Supplement winter harvests of fresh veg, such as Brussels sprouts, by having a store of veg in a cool place, such as a garage.
Caption: Veg will store for several months
Beetroot withstands moderate frost and in mild areas is best harvested by November and then stored. Eat small roots first as larger ones are valuable as food in early spring, even until the first new roots are ready in May.
Cabbage hearts keep best when dense and heavy at harvest time, and should be picked before moderate frost. Outer leaves slowly decay in store so peel off any mouldy leaves every few weeks.
Carrots suffer slug damage in heavy soil and are best harvested now. In sandy soil you can leave them in the ground with a covering of straw, although underground slugs may attack them. If there is tunneling by the maggots of carrot fly, it’s best to eat them as soon as possible before more damage occurs.
Celeriac is such a dense, dry root that it keeps in good condition, even until May, from a November or December harvest. Just put it in a box or crate.
Chillies can be hung up to dry; use a needle to thread cotton through the stalks, hang until shrivelled, and they will keep for at least a year. Alternatively, store them in oil.
Garlic stays firm until spring, when it sprouts. Softneck varieties store better than hardneck ones; keep both types indoors at room temperature.
Onions store best in dry air so it’s good to hang some in the kitchen. Some varieties store as long as April or May before sprouting. In my experience, onions raised from seed store better than onions from sets. Autumn-sown or autumn-planted onions need to be eaten by Christmas.
Parsnips keep well outside, unless soil is wet clay, which may cause rotting (canker) around the shoulders. If this happens, harvest soon and eat the damaged ones first, before storing the rest in boxes or crates.
Potatoes don’t survive frost, although they keep best in cool temperatures. To delay sprouting, store in a three-ply paper sack, which will exclude all light. Your local fish and chip shop might be happy to give some of its potato bags away. Some varieties store for longer than others; second-earlies, such as ‘Charlotte’, and ‘Sarpo’ maincrops barely sprout before May.
Shallots, keep as for onions.
Squash store best in dry, indoor conditions as long as the skin is hard and the neck has shrivelled and is
still attached to the squash, so handle carefully at harvest. Any squash that are soft-skinned at harvest need eating soon after. Pumpkins and butternuts don’t store for as long as winter squash, so eat those first. Watch out for any with patches of grey mould (botrytis).
Swedes keep well either in the ground or in a shed. They are frost-hardy and dense.
Turnips are more watery than swedes. Harvest by December and eat before March.
Q How do I prevent stored veg rotting?
A No matter how carefully you store your veg, rot can quickly spread and ruin your produce. It’s important to avoid storing any veg with signs of damage or rot in the first place; use them in the kitchen
as soon as you can. Then check over your veg stores every week and remove any that have started to show signs of rot.
Caption: Check stored veg once a week and remove any rotting ones