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Root Cellar

8847 Views 5 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  GoldenBoys
I am looking for an economy way to build a root cellar. I have explored the idea of using a precast concrete box such as a ceptic tank and checked with the companies that make them to see if something is available that would be suitable but have come up empty. Are there any ideas of using something that may be considered scrap that could be used with little modification? I have a hillside available where the root cellar could be buried with one end open.
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I've heard of people using old vehicles such as vans or panel trucks, pulled into a hole in the hillside and covered with dirt, and leaving the back doors available to get in and out. We have a friend who buried a short-ish semi-trailer in their hill. It was being "junked", and a junkyard might be a good place to find a vehicle like that.

We also know of someone who got a huge walk-in freezer from a restaurant remodel and they managed to get the thing home and bury it for a root cellar.

My husband and sons hand-dug a root cellar 7 years ago. They chopped with a pick and shoveled the dirt out until they made a 6' by 8', 5 1/2' deep hole. Then they laid logs across the hole, overlapping a foot or two onto the dirt ground-level surface. The logs are about 10" in diameter and are laid one right next to another all the way across. Then they laid several wooden doors we found at the dump, across the logs. We covered it with a layer of 6 mil plastic, put about a foot of dirt on that, then another layer of plastic. Then we continued shoveling dirt over it until we used up all the dirt from the hole. The guys chopped a stairway down to it, and we made a frame on the ground over the stairway and put a solid door over it, laying on the frame.

The root cellar has a dirt access "stairway", dirt floor and dirt walls, and it works wonderful. We keep potatoes, carrots, turnips, etc. clear into the next summer. You can use pvc pipe for vents.

Someday we hope to have a "real" root cellar with cement walls and either gravel or a cement floor, but meanwhile, we make good use of our free root cellar.

Let us know what you end up doing. I'd sure love to read about other ways people have made or think they could make a root cellar or other cold storage system for root and other crops.

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I've built 2 root cellars for people, made from old freight shipping containers.

They come in 10, 12, 20 and 40 foot lengths, 8 ft wide.

I strongly suggest they be buried above the local water table -or they will usually end up underground swimming pools. Adequate drainage will prevent that.

I built mine from an old insulated refrigerator railcar (10 x 50)... the bottom of this link shows a construction picture of how it was covered by digging 2 handy ponds along each side:

The ponds sure help the gardens in dry summer weather!

We keep all our canning jars and other supplies in it, it stays between 40 and 65 degrees all year round. In the autumn, all the squash and root crops are stored in it, most last till March or later.

... and, you never know about a bad storm or nuclear accident (or worse) in the future, this makes an excellent shelter because of the 24" minimum clay-loam cover over the top.
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Contact companies that do "pre-cast" concrete. They often have concrete root cellars in stock or will make them to your specifications. I looked into it once and the cost was reasonable. You still had to dig your own hole and intsall a door, shelves etc. but it would be a fast way to get one in the ground if you have the money.
Thanks for the info. It is great to get other opinions from like minded people. I am in the process of having another water well drilled now with the root cellar being the next major project.
This is on my to do list also. My ground is all flat, so I can't bury anything in a hillside. What I'm keeping my eyes open for is an old ice delivery box from a straight truck, like you see delivering bag ice to the stores. My problem is that I haven't seen any for sale CHEAP! I know I'll have to build stairs down to it, and that it will take a big hole, but I have a freind that will loan me his backhoe when it comes time.
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