Hardy root vegetables such as Celeriac, Parsnips etc can be left in the soil and simply covered with a layer of straw, fleece, or hessian sacking over the winter months. They will store well like this, and the covering will make it easier to dig them up if needed in hard frosty conditions
Beetroot, swedes, carrots, and turnips should be stored over-winter, in boxes of sand or peat and left in cool dark sheds or garage. they can also be stored in 'clamps' outdoors, but this is more practical for the experienced grower with a large crop
Realise that most vegetables that we store, are in themselves stores of energy. They have entered a short dormancy period -waiting for the environment (soil) to warm up so that they can start growing again.
In a winter storage situation, if the roots or tubers are given too much warmth, then they will start to 'grow'. This is typified by the small shoots that start to appear on stored potatoes, and the leaves that start to show on carrots. This growth has to materialise from within the stored root. As there is not replenishment by way of soil nutrients, the 'storage' unit becomes depleted - soft and soggy!
The most important aspects of storing vegetable roots over the winter months, are temperature, moisture levels and light exclusion.
Light exclusion is important for several reasons, not least being the fact that if potato tubers are exposed to light during storage, then they will start to turn green, and green tubers are poisonous!
Temperature is important for the reasons outlined above. 40deg F (5 deg C) is the ideal average - Cool but not freezing.
Moisture levels are important. Too dry an immediate environment, and desiccation can be the result. Most root crops are tolerant of high moisture levels.
Ambient temperature is the most important aspect of root crop storage over the winter months. Insulated clamps - such as straw cladding - outdoors are the ideal situation, as long as they can be kept free of frost. It is difficult to 'copy' that type of temperature indoors. But, find the coolest, frost-free shed, garage, cellar or other space (even an unheated cold greenhouse can be adapted, as long as there is not a prolonged sunny spell in mid-winter!)
Potatoes should be winter stored in a dark place - frost free and cool. Paper potato sacks are best for storing potatoes, but hessian sacks can also be used. be sure to weed out all damaged potato tubers, and check (by smell!) throughout storage period for bad potatoes. With paper storage bags, look out for tell-tale browned areas on the bag. This will indicate a bad tuber. Get rid of it as soon as possible
Many vegetables can and should be stored over-winter to ensure continuation of feasting on your hard work in the season before
A well stored selection of different potato varieties
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