MollyGreen.com | Fall on the Homestead | Fall 2016 52
Here at No. 9 Farms, since we live in
“tornado alley,” we purchased a prefabricated concrete storm shelter and placed
it underground. It works quite well for
Under the porch. This is an area where
you will have less control over temperature, and it is more susceptible to critters
who think you are sharing, but for milder
regions, this can be an excellent option
for short- and long-term storage. Storing
in crates of some kind is recommended
for this option.
In the basement. What could be more
convenient than having your food storage in your house? On those cold winter
days, walking out to the root cellar
first thing in the morning isn’t always
appealing. An underground basement
can provide excellent storage conditions.
Choose a north or northeast corner of
the basement that is not connected to
modern heating and cooling. This type
of area can be created even in modern
homes by closing off an area with walls
and a door in a part of the basement
where a vent is not present.
Storing Your Food
Check with your local extension office
or online guides for specific lists of ideal
temperatures and humidity levels for
individual fruits and vegetables.
A number of produce items will need to
be cured before being placed into long-term storage.
Onions and garlic should be cured in
a warm, dry area in the shade for a week
before being trimmed. After trimming,
cure alliums for another two weeks.
Temperatures in the 80s and 90s are
Potatoes should be cured in cool, dark,
moist environment (such as your root
cellar if you have room to spread them
out) for a couple of weeks before being
placed in a container with a lid. A loosely
closed container will prevent shriveling.
Sweet potatoes can be tricky to cure
because they are often harvested in the
fall before freezing temperatures set
in. Their ideal curing temperature is 85
degrees with high humidity. In most
regions of the country, fall temperatures
are well below this level. Here at No. 9
Farms we cure our sweet potatoes in the
greenhouse for two weeks before moving
them to the root cellar.
Pumpkins and winter squash can be
cured at 70 to 80 degrees for a couple of
weeks in a well-ventilated area. If there
is concern of freezing nighttime temperatures, be sure to bring your squash
indoors to prevent damage.
Cabbages and root vegetables prefer
cool, moist conditions. Store cabbages
with roots intact along with root vegetables in moist sand near the floor of the
The environment of every root cellar will
be different, just as the microclimate of
every growing space is different. Over
time you will get to know your space and
the adjustments that need to be made.
Listen to your fruits and vegetables. They
will let you know if conditions are not
ideal. Start small and learn the art of food
storage. It will help you break the grocery
Stephanie Oaks lives in Ash-
land City, Tennessee, where
she and her husband own
and operate No. 9 Farms, an
organic farm that special-
izes in berries, herbs, fruits and vegetables,
and Christmas trees. Stephanie spends the
remainder of her time homeschooling their
two teenage children and teaching classes
on organic gardening and healthy cooking.