HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN POTATO STORAGE BIN (And storing other root vegetables)

BUILDING THE STORAGE AREA

If an individual decided they were going to plant Irish potatos in a large quantity, and they wanted to keep them at their home in storage, and did not have the facilities to do so this is how to do it.  You can nevertheless also store sweet potatos, carrots, or any root crop in this same type of bin.  But you should put a partition between the two types of potatoes.  I do not recommend storing them touching each other, because it can cause them to spot.

WHERE TO PUT A POTATO STORAGE AREA & PROTECTING FROM VARMINTS
You can make an area right under your home where you can store potatos.  My father had one such area all during the time that I was growing up.  Beforehand install a piece of 1/2 inch mesh steel screen such as rabbit wire the size of the bottom of the enclosure you plan to build.  Install it flat on the ground, being careful not to leave any open areas.  This enables the ground temperature to maintain constant for the potatos, but it prevents hungry varmints from tunneling under and into your store.  Cover this with a 1-2 inch thick straw layer.  This is to pad the potatos and keep the ground moisture off their bottoms.

NOTE: ALL ROOT CROPS LIKE TO BE STORED IN THE DARK.  IN THE PITCH DARK.  COMPLETELY DARK. ENTIRELY DARK.  EXCEEDINGLY DARK. YOU KNOW, REALLY DARK.

Partition and seal off an area underneath the house (This can be in the crawlspace under your home.)  underneath a room that is heated would be best to keep the potatos from freezing.  The easiest way would be to take a 3/4 sheet of plywood, measure the distance from your floor joists to the ground, cut the 3/4 sheet of plywood to fill this area from the floor to the ground.  You can attach this to your floor joists, depending upon how large an area of storage you wish to have.

SIZE OF POTATO STORAGE AREA
Floor joists are normally spaced at 16 inches center, so you would use at least two joists spacing which would give you 32 inches width.  If your plywood is eight feet long, you now have a storage area that is 8 feet by 32 inches.  Determine the thickness of your floor joists.  Normally ten or twelve inches by one and a half inches.  Cut a slot in another piece of 3/4 plywood that will accomodate each of the floor joists in exact measurements.  This will be your back wall.

Do basically the same thing for the front wall of your enclosure, but cut a 16 inch door opening in the front wall, saving the piece you cut out to be used as an exact fitting door.  Hing it, and put a hasp on it so that it will not come open, and always be kept closed.  For best results in maintaining a constant ground temperature, line the inside with one inch styrofoam.  And on the coldest nights, the heat from your floor and the ground temperature will not allow them to freeze.

WHEN THE FREEZE COMES
If you feel that for some reason you’re going turn the heat off at your home and leave for an extended period of time, put a 75-100 watt bulb (depending on the area you have to heat), drop light, in the bin and close it securely.

INSTALLING YOUR POTATOES IN YOUR BIN
Just as soon as you dig your potatos do not wash them.  Wipe the dirt off of them with a clean cloth (because you’re going to wash them before you peel them and eat them anyway), gently put the potatos inside this area, stack them neatly up to approximately 18 inches to 2 feet high, as you desire.  Remember, once you have stored the potatos, if you turn ONE OVER IT WILL ROT within 30 days.  NOTE: This is why I so hate watching the check out person handle my bag of potatos.  So have your opening that you retrieve your potatoes from in such a way that as you take the potatos out you can keep removing slats, so that by the time you get to the bottom you have not caused any of your potatos to roll or change position.

ADDITIONAL NOTES ON SUMMER STORAGE
If you intend on storing your potatos during the summer months, you MUST allow the summer air to circulate over the top of the potatos.  This can be accomplished by putting an additional door at the top back.

NOTE ON DAMPNESS
If your home is built in a low area and you have standing water or dampness problems under your home, then this is not a suitable place to store root vegetables.  If you have a mild dampness problem, install several sheets of six mil plastic underneath the wire underlay before you start construction.  If you intend to store a large quantity of potatos this way to last throughout the year, you should elevate the potatos off the ground approximately four inches by cutting wood slats 1 by 2 inches, leaving a 1 inch space between each one of them for air circulation and to allow air to pass under them.

OTHER VEGETABLES THAT CAN BE STORED THERE
You can store other vegetables of a like nature such as turnips, beets, carrots, etc.  As long as you follow the basic rule of partitioning off each in their own area, and keeping to other rule of not turning them or disturbing them during storage.  If you must turn them over, then take them out and eat them.  If you turn the top vegetable over it will rot and cause the others to start rotting. (This is why I cringe whever the checkout bagger throws my potatos around) Of course, I probably will eat them before they rot anyway . . .
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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Very interesting article. Sustainable living and fresh food not involved with the FDA is always important. I have looked into root vegetable storage so this was a good source to read. I may need to come back and look at other posts, honey bees, when I have more time. I thank you for commenting on my post and allowing me to know yours is here.

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    • Shore, and I appreciate your appreciation! Oh, and this year I started some potato plants from, you know, those sprouts that start on the potatos you buy at the grocery store. I had a whole bag of them sprout. I’ve not done that before, but we’ll see what happens. At least they won’t be gassed potatos.

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