How to Keep Garden Veggies Fresh All Winter: The Pedersen Method

IMG_0637If you’re like me, you harvested a lot of vegetables this Fall.  Gardening in the Yukon is amazing!  With long hours of sunlight, a crop of vegetables can be yours in 10 weeks.  But then you have a huge harvest.  You can’t possibly eat them all in a few weeks.  Outside of freezing, how do you store vegetables?  Can someone store vegetables all winter and keep them as fresh as if they were still in the ground?  Well, I know a way.  Bruce Pedersen, local chiropractor, has been using a method that keeps tons of vegetables from his garden fresh all winter long.  Try his method and see if it works for you.

1.  For carrots, beets, turnips:  get a large paint bucket and place an ordinary kitchen trash bag inside the bucket as a liner.  Don’t use the drawstring, get the ones with those flaps you have to tie with.

2.  Pull up your vegetables from the ground.  Don’t wash them.  Just shake the dirt off.  Don’t wipe or try to clean them.  “When people scrub a vegetable clean, they damage the skin and then they have to eat it right away or it will rot faster,” Dr. Pedersen says.  So, don’t clean these.

3.  Right at the truck, he had a cutting board and a knife.  Take the knife and cut off the greens, slicing just at the top ofIMG_0650 the carrot, or beet.  For carrots and beets, you only make one cut–to take off the greens.  With beets, you leave on the long root if it has one.  For turnips, you’re going to make two cuts: one to clear off the greens, and the second to cut off the roots, so it’s a round ball.

IMG_06464. These headless carrots all go in the trash-bag lined bucket, all on top of each other.  Don’t worry if you get dirt in there.  Be careful putting them in the bucket.  If they’re long and break off on impact, then you have to dispose of them (eat them right there!)   They’ll rot if they go in the bucket broken.

This bucket actually needs more carrots in it first.
This bucket actually needs more carrots in it first.

5.  Fill the bucket till it’s 3/4 full or 4/5.  Then shake the bucket a bit to settle the carrots.  Then take ordinary peat moss and fill the bucket with peat moss till it is full.

6.  Then take the trashbag flaps and nearly cover the peat moss, leaving a hole showing the peat that’s about the size of a tennis ball.  “This is to help the peat moss breathe.  You don’t want it all completely covered–but you don’t want more than a small hole either.”  You’ll tape down the bag in place.

IMG_0647Notice the small hole where the peat moss still shows through.  Tape the bag down around it.

7.  Store the buckets of vegetables in your garage over the winter, or a cool, dry place.  Not a freezing place.  And not in your house where it will be too warm.  Maybe an entryway, or a back porch.

8.  Over the winter, just dig out your carrots, beets, turnips, etc.  from the buckets when you need them.

9.  For potatoes, put the bunch of potatoes in a large styrofoam cooler, the kind you get at Canadian Tire.  Fill that with peat moss too.  Cover with a trashbag, stretched out over the top, taped down in places, but with enough space in other places to let the peat moss breathe.  And just dig up a potato when you need it.

Why peat moss?  Peat is a moisture regulator.  It seems to draw in the extra moisture from the newly harvested vegetables and then gives it back to the vegetables when they get dry.  It seems also to slow the decay of the vegetables, almost holding them in a stasis for a longer period of time.  Sand doesn’t regulate moisture and is a lot messier to work with.  Also you need more sand to cover the vegetables because it will sink down to the bottom.  The peat mostly rests on top as a barrier to the cold dry air.

Bruce Pedersen has done this for several years and has had fresh vegetables all winter long.  Hopefully, the method will work for you too.

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One of our regular-size carrots!
One of his regular-size carrots!

85 thoughts on “How to Keep Garden Veggies Fresh All Winter: The Pedersen Method

  1. Kara September 13, 2009 / 9:59

    Sounds great!!

    On the styrofoam cooler, was the lid closed after the potatoes were covered in peat?

  2. taibhsearachd September 13, 2009 / 9:59

    If you don’t have access to peat moss, sand is also said to work, although I’ve not tried it so I can’t personally vouch for it. Your carrots look amazing!

    • Dave September 23, 2018 / 9:59

      For the last 5 years I have used large plastic storage bins with 1 or 2 inch hole drill in the sides. I keep in a cold room at Approximately 8c and have had good success. I store between 450 and 600 lbs a year and have enough in the spring to use as seed potatoes. Nothing else in the bin other than potatoes.

  3. jstueart September 13, 2009 / 9:59

    Hmmm. I’ve not heard good things about sand.

