Storing winter vegetables

The weather has turned from mild and dry, to cold and wet. Still nowhere near as cold as this time last year, but pretty miserable non the less. And the last thing you want to be doing when it’s cold and wet (well one of them anyway) is trudging onto a very muddy allotment to dig up vegetables, as and when you need them. Also, once the ground freezes (which could happen anytime now) it’s very difficult to get them out in one piece.

So home storage is the key. Obviously you could harvest it all, peel, chop and fill a large freezer, if you have one. My freezer space is limited, and somehow vegetables that have been frozen are never quite the same as fresh. So I have brought home a large bunch of leeks and, in effect, replanted them in a large flower pot. Lots of books recommend ‘heeling in’ your leeks in a shallow trench, which is loose enough so as not to freeze solid, allowing an easy harvest over the winter. Which is fine, but I want my leeks easily accessible at home and I don’t have anywhere to make a trench in my garden. So I’m hoping this will do the same job. Just stand them up in a large flower pot and cover the roots with soil or compost, and make sure they get some moisture. You could probably even keep them in a shed or outhouse like this.

As for the root vegetables, I can recommend this method of packing them into sand. I tried this a couple of years ago (never got around to it last year) and I was amazed that they kept really fresh for months. I’ve used a plastic trug here, but you could use a wooden box, not cardboard though as it may rot, just something sturdy. Put a layer of sand at the bottom and then place the veg (trimmed of their green tops) on top, making sure they don’t touch each other, and cover them with sand, dampening down the sand slightly as you go. And then just keep adding as many layers as you need, and store it somewhere cool. A shed is great, just watch out for hungry mice.

Perfect, I now have easy access to fresh leeks, carrots, parsnips and swedes (not to mention potatoes in storage). Bring on Christmas.

Have a good one!

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