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Discussion Starter #1
does anyone have, or has anyone ever built, a root cellar in their backyard or anywhere else outside.

i'm asking a bit late because those weeks of 10-pound-99-pennies sacks of good local carrots, beets, turnips, onions & potatoes seem to have already passed.

newspapers are full of advice about backyard $3000 jobs built by contractors. What i'm wondering about is something small, rudimentary, that a person could dig out in an hour or two.

i've even heard that filling it with fallen leaves & storing the edible roots among the leaves will work. I guess that means a few boards on top. Then i suppose one has to dig off the snow in winter, remove some vegs, then replace the boards & snow.

is there a better plan ?
 

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There are a couple of bibles on this topic: Putting Food By and Stocking Up. I have Stocking Up III, and they devote six or seven pages to the various alternatives; it's worth looking up in the library. But in a nutshell here are the alternatives they suggest:

1. the cellar steps
2. Window wells (we have one of these for our basement window, I will have to check this out)
3. Styrofoam picninc chests in an unheated space that does not freeze
4. Recycling an old chest freezer (adding a slatted floor and a vent stack)
5. Burying or partially burying containers filled with food.
6. A buried box made of 2 x 4s, lined with hardware cloth to keep our rodents with a layer of sand in the bottom.
7. A barrel pit, partially burying a barrel with earth and covering it with 3 feet of straw and wooden boards
8. A box made of hay bales, with a hay-bale "lid" on top to cover the food in the center.
9. Burying garbage pails in holes, leaveing the rims above ground, cover them with 6 inches or more of straw.
10. Mound storage...slightly more elaborate, requires a ventilation pipe.
11. Built-in basement storage room.
 

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I've had root cellars before , I learned the hard way , that venting is very important , or everything will go bad.

A quick cheap alternative to digging , is to get a worn out large chest type deep freeze and fill it half way or so with good DRY sand , you can buy it at any building supply.

Put any root vegetables in and cover with more sand , because freezers are well insulated , freezing is not usually a problem , unless you get 40 below for long periods.

You need to punch or drill holes in the top for venting and then make sure it is covered with some type of roof to keep rain and snow out.

A nieghbor of mine had about six of these in his yard , he got them from the local dump , there was no shortage of them there.

His worked very well , veggies were just like new right into the next spring.

I've also heard that digging a hole and layer with straw , layer veggies and cover with more straw and bury with a layer of soil will also work , I haven't tried that method though , I did read it in an old Mother Earth News magazine.

Just a little fun fact I found out by trying , bananas will keep for months in a root cellar.:p
 

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Discussion Starter #4
ah, rodents.

guess that's why a small pit filled w leaves would not work.

some of these ideas - picnic chests, containers w lids - have no ventilation, i'm sure mould would attack roots stored inside.

i don't have a decommissioned freezer in fact i don't have a freezer at all. I do have a cold room at the far end of the cellar, though.

speaking of rodents every year a certain number of peach pits, plum pits etc go into my compost heap. These don't break down over the winter, it takes 2 years, at least for me. So every spring when digging out last year's compost i toss the old pits into the new compost.

what i find is that the number of peach pits always multiplies by several thousand per cent. I wind up with the over-wintered peach pits that would have been tossed by an army of 500 people. Apparently the word has gone out to the squirrel population in entire neighbourhood that This is Where to Store Peach & Plum Pits.

i see them at work burying. Occasionally i see them digging up & munching. Or rather i hear them. Squirrel incisors chomp through a solid peach pit with the decibels of a sawmill.

what, after all, is a squirrel except a rat with decent public relations.
 

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Squirrels planted several horsechestnuts in our rock garden last autumn, and they popped up the following spring. The leaves of a young horsechestnut tree look suspiciously like cannabis, and at first we thought my stepdaughter had decided to start growing her own (she is a heavy consumer), and we figured we'd better dig them out before a passerby called the police. When we did, we saw the nut still attached at the root and realized what had happened.

There's a big fat female squirrel on my porch right now making alterations to the face of our Halloween jack-o-lantern. At first I pegged her for an artist, as she was nibbling around the eyes and mouth and actually improving the overall look of the thing, but then she started attacking the mouth with gusto and I concluded that she must be a dentist: all the teeth have been extracted. She also appears to have aspirations of becoming a brain surgeon, having lifted off the top and enlarged the cranial opening.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
of course your pumpkin would attract a talented arty-professional but how do you know it's a she.
 
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