    Kara: I corrected the article after asking Bruce what he did with the potatoes.

  4. jstueart September 14, 2009 / 9:59

    I’m putting in some info about sand vs. peat up there. Should answer these questions.

  5. Tania September 15, 2009 / 9:59

    I wonder if coir would work instead of peat moss? More environmentally friendly.

  6. jstueart September 15, 2009 / 9:59

    Sounds interesting. You should try it and see! Report back here! Actually, it’s an interesting idea–though I hadn’t heard of coir before you brought it up.

  7. Painchaud September 16, 2009 / 9:59

    Man this is a great post I’m probably gonna try this…now that I see that it seems to work =)

  8. gallantecology September 16, 2009 / 9:59

    Interesting! we tend to think that Yukon would not be a nice place for gardening since its so up north. I guess we think wrong!

  9. Joyce Brunner September 23, 2010 / 9:59

    Just wondering if this chiropractor is the Bruce Pedersen from Lacombe Alberta?

  10. Sam August 28, 2011 / 9:59

    Do not cut off any part of a beet or carrot and leave around 1 inch of the leaf.The only part you should cut off is the majority of the leaf.Cutting more results is moisture loss from “bleeding”and they will not stay as long(same as if you had scrubbed them clean).

    • Valerie August 28, 2017 / 9:59

      Yes i agree with you. Thanks. I was thinking the same as you. You just convinced me that that sounds more lovical

  11. Sandy September 12, 2011 / 9:59

    Hi I am new to your site. I was reading about how to keep carrots, onions, turnips, pototes over the winter. You said to keep them with Peat Moss do you mean the rgular Peat Moss. I like your site very much very interest ing and colourful.



  12. jstueart September 30, 2011 / 9:59

    Regular peat moss is fine.

  13. Nancy October 3, 2011 / 9:59

    Can you reuse the peat moss from year to year?

    • Charlie March 20, 2019 / 9:59

      Im wondering about reusing peatmoss too!

  14. Lane Peterson October 12, 2011 / 9:59

    So, you do actually cut off part of the carrot (or beet) as shown in the picture of the carrot being cut?

  15. jstueart October 12, 2011 / 9:59

    Hi Lane, we cut off the top of the carrot, yes. You can try it both ways–as another poster has suggested keeping the tops on–but we always cut off the top and it works just great! Carrots are delicious through the winter.


  16. Lynn October 18, 2011 / 9:59

    Has anyone tried putting potatoes in a bucket and treating them just like the carrots? Do they do better in a styrofoam cooler?

  17. Jeff Ballard November 3, 2011 / 9:59

    Thanks for the info, will be trying this method very soon. One question for anyone. My peatmoss is dried out, do you add a light spray mist of water to the peatmoss so the vegetables have something in the way of moisture to draw from?

  18. Joe Walshe December 6, 2011 / 9:59

    Very useful info. here.
    I have some peat moss but I also have loads of wood shavings so was thinking of maybe adding some of that as well as peat moss. I might add saw dust while I load carrots in bucket.

  19. Isabelle Lee December 6, 2011 / 9:59


    I washed the carrots unfortunately, should I do something different to keep them???
    Isabelle in Vancouver

  20. Amy Sue August 25, 2012 / 9:59

    Thanks for the helpful info! I just put up my beets using this method, so we’ll see how it goes!

  21. Tim Talbot September 15, 2012 / 9:59

    Can I use green moss collected in the forest, I live in the Kooteneys, of B.C.; it is an interior rain forest so moss is extremely abundant. Great post thanks from Tim in Burton

    • jean September 25, 2012 / 9:59

      You could always do a small trial and see. I wouldn’t think that regular moss and peat moss would act the same though. I have used regular moss in plant arrangements and it is touchy. Peat moss keeps my night crawlers happy as clams all summer long for fishing.

  22. Isabelle September 23, 2012 / 9:59

    I live in Alberta, and for the first time in 5 years, the great weather and hard work paid off! I have a tonne of vegetables that I’d like to store over winter. Previous years my carrottes would go rubbery with other methods. So I can’t wait to try your way. Pit moss make sense! Thank you


    • carl gardiner maine August 14, 2015 / 9:59

      I use saw dust and my carrots and spuds come out like they just came out of the garden

  23. Jessica September 23, 2012 / 9:59

    I’ve never had enough carrots or beets to worry about winter storage, and today I harvested and stored 40 pounds of EACH using this method. Thank you for sharing The Pedersen Method. With any luck, we’ll be eating garden carrots and beets for Christmas dinner.

