Potato clamps: Storing potatoes and other vegetables using a clamp

Tim Jeffries, our Commercial Director for Mr Fothergill’s offers these tips on creating a potato clamp.

Storing vegetables in a clamp

A clamp is an efficient and inexpensive way of storing root vegetables by insulating them with straw and soil. It is an age-old technique which saves a fortune by helping to eliminate waste in crops such as potatoes, turnips, carrots, parsnips.

A clamp is pretty easy to construct too.

  • Creating a vegetable clampThe first thing to do is to choose the right place for your clamp. It needs to be on level ground, not exposed to very high winds and, most important, it needs to be a place where rainwater doesn’t collect and pool.
  • Dig a small pit – perhaps 4 foot in diameter – and fill the indentation with straw. The straw should be about 6 inches thick and fluff it up to trap air.
  • Pile the vegetables on top of the straw. Only use good quality veg, free from cuts and blemishes.
  • Lay more straw on top and around the vegetables to be stored. This should be 6 to 8 inches thick.
  • IMG_4149Carefully add a layer of dry soil over the straw (up to 6 inches) and leave a tuft of straw poking through the top of the clamp for ventilation.
  • You have now created a vegetable clamp.

A clamp will store vegetables for several months but if temperatures are significantly below freezing for a long period some crops may deteriorate.

Vegetables can be removed as needed through the straw at the top of the clamp but it may be best to construct a series of clamps (for either mixed vegetables or species specific!).

I have also seen a clamp in a Victorian walled garden  that was a long, narrow affair so that roots were taken from one end making it easier to replace the straw and soil.

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