Choose Produce Types Suitable for Storage
If wanting to overwinter garden vegetables in your cold room, there are a few things you ought to know. The first is this: not all types of produce are suitable for cold storage! Some decay quickly after they are harvested, such as garden greens (lettuce, spinach, kale, etc) and soft vegetables (beans, cucumbers, eggplant, peas, summer squash, tomatoes). Those that store well are the hard vegetables (allium family, cabbage & kohlrabi, all tubers & root vegetables, winter squash). They are also known as “keepers,” and if you are serious about overwintering produce, you’ll make space for ’em in your garden!
The same is true for fruits: not all are suitable for raw winter storage! The best and most often over-wintered fruits include apples, citrus and pears (some grapes have a 2 month preservation life). If planting an orchard with the intent of overwintering your harvest, choose from the above. Unless you live in the south, apples and pears begin and conclude your limited options!
Choosing Produce According to Sub-Type
Within each type of produce, there are particular varieties known for their good storage qualities. Some apple ripen late-summer and go bad within weeks of picking, while others are hardy and come ripe at the perfect time (and temperatures) for storing.
If planting a garden with the intent of using cool room storage…read the seed information and package labels before buying! If vegetables are suitable for overwintering, it’ll say so. If not, assume its a summer variety, the pick-and-eat-or-process-now type! Summer varieties may keep in cold storage for a time, particularly if you let ’em grow extra large. But they aren’t the best option. Heirloom vegetables will be your best winter keepers…just make certain the labels outline ’em as such!
Plant at the Right Time for Proper Maturation
It’s possible to plant particular vegetables too early in the year. Depending on your zone, you’ll probably need a late planting of turnips, radishes and possibly beets. When tubers are left in the ground too long, roots turn woody and, for the longest lifespan, vegetables ought to be left in the ground until the cool temperatures are on their way! Plant wisely.
The best method for learning about a 2nd or late planting in your climate and zone? Talk to a local gardener! Remember? Take opportunities to live it together!