For successful gardeners, the question of how to store one’s harvest always comes up eventually. (For the likes of the rather improbable gardener such as myself, it is somewhat less of an issue.)
Most climates aren’t blessed with a year round growing season so one must make hay while the sun shines, then save for a rainy day. In this climate, literally. That means finding ways to preserve your bounty for the winter months.
This past year I’ve noticed a huge resurgence of interest in canning, pickling and other time honoured methods of “putting up” the harvest. So it’s no surprise that folks are looking back a generation or two for additional traditional solutions, calling up distant memories of how parents and grandparents fed themselves between growing seasons.
Enter, the root cellar. Cheap to make and maintain, naturally cool, highly effective, the perfect DIY project (no electrical wiring required).
Enter, a new generation of children sent down to dark, damp, spider-infested rooms to bring up the ingredients for dinner. Not to worry, we survived the trauma, so will they.
How To Do It Yourself
Want to be all trendy and get your own root cellar, but you’re not sure where to start? Here is an assortment of resources, in no particular order (but I saved the best for last):
- BC Agricultural Building Systems Handbook: Small Root Cellar – Long-winded name, thorough small root cellar building plan complete with measurements, and list of optimal temperatures for vegetable storage.
- The Return of the Root Cellars – Survivalist manifesto on storing food in the event of calamity, trials and/or tribulation. Whatever the reasoning, the content is quite informative.
- Garbage Can Root Cellar – This must be the most basic of root cellar concepts, but doesn’t allow for much in the way of temperature control.
- What to Store in a Root Cellar – Vegetable storage chart including optimal temperature, humidity and storage duration.
- Storage of Home-Grown Vegetables – Colorado State University tips on harvesting and storage, as well as a description of various root cellar types.
- Home Storage of Fruits and Vegetables in Root Cellars – As the name suggests, a very precise list of conditions required for specific produce, courtesy of University of Michigan. Just the facts, ma’am.
- Root Cellar Capital of the World: Elliston, Newfoundland – Not sure what to say here. Truly, stumped. Note: the misleading link “Root Cellars and Puffins” does not in fact show puffins stacked tidily amongst the potatoes in one of Elliston’s world famous root cellars. I checked.