Beets, Carrots, Parsnips and More from "Kitchen Garden Seeds
These cold hardy vegetables will tolerate light frosts, and fall's cool weather helps to keep them in perfect condition. Any plant parts that are above the soil surface can be damaged by heavy frost, so that's a good cutoff time for harvest. Pull or use a garden fork to gently remove the roots from the ground. Remove all but the top ½" of foliage, and rub off all excess soil. Don't cut off the root ends or hairs because this will invite decay. Do not wash until use.
The flavor of Carrots, Beets and Parsnips actually sweetens during storage. Ideal storage conditions are 90% to 95% humidity and a constant temperature of 32° to 40°F. To store Carrots, Beets and Parsnips in a refrigerator, lay similar-sized vegetables in a single layer, in gallon freezer bags. Remove as much air as possible before sealing each bag. Stack the bags flat on a shelf or in a drawer in the refrigerator. Check monthly for signs of decay. Beets will stay hard and sweet for five months or more; Carrots and Parsnips will last almost as long.
Moist sand is another storage option. Prepare the roots as above. Start by placing several inches of moist sand on the bottom of a plastic tub, a 5-gallon bucket or a box that's been lined with a plastic trash bag. Lay vegetables on the sand in a single layer, not touching each other, and cover completely with sand. Continue layering until the box is full and top with moist sand. The container will be very heavy, so plan accordingly.
A third technique for cool climates is to store these crops right in the ground. Before a hard frost, cover beds of Carrots, Beets or Parsnips with a 12" to 18" layer of straw or leaves. Lift back the mulch and harvest as needed. If voles discover your stash, dig up the root vegetables and store them in the refrigerator. Let me know if you have ever tried this method, interesting. We might have too much snow here for this to work.
Rutabagas and Celeriac can be prepped just like Beets and Carrots. Both will keep for months in a refrigerator. The damp sand technique described above works perfectly, too. For short-term storage, Rutabagas and Celeriac will keep on a shelf in a cool basement. Again how many of you grow rutabagas and celeriac? Till next time, this is Becky Litterer from Becky's Greenhouse Dougherty, Iowa