Passive storage options

Readers will know that I have been researching a feasible growing method for landless people, or those who are seasonally landless due to climate.

Along with that there needs to be some way to preserve any excess food that is grown.  There are a couple ways to do that without using any special equipment or extra energy resources (except a little “elbow grease”).

Cold storageroot cellar

One of the easiest ways to preserve the bounty of the harvest is with cold storage. I know many gardeners who keep an extra refrigerator running all the time for just this purpose. Root crops, and cabbages will keep for months in cold storage. But is purchasing and running an extra refrigeration plant really cost effective? Not likely. An old fashioned cold room probably is though. It can be a simple situation. Any place that is dark, and cool without freezing will work. I have seen effective cold rooms that were a cellar hole under a cabin, a cool corner of a basement, an insulated cupboard against an outside wall, even a grease pit in an unheated garage! Currently I am using some extra space in a room off our garage that stores our water system. It is heated, but just enough to keep it above freezing.

But not all veggies like to be cold. Winter squash, onions, and sweet potato will all actually spoil if they are too cold. They like a temperature about the same as we do. I keep onions in a paper bag in a storage cupboard and winter squash in a basket the living room. They also serve as my Thanksgiving décor, and are usually eaten up shortly after that. Alas, I am still waiting for a crop of sweet potato that is large enough to create a storage problem.

The chart below is from a blog article by Chris Callahan of the University of Vermont’s AgEngineering Extension cold


Next to just putting whole veggies away in a place they are comfortable, drying may be the easiest and cheapest. It works well for herbs and seeds. Dried foods have a very long shelf life with no special ongoing equipment or energy costs. Until recently I didn’t own a food deydrator, but I have dried loads of herbs and seeds in baskets on a high shelf in my house.  Last fall I bought a real dehydrator at the local thrift store. I had always thought it would be a neat thing to have and couldn’t resist the $5.00 price. I guess it has been nice to have, but certainly not necessary.

Active storage options would include freezing and canning. For information see General Preserving Procedures.  Also this would be a great time of year to do an inventory check on both the deep freeze and the shelves in the cold room. I like to do that before I finalize the garden plan for the spring. It gives me a good review of what cultivars we used and enjoyed and the ones that never seemed so attractive as I planned our daily meals.

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