be wrapped individually in newspaper and placed in boxes or baskets. They will need to be unwrapped and checked frequently so that as they ripen they don’t spoil. The spoilage of just one or two can ruin the entire box.
Root Cellaring can be complicated and time consuming but there’s nothing like biting into an apple you grew yourself in the middle of winter. By extending the bounty of your harvest into the winter months, root cellaring makes all your hard garden work even more rewarding.