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Tips on Long-Term Storage of Your Homegrown Produce

October 29th, 2013


When you grow your own food you know that the season matters. You have a glut of one kind of food on your hands in one season and then a few months later you are yearning to taste that special flavor once again. The winter time is particularly hard on people who are used to growing and eating their own foods. Unless you live in a very tropical climate there is not much you can grow in the midst of the cold and icy winter. However you can save your plenty for these times of want by properly preserving your produce.

While freezing and canning are options that will allow you to make the most of your home grown treats, sometimes we just want something that has not been processed. There are some foods that will successfully store for months in the right conditions. Here are some tips for storing these select items of produce to enjoy all winter long:


Storing apples is easier than you would think. It all starts out with the proper temperature. Apples continue to ripen at any temperature over forty degrees. However they freeze at temperatures less than thirty. Your ideal storage location would be a cellar or something similar which maintains a constant temperature of between thirty to forty degrees.

Once you have a place in mind, make sure the apples you pick are ripe. Ripe apples store the longest. Some varieties of apples store better than others too. Late ripening apples like Fuji, Rome or Red Delicious tend to store longer. Do not mix the varieties as all apple varieties ripen at their own pace. Make sure the apples are freshly picked and not over ripe before they go into storage. Smaller apples also tend to store for longer than larger ones.

You know the old saying, “One bad apple spoils the bunch”? Well, it is actually true! Make sure that the apples you pick are bruise and damage free. Even one apple that rots can spoil an entire bunch. Check your apples after storage as well to look for signs of rotting. Remove any rotting apples immediately before it spreads.

Apples like plenty of air flow and humidity. Some people even store them with a damp cloth over the top. However your goal should be to keep them at a constant temperature and keep them from bruising.

As apples tend to pick of the flavors of what they are stored near, do not store the apples close to items like onions or garlic. Potatoes are also a bad thing to store near apples as they make the apples ripen faster.

If you follow these directions then you can have fresh apples all winter long!

Garlic and Onions

Speaking of stinky produce, garlic and onions are both pungent and practical for long term storage. They both store extremely well and can last a very long time if properly prepared.

First of all, your onions and garlic should be dried before storing. This is best done by laying them out in a dry, well-ventilated area out of the sun. It can take over a week for them to dry completely but you will know when they are dry because the outer layer will become papery and brittle.

Once your onion and garlic are dry you need to store them properly. Onion likes a temperature of around forty degrees. Store them in a cool, dark place and they will last a long time. Mesh bags and crates work well for onion storage. Some people even hang them in pantyhose! Just make sure the onions are not tightly packed and have plenty of ventilation.

Garlic also loves ventilation and darkness; however it should not be stored with onions as they can hasten each other’s spoiling. Since garlic loves to be dry, you can store it at almost any temperature. The best way to store garlic long term is in a brown paper bag. Punch a few holes in the bag for ventilation and then staple or pin it shut. Place the bag in a dry, dark place and your garlic will last you for months.


Drying and storing beans for the winter is a process that has gone on for ages. Beans naturally dry up and are very easy to store with little effort. However there are some small tips you should be aware of.

First of all, you should let the bean pods dry on the plant. This will allow them to ripen fully and also make the harvesting process easier. Once you remove the dried seed pods from the pant it is a snap to harvest the beans. You will know they are ready to harvest when the pod becomes thin and papery and you can hear the beans rattle when shaken.

Remove the beans from the pod and spread out in a thin layer to dry completely. If you wish to speed up the process of air drying you can place them in a dehydrator or a very low temperature oven. To clean the beans simply blow away any dirt with a hair dryer.

Before storing the bans you should freeze them overnight to kill off any bugs. Then place the beans in an airtight container and store them in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. They are great in soups and meals all winter long!


Storing potatoes is something that many people rely on. As a root crop they can be kept rather easily through the winter. There are a few tricks to preserving them successfully however.

Some varieties of potatoes store better than others. Ones with thick skins usually store the best. Russet, Yukon Gold, and Kennebec are all good potatoes for long term storage.

