A Food Journey: My Father’s Day Gift

Last season I wrestled with storing my Blandford Farm CSA bounty for later use.  After overflowing our refrigerator, I started using a room in our basement.  It was a hit or miss affair.  I had to come up with a storage scheme.  And I tended to forget I had food in the basement.  I’m still getting used to having a basement – they were rare in Texas.

Are potatoes aliens in disguise?

Our winter CSA potatoes started taking on lives of their own:




My greyhounds came to the rescue.  I still don’t understand how dogs suddenly develop opposable thumbs, but who am I to question?

Father's Day card from Duncan and Gigi. (Original is off-center.)

For Father’s Day, they gave me a harvest storage rack from Gardener’s Supply.  Some assembly required, of course.

Orchard Rack...Some assembly required.

After about a half hour of effort (and absolutely no swearing), I was successful.  New veggie storage rack, assembled.

Now I need to work on balancing the environment in my basement.  The  temperature is about 68 degrees with 77% humidity (as of this writing).  Things are cooler in the winter.  While the storage rack is in a room without a window, the adjoining room has plenty of sunlight which clearly beckons growth.  I’m thinking of covering the rack with a dark cloth.  I’d rather not add a door to the room.

Did some background reading about storing foods in the basement.  What I could glean from the MSU Extension  wasn’t encouraging.  It made reference to another document, Storing Vegetables at Home.  Both advocate a much lower temperature (just above freezing) for storing root veggies.  In my basement, that’s not happening.  Even the instructions that came with the storage rack suggest colder temperatures.

Does this mean I’m doomed?  No, I don’t think so.  I’ve learned I don’t fully understand a topic until I start implementing it.  CSA membership has started to make me aware of many issues to fully understand and appreciate eating local.  I think storing veggies is another of those issues.  Besides, my greyhounds would be disappointed if I didn’t use their gift.

Actually, I can draw on my years living in Texas.  Like I said, basements are rare.  I did have a pantry in my kitchen…well, more like a tall cupboard with a door.  I’d store onions and potatoes in it.  They would last a month or so before going wild.  The pantry was quite dark.  Temperatures in the kitchen were typically in the upper 70s.  In fact, it was difficult to keep the house temperature below 80 during the nasty summer months.

And a couple of other web sites here and here give me hope that some root veggies can be stored at more reasonable temperatures.  All is not lost.

This has gotten me to thinking about a few side issues for eating local, being a member of a CSA, and trying to store (root) vegetables.  I’ve established I live in a house with a basement, but what about:

  • If one lives in an apartment? How do they store veggies for an extended period without basement or spare closet?  Are they at a disadvantage?
  • How about retirees? I know I’ll be downsizing in a few years as I age.  I see an apartment or condo in my future (presuming there’s room for my greyhounds).  Will I have the problem of storing veggies off season?

When potatoes go bad…

I guess I’ll content myself with having a new storage rack and focusing on the environment of my basement.  Hopefully, I can avoid close encounters of the ‘tater kind:


And if you’re curious, the catalog name for my gift is the “Orchard Rack, 6 Drawer” from Gardener’s Supply:  http://www.gardeners.com/home.  Cheers!

About the author.  Dave Gillen didn’t want to eat hotdogs for the rest of his life, so he learned to cook.  His mother taught him to boil water, fry an egg, and make oatmeal cookies.  Dave forgot how to make the cookies, barely remembered how to fry eggs, but is spot on at boiling water.  Currently, he divides his days between being wife Lois’ in-house techno geek and personal chef…and walking his greyhounds.



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