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Root Cellar

https://commonsensehome.com/root-cellars-101/

What is a Root Cellar and How to Use It:

  • What is it? A root cellar is like a secret underground room where people keep fruits and veggies to make them last longer. It’s an old-school way of preserving food before fancy fridges existed.
  • Building it: To make a root cellar, you dig a hole in the ground and make a cozy little space there. The spot should be cool and dry, away from the sun. You also need to make sure the room is well-insulated to keep a steady temperature.
  • Keeping It Cool: Inside the root cellar, the temperature should be chilly but not freezing. Think of it like being in a fridge that’s not too cold. The best temperature is between 0°C and 4°C (32°F and 40°F) for most fruits and veggies.
  • Avoiding Mold: You know how some foods get fuzzy and gross when left out? To prevent that, the root cellar needs to have some humidity but not too much. Around 85% to 95% is just right. You can do this by placing wet sand, water trays, or a damp cloth inside.
  • Fresh Air: The room also needs to breathe a bit, so there should be some airflow. Not too much, though, as it might dry out the food.
  • Keeping Things Organized: Inside the cellar, use shelves or racks to keep your food off the ground. This helps prevent spoilage from spreading to other items. Keep different fruits and veggies separated for easy access.
  • What to Store: You can keep lots of stuff in a root cellar! Think potatoes, carrots, beets, turnips, apples, pears, cabbage, squash, onions, and more.
  • Check it Out: Every now and then, take a look inside and remove any rotten or bad stuff. It keeps the other food happy and fresh.

Using a root cellar is like having a secret treasure trove of delicious and healthy food that lasts longer than usual. It’s a cool, dark, and humid spot that helps you enjoy your homegrown goodies even in winter and early spring, without relying too much on the grocery store.

Building a root cellar

Building a root cellar from natural materials can be a great way to store vegetables, fruits, and other perishable items for an extended period. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

Step 1: Choose a Suitable Location Select a spot for your root cellar that is away from direct sunlight, preferably on the north side of a hill or under a shade tree. The location should also have good drainage to prevent water from accumulating inside the cellar.

Step 2: Digging the Hole Using shovels, dig a hole in the ground, about (2 to 3 meters) deep and large enough to fit your storage needs. The hole can be rectangular or circular, depending on your preference.

Step 3: Constructing the Walls For the walls, use natural materials such as stones, wood, or adobe bricks. Stack these materials up to create sturdy walls around the hole you dug. Leave a small entrance space that will later become the door to your root cellar.

Step 4: Roof and Door Now, construct a roof over the cellar using wooden beams and thatch or grass. This will help keep the cellar cool and insulated. For the door, you can use wood or create a makeshift door with branches and a tarp.

Step 5: Ventilation Ventilation is crucial to keep fresh air circulating inside the root cellar. Dig a small ventilation shaft or create a vent near the roof to allow fresh air in and stale air out. You can cover the vent with a mesh or screen to prevent pests from entering.

Step 6: Flooring For the floor, you can use gravel or stones to provide a clean and level surface. This will also help with drainage if any moisture accumulates inside the cellar.

Step 7: Stocking the Cellar Once your root cellar is complete, start storing your vegetables, fruits, and other perishables inside. Use crates or shelves to organize the items neatly. Keep an eye on the temperature and humidity levels to ensure the best conditions for storage.

Step 8: Monitoring and Maintenance Regularly check the root cellar for any signs of spoilage, rot, or pests. Fix any leaks or damage to the structure promptly. Maintain proper ventilation and temperature control to extend the shelf life of your stored items.

Building a root cellar from natural materials might take some time and effort, but it can be a rewarding and sustainable way to store your harvest and preserve food for a longer time.

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