Monday, January 9, 2012

Harvest Monday - Checking the cellar

Story of Supper II - Checking the cellar
Condensed growing adventures

Winter and summer squash are stored here along with citron - a hard rind watermelon. White scallop summer squash left to ripen fully and harden has stored well so far and still have the a summer squash texture and flavour. I see a slightly wrinkly butternut which probably didn't fully ripen before I took them in but it will still taste delicious in summer. Also shown here is one cob of decorative flint type corn and a couple potatoes that I rescued from the freezing garage still looking fresh as daisies but sprouting. Not sure what to do with these.

When we first moved back to the land of snow and ice from the land of green and grey - Canada from England - I had grown accustomed to having herbs all year long what with the sturdy rosemary hedges and bay laurel the size of small trees. Eliot Coleman and friends told me it could be done by season extension and proper storage. I put up a cold frame and scoured the seed catalogues for mention of terms like storage varieties or long keepers.

Parsnips stored in fall leaves as an experiment. The roots are still very firm with a bit of sprouting.

This last year I didn't have time to set up a polytunnel or dig my dream root cellar in the side of the hill but our new house did come with a storage room in the basement probably meant for canning jars or wine (something the previous owner liked to make). It is now filled with last year's pick of pumpkins, roots packed in fall leaves and a few in dirt.

Swiss chard roots planted to force leaves in the winter. I should probably move this to a sunny spot so that the leaves get more colour and so the plants don't exhaust themselves too quickly.

I went down to the cellar to see how things were doing and to eat things that won't last too much longer. One butternut is begging to become pie and roasted seeds, the chicory roots are drying out a bit too much in the leaves. I think it would be better if they were kept in dirt or sand. The smaller beets were getting a bit dry in the leaves but not the large, well grown ones. Carrots of all size were beautiful looking, no need to eat them quite yet. Parsnips too will wait for a February dinner. Celariac was quite small and shrivelling but as they are planted in dirt, I think I will bring them upstairs to grow in a sunny window. For some reason the daikon radishes are melting but the turnips are doing well. Perhaps the daikon radish have a disease or pest issue.

This is the way I have always stored roots before, in dirt, from the garden. My dirt has always been the well draining sandy type. I wouldn't try it with clay. Here's a sun choke from the top of the pot.

The cool and damp of the cellar seem to keeping the Jerusalem artichokes just fine, even the last cabbage not in my freezer is doing well.

Check out the San Michele x Red Rock Mammoth F1 - it's a survivor, making some roots where the stem was cut. I have a mind to cut back the leaves from the stem and plant this beauty.

One of the great things about growing your own food is it takes some of the choice out of what's for supper. We are having some lentil and pumpkin patties with a nice beet salad. Those drying chicory roots will be soaked in water than placed in plastic bags in the fridge to see if I can force them still. That will make up the bulk of a meal soon to come.

Fruit big and small: Citron and ground cherries. Kept in their husks, ground cherries and tomatillos keep a very long time. Citron, the first time I've grown it, seems to be doing well too. I should do a cutting open experiment soon.

Other things: Canna, glads, dahlias are all firm while the cardoon could use a bit of freshening up. Sweet potatoes are being kept separately in the warm, furnace room and are getting tastier every day. Apples are mellowing if not rotting so I think I'm going to take the ones that are spoiling and make some apple butter today.


CallieK said...

Oh my, I am green with envy, both of your storage space and it's contents!

Norma Chang said...

That's quite a collection on the shelves. What does a hard rind watermelon look and taste like? Do you cook it or eat as is?

kitsapFG said...

Great storage and good selection of items in it! We similarly cold storage many items and also overwinter our root crops directly in the ground (milder area weather wise so it is possible).

Vile said...

Impressive! I am intrigued by the Citron Melon.

Mark Willis said...

Yes, I'm a veggie gardener, but I'm also a wine-lover, so I'd use the cellar for a bit of both!

Daphne said...

Nice storage cellar. I keep thinking that I need one of those sometime. We have a huge basement. I know just the corner I'd use if I did it. It has a small window in it. I like the window because I can make the space colder if I want in the fall. Open the window at night and let the cold air in. Then close it during the day. I still haven't done it because I like the window. Right now during the day I don't have to turn the lights on to go into the basement.

Lynns Urban Garden Diary said...

I love your storage cellar!