Growing vegetables might be a pleasurable hobby, or you might have even developed a business of growing veggies that saved your life. What all farmers deal with is what to do with them in the winter. The most vulnerable question for them is how to keep them fresh and whole during the dreadful winter.
It is very stressful for people who live in high and cold areas where winters can be a little crazy. In the distant past, outdoors clamps were a great storage solution. It worked in a simple and good way, but there were also some disadvantages. Small families didn’t require these bulks, for instance.
More importantly, clamps were not weatherproof in the past. They were susceptible to vermin and flooding if the winter was very wet. Usually, vegetables became rotten and damaged by the middle of winter. However, there is a little secret that European farmers revealed to us not long ago that we can use to help each other.They had been doing that for over centuries.
What you need to know before storing vegetables
It is of utmost importance to sort the veggies before storing them. Look out for the damaged ones. You may notice small signs of rot and you need to take those veggies away. There is an old phrase that goes like this: ‘One bad apple spoils the barrel’. It is very true for storing veggies, as one rotten potato, for instance, can spoil the whole sack.
As I mentioned above, if you grow veggies, you need to think about a good place to store them during the winter days. Don’t worry if you only have a bag of potatoes that can easily be kept in your kitchen cupboard, but bigger amounts require the perfect care and storage.
Imagine, for example, putting all of your vegetables in the freezer. You might have thought that there are ideal conditions there, but that is true only for small families who do not have other alternatives. As a matter of fact, you would spend tons of money on dozens of freezers for all your harvested veggies.
Additionally, it is a well-known fact that freezers are the worst places to keep your potatoes, onions, or root crops. Root crops are great for storing. The best place to store them might be outdoors. The best way to store roots is to plant them as late as possible so that they will mature late. They will be well stored if a thicker skin is protecting them during the winter, so don’t hurry.
There is also another rule of thumb for storing root veggies, and that is to harvest during or around the time closest to when you are planning to eat or preserve them. In this way, you will keep the nutritive value and flavor of the veggies.
Another tip for a long storage life is digging up the roots of your garden in specific weather conditions. It is best to do that after two or three days of dry weather. In this way, you get dry root crops. If you leave these a couple of hours in the sun after you’d pulled them out, the soil from the roots will dry and fall off of itself.
Finally, be very careful with how you treat the roots before storing them. They do not need any washing. You only need to cut off their tops. You can do this in your garden. Also, just leave an inch of stem for beets, but cut the tops close for the other crops. The washing is to be done before you use them.
How to build a storage clamp
If you really need a way to keep your roots for the winter, you must try this easy method of building your own clamp. It is efficient, easy, and does not require a lot of your energy. Moreover, it is not expensive, and Europeans have done it for centuries now, using the same things: layers of straw and soil. There are a few easy steps to help you with this:
1.First, it is important to choose wisely where to build the clamp. In outdoor space, look for level ground where rain or snowmelt doesn’t collect. Then put straw on the ground making a circle with a diameter of 4 feet and thickness of 6 inches;
2. As we mentioned a couple of times above, it is crucial that you select the veggies that you are going to put inside. Signs of decay and cuts or bruises should be removed from the selection. After you have done this, pile the veggies on top of the straw in a conical mound;
3. Now layer loose straw over the vegetables. The thickness should be around 6-8 inches;
4. Next, add a 6-inch layer of dry soil over the straw. In order to have ventilation, leave a tuft of straw exposed at the top of the clamp.
Congratulations, you are finished and good for the winter to come! Your veggies will stay in excellent condition with this clamp.
It is important to note one thing: clamps in Europe are advised to be built in regions that are climatically equivalent of USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 8 to 8. This only means that you are going to get the perfect temperature inside the clamp, and that is 32 to 40 degrees.
If the weather is colder, you might need some additional protection. If you prefer, you can also make several small clamps, which does not require a lot of effort, either. Enjoy your veggies fresh and tasty during the winter!