Storing root veg after harvest

Asked September 25, 2018, 1:21 PM EDT

Hello! I am considering storing my root vegetables (this year, potatoes and sweet potatoes, but in a better year also carrots and others) in a crawl space under a former-deck-turned-breakfast-nook in our home. The space is enclosed on all sides but with many gaps for airflow. My concern is whether the vegetables might attract mice or other pests, who might eat them before we can. Do you have particular advice in storing these items in a semi-outdoor, protected, but accessible-to-rodents location? Thanks.

Washington County Oregon food safety home food preservation food storage

4 Responses

This sounds like you are considering building a root cellar. It will need to be sealed from insects and rodents. In our climate I find advice is generally to use garages for storage. Though I don’t find Extension Service reasons, the high humidity-winter wet is likely. The procedures for preparing the food varies. I’ll include links to some articles. If you search “Extension potato storage” for example, you will find information. Choose states with similar climates to ours for best results. Tips on keeping harvested potatoes fresh: https://extension.oregonstate.edu/node/81641 There’s still time to plant carrots: https://extension.oregonstate.edu/node/82571 (Appears they can stay in the soil and be harvested as ready to eat.) Storing pumkin and winter squash at home: https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/ec1632

I would recommend storing in a garage rather than under the porch, as you are better able to protect from rodents and other pests. You will also want to keep them above freezing.

I don't have a garage.

I think you are correct, that rodents are likely to eat your crops if you simply place them under your house. If you are constantly vigilant and put out traps and/or bait you might be able to manage them without manipulating the environment.

Here is a website that describes diverse approaches to build a root cellar type environment. https://morningchores.com/root-cellars/ One of the ideas at this website is to bury a freezer (or large cooler, I would think) in the ground. Or, consider how to apply the principles the various builders used to your particular situation in order to keep animals out. In many areas of the country the point of a root cellar is to maintain temperatures above freezing while keeping the humidity up. This is not as difficult here as our winters are mild and humid. So keeping animals out is the biggest concern here.