Friday, January 24, 2014

Farm House Friday: Root Cellar

In past posts I talked of the excitement of country living for fresh garden foods and fresh eggs daily, in addition to that I am so excited because we were able to incorporate a root cellar into the design of our home.  This will ensure that we can have fresh fruits and vegetables all year round.  Better yet, I will learn to cook with some new ingredients.  Who knows, maybe we will have a new family favorite among vegetables.

Unsure of what a root cellar is?  Webster's Dictionary Online defines it this way: a room or large hole in the ground where vegetables (such as potatoes and carrots) are kept.  That's what we intend to use it for along with storing some fruits.  Root cellars are an ancient method to store long term the bounty of your farm and garden.  

Ancient Root Cellar
Historically, root cellars were holes in the ground with a an access door.  Some may remember your grandmother storing canned goods and vegetables in her homes basement or cellar, this is also a version of a root cellar.  In addition to storing food for long term, they are currently being rediscovered not only for storing purposes and eating fresh grown food, but for the possibility of reducing expenses and providing food during times of potential hardship. 

For our family we chose to build a root cellar for all of those reasons:  fresh food, long term food storage, reducing expenses, and most of all we know where the food comes from, how it was grown and the nutritional content is higher than any food found in the grocery store.  With all the chemicals (pest control), additives (artificial colors and sweeteners) and preservatives found in food today, the nutritional content is much lower than it was even ten years ago. I believe this is causing more health concerns, especially in children.  

Soap box rant over!  Onto our floor plan and where we intend for our root cellar to go.  We didn't have to do much to the plans to incorporate the root cellar.  The initial plans already had a front porch.  Under this porch there is dead space, space that wasn't going to be accessible at all.  Why would we waste that space?  Even if we didn't use it as a root cellar, if we added access to this space inside the house, it could act as a tornado shelter.  A great shelter being that it would be a room with concrete on all four sides, floor and ceiling.  Those characteristics also lend themselves to a great place for a root cellar.

Red Highlighted Area: Root Cellar

What I Have Learned So Far:

Where to start?  How do you build a root cellar?  What vegetables store well in a root cellar?  I had no clue, so I goggled it.  Fortunately the internet is a great source when researching something like this. However, my main source of information has come from a book that came highly talked about among articles on root cellars that I came across on the internet.  If you are in the root cellar business and need help getting started, I highly recommend buying this book: Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables.

Here is what I have learned so far in regards to fruit and vegetables to grow and store.
1.  It all depends on your garden, location of the garden, garden soil and location on the globe.
2. Different fruits and vegetables perform differently in different parts of the globe.
3.  Crop rotation.
4. Seasonal Gardening: learn when to plant your fruits and vegetables.  Spring, Summer or Fall.
5. Trial and Error: Some will keep better than others.
6. It takes time so don't give up.  The first year or two you plant your garden you might not have a high success rate.  Don't give up, all the failure will lead to great success! 
7. Fruit and Vegetables give off certain gases that could cause the other to rot.  
8. Check your storage daily for any sign of mold or rot contamination and dispose of it immediately.  

I will post more about this as our project develops.  Would you put a root cellar in your home?  Leave a comment and let me know what would excite you the most about a root cellar of your own!

Happy Friday

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