Author Archive | Berkshire Botanical Garden

Taking Root

A Guide to Root Cellars

 Taking Root
Cellar at the residence of Robin and Barbara Norris, owners of Campo de Fiori, Sheffield, MA. This vaulted brick-ceiling root cellar, approximately 15 years old, was constructed into the side of a hill with gathered fieldstones from their property.

All summer we chop, marinate, grill and roast our way through the seasons’ produce—a frantic attempt to get our fill while barrels and baskets are piled high. Some of us go further: jamming, pickling, freezing and drying to carry the bounty through the short days and long winter ahead of us.

But there’s yet another way to preserve the fruits of our labor, a technique especially suited for the time-pressed home gardener or eager farm stand frequenter.

Root cellars are the ancient remedy for our busy modern lives. They save time and money and are, for the anxious among us, an efficient way to stockpile food for emergencies. But don’t think root cellars are just for Midwestern grandmas and apocalypse-fearing recluses. With a cool, dark space and a good amount of humidity you can effortlessly have juicy tomatoes in November and snappy squash in February.

Over 40,000 years ago, Native Australians were the first to take advantage the earth’s preservative qualities, burying their crops of yams for future use.… Read the rest

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edible gardening: FROM SEED TO SAUCE

Heirlooms, not your salad bar tomatoes Nothing says summer quite like a perfectly ripe tomato fresh off the vine. Bright, juicy and acidic, this messenger of long days and humid nights needs no decoration— perhaps just a quick dash of salt and a grind of pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and a basil leaf if you’re feeling fancy. Take a drooling, fleshy bite out of a conventional fruit. Now try it again with an heirloom variety. Taste the difference? Heirloom plants (open-pollinated cultivars not used in modern large-scale agriculture) have been nurtured and handed down from farmer to farmer with legacies that enrich each slice with the richest possible flavor.
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