Build your own underground root cellar - Any good?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by minnikin1, Mar 12, 2005.

  1. minnikin1

    minnikin1 Shepherd

    Messages:
    1,658
    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2003
    Location:
    Central NY
    Has anyone read this (Storey) book by Phyllis Hosson?

    "Build your own underground root cellar"
    I saw it's only 2.95 in Lehmans and I was wondering why its so cheap?
     
  2. Tater'sPa

    Tater'sPa Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    695
    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2002
    Storey wisdom books are usually paperback bulletins about 32 pages. I've read a number of them in the past and they are quite informative.
     

  3. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    833
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Location:
    Vancouver, and Moberly Lake, BC, Canada
    From another post of mine,
     
  4. Madame

    Madame Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    4,277
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    Location:
    WI

    Where do you get the metal cans for flour? I've been looking for awhile for an alternative to plastic, but haven't found much.
     
  5. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    833
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Location:
    Vancouver, and Moberly Lake, BC, Canada
    We use metal garbage cans and got them from Canadian Tire, eh . . . I thought we got them at Home Depot, but Nancy corrected me, it was Canadain Tire. And we have a lot of old tins we put stuff in -- got those -- everywhere: garage sales, Value Village, etc. We put the tins on the shelves and the garbage cans (2) on the floor behind and next to the stair. We keep three different types of flour, still in the sack it came in, inside the garbage can -- all brand new garbage cans -- never used for anything else -- though I guess it would be OK if they had been used -- if cleaned well -- just the idea.

    We are very careful about keeping everything sealed incase of rodents. And I have sealed ALL openings and cracks into our Root Cellar VERY well -- to my way of thinking -- mice seem to think differently -- they can get through the smallest space -- unbelievable. You know, I used T&G pine, and did you notice all my caulking and sealing, in the pictures, around the edges and at uneven surfaces?

    OK, we haven't got any yet down there, but, they're around and it is a homestead -- out in the country, so, sooner or later, . . . ?

    Alex
     
  6. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    594
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    centeral Okla. S of I-40, E of I-35
    The best book on root cellars is Root Cellaring by Mike & Nancy Bubel from Rodale press, it is worth every penny.
     
  7. Madame

    Madame Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    4,277
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2003
    Location:
    WI
    Thanks, Alex. As for mice, if there's a hole the size of a dime, they can get through it. I used to have mice - but, with 5 cats, they are no longer a problem. :haha:
     
  8. allenslabs

    allenslabs Saanen & Boer Breeder

    Messages:
    1,387
    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2005
    Location:
    IN
    This is wonderful! I just had asked my dh if we could build one and he said we had no hills to build it into. I said we could just dig down and he said no it will flood. So Alex. . . . is yours just under your house? How does it not get water in when it rains? My curiosity is completely peaked! I'm so excited to see this post! But I will say that it does flood here and when it rains it stays moist out a while almost like bottom grounds that are by a river. Anyway I can't wait to see what you all have to say!
     
  9. Puddleduck

    Puddleduck Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    81
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2005
    I Love your cellar Alex.
    I have 2 questions concerning storage...
    I have alot of tins but don't have any idea what I can store in them.
    I also have an area of my house (not heated) that was an old kitchen at one time. Can I store items in the cupboards there that would be useful for root cellar storage? This is all new to me. Thank you.
     
  10. george darby

    george darby Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    236
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    have been putting off building one here for 25 years ,,,,,,,,, its on the list of nessecary and have looked at a lot of them , it seems the best are build seperate from the house but with an out building built over it basicly a basement with a vent pipe ,less elaborate types usualy are built as a berm often even with hilsides avalable kind of an earth igloo rock walled then bearmed up with earth for insulation, would love to have poured concrete walls but would probably be of a block construction if i ever get around to it
     
  11. shadowwalker

    shadowwalker Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    559
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2004
    Location:
    wyoming/ now tennessee
    A real good source of cans is at Christmas time, popscorn, candy,and empty ones can be bought at a fraction of the cost. shadowwalker
     
  12. farminghandyman

    farminghandyman Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    2,401
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    Colorado
    if you can find a old tank steel (has not had hazardousness materials in it) that is about 10' in diameter, and have a back hoe dig a hole and roll it in, tar it out side, and back fill, cut a hole in it for an entrance, and then fill in some of the tank and poor a floor, or build a wood deck in side that you can remove the floor panels and you have more storage, I wish I would have done this,


    I ended up building a stem wall out of block and filling with concrete and rebar, leaving the rebar sticking out the block a few inches, capping the wall with a plate of 3/16" steel,(cutting holes in it and welding the rebar to the plate), and then setting a 1/2 of a tank on the wall and welding it to the steel plate, (actually cut the tank and halve and cutting off the bottom of the tank {rotted out}, and used both of the halves and welded them back together to make the top of the cellar, tared it and back filled, makes a very nice 10' wide by about 20' long cellar/storage area. and poured a concrete floor,
     
