We did not have much of a garden in 2012 – everything kind of conspired against us. Me being hugely pregnant, Baby M’s birth being so traumatic, his allergies (and constant screaming), and that big storm in late June that knocked over an awful lot of our little plants.
However, we did manage to harvest a significant amount of carrots (maybe forty or fifty pounds) about the same of potatoes, and a lot of onions (we planted 500 sets). In the autumn, we bought some cabbages, beets, and turnips in bulk, and also we picked up some pumpkins and spaghetti squash from the farmer’s market to round out our winter vegetable supply.
In 2011 / 2012, the root-cellared carrots were done by mid-February. This year, however, we’re still eating them from our root cellar. Some have rotted, and the texture is not as crisp as when they were harvested, for sure, and there is some fuzz on some of them – we peel them now, instead of just scrubbing them – but we ate some in our soup tonight, and they are still entirely edible. The potatoes are also fine, and the cabbages as well, though you have to peel off several layers of dessicated leaves to get to the good stuff. The beets, like the carrots, are softer, but still edible. The squash is fine. Squash lasts forever. Some of the onions are starting to sprout, but the rest are still as good as the day they were harvested.
The difference between this year and last year, for the carrots at least, is that we managed the humidity better. Last year, some of the carrots got dried out quite early in the year, and got too dried out and bitter to eat much earlier than they should have. Others of our storage carrots last year were too damp, and rotted early, as well. This year, we kept the carrots in a plastic Rubbermaid tub, with a plastic bag draped over top, which we adjust when we’re down there – pull it off a bit if things seem too humid, or pull it more closed if things look like they might be drying out. It appears to be working quite well, considering we’re still eating last September’s carrot harvest, on May first. While the root cellaring books I have read suggested storing them in damp sand or sawdust, we haven’t found a good supply of either of those things, and are happy that our rigged system appears to suffice. I am quite delighted to be eating our own local produce, eight months later!