· Large plastic tub with a lid or cover (if your winter temperatures routinely stay below 40 degrees Fahrenheit) or large Styrofoam cooler with a lid or cover (if your winters are mild or unpredictable)
· Clean construction-grade sand
· Cold outside area, such as a deck, patio, porch, or uninsulated garage
· Root vegetables, such as carrots, beets, turnips, and parsnips
Wash out your plastic tub or cooler well and dry the interior. Moisten the sand. If it is in a plastic bag, poke a fork into the bottom several times and then pour water into the top until it runs out of the holes in the bottom. Let the bag stand and drain for a while—you want the sand to be damp, not soggy. If it is in a paper bag, you can just leave the bag our in the rain for a few days; when you’re ready to pack the root cellar, don’t move the bag (it will tear and spill) but just cut a slit in it and scoop the damp sand out. Have your vegetables ready and at hand. To prepare them, harvest them in late fall and trim the green tops to a ½-inch length. Wash off the dirt—they don’t have to be immaculate, and they can be damp for storage. Put a dense 1-inch layer of moist sand on the bottom of your container. Lay the vegetables on the layer of sand, making sure that the vegetables don’t touch each other or the container sides. Fit in as many as you can, keeping at least 1/4-1/2 inch of space around each. Pour sand all over the layer of vegetables, gently packing it in and flattening it until the vegetables are completely covered by about another inch of sand. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 as many times as possible, ending with a layer of sand. Cover the box and store it in a cold, dark spot on your deck or porch. When you use the vegetables, dig out the desired quantity and make sure that the remaining ones are covered entirely. These vegetables should stay fresh for four to six months.
This article was excerpted with permission from the book Urban Farm Projects: Making the Most of Your Money, Space, and Stuff, copyright 2014, I-5 Publishing, LLC. For more budget-friendly and environmentally conscience projects and recipes, pick up a copy today!