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What crops do you store in place?

 
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After an abortive attempt to build a root cellar (eventually to be reprised competently), I left my root crops in the ground. I'd read that could be done, and have little mole/vole trouble, perhaps because they prefer compacted ground.

So far, everything's been fine. Aerial vegetation died back in a few freezes, but mostly collapsed on the tubers and protected them. Anything even partially buried has stored in place, I dig them up as needed and they're fine.

So why shouldn't we treat our beds as overwinter vaults?

I've successfully overwintered sunchokes (which get sweeter from freezing), yacon, ulluco, mashua and oca. Crosnes also appear unchanged, when I find them. I have yet to see how hopniss (groundnut) will do where it was interplanted with corn and sunchokes...you're not supposed to dig it up for at least a year. This year I think I'll interplant it with bamboo. What do you overwinter undisturbed? As I'm ordering seeds for the year, I'm thinking of how to keep a large portion of my harvest in place, saving me the trouble in fall AND the storage bother.

EDIT: A terrible snowstorm hit the area before I could harvest all my winter tuber crops. Once this 18" melts I'll be interested to see if there's anything left.
 
pollinator
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True Yams - Dioscorea Alata and Polystachya- they grow bigger each year, without a loss of tuber quality(ie- don't get too stringy, leathery, etc.) so, if they can survive in your climate, they actually overwinter "indefinitely."
 
Fredy Perlman
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Thanks Dustin. I tried polystachya in NYC and can't recall why they didn't take. I'll try them again as long as I needn't worry they're opportunistic ---because it is propagated by aerial bulbils, if animals fool with it, it could become a bother.

Plants and seeds are at Richters.com, which says they can survive zone 3 in Alberta.
 
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Peanuts will over winter in the ground. Any still in the ground in spring will sprout new plants.
 
pollinator
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Potatoes, sunroots, parsnips, carrots, turnips, and onions. Garlic if it survived. Partly because I want my grexes to be winter hardy and the biennials need to be two years old to set seed anyway. Handy for storage though.

Plan to try to do the same with Salsify and leeks next winter.
 
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Nothing, unless you count horse radish. Everything here ends up full of holes and then rots if left in the ground even into October (leeks manage until December and then rot). The reason for this is the weather, here we have constant freeze thaw so it will freeze at night and then thaw in the day, it is around 5C in the day up until late January where it drops under freezing and stays there for a month or so. That 5c is high enough to let the bugs make holes, and the constant rain/damp then splits and rots the roots. Some potatoes make it as they will come back and I have had one parsnip make it once.
 
Dustin Rhodes
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Lots of stuff here about root crops, but are there any *other* types of crops you can overwinter in place?

Beans, corn, etc are left to dry on the plant, then collected later - are there any beans or some such that won't drop their crop unless disturbed(ie, harvested)?
 
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Great practical post. Have never heard of plants you overwinter. Took a screenshot and look forward to investigating.

Couple of non root cellar options ive experimented with successfully: bury a chest freezer, cover top with tarp and 6 inches of leaves. Stuff Keeps well except offgasing items like onions, apples,etc.

Cardboard box in bottom of dark closet with newspaper between layers works well for itema that off gas, 3- 4 months no problem.
 
Mike Barkley
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I would guess pumpkins would be ok unharvested. I do remove mine from the vine & bring indoors when freezing weather arrives though.
 
Fredy Perlman
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Mike, I tried leaving my squash unharvested this year. Had a lot of Galeux d'Eysines, butternut, delicata and some unidentified pumpkin-y type. Almost every one except the delicata and butternut got a bruise somehow, which mold colonized and infiltrated the fruit from there. I thought, like Skandi says, that leaving things out to get frozen enabled that, but even the ones kept inside got soft in a place or two, then got moldy, then deliquesced. Didn't even try a single Galeux! Next year, they get processed earlier.
 
Mike Barkley
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Thanks, good to know. Seminole pumpkins store very well. I have some from October that are still perfect. Except a small one that got squishy. Might have been damaged somehow. Last year I kept them in the garage barely above freezing. Ate the last one about May & it was still good.
 
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Depending on the daylength, kale and chard should be fine, yes?  And provide a fresh, edible green leaf throughout the winter in many areas?  By protecting them through the worst of the freezes with tarps/blankets, wouldn't they at least hold their turgor and many nutrients for fresh picking?
 
Fredy Perlman
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Aha! Thanks Mike! I often use squash instead of grains, so I will see if Seminoles fare better in our cold wet dark.

John, you are right, kale and chard love it here, tolerate our freeze/thaw cycles and even put on a little growth. I sowed kale for a fall crop, though, and the slugs chawed it to nothing by late december. It hadn't put on enough growth to put it above their convenient browse level. The chard, 9 mos old, appears to have divided over the winter into two clusters, and one was a nest of slugs. Note to self, dump diatomaceous earth in there. Or maybe they'll be the first test subjects for my thyme slug killer.
 
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In PNW we left beets we had pulled on top of the ground, pulled oct 1st,  beets were great until the cehalis flooded and washed them away in late Dec.  Of course our climate is essentially a damp refridgerator so YMMV.  

Leeks and garlic overwinter well here.  Potatoes rot, and carrots too.  I would think pest pressure would build up ,if you leave too much in the ground year to year.  

Chard overwinters well (beets, again).  
 
Fredy Perlman
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JMAnder, do you mean diseases and insects when you say pest pressure, or rodents, slugs...?

Given that we're in the same climate, how about harvesting and leaving on soil, but covered with totes or something, as a solution to both pest pressure and storage? I saw Spanish black radishes out like that in a Portland community garden. So true about the giant refrigerator. So I keep some things in foodgrade plastic buckets of damp sand, away from freezing, and crack them for air occasionally.

Just dug up some sunchokes, some were the size of limes, all quite intact and dormant. Been doing that now & again to make sure things are still ok. I would love to leave all these in the ground overwinter, but it's a good point that I don't know what's happening under there.
 
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