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(Experiment 244) Root cellar

Any given year, I grow somewhere between 500-1000 carrots ( sorry not going to count them ) . Now it’s all great but with the summer we are getting in Quebec those recent years, they reach maturity very late. In fact, I have only started to see some big carrots at the beginning of September and as of this writing ( late sept), there are still several small ones. So the issue is you end up with a TON of carrots all at the same time.

I posted a nice cream of carrots recipe that you can easily make and enjoy but I want to keep my carrots fresh for as long as possible. With time, the carrots get even sweeter. Can’t say the same with the one from the supermarket đŸ’©

You can leave them in the soil, once winter sets in they will freeze there. The carrots stay fresh for a month or so but when the real cold hits the inside of the carrot will entirely freeze and whatever water remains in it will expand and do microburst.

Also, when you leave them in the soil it’s really hard to get them out. I had to use a shovel and cut pieces of soil with carrots, left them in the garage to thaw a little bit. You will end up breaking a lot of them.

So what do we do ?? Great question!

So I was curious how folks in the past were preserving potatoes, carrots, and such to survive the cold winter. The answer was pretty clear, they all had a root cellar.

That’s awesome but 99.9% of houses built in the last 100 years don’t have a root cellar. You can build one but that is a big project and require some major investment.

The direction I went with is to bury a garbage can in the ground. Why am I hearing you laugh from here?

So for my first experiment, I figured I would use an aluminum can to have a better thermal transfer from the ground.

The first step was to dig a little over 3 feet in the ground.

In Quebec, after 5-8 inches of topsoil, it’s all clay. Nice beautiful and especially hard and heavy clay.

Several hours later, I was finally done

In hindsight, using an aluminum can was a bad idea. With Autumn pouring rain, the soil was full of water and pushed out the can. FAIL

Secondly, all that water pushed so hard that it got into the can. I taped several layers of polythene and yet water still got in the can. FAIL

I added an extra 3 garbage bags in the can and it worked much better.

Now it’s time to store our carrots. For this, I put a layer of 2 inches in the bottom with Peat Moss then a layer of carrots, 1 ” of peat moss, another layer of carrots, and so on.

Note :

-cut the leaves off and leave about 1/2″ of it, don’t cut or wash the carrot 

-any damaged carrots should not be stored

Using this method, I was able to eat fresh carrots until March! For this season I made a few changes.

I switched my bin to a plastic one and half-filled it with water. This way it stays in place for the rainy season. Once it’s over, I will empty it with a small portable sump pump. Since the bin is plastic, I should not have any issue with water getting in the bin.

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