Proper Storage For Vegetables
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
In the storage of vegetables for farm use the main requirements are:' Correct and uniform temperature, darkness, and the proper amount of moisture. These essentials can best be obtained and maintained in what is commonly known as the root cellar; that is, a cellar covered with earth. Being entirely covered, the outside temperature does not readily affect that inside, thus avoiding the sudden changes that are so injurious.
The earth covering also supplies about the correct amount of moisture for most vegetables and apples. It is just moist enough to prevent withering, but not damp enough to cause rot. Never put a house, barn, or building of any kind over a root cellar if you want the best results. More stuff, many times as much, is ruined by being kept too warm, than is spoiled by being kept too cold. Keep the temperature of the cellar as near 40 degrees as possible. Never have it warmer than this; and the nearer the freezing point it can be crowded without actually freezing, the better.
Be sure all stuff is thoroughly cooled in the fall before closing the doors for winter. Then keep it dark. Always use a lantern and under no circumstances allow the daylight to. enter. Have a thermometer always in the cellar, and should the temperature threaten to go too low, place a lantern on the floor of the cellar for a while. A lighted lantern will raise the temperature of a 2,000-bushel cellar about two degrees in 24 hours.
Take as much pains to keep the cold in, in spring, as to keep it out in winter. To this end, as soon as spring is. near, cover the earth on top of the cellar with manure or straw, put on thickly so as to keep the frost in the ground as late as possible. Keep doors shut tight to keep cold in. Thus you have a little storage plant in the spring and early summer; and when others must sell stuff at what they can get, or see it rot or wither, you can hold your goods from four to eight weeks longer, and then sell at your own price.
" By following these directions," writes F. B. McLeran of Minnesota, " I have kept year after year all kinds of vegetables until late into the spring and summer. I have kept potatoes in first-class shape until August, cabbage until June 25, carrots until June 15, beets until August, rutabagas until August, and parsnips until May.
"A word as to construction. I believe the coming age is going to be the cement age. In any event, I prefer the cement root cellar. Floor, sides, and roof all should be of cement. Next to this use stone or brick, and, if you have nothing else, use wood. Place tile under walls and floor. Provide an outlet. Make doors at least 6 feet 6 inches high, so you will not have to duck your head every time you pass in or out.
" Provide chutes similar to coal chutes so as to chute the vegetables in. Do not carry them in by hand. Provide ventilation. Have double doors, and have them fit tight. I use the same latch as I find on my large. ice-box door. If you will faith-fully follow these simple directions you will have a successful home for storage for fruits and vegetables."