There’s much more to storing neeps (aka swedes or rutabagas) than tipping them into a tub and leaving them in a dark place until needed. Neeps need a cold and very damp environment to prevent them from dehydrating, which leaves them shrivelled and flabby. Ideally, they should be stored in the dark, in temperatures of 1-5C and with a relative humidity of 95 per cent. Neeps should not be allowed to freeze, and they have to kept away from rats and mice. Our solution is to store them in large tubs filled with sand, keeping the tubs in the workshop where the winter temperature seldom rises above 5C.
I start by mixing up a batch of fill—three parts horticultural sand to one part clean, sieved soil. I spread an inch of this over the bottom of a tub, then set out a layer of neeps on the fill, taking care to use a mixture of sizes so I don’t have to dig through several layers to find suitable ones for us or the pigs. Each layer of neeps is covered with a layer of sand and another layer placed on top of that. When I have a layer of neeps just below the top of the tub, I finished packing it with a final, two-inch thick layer of sand and water it in. Note that when using very large tubs, it is a very good idea to pack them in situ to avoid having to moving them. The weight of each tub is also such that it’s essential to have a strong floor. The tubs need to be kept moist through the autumn and winter, so we water them lightly with a watering can. With care, neeps should last at least four months and often as long as six when stored like this.