of sowing and reaping extends yourpersonal potential for satisfying work at self-provision.
A garden fork is the most efficienttool for digging. Roots should be dugand fruits picked in the cool morninghours. The ground should be some-what dry, this way there is less cling-ing earth, and what there is can bemore gently removed without the needfor washing. Any remaining lightdusting of soil is harmless with finalwashing being done just prior to cook-ing. When circumstance necessitatesdigging from wet ground, clinging soilmust be allowed to dry somewhat inthe shade before removal.Sometimes, harvesting mustunavoidably be done later in the day.In this case, everything should be keptovernight in a cold sheltered place toremove every possible degree of remaining field heat before storage thefollowing morning. This is importantbecause warm produce will continueto lose moisture even in a highlyhumid environment.As with most ventures, location isimportant. Installations should be asclose as possible to the house for con-venience, in well drained high ground,and on the cooler north side of a largesheltering object such as the house,garage, shed, or barn. The oppositeand warmer south side would be a bet-ter choice in the far north. Consideringlocation on a larger scale, any placewhere the average winter temperatureis 30 degrees F. is ideal. However,cold storage is still practical as farsouth as to where the average isaround 45 degrees, but a shorter stor-age life must be expected.If you are new either to gardening orto your area, statistics of first frost,killing frost, hard freeze, and averagewinter temperature can all be hadfrom the local weather bureau or agri-cultural extension service. However,these dates can vary due to micro cli-mates produced by terrain, so yourown written records, or those of a ded-icated gardening neighbor, will provemore accurate. Another importantconsideration, the depth of the watertable, can be provided by a local welldriller. It should be at least ten feetbelow the bottom of your excavation,and the lower the better.It is best not to store fruits and veg-etables together because gas given off by fruits can cause vegetables to ripensooner and sprout or blanch, and thestrong odor of vegetables can taint thedelicate flavor of fruits. Everythingshould be handled gently and as littleas possible. Immediately trim tops toprevent their wilting or drawing vitali-ty from the roots. Beware of anythingsharp—things like the protruding endsof staples, nails, wire and splinters, aswell as your own fingernails—that can
September/October 1997 Backwoods Home Magazine
Figure 4. A well box that supports an access hatch above ground levelFigure 5. Top view of the storage pit: a square hole encircled at ground levelby a shallow, gravel filled, drainage trench. The lower stage duct assembly is installed, the well box positioned and is banked with earth.