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Zone 8 Veggies and Root cellars  RSS feed

 
Posts: 128
Location: Sierra Blanca, TX
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Hi Guys and Gals,

I was wondering if anyone in Zone 8 has a root cellar and how well it works for you. Also what veggies I can grow. I have 104 acres just south of Sierra Blanca, TX and I am trying to plan out my homestead and get all my ducks in a row before moving out there. I will be using cob and adobe constructed leeching beds for most of the plants unless I can find a better option. Since the plan is 100% self sufficiency, I will also need ways to store what I grow. The obvious canning and curing options for meats and veggies I have already covered but would like other options as well. Any help here is greatly appreciated. I look forward to hearing from you.

Joe
 
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Can you elaborate on this 'leeching beds' concept of which you speak?
 
Joseph Johnson
Posts: 128
Location: Sierra Blanca, TX
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My mistake, I caught it after I posted but can't find the edit button lol What I meant to say was wicking beds but I am guessing you already knew that lol.

 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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I had a feeling that was your intention but had to be certain

As for preserving food, one advantage you've got down there is the sheer dry heat, excellent for drying foods for storage.

Here I get 2-3 months of dehydration season and need an elaborate solar heat collector to pull it off.

On the subject of the power of the sun in that region, a good solar cooker should be an excellent investment that saves you a great deal of energy resources for cooking and canning.

Zero experience anywhere near that region so I can't help with the root cellar. Keep in mind the average temperature of the ground is related to the average temperature of the air through the seasons. Root Cellar temp in my Zone 8-ish area [barely zone 7b] with summer temperatures that seldom exceed 80F is going to be 5-10 degrees F cooler than you.
 
Joseph Johnson
Posts: 128
Location: Sierra Blanca, TX
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I do like the idea of drying some of the food like peas and beans but I am hoping to grow potatoes, squash, carrots ect and not sure if a root cellar will keep them cool enough in my area. I have heard that at 8ft I can expect temps of 55-65 degrees but that really doesnt seem right to me. Average temps in july are around 94 so 30+ degree drop underground sounds well, crazy? lol
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Your winter average lows are around 26F, everything is balanced out underground with gentle swings.

55-65 sounds doable for potatoes for a while, though they might not keep as long as in a cooler Root Cellar [particularly since the high end of that range is going to be there at the end of summer/start of august] but they'll keep a while.

With carrots you don't WANT to root-cellar them, figure out how to grow them as a shoulder season crop that stays in the soil past frost. Carrots get better after frost.
 
Joseph Johnson
Posts: 128
Location: Sierra Blanca, TX
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Is there a way to get the temp lower? And I am not familiar with the term "shoulder crop" could you clarify? I really don't have a bunch of experience here and the climate is a lot different than central florida so most of what I do know about gardening is gonna be useless out in the desert. I do have the internet though and I am stubborn so I will make it work lol
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Heh. Depending on the part of Florida you might not have had a real winter to raise shoulder season crops.

These are crops that are intentionally sown at the end of summer [whether that is the beginning of august or the end of september varies from place to place] for the purpose of being harvested mid-winter.

Depending on where one is some crops often grown for this purpose actually consume a full growing season. Definitely not for your location though
 
pollinator
Posts: 10111
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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I am in Zone 8 and I store carrots and turnips in the garden where they grow. I keep squash on the back porch or if it's going to get very cold, I move them into a cool part of the house. Squash don't need very cold temps to store, they seem to do ok at room temps for me (we don't heat our house much).

I suggest looking into buried wood beds as an alternative to wicking beds: http://www.permies.com/t/52077/hugelkultur/Buried-Wood-Beds
 
gardener
Posts: 1756
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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I'm just going to way in with what learned from my mother, who is the kind to do extremely in depth research, so I don't double check her. Here in Austin area we can't do root cellars because the ground temperature is just too high.

Now, from a cave tour (Inner Space Cavern) which is on the edge of Georgetown, TX. The year round temperature of that cave (much more than 8 feet below ground) is over 70 degrees.

As far as keeping drying squash goes, Carol Depp goes into detail on this in The Resilient Gardner. And the best time to dry the squash is after the time for fresh eating. Apparently that baseball bat zuchinni you don't know how you missed is actually crying out to be dried for winter soups.
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Casie Becker wrote:Now, from a cave tour (Inner Space Cavern) which is on the edge of Georgetown, TX. The year round temperature of that cave (much more than 8 feet below ground) is over 70 degrees.

Why the heck aren't more of you southern desert dwellers living underground with year-round, zero-energy-input temperatures like this >_<

Up here the temperature of the earth is cool enough you either need to stay a bit bundled up in your own home or burn some energy to maintain the human temperature comfort zone.

EDIT: ok, just googled the Austin area's climate and with 33 inches of rain that specific zone is no desert, though it's still semi-arid for having that amount of rain at that latitude AFAIK.
 
Joseph Johnson
Posts: 128
Location: Sierra Blanca, TX
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You don't have to live underground to have those benefits lol. We are building a larger version of Cal-Earth's Eco-Dome
 
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I know nothing about root cellars, but i do agree with the others around here, if you want to keep food over winter, you can simply leave them in the ground, root vegetables do fine in the ground, and to my surprise last year i began my over winter garden, and there is so much that will grow outdoors all winter long in north texas, you will loose your summer crops but your fall planting of root vegetables brassicas and leafy greens will do just fine all winter long, even uncovered, if your wanting a crop that will provide calories similar to potatoes you can grow all the sunchoke/jerusalem artichoke you want here, heck just stir up the ground enough and it will grow on its own, they produce several pounds of tubers per plant, and you can simply leave them in the ground all winter and harvest as necessary, they like poor soil and tolerate drought well, and like carrots they also get sweeter with the cold, the starches convert to sugar the colder they get. There are endless possibilities once you work out your water source, once you have water you will be good to grow.
 
