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Tell me about your root cellar - what do you love/hate? How big is it?

 
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I am SO excited, things are looking like I'll be able to put in an actual root cellar this year. I've been re-reading the root cellaring book but was just curious and wanted to hear from other people before I start drawing up plans.

So - tell me about yours. How big is it? How big is your family, and do you feel like the size works well for you? What style is it? What kind of floor? If you could do it over, would you do anything differently?

Would LOVE to hear any thoughts!
 
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Mine is in the basement and about 6' wide by 4' deep with the door in the middle of the 6' side.  It's poured cement against the middle of the North wall (I didn't build it otherwise it would be in the NE corner).  I insulated it from the interior of the house with 4" of styrofoam and have two 4" pipes going in and out of it through the rim joist.  The floor is cement.

I removed the decades-old wood shelves this year and put in plastic shelving.  Much better (other than the plastic part) for cleanliness and mold prevention.  I also lime washed it which made a huge difference in how clean it looks/feels and how moldy I expect it to get.  

For me and the missus and a huge garden, it's big enough.  I store apples, carrots and beets in 5 gallon buckets in dry/damp/damp (respectively) planer shavings.  That's because the cellar isn't damp enough for the root crops.  I have onions and potatoes in baskets on the shelves and they do fine till spring.  

I love how it's in the basement and easy to access.  I hate how it's in the basement and takes till November to cool down.  I love how it's in the basement and it barely gets too cold after a stretch of -10F weather and I can fix that by cracking the door open.  I hate how it's in the basement and can't get humid enough.  I love how it's in the basement and easy to access (yes, that's in there twice on purpose).

If I were doing a new one in a new house, I'd bump out the basement wall for the cellar and have a gravel floor.  I'd try to figure out how deep undergound to put that part of the foundation so that the cold outside air optimally cools the cellar.  My foundation wall sticks out of the ground a foot and has an inch of styrofoam outside it.  With that amount exposed to the root cellar's back wall, I almost freeze the cellar on cold snaps in January in Northern WI.  If I was farther south, I'd probably want more wall exposure to the cold outside air (I think).

I'd also build it more like 6' by 6' for the two of us.  It's currently big enough but a bit more space would be nice.
 
Bethany Dutch
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Mike Haasl wrote:Mine is in the basement and about 6' wide by 4' deep with the door in the middle of the 6' side.  It's poured cement against the middle of the North wall (I didn't build it otherwise it would be in the NE corner).  I insulated it from the interior of the house with 4" of styrofoam and have two 4" pipes going in and out of it through the rim joist.  The floor is cement.

I removed the decades-old wood shelves this year and put in plastic shelving.  Much better (other than the plastic part) for cleanliness and mold prevention.  I also lime washed it which made a huge difference in how clean it looks/feels and how moldy I expect it to get.  

For me and the missus and a huge garden, it's big enough.  I store apples, carrots and beets in 5 gallon buckets in dry/damp/damp (respectively) planer shavings.  That's because the cellar isn't damp enough for the root crops.  I have onions and potatoes in baskets on the shelves and they do fine till spring.  

I love how it's in the basement and easy to access.  I hate how it's in the basement and takes till November to cool down.  I love how it's in the basement and it barely gets too cold after a stretch of -10F weather and I can fix that by cracking the door open.  I hate how it's in the basement and can't get humid enough.  I love how it's in the basement and easy to access (yes, that's in there twice on purpose).

If I were doing a new one in a new house, I'd bump out the basement wall for the cellar and have a gravel floor.  I'd try to figure out how deep undergound to put that part of the foundation so that the cold outside air optimally cools the cellar.  My foundation wall sticks out of the ground a foot and has an inch of styrofoam outside it.  With that amount exposed to the root cellar's back wall, I almost freeze the cellar on cold snaps in January in Northern WI.  If I was farther south, I'd probably want more wall exposure to the cold outside air (I think).

I'd also build it more like 6' by 6' for the two of us.  It's currently big enough but a bit more space would be nice.



That's awesome, thank you! I'm going to be building an addition and my house is kind of dug into a hill, and so I think I'm going to come up with a "connected" root cellar that will give me the convenience of it being "in" the house but not actually be in it. Do you feel like yours would be an adequate size for you and your wife if you had to be 100% self sufficient?
 
Mike Haasl
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Not easily, to do that I'd probably want to go up to 6x8.  Now this is for Wisconsin where our root cellars need to get us from October till April/May.  So you may not need as much room as I would to be self sufficient.  But a few extra feet of room is pretty cheap insurance.

One other feature we have that you may be able to work into the mix...  As the wood stove consumes air, it draws it through a pipe that comes in near the root cellar.  Some people do the "Outside Air Kit" but I figured this would be better.  The air comes into the mechanical room of the basement, flows across the floor, under the door and right to the stove.  This has the huge benefit of keeping the mechanical room pretty cool (55ish). And closer to that pipe it's more like 45-50 (in my climate).  So I store my winter squash near the pipe and my sweet potatoes far away from the pipe.  Plus all the canned goods are in that area.  Since they aren't in the root cellar their lids don't rust.  

We also store wine in our root cellar.  If the real estate outside it (near that pipe) was more conducive to our wine rack, it would be out there.
 
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