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