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Vermont Garden Journal: How To Store Your Veggies For Winter

Root crops, such as carrots, beets, potatoes and parsnips, can be stored indoors in cold, moist conditions.
Root crops, such as carrots, beets, potatoes and parsnips, can be stored indoors in cold, moist conditions.

The leaves are golden and red, the pumpkins are orange and it's time to store your veggies for winter. Even if you've had a killing frost in your area, there are some veggies you can still store for winter eating.

One of the easiest vegetables to store are winter squashes. As long as the fruits weren't zapped by a freeze, harvest now. Cure in a well-ventilated barn, garage or shed for a few weeks. The curing helps the skin toughen and the flesh sweeten. Wipe the skin with a solution of bleach to kill diseases and then store in a cool, dry basement. The temperatures should be around 50 degrees Farenheit with 60% humidity. Even if the conditions aren't ideal, you should be able to still get them to last through the holidays. Varities like hubbard, Kabocha, and butternut squash last for up to six months in storage. 

Root crops, such as carrots, beets, potatoes and parsnips, can be stored indoors in cold, moist conditions; 40 degrees Farenheit with 95% humidity. One method is to store roots in moist sand in a cold basement. However, I've found burying roots, that are still in the ground, with a one-to-two-foot thick layer of hay or straw in November protects them from freezing. I harvest through the winter simply by digging through the snow and mulch. In fact, this is the only way to eat parsnips. By late winter parsnips get sweet and caramelize beautifully when roasted or sauteed. 

Onions and garlic like cold, dry conditions and mine do fine, after curing, in my 60% humidity basement in mesh bags. Only store onion varieties meant for storage.

Now for this week's tip: deadhead and cut back annual flowers, such as zinnias and cosmos, that got nipped by frost. As long as there are some undamaged flower buds and green foliage, there's a chance you'll get a another flush of blooms if the weather stays warm for a few weeks.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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