Wednesday, October 7, 2009

A Pseudo Root Cellar

We have a clay bed for a garden plot. Not a lot has grown there yet, but this year my husband has begun taking an interest in working the soil. We've had wonderfully productive gardens at previous residences, and the garden I was raised with was very big and always full of amazing produce. We tilled, planted and harvested as a family, but keeping it weeded was mostly my sister's and my job. Self-reliance means producing as much of your own food as you can. We're going to need things to grow if we want to be able to feed ourselves, and are planning to have a greenhouse. It's amazing how much you can grow in a very small plot of dirt, or a very small greenhouse. I'll have more information on those things in future posts.

This year, we have a friend who planted us a row of potatoes in his garden. Some red and some Yukon Golds. We dug up a wheel-barrow full and wondered how to best keep them through the winter before we can get them all eaten. He shared a great idea with us. An old freezer or refrigerator, buried in the ground, makes a perfect root cellar. Since it's insulated, it will maintain a near-ground temperature. We went to the "green boxes" where county residents dump their garbage. People often set old appliances and furniture by the dumpsters. As luck would have it, there was a small freezer sitting there, waiting to be hauled away to the landfill. It's only 16" x 38" on the inside - 15" deep, but is more than big enough for our potatoes. Even if you have a tiny plot of dirt behind an apartment, you can store a very good quantity of produce.

We sunk it barely below ground level and mounded the displaced soil around it. We'll cover that with a piece of plywood and then plastic to keep the plywood dry. When it snows, we can scoop the snow off the board, lift it up and open the freezer. The ground keeps cool in the summer and above freezing in the winter. With a full-sized freezer or two, a lot of produce can be stored up. The freezer, or fridge, has to be vented. The vegetables give off gasses and moisture collects inside. You can drill a hole through the door and insert a pipe, or cut out a small section of the rubber seal, big enough for a small piece of PVC. A gap can just be cut into the rubber seal and left empty, as long as the freezer is situated, or covered, so that insects and rodents cannot get inside.

We are each other's greatest resource. Each of us knows something and has something to share. Co-opping information and resources also creates a spirit of working together and taking care of each other. When a crisis comes, we rely on each other for support and unity instead of being afraid of each other. Start talking to others in your neighborhood and planning together what to do in a crisis, or just how to save money. One may have room for a nice garden plot. Another may have a woodstove that will provide a warm place to stay. You can share together in both the work and the benefits. When there's a will - there's always a way!


  1. What a GREAT IDEA!!!! I am saving this post to my file...(smile)

  2. Wonderful! Thanks Susan for telling me about this on my blog! This is one of the reasons I love blogging. Not many folks in my area are interested in homesteading, but there's a whole big world of folks out there who are and I love meeting them through the blog world!! Thanks again!

  3. Ditto! Thank you, and I enjoy the same blessings. I'm learning so much from other folks who are kind enough to share THEIR knowledge and experiences! It's great fun!



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