Picking the Longest Storing Vegetables

I store a wide variety of vegetables over the cold months. It’s an investment in time and money, so it’s in my best interest to pick the longest storing vegetables I can. If you’re thinking of buying some bulk storage vegetables for winter, (or, let me push you a little here, growing your own!) You’ll want to keep a few things in mind. First you want to make sure you can store them properly so they last as long as possible. Winter squash need temperatures similar to comfortable room human room temperature. I have cabinet space in a dark corner of my kitchen, not next to any heat sources, for my winter squash. Potatoes can handle slightly colder temps, 35-40 is the magic zone, warmer than that and they’ll sprout too early, colder than that and you risk freeze damage. That temp is prime for garlic and onions too.  Carrots need cool and damp. If you’re harvesting your home grown potatoes for storage, REMEMBER – they are still alive after you harvest them. I left one of my potato harvests in a curing spot that got too much sun, and I turned the whole batch green. Boooo…. Even after curing, the potato storage spot needs to be as dark as possible. potato-bin The other factor in this practice is choosing the best vegetables you can. With winter squashes you want blemish free skin and some weight, with the stem still attached. Onions need to be well dried and pungent in odor. Garlic needs to be papery dry. Don’t forget to plan out maintenance for your stored foods. You’ll want to touch base on all of them every week or two. Cull the bad ones, keep track of stock remaining percentages. And remember, you want vegetables that will store a while, but not forever, store what your family will eat, and eat what you store! Prep smart y’all. How are your stores rounding out? Notice anything missing in your area this year? Sound off in the Comments! – Calamity Jane
14 comments… add one
  • Mike the Gardener October 17, 2013, 3:03 pm

    Yes potatoes should be a staple in everyone’s garden , however a lot root crops have great storage longevity, so be sure to grow some other ones that store well.

  • Novice October 17, 2013, 3:12 pm

    I always keep some seed potatoes for replanting in the spring. This year I had a very poor crop yield so I only got small ones to replant. Does anyone know if these will sprout or is it time for me to buy a new crop?

  • mom of 5 October 17, 2013, 6:18 pm

    We moved our garden spot over to a sunnier larger plot. We did ok for the first year. Got some onions but the potatoes and carrots did nothing. We didn’t plant any squash this year…hopefully next.

    • Shootit October 18, 2013, 10:03 am

      Same soil conditions? My guess is you need more organic matter in your new location. Carrots need a sandier soil mix. We use horse droppings and compost to condition our garden soil. Do you know someone with horses? I very seldom have to clean out our barn. We have multiple local city folk come and get it for their gardens.

      • Anonymous October 19, 2013, 1:44 pm

        We have 2 horses…and use the “road apples” in our garden. Same soil…we had a lot of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, etc… I think we are going to change the layout around this coming year. For a first year garden, I think we did well. It was quite wet and cold to start with and by the end of the season, hot and in a drought again.

        • fubar October 20, 2013, 10:49 am

          horse manure is high in fiber but one of lowest in Nitrogen, although it still needs to be composted before application (helps kill the weed seeds)
          did you use supplemental fertilizer ?

          and you should change your layout every year. not only for nutrient managment (growing heavy feeders in same spot depletes soil without amendment) but for disease management.

  • farmgirl October 17, 2013, 6:18 pm

    We have a walk in cooler that we use to store our produce that we sell at the farmers market. We’ve kept spring dug potatoes, uncured, for months. Same with onions. We still have onions for sale from the crop we planted in March. Our personal opinion is both of these taste fresher and sweeter for the onions if we don’t cure them. Of course it takes electricity to run the cooler and if that goes away we’d have to do things differently.
    Different winter squashes last longer than others. Hubbards I believe are the longest lasting, while acorns and butternuts fall on the shorter time frame of a few months. We grow a wide variety and eat the short timers first. I made a butternut squash soup the other night that was wonderful, and next on my list is bratwurst- butternut stew.
    Novice: it’s probably time to buy new seed potato. Potatoes are notorious for diseases and that might explain your smaller yields. We always buy certified disease free seed potatoes.
    Turnips are a great long term storage root crop. If you don’t like the traditional purple top white globe, try a Japanese turnip. They are awesome! They come in both an all white, or solid red, and both are equally delicious. Tops, or greens are edible as well. Beets, and beet greens are great too. I like beet greens better than the beet. I love my veggies!

  • Echo October 18, 2013, 1:23 am

    having never grown potatoes before, i have a question.

    i do know about saving some for seed. but if there is an economic collapse so many of the seed stores and what have you will be gone. if you did need to seed potatoes? about the only place to get them would be a very kind neighbor, providing he has them to spare or that he’s not in the same boat that you are. am i right in thinking that???

    • Calamity Jane October 18, 2013, 9:50 am

      Well, let me say this about seed potatoes in an economic collapse. Unlike derivative-derived-mortgage-security things, potatoes won’t disappear out of the ground, and interest in eating potatoes won’t vanish either. In my (admittedly rural) area, when it’s time to plant potatoes, the grocery stores have seed potatoes, the feed/tackle store has seed potatoes, the hardware store has seed potatoes. I’m thinking an economic collapse won’t be enough to fully stop the flow of something as basic as potatoes. It may become a more engaging process, demanding that you trade, barter or make some other arrangement for the seed potatoes. But I’m thinking seed potatoes will still be around.
      That said, certain things that increase in probability during economic collapse could affect potatoes. Civil unrest could make them hard to get in certain areas. Gas shortages could make them hard to transport. A large blight could wipe out a seed potato crop.
      Hope that helps with some of your thinking on the topic.

  • farmgirl October 18, 2013, 9:30 am

    The problem with saving seed of any kind, but potatoes in particular, is maintaining genetic diversity. Irish potato famine and the crop failure was due to growing one kind of potato, and saving the seed from year to year. That variety was susceptible to potato blight.
    Save seed from several different varieties. Potato blight will spread, but some varieties will have more resistance than others. Only save seed from healthy plants.

  • SEBAGO DAD October 19, 2013, 12:13 pm

    As of 19 October, I still have Beets in the ground and doing well. They can continue to provide greens until the first killing frost which may yet be another month or so down the road. This year I am going to test them to see how long the roots will live and still be edible if left in the ground.

  • fubar October 20, 2013, 10:38 am

    depending upon where you live, you can store your potatoes in the ground, mulch them with lots of straw covering.

    slightly o/t but my sweet potatoes grew ABOVE ground this year,

    i planted them in black plastic and while some of them are underground, the majority of them near the stem of the main plant grew in a jumbled, weird mess directly underneath the plastic. this made is much easier for whatever is nibbling on them to have better access to them. I used the black plastic because I knew I was going to be busy and had less time to weed this area.


    • fubar October 20, 2013, 10:53 am

      now that i’m thinking about it, since the black plastic was on, i couldn’t mound dirt up under the plants. duh.

  • joe October 21, 2013, 12:02 am

    Yes, little potatoes can sprout decent sized spuds. I just harvested large yukon gold potatoes from my “potatoes in a cage project” that were propagated from a very small yukon gold that came from a bag


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