Homesteading Advice: Fall Preserving Techniques, Pest Control and Deep Well Water

The Ask MOTHER column provides homesteading advice. This issue covers fall preserving techniques, controlling mice and how to retrieve water from a deep well.

| October/November 2000

Teach cats to catch mice in the barn.

Teach cats to catch mice in the barn.


The Ask MOTHER column provides answers to readers questions about modern homesteading. This issue answers questions about fall preserving techniques, pest control and deep well water.


We need to store approximately 600 pounds of potatoes. What is the best way to keep them?

Ed T.
Hamilton, IN

Potatoes are alive but dormant, awaiting spring to sprout and grow. Use fall preserving techniques to keep them thinking that they're still buried in the soil and that it's late fall, and they will last through winter and into spring — longer if you can maintain their temperature and humidity needs.

To do this, you must provide them absolute, pitch-black dark — a squeak of light makes them think spring has arrived and they'll start pushing out buds. Also, they need to be stored at high (95%) humidity and at a temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit to 40 degrees Fahrenheit if they are to be eaten soon. Reduce temperatures to 34 degrees Fahrenheit to 36 degrees Fahrenheit for long-term storage (but warm again before eating).

Pack loosely in open-slated crates with air passages over, under and around them to reduce the chance of rot. Discourage sprouting by leaving apples to spoil in the storage. The ethylene gas that apples emit encourages fruit to ripen, but potatoes to remain dormant.

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