Joseph Johnson
Posts: 128
Location: Sierra Blanca, TX
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I have never tried artichoke before but it is worth looking into. The water part I am still working on. Wells are expensive in my area because of the depth (700+ ft). I can get 2500 gallons per month from town for $25 and we will be going that route to start. The washes from the mountain converge into 3 main washes and one of these runs across my land so we are looking at creating a pond there. We are gonna need a lot of dirt for our construction projects so the hole we create might as well be used to collect runoff. One of the challenges we are facing is determining how much water we need monthly. We are building 6 raised wicking beds 40ft long and 4ft wide to start but I can find no resource to guide me on how much water is needed for the various veggies we will be growing.
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Be VERY careful with legal issues regarding the possible creation of a pond on that wash. In a dry place like that the laws are likely incredibly sticky.

You'd do far better keylining out from it to spread that water, maybe put in check dams [under the pretense of preventing erosive damage to your property] to collect damp sediment and build up damp soil up-wash from the checkdams for growing things in.
 
Joseph Johnson
Posts: 128
Location: Sierra Blanca, TX
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Satellite images of the area show several of these ponds that have been around since google started imagery in 1995. I will be digging deeper into the legalities of it but in the meanwhile I have to dig a big hole to get the materials needed for my house and support structures, if it fills with water when it rains....... I know Texas is very pro rainwater harvesting and has even exempts rainwater harvesting equipment and supplies from state sales tax.
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Rainwater Harvesting /= capturing water flows that come from uphill of your property.

Tread carefully my friend.
 
Posts: 1765
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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forest garden solar
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Fruits
Solar Dehydration

Legume
Sun Dry

Nut
Sun Dry

Grains
Store Bought or Sun Dry

Veggies
Store in the ground, I am in cold Boston and kale and some collar overwinters in my garden. So you can overwinter the entire cabbage/kale/collard family, the same goes for the spinach/swisschard/beet family. You can also 'overwinter green onion/garlic/leek/etc, carrot/parsnip/etc, turnip/radish. Sweet potatoes, irish pototoes and pumpkins, those you can just store in a dark place, you will just have to start researching the right cultivars, and obviously harvest them right before frost sets in.
 
Joseph Johnson
Posts: 128
Location: Sierra Blanca, TX
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Sec. 11.142. PERMIT EXEMPTIONS. (a) Without obtaining a permit, a person may construct on the person's own property a dam or reservoir with normal storage of not more than 200 acre-feet of water for domestic and livestock purposes. A person who temporarily stores more than 200 acre-feet of water in a dam or reservoir described by this subsection is not required to obtain a permit for the dam or reservoir if the person can demonstrate that the person has not stored in the dam or reservoir more than 200 acre-feet of water on average in any 12-month period.

One step closer to legal but still needs more research. Stock tanks are in use all over Texas so I doubt there will be many issues there.

S Bengi,
Thanks for the advice on drying. Between you and Kyrt Most of my storage issues have been addressed and will be implemented if I can get things to grow lol. I have done well with peppers and tomatoes but the rest is a brand new experience for me. I worked in my dads garden as a kid but mostly just weeding and harvesting. The care of the plants was always mom and dad. They used fertilizers and insecticides so what little I learned there wont do me much good. We do not want to used any chems on the property at all so we are looking at composting and natural pest control. When we started on this little adventure we had no clue what we were actually getting ourselves into. Every time we find answers we are led to more questions. This is the challenge I had hope for and look forward to tackling it. Friends asked me when I started down this path how long it would take to complete. I told them a few years. That was a year ago. Today, I tell them it will take a lifetime. Many of them call it a lot of work but I have come to realize that it is a lot of living.

I am glad I have found this site and look forward to hearing more from you guys.
 
Kyrt Ryder
Posts: 944
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Joseph Johnson wrote:I have never tried artichoke before but it is worth looking into.


The poster you were responding to said Jerusalem Artichoke.

These aren't Artichokes at all, they're a member of the Sunflower Genus that stores an edible tuber in the ground and regrows from it year after year like potatoes do.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 10111
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Joseph Johnson wrote:one of these runs across my land so we are looking at creating a pond there.



I strongly advise you not to create a pond in a seasonal creek/ arroyo. It can't be done without an engineered dam, the forces of flood waters are too great. Our upstream neighbors tried to make a pond in their seasonal creek, using dirt and some asphalt rubble from their old driveway. Of course it blew out in the first flood, and now our creek is littered with chunks of asphalt.

A pond can be created beside an arroyo if the topography enables a swale to go from the arroyo to the pond when the flood water reaches a certain height. This also must be very carefully designed so that debris from the arroyo doesn't fill the pond.
 
Posts: 17
Location: Pacific Northwest
bike goat woodworking
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Not a root cellar option, but have you considered converting some of your potatoes into potato starch/instant mashed potatoes? Gives you another means of dry storage and can replace corn starch in recipes.
 
If you are using a wood chipper, you are doing it wrong. Even on this tiny ad:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
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