Sunday, April 14, 2013

Root Cellaring Outside the Home

     Amazing at you may find it, the ancient Chinese did not use root cellaring to preserve foods.  They were masters of pickling and spicing food to preserve them.  In ancient Egypt, the dry desert winds allowed the people to become masters of dehydration.  Root cellaring seems to be a European device for preserving that has come from centuries of burying wine to keep it cool before the Romans were a power force.  The record holder appears to be ancient Australians burying yams over 40,000 years ago.  Walk -in root cellars seem to have centered in England in the 1600s.  

Storing vegetable crops
     If you are in a home of your own or a lease/rental agreement that allows you to dig in the yard, it may be time to dig that root cellar.  Let's start small and work our way up!
     I have seen this galvanized trash can cellar all over the internet and I see the wisdom in it.  You can store apples separate from carrots that when exposed to the gases of apples can sour and potatoes can sprout way too early.  It's a good way to separate crops and maintain smaller controlled environments.  I could see all squash in one, all potatoes in one, carrots in one and so on. 

     I  think I will try this out on my son's property this year, but I will use a larger plastic can as an added water barrier and place straw on the bottom of the plastic can to insulate the bottom and raise the interior can.  I'll keep the lid of the outer can at a few inches above ground level.  I live in Florida so digging down often causes water to rise.  Our aquifer can be a few inches below the surface to just a few feet.  

     Last, I'll put the veg in, the lid on, cover the trash can 'cellar' with straw and then cover the straw with a plastic cover or tarp.  I will also be placing the cellar on the north most facing part of the property.  When you live in the cold North it is cold on all four sides of the house, but for Florida it is imperative to cool any structure to look to the north.
     If you are not fond of digging and feel you are not obstructing a strategic view of your property, you may consider the straw bale cellar or an ice chest cellar.  I happen to have quite a few of these ice chests from years of camping and I really don't need to store them all in a garage, empty, waiting for a camp out.   If you have more than you think you need or a chest missing it's water spout cap, stick a cork in it and put it to work as a root cellar.  I love an item that becomes useful as it ages!  

     Also for the 'anti-digger' I offer this entry.  This photo is from a blog of alternate material builders.  They use corn cob, straw bale and mud as well as beautiful interior wood trimming.  Browse the site and find the oldest photos showing the footers for a straw bale building and much more information.  As well as the online visual tutorial they have work shops coming up in Chapel Hill.   My only suggestion to the prepper is, if using this as a root cellar, solid concrete slab floors depend on where you build and if you need to let cold in or keep it out.  The alternative material in this building is the sod roof insulation.  Clever and camouflage!


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