Historical and modern techniques for unheated cultivation and storage methods of winter vegetables and analysis of their use in Vienna, Styria and Burgenland

Bachelor thesis by Alexandra Depisch, Marita Fast, Andrea Gutenbrunner, Juliane Reiterer, Stefanie Schlögl and Claudia Zefferer at the Division of Organic Farming (IFÖL) in the Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna (Austria). Supervised by Christian R. Vogl.

Many consumers like to buy fresh vegetables not only in summer, but also in winter and early spring. For the production of these vegetables, however, a lot of energy is needed. Therefore this bachelor thesis deals with methods of low-input strategies of vegetable cultivation in Winter time, which can also be used in Austria. It raises the question which historical and modern cropping systems, storage methods and species/varieties of vegetables exist and which can be used in organic farming systems nowadays.

The results of interviews with 24 respondents, who have practical horticultural experiences, show that the cold greenhouse is the most frequently used technique, because it hardly needs any supplementary heat. Techniques such as hotbeds and keeping the greenhouse frost-protected by using candles are almost not used nowadays. Cold frames and wooden crates are not used anymore. Earth cellars are the most common historical and current storage method, because they can be adapted very well to modern requirements. Furthermore already existing buildings are used as storage rooms for winter vegetables. Other historical techniques as described in historical sources are not or hardly used anymore.
There is a big variety of vegetable species and varieties which are suitable for growing and harvesting in winter. They allow an efficient use of plots and a permanent harvest through the winter months. It would be important to inform consumers and chefs about the meaning of unheated cultivation of winter vegetables to raise awareness of this issue. Concerning cultivation strategies and storage methods new innovations would be useful in this field

More Information and Workshops can be found on Zinsenhof.com (only in German) or in the books of Eliot Coleman.