Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My Fantasy Root Cellar!

We all have dreams. My dream would be to live on one hundred acres in an old farm house retrofitted to function off the grid on solar and wind power, with geo-thermal heat. We’d have beautiful rolling pastures, immense and endless gardens, a fruit orchard, grape vineyard, and a big bank barn where I could raise my own cow, hog, horses, and chickens. We would have a greenhouse, cold frames to grow vegetables year round, and a root cellar! That’s my fantasy. That’s not necessarily my husband’s fantasy. But he goes along, good sport that he is.

Last year, in pursuit of making my dreams come true, he built me a small cold frame and I grew lettuce all winter. In the summer he rigged up a shade for the cold frame and my lettuce continued to thrive all summer. But alas, I wanted more. Late in the summer I began my campaign for a root cellar, just like Laura Ingalls. We live on this incessant hill, so a root cellar doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility. Until you consider that we live on a Pennsylvania hillside where the most abundant native crop is rocks. Dig up any square foot of ground and you will discover at least ten square inches of rocks to be harvested.

But this is a fantasy, not reality I’m working with, so rocks didn’t figure in to my calculations as I lobbied for a root cellar to store the seventy-five pounds of potatoes and sweet potatoes I hoped to harvest. My husband simply shook his head at my pleas. He didn’t say no, though. He did what he does best with my plans and schemes, he thought about it.

And then he built me a root cellar….in my cellar.
Actually it’s in my crawlspace. Root cellars are ideally cool, but not freezing, and humid, but not damp. The crawlspace under our kitchen fit that description. So he set to work framing in a small area to store my potatoes.

They’ve been living in that space for about a month. We pulled them out last night to make mashed potatoes for dinner and discovered that they looked exactly as they did when we tucked them away in the “root cellar.” No wrinkles, no shriveling, no mold.

I’m a happy girl. But I still have plenty more fantasies.

Can you spot the root cellar in the cellar?

How about now?

 Here's a closer look
Impressive, right? (okay, it's better than nothing. And most importantly - it works!)
Here's how we packed the potatoes for storage - airy containers, layered with hay


  1. I am considering utilizing part of our large crawl space for root storage as well. Do you have problems with rodents? Is this little area ventilated to the outside? Thanks for any info!

    1. No issues with rodents because the crawl space is sealed to the outside. Not sure about vents, have to ask the hubby about that. Just pulled some sweet potatoes out last night and they still looked like the day I put them in! (almost four months ago!)