    Fort Smith, NT

  24. Charlotte Johnson, Unity, WI. September 27, 2012 / 9:59

    My first garden in many years, I recall layering leaves that had fallen with carrots in a wooden bushel basket and kept in an unheated room of the house, they kept all winter long, don’t think i washed them. Pulled beets yesterday then layed them on the ground and hosed them off before reading your article. Going to try your method though with the washed beets and carrots yet to be dug. Thank you.

  25. Jackie September 27, 2012 / 9:59

    I think this is great I got my styrofoam and on my way.. I live outside Calgary on an acreage close to Bragg Creek …I had some very old peat moss that is rock hard how can I soften it and how moist should it be? Please help as I am excited to but things together!

  26. Shuggy Milligan October 14, 2012 / 9:59

    Hi just join into this discussion for a minute of fun…I was recently told about an old Doukabor method of storing veggies. Apparently because of the earths thermal energy, near to the ground always remains at zero. So even if it is far colder above ground, ground level is zero. So if one builds a box and digs a 1 to 2 foot deep space at the bottom of the box, now it gets a few degrees warmer. Now put down a layer of hay and start to layer veggies and hay. This is n old fashioned method and supposed to work, although I haven’t tried it. Any feedback on the thermal energy concept
    sounds scientifically logical, what do ya think?

  27. Doug Brown October 14, 2012 / 9:59

    I dig a hole about 18″ deep in my garden after fall tilling. I put the carrots and beets into the holes and cover the trench with boards and about 6″ of dirt (I live in the West Kootenays – Nakusp BC). The vegetables keep all winter and into spring. What I don’t like about this method is that it is a little messy getting out the carrots and beets in the winter. I will try the ‘Petersen method” and see how that works. By the way, hi Bruce – didn’t relalize it was you until I started reading the posts. I am going to meet with David tomorrow and go out to your property. Cheers, Doug Brown

  28. Kevin, Chatham ON October 22, 2012 / 9:59

    Thanks for the info, but I’ll have to wait for next season. I should have checked this out before I dug and washed the carrots. Can’t wait for next year!!! Fresh garden vegtibles all winter can’t be beet!! (pun intended)

  29. George November 2, 2012 / 9:59

    Thankfully my procrastination paid off…I think! Dug the carrots a few days ago, but left ’em unwashed in the garage…heh, heh, nice when a character flaw turns out to be an asset…

  30. DJ November 6, 2012 / 9:59

    I have a large crop of turnips and have been told to always leave about 2-3 inches of stalk to prevent rapid dehydration…why cut off the root? doesn’t that damage the skin and cause a more rapid deterioration? Can plastic totes be used? Do I need to dampen the peat moss while layering? Sorry for all of the questions…kinda new at all of this. Thanks

  31. Bob March 10, 2013 / 9:59

    What kind of peat moss do you use, or what is recommended?

  32. Sandra May 10, 2013 / 9:59

    How do you keep a large quantity of carrots over the SUMMER.

  33. cathychow July 14, 2013 / 9:59

    can i use a regular cooler (non syrofoam) ?
    we did the bucket & styrofoam last year & it worked brilliantly! thanks

  34. Rhoda Kennell July 26, 2013 / 9:59

    Would this method also work for storing sweet potatoes?

    • Frustrated November 27, 2018 / 9:59

      Sweet potatoes need warmer temperatures, about 55-60 degrees. Moderate humidity. Don’t chill them—they are warm season crops and will rot.

  35. Lynn Brown September 2, 2013 / 9:59

    My husband and I used the peat moss method last year with our carrots and it worked great! We had carrots until April or May that were every bit as good as a carrot you would buy at a store. We are now anxious to try it with our crop of beets we planted this year

  36. bob September 3, 2013 / 9:59

    does this method work in Ohio

  37. Deb Gledhill September 5, 2013 / 9:59

    I think this is a potentially fabulous method of storage and Im going to try it. i do have a couple of questions that I hope you or one of your readers will answer. Should the peat moss be dampened? If damaging the carrot skin causes rot then why does cutting off the top not cause rot?

  38. Marie September 8, 2013 / 9:59

    Can I store onions with this method?

  39. Doreen September 8, 2013 / 9:59

    Do the carrots lose their sweetness?

  40. Sheila September 8, 2013 / 9:59

    Does the peat moss have to be damp or is it ok to be dry?

    • cathychow September 27, 2013 / 9:59

      use right out of the bag….you don’t need to ADD any water…..

