Having a root cellar in your backyard is like having your own private supermarket of fresh fruits and vegetables. Any time you need potatoes for dinner or an apple for a snack, just open the door and walk inside. Anything you need is right there on the shelves.
But a root cellar is more than a convenience. In addition to providing the security of having a year’s supply of fruits and vegetables on hand, a root cellar offers sanctuary. In an emergency, it could shelter your family for a few hours, a few days, or even a few weeks, if necessary.
A well-built root cellar can be a good investment. It will save you money for years to come, yet if you build the cellar yourself, the cost of materials is less than you would spend in one winter buying food at supermarket prices.
A good root cellar should provide cool, above-freezing temperatures and good circulation of moderately humid air. The combination root cellar and storm shelter in this bulletin has these features plus several others that make it easy for one person — with no building experience — to build as a spare-time project.
The dirt floor takes advantage of the naturally cool, even temperature of the earth. It also cuts costs and provides needed humidity.
The concrete block walls are durable and sturdy, with a middle core of air, which acts as an insulator. In extreme climates, the cores can be filled with loose insulation to keep temperatures more even. Concrete block walls are simple to work with. And you can lay a few blocks whenever you have a little time, then resume where you left off the next time.
The walls are topped by a wood frame roof made of 2 x lumber, which can be handled by 1 person. The roof is protected by sheathing, roll roofing, and plastic film, then covered with 2 feet of soil.
Entrance to the cellar is through an air lock created by a 4-foot-wide hatchway at the top of the stairway and another door at the bottom of the stairs. The doors and the entrance wall are insulated to protect the cellar interior.
The cellar is vented for good air circulation, and a drainage system protects the interior from water seepage.
So here it is. This is one root cellar you can afford. This is one you can do all by yourself. And you can build it in your spare time.
If you have a garden and want to store the produce for year-round use, you know you need a root cellar. If you have a family that needs the security of an assured food supply and a safe shelter in time of emergency, you know you should build one. All you have to do is start.
- The Right Location
- Building the Cellar
- Adapting the Cellar to Your Needs
- Get the Most from Your Root Cellar
- Storage Requirements of Individual Fruits and Vegetables
- Root Cellar Maintenance