Where do you keep your vegetables when the season ends?

The growing season still has time to go and many of us are in the middle of the vegetable gardening season.  But it is never too early to consider how you will deal with storing garden vegetables that you have at the end of the season.Storing garden vegetables at the end of the growing season requires some preparation.

Root Cellars, and basements are great places for storing garden vegetables.

Very few homes have the perfect storage conditions for fresh produce.  However, we can all create spaces that will extend the length of time that we will be able to enjoy fresh vegetables.

I recently had a run in with squirrels and found to my dismay that I had to keep platters and platters of tomatoes fresh long before I intended to pick them from the vines.

Fruits and vegetables can be divided into needing three conditions:

  • Cool and dry – 50 to 60 degrees F and about 60% relative humidity – winter squash and pumpkins fall into this variety.  Many basements have these conditions.
  • Cold and dry –  32-40 degrees F and 65% relative humidity – onions and garlic like this condition and it also fits most refrigerators and many insulated garages.
  • Cold and moist – 32-40 degrees F and 95 % relative humidity – the hardest to create.  Perforated plastic bags in the fridge are in this range.  Most fruits like these condition as do many tender vegetables.

Try Canning for Storing Garden VegetablesExtend your garden season by canning

You can extend your produce time by freezing and canning of course.  In this case, storage is not a problem.

The ideal way to maintain the correct temp for the storage you want is a root cellar. Other storage options are under a staircase, in unheated rooms, in outside stairwells, and in extra refrigerators to name just a few.

Harvest garden vegetables correctly.Carrots and leeks

No matter how you intend to store your vegetables, harvesting them correctly is a key.

  • Harvest in dry, cool weather is best because cold weather means more sugars and starches in the vegetables
  • Brush off the dirt but cleaning is not necessary until they will be used.
  • Store only the best produce.  Don’t try to keep broken and bruised vegetables.  Just use them soon.
  • Clip the tops immediately so they do not suck the moisture from the roots.

Root cellars for storing garden vegetables

My friend Jacki from Drought Smart Plants recently shared a project for a DIY root cellar with a group to which I belong.

DIY root cellerHer tutorial deals with the excavation and building of the root cellar as well as her Sedum roof.   You can view the tutorial at Drought Smart Plants.

Thanks for sharing Janet.  It seems as though I know what my next year’s project may be!

What do you do to extend the storage life of vegetables that you grow?  Please share your experiences in the comment section below.

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  2 comments for “Where do you keep your vegetables when the season ends?

  1. 08/08/2014 at 9:29 am

    We used a root celler for masses of dahlia bulbs when I lived in Virginia in the 90s. Boxed them in hay straw and mouse/ rat/ squirrel proofed the place like maniacs until we couldn’t think of any more invasion possibilities

    • admin
      08/08/2014 at 10:25 am

      HI Brian. I have to dig up Dahlias and caladiums each year. I used to dig up Elephant ears but they seem to over winter here. Carol

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