April 11, 2023

My Mini Root Cellar

Beet tops growing out of the moss in our mini root cellar.

I am always looking for low or no-energy ways of doing things. Methods for storing the garden harvest and other foods is a big one.

Over the years I have tested a few things that have worked well. 

One is my no-energy cold drawer in the kitchen in which I keep bananas, onions, garlic, apples and oranges for immediate use. 

My moss bin is another example. I first read about storing root vegetables in gathered forest moss on the internet, and since we live surrounded by forest, decided to try it.

Now we have been keeping a moss bin in our attached, unheated garage for a couple of seasons, and with great success.

I store our garden grown carrots and beets without electric powered refrigeration. 

I also keep our store bought potatoes and apples in the garage. They are wrapped individually in newsprint and placed in a cardboard box.

These storage methods save us money, plus veggies stored in the fridge still have a limited shelf life. Eventually they either shrivel or rot.

Although we are finding that the moss bin has limitations, food lasts much, much longer in it than it would if kept in the fridge. And our boxed potatoes and apples last longer than they would if kept in our pantry in the house.

We harvested carrots and beets last October. Our beets have been all used up either in borsht or pickled, but we still have a few carrots left. The carrots are finally starting to show their age, but minimally.

These roots and tops grew while in the moss bin. It's alive!

The thing I like most about my moss storage system is that the carrots and beets continue to live, and grow both roots and tops over the weeks of storage.

The fact that the veggies are still living means that freshness is maintained.

These are the tastiest beets and carrots I have ever enjoyed, being much, much better than the comparatively yucky and expensive ones from the store.

Not everyone lives in the woods where moss is abundant, but if you do, you might consider this energy-free method of preserving the harvest.

Note: If you do use moss, please collect it respectfully and responsibly. It is slow growing, and can take a long time to replenish itself. If harvested too aggressively, it can do a lot of harm. Best to take small amounts over a wide area, than take up large sheets from one spot.

I have also experimented with returning the moss in the  spring to the spots I took it from, and have found that some regeneration is possible.

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