  41. Terrie Fortey September 15, 2013 / 9:59

    I am also new too this very interesting am going to be doing my carrots and beets and sae question asthe others does the peat have to be moist or dry thanks again

  42. ERN AUTON September 25, 2013 / 9:59


  43. Juliann September 26, 2013 / 9:59

    can I use miracle grow peat moss

  44. Susan Bell September 30, 2013 / 9:59

    this is an interesting website. I have a huge bag of turnips that were given to me and I am looking for ways to jeep them throughout the winter. I am from Ohio.
    I have found that keeping onions most of the winter season until early spring is to keep them dry by hanging them in old panty hose in my downstairs back room. I also prevent them from touching the floor and they keep well through January/February.

  45. Norma Brodrick October 6, 2013 / 9:59

    We are planning to do beets and carrots this way this winter. It sounds interesting as well as being easy and proven to work. We also have a wonderful crop of parsnips and wondering if they can be stored the same way??

  46. Lanny McConnell October 7, 2013 / 9:59

    Why do you line a plastic pail with a plastic bag?

  47. Martha Steinbach October 26, 2013 / 9:59

    I am in New Jersey. Can you store onions – yellow, red and scallions – this way, as well as shallots?

  48. Mary Burke November 6, 2013 / 9:59

    I am giving this a try right now. Thanks so much for sharing it.
    Do you think that the peat preserves like it does in bogs in Ireland? Butter, as well as bodies!

  49. Robin August 15, 2014 / 9:59

    •Plastic trash bags for food storage

    The use of plastic trash bags for food storage or cooking is not recommended by USDA “… because they are not food grade plastic and chemicals from them may leach into the food.”

    • Deb September 4, 2014 / 9:59

      This was a concern of mine as well. I could not find food grade bags so bought a fridge/freezer and stored my veg just above zero Celsius. I still have carrots from last year that are good, which I’m using for stock because I have fresh ones ready in the garden. Did you find food grade bags in Whitehorse?

      • Lanny McConnell September 4, 2014 / 9:59

        I live in Stony Plain, Alberta so, no I didn’t find bags in Whitehorse. I used Safeway bags and I’m still alive

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  52. Liz November 15, 2014 / 9:59

    I had great success last winter with potatoes which I bought at a very low price, simply keeping them in the original paper bag mesh side down, it worked, I stored them in my unheated garage. Good luck

    • Cori November 11, 2015 / 9:59

      Liz, how cold does your unheated garage get in the winter? Mine goes down way below freezing. I’m in Calgary, Alberta. Just wondering how cold potatoes can stand. Thanks.

  53. Lori July 31, 2015 / 9:59

    I also would like to know if anyone has tried to reuse the peat moss from year to year to store their garden veggies. Thanks for any responses to this question!

  54. Bri September 18, 2015 / 9:59

    Can you do this with radishes?

  55. crystal Joy October 27, 2015 / 9:59

    storing root crops, squash.

    Can I use sand instead of peatmoss if I have lot of moisture?

  56. susan November 16, 2015 / 9:59

    When you do it the way you explain, the peat moss will not go over and around every carrot. Will they still stay fresh and what if i done have a full bucket . Is that O.K.

  57. Brenda March 27, 2016 / 9:59

    Will this styrofoam cooler/peat moss method work in the warm/cold weather we get in Calgary (AB)? Last year was our first year planting a garden. We had a large crop of potatoes but lost most of it to freeze and thaw weather we get here. We’re trying again this year and hoping we get a better handle on the winter storage thing. Any and all suggestions appreciated.

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  60. Norma Brodrick October 8, 2016 / 9:59

    We’ve been doing this with carrots and beets for the past 3 years and they keep really well. Have even done it with potatoes with great results. We have a bit of a dilemma this year because we’ve had a lot of rain so have to dig our carrots and beets out of the mud! Wondering if they’ll keep if we just let them dry without cleaning them off, then storing them in the peat as usual??

  61. dusty October 16, 2016 / 9:59

    i wish you all would mention storage temps your dealing with north ont is very cold

    • Deb Gledhill October 18, 2016 / 9:59

      Depends what you are storing. Potatoes and globe onions do best at 5-10 degrees Celsius. Carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips at just above freezing is ideal. Mine last until June at these temps.

  62. Gina September 8, 2017 / 9:59

    The beets I fear if cut like the carrots would bleed, would they not?

    • Al Loustel October 4, 2017 / 9:59

      we leave about an inch of stalk on and have good results

  63. Rena September 30, 2017 / 9:59

    Would wood shavings work for covering carrots?

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