Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Urban Root Cellar

A root cellar is a way to store food without refridgeration.  After reading Root Cellaring by Mike and Nancy Buble, Eric and I decided that we really wanted to have a root cellar of our own.  I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in building a root cellar.  The authors discuss which varieties of fruits and vegetables store well and the right storing conditions.  (Some vegetables like dry places while other vegetables like humid, cold places.)

Root cellars can be built in many different ways.  At first we wanted to built a root cellar in our basement, but we were aftraid that it would be too expensive and our basement would be too warm.  After a few hours of research, we decided on digging a hole in the backyard.  This option allows us to easily remove the root cellar if it needs changes later on.  We also had in mind that someday we will sell our house and didn't want anything permanent.

Eric dug two holes about five feet deep.  He prepared two galvanized trash cans by drilling a drainage hole and putting in a few pepples for more drainage if needed.  Galvanized cans aren't the best option because they will rust over time, but we didn't have access to anything else at the time.  I piled potatoes in one container and apples in the other container.  I also layered the produce with straw for extra protection.  I left about 6 inches at the top of each container for more straw as a insulation.  We don't want the produce to freeze because it will change their chemistry to something aweful tasting.  After putting the covers on the containers, we place two staw bales. 

We also made another spot to store carrots.  Most carrots can be left where they are growing and insulated with over twelves inches of leaves or straw.  But our carrots were spread over three different raised beds.  I dug a trench about eighteen inches deep in one of our garden beds.  I placed the carrots in one row and covered them with leaves.  Then I placed chicken wire over the trench to prevent any rodents from tasting our wonderful purple carrots.  I covered the trench with another several inches of straw for more insulation.  This trench is great time saver because we will plant our potatoes in it next year.

Last night Eric was outside gathering carrots and apples from our root cellars.  The neighbor stepped outside while Eric was reaching into the carrot trench.  I can only imagine what was going through our neighbor's mind when he saw Eric in the garden at nine o'clock at night.

Curious chicken in the carrot trench.

Only time will tell if these root cellars work.  We look forward to pulling produce out in the middle of winter.



  1. What a great idea! I hope the neighbor figures out what you're doing before he calls the authorities, lol. I hope you keep us posted on how the vegetables winter over. I think it would be wonderful to have fresh veggies on demand.

  2. I look forward to seeing how these root cellars work out for you! It doesn't snow where we live though, so what works for you, may not work for us.