I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of self-sufficiency, and have always hated waste, so as a keen vegetable grower it was only natural that I explored the overlooked art of storage.
To some extent it is a lost art. These days you can go to the supermarket any day of the week and buy produce from many different countries. In the past, effective storage was a matter of life and death: if your potatoes rotted, your family would go hungry – possibly starve.
I have also always felt ridiculous buying vegetables or fruit that have been flown halfway round the world when I had been growing a surplus of the same ones myself only a few months earlier. Plus there are so many other benefits from eating your own produce year round:
1. A huge sense of satisfaction – of self-reliance – that you alone can meet the most important need of your family.
2. Home-grown fruit and vegetables are far cheaper than shop-bought (if not free) – and you will have healthy exercise growing them. Why pay expensive gym fees and work out in a sweaty windowless room when the Green Gym is right outside your own back door, or down on the allotment? It is also said that gardeners live longer because they are always looking forward to the next season – of growing, harvesting and storing.
3. What are you eating? You have little chance of knowing what chemicals or genetic modification have been used on produce you buy from a shop. At least you know how your own fruit and veg have been raised – and if you’re an organic gardener like me (which I thoroughly recommend), you’ll know your produce couldn’t be safer, for both you and the environment.
4. Eating food you have produced in your own garden is by far the most environmentally sound way of doing things: no unnecessary packaging, no transport pollution, no encouragement of vast monocrops and so on.
5. You can create your own by-products: storage may simply be a result of your desire to create a specific product or ingredient such as cider or dried mushrooms
6. Pleasure! Some storage activities: stringing onions, making wine, concocting chutneys, are pleasurable in themselves – and the end products are definitely for enjoyment.
Learn How to Store Your Garden Produce with Piers Warren’s practical guide.