With the invention of modern refrigeration, keeping foods preserved was no longer an issue. With this invention, many old practices started to become obsolete. One such practice that started to diminish was keeping harvested vegetables in a root cellar for keeping throughout the year. In spite of modern conveniences, the root cellar is still an incredible way to keep large amounts of garden treasures safely kept.
Carrots, potatoes, parsley, and even tomatoes and fruits such as apples can be preserved in a root cellar. If you want to to make a root cellar a part of your own property, it may be a lot easier than you think. It is all about temperature and humidity control and having the right materials on hand.
What You Will Need
The most expensive investment will be the concrete blocks you use for supporting the walls of the structure. However, creating a solid wall is not necessary; therefore, you will only need enough blocks to create four standing posts, one post at each corner. Beyond concrete blocks, you will need a good shovel, a bag of ready-mix cement mix, 2"x4" boards for shelving, and a thick piece of plywood for the door. you should also invest in a thermometer and hygrometer for temperature monitoring.
Creating Your Root Cellar
According to an article on Almanac.com, the root cellar should ideally be about ten feet below the ground for the best results. Changes in temperature is often what causes the natural breakdown of vegetables and other edibles. Stability in temperature and humidity levels can be reached at this depth in most locations.
- Choose a sloped area of your property where you can easily dig into the side of a slope and downward into the earth. This will eliminate having to dig a root cellar straight down, which can be quite difficult. Your goal is to create an open hole that is large enough for you to reach inside and place shelving and plants. Most find that a hole that is about four feet deep and five to six feet tall is sufficient.
- Use the concrete blocks to stabilize the corners of the hole that you dig. Stack the blocks together to achieve the appropriate height. The holes in these blocks can be used to support wooden shelves.
- If needed, an additional piece of plywood can be used to create a sturdy roof for the space. Just place it over the four posts you created using concrete blocks.
- Mix the concrete according to the directions and spread across the dirt floor of the root cellar. Be sure to push the concrete all the way to the edges of the space and secure the blocks with the mixture.
- When the area is dry and set, hang your thermometer and hygrometer inside and place shelves as they are needed.
When you have a root cellar in place, you can keep many of your garden-harvested perishables inside. You will find that not only is it convenient to have fresh vegetables longer during the year, but you will also take up much less space inside your home and save money on groceries as well. Take a look at cements blocks at places like Show Low Block Co Inc.