First of all, when you harvest the potatoes make sure you do not wash them. You should only wash them right before you plan on using them. You can brush off any extra dirt but make sure not to damage the skin of the potato.

Before storing you need to cure the potatoes. This is done by laying them out on newspaper to dry in a cool, dark and well-ventilated location. Let their skins firm up and cure for two weeks before moving on to the next step.

Once they have cured you can move on to storage. The best idea is to get a box or storage container with ventilation. Layer the potatoes with newspaper, allowing for plenty of breathing room. I.e. newspaper, layer of potatoes, newspaper, and so on until the container is full.

Store your potatoes in a DARK, cool and dry location. They like temperatures in the forties. You should not refrigerate potatoes as it takes away from their flavor and nutritional value.

Regularly inspect potatoes for rot or eye formation. Once they start to grow eyes they get bitter. One rotten potatoes can also spoil the whole bunch, so remove it immediately.

Carrots and Beets

Another kind of root vegetable, carrots are commonly grown but less commonly stored correctly. Along with their red brethren, the beet, they are easy to keep all winter long. Here are some tips to keep your beets and carrots tasty through the chilly season:

First, when you harvest the carrots and beets you should cut off the green tops as close as you can without harming the root. Leaving the green part on your produce means that the moisture will be sucked from the root and that leaves your carrots and beets dry, cracked and less than tasty.

Inspect the carrots and beets for imperfections and do not wash them. Just gently brush off any excess dirt. In a box, layer the carrots and beets with slightly damp sand. Make sure there is sand between each layer. Carrots and beets need moisture but not too much or it will cause them to rot. However if it gets too dry they will crack and become inedible.

It is a delicate balance, but you should be able to keep them moist and safe when stored in a cool, dark place. Make sure to check regularly for dampness and rot and to remove any rotting carrots or beets so they do not spoil the rest.

As you can see, it is easy to store a variety of produce through the winter without having to freeze, can or even refrigerate them. Doing things the old fashioned way is often the best and with a little effort you can have great tasting produce all winter long!


About the Author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This great content was provided by:

Blogging for was a natural progression for Allison once she graduated from college, as it allowed her to combine her two passions: writing and children. She has enjoyed furthering her writing career with She can be in touch through e-mail allisonDOTnannyclassifiedsATgmail rest you know.

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GLEPE Humble Seed Giveway: Tongue of Fire Bush Bean

October 20th, 2013

Tongue of Fire Bush Bean

Many thanks to those who took the time to visit with us and talk seed at the Great Lakes Emergency Preparedness Expo this past weekend. As promised, here is more information about the sample seed giveaway and don’t let the name of this bush bean scare you!

The Tongue of Fire Bush Bean is actually a very strikingly beautiful bean. Mature pods are ivory white with streaks of red coloring that look similar to flames, thus, Tongue of Fire. It has been said that the original Tongue of Fire seed was from Tierra del Fuego, on the tip of South America. From there, seeds were then sent to Italy and subsequently spread throughout southern Europe. Today, everyone can enjoy the beauty and taste of this unique horticultural bean.

Tongue of Fire Bush Bean pods can be harvested while young (before red streaks become too visible) and enjoyed like snap beans. The young pods are great for stir-fry dishes or any other way that you enjoy snap beans. Once mature the shelled beans of Tongue of Fire are large and round, and they offer excellent taste and texture. They can be canned, frozen or enjoyed fresh.

Maturing in 70 days, you can have a wonderful supply of Tongue of Fire Bush Beans for a variety of delicious dishes, from cold bean salads to soups and stews. This is a beauty in the garden and a taste bud pleaser.  Please feel free to open and print off this handy growing guide too! —–>Tongue of Fire Growing PDF

About Us:

Humble Seed specializes in premium garden seed kits that are packaged and themed for convenience and ease. We are dedicated to providing the highest quality heirloom, non-GMO, non-hybrid, and organic seed varieties to those who choose to start from seed.

