Tips on Root Cellaring

Choose a site that usually stays dry and has good drainage in which to bury the root barrel in.

The kind of storage facility that you will need depends largely on the climate in your area.

Cone-shaped outdoor pits or root barrels are often used for storing potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, salsify, parsnips, and cabbage. They are sometimes used for storing winter apples and pears.

The pit may be built on the ground, or in a hole 6 to 8 inches deep in a well-drained location.

Do not store vegetables and fruits in the same pit.

To ventilate large pits, place two or three stakes up through the center of the pile of vegetables or fruits to form a flue. Screen the flues at the top to ward off rodents.

Once a pit is opened, its entire contents should be removed. For these reasons it is better to construct several small pits rather than one large one.

Place a small quantity of different vegetables in each pit. Then you will only need to open one pit at a time for a variety of vegetables.

Pits should be made in a different place every year.

Pack tubers in dry compost, ancient leaves, straw, wood shavings or sand.

Place not more than three to six weeks’ supply in a single pit.

In extremely cold climates the total thickness of earth layers should be as much as 12 inches.

The air of the chamber must not be allowed to become too dry, as this will cause the produce to shrivel.

Vegetables requiring moist storage should never be left directly exposed to air.

Perforate plastic bags or liners at regular intervals to allow air circulation and prevent condensation.

Alternating layers of produce with packing materials reduces disease transmission.

Wrapping individual items of produce with newspaper aids moisture retention and reduces the possibility of cross-transfer of odors and disease.

Potatoes sprout as a result of exposure to light or warm temperatures.

While root cellaring is low-tech, you can buy a high-tech battery operated temperature and humidity gauge to help you monitor conditions in your root cellar.

Successful Gardening!
Kali S Winters

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