Do you have one? Do you want to build one? Big or small? Temperate versus Warmer areas and Wet areas versus Dry. What to do and what not to do. Good books? Videos please...
We are in a dry-ish area. Winter temps can go to freezing overnight for a few days. Summer is pretty hot. Rainy season in summer.
If I build a root cellar - will I need to cycle the air early mornings (in winter) to get the Cellar cold? How important is it to have high thermal mass inside,? such as Bottles of water or stone in the walls/floor (I have access to granite cut offs , very heavy stuff) What to do in early summer if temps outside go high? - close the vents? - will it become to warm inside if the air is exchanged? Late summer it will become allmost empty, except for preserved stuff. It will be used mostly for Potatoes, Carrot, Beets, Turnips, preserved/bottled/pickled foods. - What else? Thanks.
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
posted 7 years ago
Not all vegetables/fruits need the same conditions. Some need cooler, others warmer. Some things will rot in a moist environment, while others need it. To build an "all-around" root cellar, I would think that there should be a partition to keep two environments going. Without knowing what you plan to keep overwinter, it is hard for anybody to give advice.
They have many examples of cellars of different types, even a few that failed. There are lists of the foods the can be stored in a cellar and the different conditions they need. Also recipes to use the stored food in. Good Book.
Another is Build your Own Underground Root Cellar By Phillis Hobson. This is one of the Storey County Wisdom Bulletins. It contains material list and step by step instructions to build a 12 X 8 Ft cellar.
I don't have proper plans but I made this rough drawing this we constructed our cellar into a bank of earth next to our house.
It's surrounded by earth on all sides except at the entrance. There was about a foot of earth above the cellar but to help keep it cooler we also constructed a pergola on top with climbing plants and I planted the south-facing bank with shrubs and climbers.
The climbers took a while to get going.
But now, five years later the cellar stays really cool. It was 102° here this week and the wine was nicely chilled.
The gloriette (That's what we call that kind of pergola in France) is a wonderful addition and it's the second we've build for shade. The shape of them are inspired from some wrinkles I have on my right index finger which I often use for ideas in building things.
Irene, What a brilliant idea to put the Pergola on top of the Root Cellar.! Your blog is absolutely inspiring !
What temperature do you see in the Root Cellar in Mid-Summer?
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
posted 7 years ago
Irene! Every time I look at your photos, I get envious. Your homestead is not only well thought out, it is well executed as well. A property I am interested in has, at the edge of zone 1 a slope that makes a gentle 90 degree turn from EW to NS, and I was thinking of a Sepp style hog house into the slope, but after seeing your root cellar/pergola, I have determined that the turn of the slope should follow in your footsteps. The pigs are going to need to find a new home! LOL Absolutely a great use of your land for dual purpose. Kudos.
I like "stacking functions", it appeals to my Scottish nature. If your cellar is near the house (And it should be) then it's nice to make it pretty and functional. A lot of the plants growing up and around it are ornamental but we also have table vines (White Hamburg) which do well in that spot and it's nice to eat them still warm from the sun.
Hi Jen, thanks to you too.
My blog's meant to get people doing things, so I'm glad you feel it's serving a purpose. I must get my act in gear and post to it one of these days.
The cellar's was about 35° this week - that's the hottest it's been for ages but the temperature stays more or less constant. It's warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
The pergola was an afterthought. We wanted to dig into the hill at the back of the house where the round was quite level but to be able to stand up in the cellar we could only cover it with a small amount of earth. As it was a flat surface it made sense to put something on it which would shade the cellar and somehow "join" the area on to the house.
This is what it looks like from the terrace.
There are more photos here : (and some of the inside too)
Irene, looking at your pictures is like looking at a treasure cave... ..must have spent an hour looking at the flicker pics.
May I ask how you constructed the Cellar? I see some concrete above the door and brick in the walls.
We have brick that is very porous, even more than terracotta, and moisture will migrate through it to raise humidity inside. Another material we could access is Granite cut-offs that are sawn off granite blocks. They might be good for thermal mass in parts of the floor. I saw someone use a lot of bottles filled with water for thermal mass but cannot find the site again.
I have the Bubel's book and will be building this summer. Probably two chambered with anteroom. We get prolonged -10F with occasional -35 to -40F. I want to store potatoes, turnip, carrots, radish, beets, parsnip and crocks of sauerkraut. If it will work as a cooler in the summer, that would be a bonus. I hope we can see some more pictures and ideas on this thread.
I have been intensively youtube researching root cellars for a couple weeks and can verify that Dave posted the two best series on the internet. Most youtube videos don't actually have root vegetables in the root cellars - maybe a couple of squash, but mostly shelves of home canning or Campbell soup.
The Little Mountain Ranch channel has several other root cellar videos - one posted as recently as today - detailing the development of mold, what she did about it, the status of vegetables 5 months later. It's all very informative and well done.
Sean at Edible Acres has at least 2 other videos up - a 3 year follow up posted in the last month. I think Sean's videos are the best and suggest everyone watch him and buy plants from Edible Acres (I do).
I'm building my own root cellar like Sean's - in a basement under my garage. The area, while not finished living space, was dry walled and musty - I pulled down the dry wall and found condensation on the north wall. I hope to use that to my advantage and create a long insulated wall to block the moist, root cellar side of the room from the dry side. The root cellar will be ~22ft long and maybe ~4ft deep. I'm still trying to figure out the depth and the best way to configure PVC ventilation for such a long narrow space.
I'll document my progress on the root cellar, although I am about a month away from building it. Where is the best spot to post it? Probably not this Natural Building area since it's in the basement. Homesteading > Homestead or Kitchen > Food Preservation perhaps?
Mike Arr wrote:I think Sean's videos are the best and suggest everyone watch him and buy plants from Edible Acres (I do).
We do have the Official Permies Seed and Plant Source Review Grid that still needs a review for Edible Acres. Here's a thread on Edible Acres Nursery that would be perfect to add your review to. All you need to do is start your review with these particular words "I give this nursery X out of 10 acorns". Then continue on with your review of your experience with the nursery. X=1 is horrible, X=10 is awesome.
"Hundreds of years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in or the type of car I drove... But the world may be different because I did something so bafflingly crazy that it becomes a tourist destination"
You've gotta fight it! Don't give in! Read this tiny ad: