Why You Should Use a Root Cellar

Use nature to help you preserve your produce at any time of the year.

What to do with that beautiful homegrown bounty when you have too much to eat at once? Because some produce doesn’t have to be specially prepared to be stored, you can try a form of root cellaring to save time and your precious harvest.

Why would you want to do this?

You grew produce and have an abundance of it, so it only makes sense to try to store it, and there are some types of produce that you’d rather not pickle or can.

Cost comparison:

This saves you the cost of buying root vegetables from the store.

Root cellars seem like throwbacks to the days of our grandmothers’ or great-grandmothers’ houses and their big concrete basements with separate rooms for storing canned goods and barrels of apples and potatoes. With grocery-store produces always available, storing fresh produce may seem unnecessary and antiquated, but when you take the time and effort to grow something, it is a waste to not preserve the excess of the harvest. Many easy-to-grow foods can be stored with minimal processing (in the nonindustrial sense of the word) without taking up room in the refrigerator, freezer, or cabinets.

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I grew up with a “potato-and-onion cabinet” with a screened bottom that sat over a hole to the basement. The cool air from below came up into the mesh shelved cabinet, keeping those items cooler than the rest of the kitchen. Airflow is important—without ventilation, mold and rot can build up from increased humidity produced by the vegetables.

When it gets cold outside, people tend to bring everything inside or under cover. Reverse that process and put a small version of a root cellar outside to take advantage of the natural chill for saving your hard-earned garden crops.

This article was excerpted with permission from the book Urban Farm Projects: Making the Most of Your Money, Space, and Stuff, copyright 2014, I-5 Publishing, LLC. For more budget-friendly and environmentally conscience projects and recipes, pick up a copy today!

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