The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

How to make a potato storage mound

Step by step directions for building a potato storage mound.No root cellar, but you still want to store root crops for the winter?  Don't despair --- storage mounds are cheap and easy to build.  You'll see a few more potatoes rot away than you would in a good root cellar, but storage mounds are definitely worth the effort.

We tried out a simple storage mound in 2007 that kept our potatoes fresh for months.  If I'd known what I know now, I suspect we would have had potatoes all the way through to spring.  What I did wrong:

  • I dug my potatoes and stored them in August when the ground was still warm.  I would have been better off leaving them in their rows until October.
  • I put all of my potatoes in one mound, so I had to re-cover the mound every time I wanted a fresh potato.  I would have been better off if I made several smaller mounds rather than one big mound.
  • I should have stuffed straw down the ventilation pipe for additional insulation.
  • I should have begun the mound slightly underground for better insulation.  Digging eight to twelve inches down before laying down the first mulch layer works well.
  • I wrapped a piece of plastic around my mound, hoping to keep the dirt from washing away in the rain.  Bad idea!  You want plenty of ventilation in your storage mound, so leave the plastic off.

Storage mounds --- also known as "clamps" --- won't work well in the extreme north or the extreme south, but if you have moderate winter temperatures, lots of root crops, and no root cellar, they're worth a shot.  Be sure to build your clamps in a well-drained location.  Potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, cabbage, parsnips, and apples can all be successfully stored in clamps.

Check out our storage vegetable series for more information about planting, harvesting, and curing crops for fresh winter eating.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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