Original stairs from our root cellar
I guess when I moved here in 1999 I didn't quite understand what a treasure I had in our house having an old fashioned real root cellar. Since our house was built in 1850, the root cellar was put in with all intentions of storing and preserving food. There was a science to it. It cannot be too humid, too hot, too cold..........has to be just right.
Stairs leading to the pantry upstairs
Our root cellar was built originally with field stone.........or should I say rock? Big rocks! In fact, since this hadn't been used as a root cellar at all since 1923, when the owners sold it to a family in Oxford for a hunting camp, we had some work to do. Previous owners had some kind of problem with the cellar walls and had replaced them with cinder blocks. That would have been fine but they took all the big rocks out of the wall and just piled them up in no orderly manner on the floor of the cellar. So you had them in the way and they were too big for me to move. Then when they put the wall in, they did not put it directly under the house wall. Now why they did that.......who knows? The only thing I know about hunting camps is that they are a place where people go to party and that may explain it.
Rocks that were in a big pile are now our rock bench
My husband moved all those rocks and built a stone bench on the far side of the cellar. On the other side of the stairs going to the pantry. So now I will be able to store containers of things down there. He plans on rebuilding the stairs to the pantry as they are not real safe at this point.
A former post I wrote on root cellars, Root Cellars - A Homesteaders' Must Have! tells about a book I read on the subject. This is how I plan to use mine. I will have a secure screen on the cellar windows so nothing can get in so I can open then a bit for the night. Then in the morning I will close them and open the pantry door. That way the night air will cool the root cellar, and then in the morning that cool air will cool the pantry. My husband has some plans for the pantry as to putting in a vent to the cellar, so I will know more about that set up when it is done.
Built in bin - notice no legs!
Our root cellar also has this built in bin to store produce. It may have been built for storing apples since our property and the property around us (State Forest now) is covered with apple trees. So I am guessing it was for apples but could have been for other things. I plan on making wooden boxes and covering them with screen (not plastic and not coated) to put fresh produce in to store. I have a terrible problem with mice and worry about them ruining my crops.
Another view of the bin
You can easily build a root cellar outside of your house. Here are some plans I found on building a root cellar with earthbags which is on the Mother Earth News website. I know many people can just build a hole in the ground and work with that. I like mine being a part of my house, but it depends on what you have to begin with.
Copyright © 2010 Kathleen G. Lupole