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Don’t Fall for the “Fall” Fallacy: Autumn is an Awesome Time to Start a Garden

October 12th, 2013

shutterstock_119313934Have you have always wanted to grow your own garden and vowed that this year was the year, but found yourself so busy all spring and summer that you never quite got around to it? And now that the fall has arrived, you think it’s too late to start planting anything this year?

Good news: it’s never too late in the year to begin an indoor garden and in fact, starting small with a container garden is a great way to get a feel for the planting process before investing time, money and energy in a full-scale in-ground garden.

Alternatively, there are plenty of cool weather options if you want to plant a raised bed garden outside, so don’t think that just because the air is acquiring a chill that you’re completely out of outdoor options.

In fact, the fall actually presents some unique benefits for gardening. For one thing, the cooler weather is easier on the humans and plants, alike. Plus, the ground is still warm enough for roots to establish themselves this year, whereas if you wait until spring, you need to wait until the frost is over and that can be tricky (late frosts, etc.).

Even if your long-term goal is simply to grow items inside, the point is the same: there’s no time like the present to get going on your growing. Here are a few tips you can use in either growing situation, as well as suggestions for various types of fall vegetables that can still take root in your raised bed garden this year and some considerations for your container garden.

First Things First

Initially, you may think that a raised bed garden and a container garden are the same thing. After all, isn’t a container garden just pots of plants that are raised out of the ground? Not exactly.

A raised bed garden uses soil with the addition of compost to grow items and is often more closely associated with in-ground growing. Many times the bed is “raised” in the sense that it is merely built up to the point that it sits just above ground level and is boxed in with some sort of siding, most often a type of lumber. You might also have a raised bed that is perched upon a platform, thereby making it easier for the gardener to tend to the plants without having to bend over or kneel on the ground.

Container gardens, on the other hand, use soilless potting mix that must have a means for sufficient drainage. Although you can use your preference of containers, keep in mind that pottery dries out faster than plastic, so if you love the look of a terracotta pot, you can easily place a plastic tub or bucket inside of the pot, provided they both have drainage holes.

Both options are great for small spaces and tend to look neater than a large, unruly garden, since they reduce weeding. Starting plants from seeds is also an option for both methods.

Additionally, all plants have several basic requirements for survival that don’t depend on their physical planted location:

  • Sun: At least five to six hours of full sunlight every day is necessary for healthy growth.
  • Water: Although each plant has specific preferences where moisture is concerned, they all need it!
  • Food: Nutrients can be added in the form of liquid food or compost.
  • Well-drained soil is crucial to encourage healthy root growth, to prevent root rot and other diseases, and to ensure plants maintain appropriate chemical balances.

Fresh Fall Outdoor Options

If you opt for a raised bed garden, a few options that will survive and even thrive in chillier outdoor weather include:

  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Spinach

Just be sure to cover them with a blanket or utilize winter lights on especially cold nights or if you are getting a late start getting them in the ground.

*Tip: Fall foliage is a fantastic addition to your pile if you create your own compost. The last few lawn mowings of the season contribute to your “greens” and the dried leaves that fall throughout autumn can serve as some of your “browns!”

Herbaceous Harvest

Because indoor container gardens facilitate growth all year long, the fall is a fantastic time to see what seeds you can sprout inside. A collection of culinary herbs might be the perfect place to start, contenders include:

  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Dill
  • Parsley

*Tip: If you opt for a container garden, don’t use dirt you’ve dug up from the ground; even if used solely as a mix-in, outdoor garden dirt can contain parasites and soil-borne diseases which can be deadly to indoor plants. Instead, purchase soil mix or make your own and be sure to add time-released fertilizer.

What are some of your favorite cool weather garden components?


About the author:

Humble Seed welcomes guest bloggers. This great content was provided by:

Home Depot store associate in Illinois for over 10 years, Chris Long enjoys giving tips ranging from when to plant or build a raised bed garden to fall lawn care maintenance. Chris is also a regular contributor on outdoor decor and gardening products for Home Depot’s blog

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