Harvesting and storing winter crops

It’s a bit depressing to say this, but we have no winter crops to speak of. Because we didn’t become co-workers with Duncan until late spring, we’d already missed the window to put in a lot of the crops we’d normally start harvesting now, like Brussels sprouts, parsnips and salsify, on top of that, our Jerusalem artichokes came to nothing – being stored for a week in a plastic bag before they got to us obviously did as little for the roots as I’d feared it would, I think they sweated to death – and finally, we’ve already eaten all our carrots!

Still, all is not lost, I’m nagging himself to think about making a carrot clamp now, for use next year (assuming we get enough excess crop to store). There are two ways we can do this – the first is in wooden boxes containing moist sand or peat substitute in a dark and frost free place: for this method you have to remove the leaves and shake out the loose soil and then lay them neatly in the boxes, not touching, and spread more sand or peat over the top. It has to be moist or the carrots will give up all their moisture to the soil – other crops that should be treated this way are celeriac, Swedes and beetroots.

A clamp is a hole in the ground with added extras! It needs to be a sheltered well-drained site, which could be a problem for us as I’m not convinced we have good enough drainage. The hole should have a good layer of straw at the bottom, the carrots should be laid in a circular pattern, points in, and not touching, and straw should be placed between each layer and mounded well over the top, before covering the whole thing with soil, but allowing a tuft of straw to stick up out of the top to conduct dampness out of the pile.

The good old parsnip can stay in the ground unless the weather turns really cold, at which point you need to cover them well enough to ensure they don’t freeze so thoroughly into the soil that you can’t lift them.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, December 1, 2008


Blogger Mark Hubbard said...

Interesting. Clamping is better than freezing?

December 2, 2008 at 11:05 AM  
OpenID coffeeandapplepie said...

I've not been that organised this year, and have some bits, but not a lot: 2 sprout plants, some broccoli, couple of parsnips (that ACTUALLY germinated!!) and that is my 2009 plan - to be more organised and have full beds all the time! its difficult though to be that orgnaised! Cat x

December 4, 2008 at 10:13 AM  

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