Extending the Season -- Growing Winter Keepers in the Northeast

Grow these vegetables that thrive in the summer to stow away for winter enjoyment!


My farm and business, the Sustainable Seed Company is located in Northern California, and our growing season is nearly eight months long.  We grow and sell heirloom seeds to many Northeastern gardeners and farmers, whose average growing season of about six months makes them ideal candidates for winter storage crops. With a little planning, you can have a nice variety of colorful and nutritious vegetables to store that will add bold flavor and variety to your table from fall all the way through to spring.

Here are a variety of heirloom winter keepers that do well in the Northeast:

Potatoes, onions, leeks, beets, carrots, parsnips, garlic, winter squashes, and some radishes and turnips will remain fresh if you choose the right variety and store them properly.

Always brush off excess soil upon harvest, and never wash vegetables for storage -- wait until you are ready to eat them to wash.

Always harvest vegetable at their prime, being careful not to nick the outer skins.

Below we have a list of varieties that do well in the Northeast.

Grow: Garlic

+ enlarge image NY White Garlic

For winter keeping, you'll want to grow New York White. Plant late spring; March or April will yield in mid- to late-summer

Cure: Brush off any soil. Allow bulbs to dry for three to four weeks in a cool, shady or dark, dry space.

Store: in 35 to 40 degrees is optimal in complete darkness.

Grow: Radishes

Daikon and Black Spanish radishes can be planted in fall for winter storage.

Harvest: at ½" to 1-inch in diameter.

Storage: same as Carrots, see below.

Grow: Beets, Carrots, Parsnips

+ enlarge image All American Parsnips

My favorite varieties are: Detroit Dark Red Beets, Imperator 58 Carrots, or All American Parsnips can be sown for winter storage in late June or July.

Harvest: at maturity. Cut off all but ½" of foliage, do not cut off root. Brush roots gently to remove any excess soil.

Cure: no curing needed.

Storage: Constant temperature between 32 and 40 degrees with 90 to 95 percent humidity. This means a refrigerator, or store in a 5 gallon bucket of damp sand, alternating layers of sand with a layer of carrots and beets. Top the last layer with damp sand to cover all, keep in a cool room and dig for the roots as needed.

Grow: Table Gold Squash

+ enlarge image Table Gold Squash

Table Gold Squash, an acorn type squash, is great for gardens with limited space.

Harvest: The key to storage is leaving some stem attached.

Cure: in a warm 75 to 80 degree spot for about 10 days, the outer skin should be very firm.

Store: 50 to 60 degrees is optimal, and good ventilation is key. Use any fruit showing signs of decay first.

Visit Sustainable Seed Company's website for more ideas on what vegetables to grow for winter storage.

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