We Don’t Carrot All: Winter Root Storage at Wishetwurra Farm.

My friend Lee Blackwell, at Blackwell Roots Farm, in Vermont has acres of roots.


Field of carrots. Blackwell Roots Farm, Cabot, Vermont.

How does he wash tons of roots?


In a root washer, of course!

Where does he keep tons of roots?


In big, walk-in root cellar rooms.

There are different rooms for cabbage, for taters, for carrots.


The Hall of the Potatoes, at Blackwell Roots Farm.

Coming soon to B/R Farm is a big room dedicated to sauerkraut and kimchee production, but that’s another story.

I dream of perfect root storage, as at Lee’s farm.


A pile of parsnipian perfection.

Perhaps I could have a nice, heavily insulated, easily cleaned home root cellar, as featured in the vegetable porn sections of gardening magazines, tucked into the corner of my basement? It would have different zones for different crops, would be thermostatted and wired with fans to be cooled by outside winter air instead of using fossil fuel grid power to keep a cooling machine working. Please don’t forget that automatic humidity control—-

But it’s not going to happen, not at Wishetwurra Farm.

Our house doesn’t have a basement, only a crawl space. We don’t really need a big root cellar, because there are only two of us, and in one winter we couldn’t really eat what it would take to fill a big root cellar.

And don’t forget that I’m cheap.

I’m a Cheap Yankee, and can’t stomach the thought of spending the thousands of dollars it would cost to build the perfect root cellar, when that much money would keep us supplied with carrots, beets, and potatoes for the rest of our natural lives.

If small is beautiful, then Wishetwurra Farm is gorgeous.

It’s such a small place that success can fit on the tailgate of a Toyota Tacoma.


Thanks, Fedco Seeds, for these “sugarsnax” carrots.
A carrot over 15″ long is definitely a home garden success.

How does Wishetwurra Farm store roots for the winter?

We don’t have to store more than a few hundred pounds of roots.


The 2013 Wishetwurra Farm storage carrot crop, getting put away for the winter.

We have a really simple, “dirt cheap” setup that meets our needs.

Our setup is a hole in the ground.

There’s a plastic tote in the bottom of the hole.

The top of the hole is bordered with salvaged 2X6 boards, to keep dirt from falling onto the tote top.

The 2X6 boards also provide a framework for a cover of 2″ plastic foam insulation board.

Over this goes a piece of plywood, to help keep out rain and snow.

When it’s time to store our crop, a layer of damp sand goes into the tote bottom, and roots are bedded in.


First layer of carrots goes into the tote.

In between layers of roots, we place more sand, then we add more roots.


Almost full…..

When full, we top off with a final layer of sand.


Sand in lower right is brushed away, to show the carrots.

The tote cover goes on, and it’s covered with 2″ of (salvaged) foam plastic insulation.


For illustration purposes, one piece of foam insulation is not yet in place.

The (salvaged) piece of plywood goes on top.


This plywood is in crummy condition, and will be replaced before winter arrives.

We come out to get carrots from time to time, throughout the cold season. We’ll bring in enough to last a week or two. In the tote, they’ll last unstil at least April or May. When it’s storage time again next fall, we take the old sand out and toss it onto a garden path, and get fresh sand for a new storage season.

If we had really hard winters here, I might cover this with a layer of leaves and a tarp, to insulate even more, and to make access easier during prolonged cold and snowy spells.

That’s the basic idea.

You could use sheetrock buckets with drainage holes if you didn’t have an old tote.

We keep our taters in (salvaged) sheetrock buckets with sand, in the crawl space. They seem to keep OK.

Can you beet that?

4 responses to “We Don’t Carrot All: Winter Root Storage at Wishetwurra Farm.

  1. My friend Tom has the ideal, cutting edge root storage system here described above. If everyone did this, I wouldn’t have to grow and store thousands of pounds of roots. It would all be so much easier and more fun, and I would have time to come down and go crabbing with my friend Tom. So get busy everybody. Lee

  2. Sweet! My old farm! One small edit: the photo labeled ‘cabbage room’ is really the potato room.

  3. Pingback: Wishetwurra Farm, November 2014 | thetompostpile·

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