It’s been quite a while since our last update on the roots cellar. That doesn’t mean that the project has stalled. In fact, just the opposite. Construction has been completed!
We’re excited about our new underground storage facilities. We cannot wait to begin moving prepping supplies that we’ve stashed in our old farmhouse to the root cellar. Though we still have a bit of outfitting to do before we can move in. More on that in just a minute.
The Lost Art of Root Cellaring
Unlike in the days of old, modern families can run down to the local big box store to buy most anything their stomach desires in any season of the year. Want fresh tomatoes in December? No problem, they are in season in Argentina and are shipped to your local store. Cantaloupe in February? Again no problem.
Root Cellars are not needed in modern day America, it seems. But we wanted one.
As we designed and constructed our root cellar, we consulted printed books and online resources to help us make informed decisions. As good as books and other resources are, it’s always a good idea to find local people who have experience in your area and can offer lessons learned from their past endeavors.
Drawing upon others’ experiences is good. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to locate someone in our area. The friends and builders that we consulted didn’t have experience using one, much less actually building one.
So we proceeded, making the best decisions we could. At some point, I’ll put together a “lessons learned” on the project.
A Wet Surprise
One of our concerns about creating an hospitable environment for fruits and vegetables along with canned goods and other supplies was that of humidity.
Carrots, potatoes, and other items that we plan to store in the cellar need a cool and somewhat damp place for preservation. We entered the project with a bit of concern that the manufactured environment that we were creating for them would not be moist enough.
However, we didn’t want it so moist as to cause canned good to rust or paper products to mold. We were after the perfect level of moisture.
We didn’t get it initially.
Although we applied a water barrier to the outside of the blocks and placed a French Drain along the exterior base of the underground wall, far too much moister was seeping in through the walls. This is probably due to the consistency of the soil and how it affects drainage.
Our root cellar had it own ecosystem. Water would seep through the walls, make its way down to the gravel floor where it was cooler, and then evaporate. The water vapor would collect on the ceiling and rain down, starting the process over.
Waterproofing Our Root Cellar
To address this concern, we’re making three changes.
- We’ve coated the interior walls with DryLok. This waterproof coating should help prevent nearly as much water from entering the root cellar. (We’re currently leaving the doors open and using fans to get the existing moisture out.)
- We are going to have some rain gutters installed on the topside structure. This will help eliminate the problem of moist soil around the exterior of the root cellar walls. Plus, we’ll be able make use of the captured water.
- We are going to place a layer of plastic sheeting over the gravel floor. This will help prevent any moisture that seems in from under the gravel from reaching the root cellar area.
In the meantime, we’ve placed a couple of store-bought canned good items in there to test the environment. We don’t want them to rust.
Once these changes have been completed, our next step will be to put shelving units in there.