How to make a potato storage mound
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
- 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.
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Check out our storage
vegetable series for more information about planting, harvesting,
and curing crops for fresh winter eating.