How to store various types of "uncompatibles", such as potatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, garlic shallots in one great root cellar space?

Have one great closet in the "underground" part of my apartment (built into a hill). It's dark and keeps a steady, underground temp. So how to store produce that shouldn't be stored in same space or close to other certain items?

Your Other Mom


Your O. January 5, 2015
I was particularly concerned about storing all of these yummies in the same enclosed space... I'm OK w/separate containers; it's the proximity to each other in that space that I was pondering. I'm going to do the sand thing... will have to purchase it, as digging it out from under this beautiful Vermont snow doesn't appeal. As for the pantyhose... brilliant; however, I haven't purchased a pair since I don't know when. Might be worth it, just for this...even buying non-queen size would give me a thrill! Thank you all!
Sam1148 December 30, 2014
If you have panty hose. Put a onion down one leg and tie a knot...put in another onion..tie a knot. Repeat. Then you can hang that up on the closet rod. When you need an onion just snip off the knot...You could use twist ties if you want to re-use the hose.
mainecook61 December 29, 2014
Potatoes are fine in a root cellar. (My equivalent is to store them in feed bags in the dirt-floored cellar of a 200 year old New England house.) However, onions, in my experience, do better in a place that is cold and dry. Mine are in an unheated bedroom, in boxes that keep them dark. My onions typically last well into spring. The squashes, unboxed, live up there too. Carrots, beets, cabbages, and rutabaga also like it very cold (but not frozen). Mine are in the woodshed, and I pull them into the kitchen if the night will be subzero. The leeks are out there too, but they don't care if they're frozen or not, and will last until spring, also.
ncindc December 29, 2014
I'm pretty sure you can stick them all in buckets of sand- that's what my great aunt did. Per the other answers, it might be helpful to put each thing in its own bucket (onions + garlic + shallots in one, potatoes in another, carrots in a third)
trampledbygeese December 29, 2014
You are so very lucky! The things I would do to have a cupboard/cellar like that... sigh.

Apples are your main enemy when embarking on long term storage. They give off a gas that encourages other fruits and vegetables to ripen and rot quickly. So tip one: apples get their own storage cupboard.

Live foods like to breath. If you can, store them in baskets, burlap, wood or in a pinch cardboard. Plastic works okay, but makes it more likely for the bottom veg to get grumpy and rot. Tip two, let them breath.

As each produce ages, they give off different gases, they also breathe in what's around them (super oversimplified), so if you can keep them separate - all the onions together, all the carrots in that basket, and so on, they will keep longer. Don't worry, your veg won't be offended by the segregation, they are use to living in the dark. Tip three: a basket for every veg and every veg in its basket.

Potatoes can be stored near apples in a pinch, see this link for inspiring food storage system: Tip four: apples of the tree and apples of the earth get along swimmingly.

Carrots in wet sawdust or sand? Root veg with their dirt still clinging? Wrap in newspaper? There are all sorts of traditional and wives tails ideas on how to best store veg in a root cellar, and which veg to store next to what. One day I'll have my very own cellar, try them all, and find out what actually works or not. 'Though I would probably need to cellars because the first one would get stuffed full of wine and hard cider (or as we call it up north Cider).
jamcook December 28, 2014
You might want to try multiple baskets .. They would keep things separate while still giving them air.
Recommended by Food52