OUR ROOT CELLAR – Notes From The Underground

ROOT CELLAR:  Has a soil floor.  Is Cold (0-4ºC )and very moist (90-95%) humidity.
COLD ROOM:  Has a cement floor. Is  Cool (2-10º)and Dry (60-70%) humidity.

We have lived without a refrigerator for a decade and have used everything from holes in the ground to an underground, 8 x 10 foot, root cellar to keep food fresh for the winter.  Because of drainage issues familiar to many Nova Scotians, our root cellar project in the Annapolis Valley is the most challenging to date.  This photo story shows how we have proceeded.
Our heavy clay soil drains horizontally not vertically. In order to get maximum drainage we added 32 tons of gravel to the sculpted, soil floor and dug a drainage trench more than a hundred feet long.  The footing for the walls will be three feet wide as opposed to the normal one foot width, so it will work as a floating slab when the clay gets wet and almost liquid..
Because of the time it took for us to figure out the drainage and the fact that we want to build the walls ourselves using forms and our stones, we decided to start building the permanent root cellar next spring.  Here, instead, you will see our  building process for the drainage and  our temporary root cellar, that we built in the drainage trench.   We put trusses across the trench and covered it with straw bales, a hundred of them.  Straw is always a valuable resource in the garden and on the farm.  It’s a great material to add to a compost pile.

There is a video at the end of this post

An arm with the power of 1000 men

Even more powerful than wet, heavy, clay.

100' long drainage trench.

2 hours later it’s done!

Thirty two tons of gravel for more drainage.

Leveling the gravel.

Starting to build the 3' wide footing.

Finished footing form with lots of recycled rebar.

Mineshaft style supports for the temporary root cellar.

Hay bales for insulation.

Tarped and ready for action.

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About thegreenlifefarm

The Green Life Farm welcomes people who are on a path toward sustainability, increased environmental consciousness and mindfulness. We are 80% food self sufficient, off the grid for lighting, have reduced our wastes by 90% and have become more and more producers instead of consumers. The Green Life Farm is a place to meet kindred spirits and experience how it could be to reconnect with people and nature. Our farm is always open to visitors interested in alternative energy, living, thinking, building, husbandry, forestry, cooking and farming. In summer, our place is open to campers. Our names are: Bonnie and Sylvain. Calling 902-665-2084 is best because we are not online, thegreenlifefarm@gmail.com, every day. You are welcome to bring your pet. Be ready to use an outhouse! All visits include harvesting (even in winter), preparing and sharing a meal…and good discussions
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