Section One: Starting Right With Storage Vegetables
- Planting Crops for Fall Storage
- Good Keepers
- Growers Keepers: How to Raise Top-Quality Storage Vegetables
Section Two: Bringing in the Harvest
- How to Harvest and Prepare Vegetables for Storage
- Life After Picking
- Food Value in Winter Keepers
Section Three: All the Winter Keepers and How to Treat Them
- The Underground Garden
- Other Good foods to Keep in Natural Cold Storage
Section Four: Food Cellars for Everyone
- Trenches Keeping, Closets and Other Vegetable and Fruit Hideaways
- Planning Your Root Cellar
- Keeping Things Humming in the Root Cellar
- The Basement Root Cellar
- The Excavated Root Cellar
Section Five: "Here's What We Did...
- Root Cellaring Experiences
Section Six: Recipes
- Cooking Sturdy Keepers
Excerpt from page XVI
Root cellars are as useful today as they ever were. In fact root cellars in all their forms are as up-to-date as tomorrow now that costs of food and power used for processing are higher with each passing year.
The term "root cellar" as we are using it here includes the whole range of ingenious vegetable-saving techniques from hillside caves to garden trenches. The traditional root cellar is an underground storage space for vegetables and fruits. Where space and lay of the land permit these cellars are sometimes dug into a hill and then lined with brick stone or concrete block. Dirt-floored or insulated basement rooms somewhat less picturesque but probably more numerous are also traditional.
Since our purpose in writing this book is to help you to store as much garden produce as possible without processing we'll also include as root cellaring techniques suggestions for decentralized vegetable storage--in garages porches buried boxes and even right in the garden row as well as a few ways to keep your family in fresh green vegetables during the winter even if you don't have a greenhouse.
What would a root cellar do for you? Simply this: Make it possible for you to enjoy fresh endive in December; tender savory Chinese cabbage in January; juicy apples in February; crisp fresh carrots in March; and sturdy unsprayed potatoes in April--all without boiling a jar blanching a vegetable or filling a freezer bag. A root cellar can save you time money and supplies. I discovered this the summer we started to build our house. In planning our garden that year I had to come to terms with the fact that I'd be too busy as the carpenter's assistant to do any freezing or canning of garden produce. So I planted vegetables--like tomatoes and corn--that we could eat fresh throughout the summer and other--parsnips carrots and the cabbage clan--that I could harvest in the fall and keep in our cold basement for winter eating. This plan born of necessity worked beautifully. Our gas and electric bills were lower because I was not heating two-gallon kettles of water to can things I was stuffing less into the freezer and I didn't need to buy new canning jar lids or freezer bags.
We found too that root cellaring led us to a whole new system of eating. One based on the age-old seasonal swings. In June we really appreciated the peas because we know we wouldn't have them in January. In the fall when frost jeweled the grass and the pig was ready to butcher we were hungry once again for the hearty earthy flavor of turnips and rutabagas beets and carrots and parsnips. I don't mean to imply that I've quit canning and freezing. I would truly miss my freezer and our favorite canned goods--tomatoes pickles catsup and peaches--are a must. But I can see now that I was processing more food than necessary perhaps because of some innate squirreling instinct that whispered in my ear every August: "Provide provide." Now I give that impulse a more satisfactory expression by putting by a carefully planned store of winter keepers that make our January meals as special in their own way as those we enjoy in July.
Last evening for example I took a basket to our cellar to go "shopping" for the ingredients of the evening meal. Five potatoes dusty but still firm filled the bottom of the basket. A fistful of carrots and a single huge beet leaned against the side. Good sturdy root vegetables--just what you'd expect from a root cellar. But there's more. Salad was on the menu too so I put a long solid head of Chinese cabbage and a rosy crisp radish into the basket. While in the cellar shivering a bit out of range of the wood stove I checked on the witloof chicory sprouts growing in a box of earth by the wall. Looks like they'll be ready for next week's salads. On my way up the stairs I grabbed an onion from the net bag hangings above the stairway.
As I scrubbed the potatoes and chopped the leafy cabbage into the salad bowl I thought about this direct earthy and deeply satisfying connection between our summer efforts in the garden and our winter need for fresh wholesome food. The simple life? I suppose you might say so. It is simply a matter of planning, fertilizing, planting, weeding, watering, weeding, weeding, and weeding then harvesting and storing away. Snow is predicted for tonight a thick snow that will drift across the lane and make driving tricky. But there's no frantic dash to the grocery store for stuff to tide us over. We're free to stay home and crack walnuts by the fireplace. Copyright Storey Books