  13. Alex

    Alex Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    833
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Location:
    Vancouver, and Moberly Lake, BC, Canada
    Thanks for the nice comments about our Root Cellar.

    allenslabsIf
    Our root cellar doesn’t get water in it. We built our cabin on a little rise or hill, about 10' above the highest water. But, I do keep a sump pump (1/3 hp Meyers)down there, just in case water gets in there. I was going to put in a sump -- 18" x 18" x 18" deep -- when I put the broken slabs in -- but then I thought, if I need to, I can dig it out.

    You can do two things:
    build a tank either with expensive construction practices (tanking), or install a tank like farminghandyman's says above;

    or,

    put waterproofing material like tar on the outside of the below grade portion of the Root Cellar, and put footing drains -- 4" diameter Big-O pipe -- all around the outside of the Root Cellar, then connect the Big-O to a sump with a pump in it. If you get a lot of water down there you will need to have two pumps, a float systems, and controller, and emergency power too.

    If you always get water then the tanking or tank idea might be better -- you make the structure waterproof and let the water stay there -- all around your tank. farminghandyman's idea is good.

    You have to make sure to hold the tank down if there is displaced water pressure trying to push it up. You can calculate the weight of the tank compared to the maximum displaced water weight -- which is called the buoyant-force -- then add enough old slabs like I did or concrete on the bottom. And I think you should coat the entire outside of the tank with something which will prevent corrosion like tar or something else -- like farminghandyman's says.



    Puddleduck
    If your house is big then the storage in tins in the root cellar might not be too important for you. It is for us, because our first floor is 560 ft2 and our second floor is 500 ft2. So, we use it as a dry storage area too, not only for keeping food cool.

    Your house area that is not heated, might work or might not. The reason our Root Cellar works so well, is it stays cool in the summer, because the earth stays 50F, even when it's 80 or 90F outside. The nearly-constant ground temperature is what makes ours work well in the winter too – even at forty-below it stays at forty-ABOVE – and with the ventilation pipe I put in the Root Cellar to the outside, we can cool it down in the winter, if we have to – never have had to do that.

    Root Cellaring works fine, good place for canning, root crops, potatoes, onions and garlic, etc.. Most of it stays good through the whole winter and into next year.

    Good luck.

    Alex
     
  14. caberjim

    caberjim Stableboy III

    Messages:
    426
    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2004
    Location:
    Maryland
    I have seen plans for one built on level ground. It was dug 4 feet deep, with cinderblock walls 8 feet high. The dirt excavated from the dig was put on top and around the 4 feet of exposed walls for more insulation. It had steps down and good air flow. If I can find the site or plans, I'll send them on.
     
  15. HilltopDaisy

    HilltopDaisy Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    3,891
    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2003
    Location:
    New York
    I agree, this book is fabulous!
     
  16. bethlaf

    bethlaf Homegrown Family

    Messages:
    747
    Joined:
    May 26, 2004
    Location:
    N.Ar
    check out the bubels book from the local library, or better yet , get your own copy, preserving the harvest is another good book , not sure if its still in print, and of course Carla's enc. is an invaluable resource,

    the main thing is toe keep it from freezing, the more ground cover on all sides the better, ideally , dug into a hillside, or into the ground with a 1-2 ft layer of dirt on the top , but ive used under my bed in a wood heated home for short term cold storage too , i remember my first year in the country, we were REALLY roughing it, and i didnt stop to think , several of the gals on the commune had canned a bunch of stuff and put them in plastic bins in the ground, then covered them with layers of old carpet and leaves, that worked well, for a little while, but eventually it froze and noto nly broke the seals on the jars, but broke most of the jars as well

    some things it wont matter if they freeze, for example, mangels or squashes being kept for animal feed frozen will be fine not so great for quality of eatign for humans, but i imagine if a person were really planning on relying on what they were putting by , then you would have enough extra stored to cover such a case too...

    down here in the south you see a lot of rootcellars /storm cellars, and they are so often neglected, every time i see one , i almost want to go up to the house and ask them , do you know what this is, are you using it ?

    honestly the reliance on outside food is rather scarey to me , but i digress.....

    what i guess i am getting to is as long as your temp stays around 45-50 you can root cellar anyplace you choose , moisture is an issue, better too dry than too damp , get creative, get inventive .... get a shovel :D
    B
     
  17. Bret F

    Bret F Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    654
    Joined:
    May 4, 2004
    Location:
    Idaho