6/26/15 – FUN FACT FRIDAY – ROOT CELLARS

http://www.almanac.com/blog/editors-musings/blog-root-cellars-return; http://www.almanac.com/root-cellar-build

Root cellars are an incredibly energy-efficient way to store root vegetables, including beets, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, and turnips. You can keep root vegetables stored all winter long—until your garden or farmer’s market offers new greens in the spring.

A temperature of 32–40°F and a humidity level of 85–95 percent are required to stop the food’s The cool temperature slows the release of ethylene gas and stops the grow of microorganisms that cause decomposition and evaporation.

Basement Root Cellars

Today, root cellars are often attached to houses for easy access, though it can take some effort to create a cold basement corner.

  • The best method is to use the foundation walls on the northeast corner for two sides.
  • Build the other two walls in the basement with stud and board.
  • Insulate the interior walls, ceiling, and door (and any pipes or ducts) to keep the heat out.
  • Ensure there is a ventilation system that allows cool, fresh air from the outside to be brought into the root cellar and stale air to be exhausted out.
  • Air circulation is critical for minimizing airborne mold, so shelves should stand 1 to 3 inches (3 to 8 cm) away from the walls.

Hole-in-the-Ground Cellar

Another option outside the house is to dig down into the ground or horizontally into a hillside.

  • This option requires good drainage; sandier soil works better. An elevated slope helps because the water will run away from your pit as it moves downward.
  • If your winter temperatures drop below 25 degrees, dig your pit deep enough so that all the crops are under the soil’s surface.
  • As you dig your hole in the ground, flare the sides so that it does not cave in.
  • Line the hole with straw and dried leaves, cover the hole with a thick wooden lid, and cover the lid with soil.
  • Complete temperature stability is reached about 10 feet (3 m) deep.
  • Don’t dig a root cellar near a large tree; the tree’s roots can be difficult to dig through, and they will eventually grow and crack the cellar walls.
  • Packed earth is the preferred flooring

The Garbage Can

During the wintertime, using a metal garbage cans or barrel in your hole-in-the ground cellar helps keep water out.

  • Dig a hole slightly larger than the diameter of the garbage can and deep enough so that the can’s lid will sit 4 inches above the soil level.
  • Heap earth around the circumference, add straw inside the can with the crops, and cover the lid with straw or mulch and a sheet of plastic to keep everything dry.

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