DIY root cellar Input Wanted

Discussion in 'General Food and Foraging Discussion' started by nj_m715, Feb 9, 2009.

  1. nj_m715

    nj_m715 www.veggear.blogspot.com

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    I wanted to throw out this idea to the group. Long term food storage requires a cool dark place. I own 1/2 of a double house with no front yard and a very small back yard. I have a full basement, but It still warms up near 80 during the summer. I only run the a/c if I really need to and only cool the livingroom and bedroom. My goal is too get something that will not attract attention from the twp. and not cost too much. I don't mind getting dirty to do it. I have read of guys putting a concrete cript in the ground flush with the surface and mounting something like a bench to it so it can be opened easy. The idea is that if a storm damages or levels your house you still have your supplies.
    My idea is to cut through either the floor or the wall near the floor, dig out a hole and drop in a large container maybe a plastic 55gal drum. If I go into the floor I could go bigger and use something like a 250 gal - 300 gal plastic tote.
    It could be filled and topped with a few inches of insulation. Both ways would be dark and cool. Both are very cheap, nearly free to build. Putting it in the house instead of the yard adds security and puts it 6 feet deeper than doing it in the yard.
    I think the floor would be easier to dig, but ground water could be a problem. I only get a trickle on the floor from my bilco door, but you know Murphy.
    What do you guys think?
     
  2. Canadian

    Canadian Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't risk flooding your basement or compromising your foundation. If it does not snow in your area you'd be better off to just bury a cannister in your yard. If the ground does not freeze you can just dig it up later. Plus it will stay cool and takes very little effort to do. A buried container is pretty secure. It would take someone a very long time - and a winch to get it out.
     

  3. nj_m715

    nj_m715 www.veggear.blogspot.com

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    Ok, "ground water" was poor choice of words on my part. It's more like run off water that sneaks in around my door. It's about equal to spilling a large glass of water and it goes into the drain anyway. I am just thinking worst case if the pump falled and I ended up with an inch or 2 of water in the basement. Not that it ever runs, just worst case if I had a broken pipe or 100 year storm. If it in the wall 6 inches from the floor water wouldn't be an issue.

    I'm not looking for a cashe that needs to be dug up to be accessed, but more on the line of a second fridge. I want to store a few months worth of food and be able to rotate the stock easily.

    I did think about that but I have a poured floor and walls so I wouldn't compromise the foundation any more than the existing door and windows do. Old school stacked stone foundations would make me think twice about it. If I need to move it can filled in and parged. I was mostly wondering if it stay cool enough to justify the couple hours of digging, or should I just put a shelf in the corner and call it a pantry? I think it would work with 6-8 inches of insulation to keep the ground temp in. Thanks
     
  4. MaryV

    MaryV Well-Known Member

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    I dont know a whole lot about digging up basement floors, but it seems to me it might somehow damage the foundation.
    if you are talking a few months of food, why not just put in an old fridge to store things in? a shelving system also would go along with the fridge for storage of foodstuffs.
     
  5. Canadian

    Canadian Well-Known Member

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    Shelving is sensible and freeze dried food if properly stored lasts for up to a decade. I'd recommend you don't dig up your basement. If you need a cooler place to keep your food perhaps there are other things you can do.

    You could plant some shade trees around your house? Install fans that circulate the air? Improve your insulation?
     
  6. skip

    skip Old hillbilly

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    Sounds like you furnace is in the basement, and making the basement too warm to store food. One solution would be to build a well insulated room in a corner the size you need. Not hard to do, and pretty cheap.
     
  7. nj_m715

    nj_m715 www.veggear.blogspot.com

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    There's no room for trees, pretty much a row home and the heater doesn't run in the summer when the basement warms up.
    I am thinking about cleaning out a corner and building a small room (4X8)thick walls. Maybe out of straw bails. Two walls and the floor would be existing masonary and hopefully keep the pantry nice and cool. Hay and motar are pretty cheap. I just need a sheet of plywood for the top and a roll insulation. It would give me more storage, but take away a good bit of floor space.
     
  8. Canadian

    Canadian Well-Known Member

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    Instead of building a special room could you shoot a layer of spray foam insulation onto the outside of the barrel a few inches thick? When you need to open the barrel you just saw the foam off of the top of the barrel. You could make a sleeve for the barrel out of cardboard so you can shoot the spray foam in. Spray foam has an incredible insulation value.
     
  9. nj_m715

    nj_m715 www.veggear.blogspot.com

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    I don't understand what that would do for me. The cool temps come from the ground. I could just insulate it by storing it in a cooler and not build anything, but that also insulates it from the ground?
    The indoor root cellar would have maximum exposure to the ground (cool), insulation from the heet and easy access like sinking a drum or two in the floor.