Enjoy hardy winter vegetables well into the winter without a root cellar by storing them in the garden! Here are a few tips…
One of the great ways to extend your garden season into the winter months is to grow crops that will withstand the cold – or, those that can safely be left out in the garden even when temperatures plummet. Winter vegetables such as root veggies are ideal for this. Carrots, parsnips, and other root crops can often safely be left in the garden well into the winter months. The tops may die down, but as long as you mulch well and your temperatures don’t get too low the edible root parts will be fine.
Other cold-hardy crops such as beets, kale, Brussel sprouts, turnips, and radishes may also keep in your garden well into the winter months, depending on your growing zone and local climate conditions.
This method works great for those who don’t have a root cellar to store vegetables – which many modern gardeners don’t.
Below are a few tips from the Pioneering Today podcast for keeping specific winter vegetables in the garden for harvest throughout the winter months. She lives in a warmer climate than we do here in Central Ohio, but we have successfully used these techniques to enjoy radishes, carrots, and parsnips well into December and even January.
Storing Beets & Radishes
Beets and radishes are very hardy, and if they’re tucked away under the surface they’ll store very well in the ground.
Some things to be aware of are, the greens will wilt and die back with cold temperatures, but the roots themselves should keep nicely usually through December.
If any of the roots are above the ground, you’ll need to mulch with a nice heavy layer of leaves or straw to keep them from freezing.
If the weather continually dips below and above freezing, your soil is going to heave as it freezes and defrosts. This can cause the root crops to get pushed up and out of the soil which is why it’s important to heavily mulch over them to keep the top of the root warm.
Keep in mind that the roots will not continue to grow during cold weather even if you keep them in the ground. This storage technique works best with beets and radishes that have already reached a harvestable size…
Storing Carrots & Turnips
Mulching over turnips and carrots also works very well for keeping them in the garden into the winter months.
As with other root crops, they need to be at a decent, harvestable size before mulching and storing in the garden.
Come out and check on them weekly. If they begin to get soft or mushy, it’s time to pull them all up and take them inside.
I’ve been able to successfully harvest and eat fresh carrots and turnips well into January!
As the colder temperatures hit your area, your potato plants will die back. But underneath the soil, your potatoes can keep for many months, even through to next spring, if they’re deep enough under a layer of well-draining soil and mulch.
If your soil is clay or has a lot of standing water, this method may not work well for you, even with a thick layer of mulch.
Listen to the full podcast here…