Building our root-cellar was easy! (Ha ha) Just follow these simple steps:
1) Dig a hole. Our hole was 10 feet deep, 30 feet long, and 15 feet wide. It helps to have a neighbor who excavates part-time.
2) Prepare your foundation. We will have two separate rooms: a cold room and a wet room. The wet room will keep the earthen floor, and the cold room will be concrete.
3) Pour the foundation. Have some Amish people help, since they work cheap and don't mind wading in wet cement. Since they don't like getting their pictures taken, wait till they bend over.
4) Build your walls. The final height will be 9 feet, and end just above the final ground level. Note the PVC vent pipes at either end of the structure. Those will suck in outside air and bring it in to the ground level of the root cellar, since it goes through the cool ground it arrives quite cold. There will be vents in the ceiling of the cellar to vent the warmer air, thus facilitating constant circulation.
5) We capped our walls with 1 inch thick wood to support the roof, which in our case will double as another storage building. Note the vent pipe protruding past the ground level.
6) Find some small folks to handle the hardest work. Here are three of our non-union workers digging a trench for our sump pump drain.
7) Have a local Amish builder make a wonderful 12 x 32 wooden shed and have it delivered for next-to-nothing. It fit perfectly on the foundation and with some insulation and some caulk it makes a perfect roof. I secured it with "hurricane straps" to make it one with the foundation.
8) Add exterior doors at the top of your stairs. These doors and the stair "stringers" are made by Bilco. Very good quality doors, but the installation directions are horrible. These doors were 25% of the cost of the entire root cellar budget (not including the cool Amish shed).
9) Put a cool homemade (Amish) door on both the entrance to your cold room and your wet room, to keep the cold air trapped in the cellar. It makes you feel "all old fashioned" every time you go to get something from your root cellar. This one locks from the inside, but that was an oversight. :-)
10) Install your shelving. Don't use pressure treated wood, due to the off-gassing of poisons. These shelves are 2 feet deep and go up as high as possible. We have spaced the bottom to fit 5 gallon buckets (2 deep) on the floor, gallon and half gallon jars on the bottom shelf and the rest to fit Quart Jars. This have given us A LOT of shelf space. We will post pictures of the full cellar if we can afford the food to fill it with after all this fresh expense! For now, we'll have to be happy with 4 tube of left-over caulk and a set of ratchet wrenches.
We insulated the roof and doors with the silvery looking insulator board. It doesn't look very old fashioned, but it does the job (we hope) and acts as a nice reflector for our lanterns, which is how we have chosen to do our lighting downs stairs..,and that is pretty old fashioned...right?? :-)
Oh look.... my wife practically filled the root cellar in the time it took me to write this post! Hmmmmm. surprised? She says she's not finished yet.
We put all the shelves and barrels a minimum of 6 inches away from the wall. This creates the much needed airflow in a root cellar (according to the books!). The picture above is in our dry room. The barrles mentioned are on the opposite wall of the shelves (so no pix). We found several used 55 gallon plastic drums with two piece screw on lids used to import olives. They were about $15 each. SCORE! Things you will find in this room are, canned goods, grains, beans, onions, etc. We hope to add a shelf above the barrels if we need it for more storage space.
11) At the end is our wet room. Here we have laid stone on our earthen floor and installed a sump pump....just in case. This is our first underground structure on the property. Even though this is high ground, we have lots of springs and did not know what to expect; so we thought "better safe than sorry". We actually added water to this floor to increase the moisture in here. This room will house the root veggies that like it more damp and cold, like potatoes, beets, carrots, etc. As you can see...we have a good bit to go in this department because this reflect our ability to GROW these things...we have a lot of work to do on our soil...but THAT is another post!
The outside still needs paint, gutters and we plan to put a lean-too on each side with cement slabs. One side will hold our wood. The other side will be an out door work area for butchering and drilling and sawing. It may also be where next year's summer kitchen will reside, at least for next year. The front will have a little porch, permanent step and slab and porch roof. The inside still needs to be insulated and have electric run. (Use it while ya got it!) Half of it will be a small workshop, the other half, more kitchen supplies, empty jars, dry food storage, etc.
We are on our way! We hope you enjoyed the tour.
** What some people might not realize is that a root cellar is really only seasonal storage for many things; at least your freshest of foods. The temperature will raise and lower with the temperature out side, it just has the insulation of the earth to moderate it. So in the winter it is at it's coldest, in the fall it is lowering in temperature as it gets colder. In the Spring its temperature slowly raises (much slower than out doors, but it still does). In the summer it is a like being in a well shaded place, but there is no breeze. We noticed this August (Our first full month of having the root cellar). Our weather started to change (which SEEMED early). We started having cool nights and some breezy days, between hot days. On these breezy days, it was actually cooler outside in the shade with a breeze than it was in the root cellar! There is a good amount of humidity down there and it was cool, but clammy - upstairs in the shade it was not clammy, because of the breeze. We found that quite interesting. So much so, that I have decided to turn this into a year's weather monitoring project. We now have a thermometer with humidity gauge in both rooms of our root cellar and will add one to the outside wall at the entrance. I hope to record the temperate in both rooms, and outside, 2 times a month for the next year to see how it compares and observe the patterns. Those weird Home-schoolers... they never can pass up a good opportunity to learn something! :-)
Welcome to Home Shalom!
Welcome to Home Shalom and Shalom Farm. We pray your visit here be blessed. We are learning to walk in the Ways (Torah) of our Father YHWH and follow Y'shua, His Messiah until He returns to "set things straight". We call it a "Messi-Life". Our walk is neither tidy nor perfect, but it is filled with passion, devotion and desire to serve our King. We are learning to be humble servants, and to be good stewards of the things that He has entrusted to us: His Word, our marriage, our children, our family, our community, our health, and our farm. Hitch your horse and stay a while--our door is always open!