Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Root cellars

I'm fixated on root cellaring lately. We're into the part of "Farmer Boy" where they're harvesting everything and putting it down cellar. "Everything must be saved, nothing wasted from all the summer's bounty" is probably my favorite line in any LHOTP book. Alice is braiding onion tops and hanging them in the cellar, and she's sewing peppers together by their stems. Everyone's harvesting potatoes and throwing them down cellar via chute or window. Same with apples and carrots. Likely it's the same with squashes and turnips, since they talk about eating these during the winter.

So I've got about a million questions.

-How big of a garden did Mother Wilder have to have to keep six people (well, eight, but we'll ignore that) in onions for seven months? Or was it twelve months?
-Did they not eat roots during the summer? Unlike in extreme northern New York State, I have a year-round growing season so I can plant and have veggies all year (at least, some of the hardier ones, I think) but they couldn't do this. During the summers when everything fresh was growing, were they eating the last of their cellared roots from the previous summer?
-How often did they have to check this stuff to make sure nothing was rotten or getting eaten by bugs?
-How was it packed?
-How did they come up with their original math -- how many acres of potatoes to sow, how many rows of onions, etc.? Someone had to do this figuring in the first place. Nobody ever addresses this in the entire series! The moms of the family just KNOW.

I'll stop there. But here's a snippet from a Daily Green page I've been reading and pondering, and daydreaming about ...

You don't have to live with a dirt-floor cellar to take advantage of stocking up on fresh vegetables and fruits during harvest (when prices are cheap). All you need is a cool, dark place that won't freeze; it could be under a stairwell, or in a corner of a basement, garage or shed.

Pack clean, dry produce -- such as carrots, beets, potatoes and winter squash -- in boxes surrounded by sawdust, sand or straw. You want good air circulation and relatively high humidity (earthen floors work well, or put out trays of water or damp cloths). Remove spoiled items immediately and keep apples separate, since they promote ripening.

Hmm. Hmm. Hmm.

Need to go do some figuring.

Meanwhile, I picked some huge, beautiful radishes out of my garden that I grew from seed! This is huge! ... But now they're getting soft, since I don't really eat whole radishes ... it's a problem.

I somehow need to get realistic and align what I will actually eat with what I can actually grow.

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