Root Cellar - Make it, use it, what else?

Discussion in 'Back to Basics' started by Ganado, Jun 12, 2016.

  1. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

  2. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    I'm digging ours. It's an ongoing project. The 'hole' is 9x9ft, because the root cellar will be 8x8, but I need room for building materials. I'm also planning to have it double as a storm shelter if need be. I also wonder, how I could use it to survive wildfires, because we can't drive for medical reasons, so being able to get us and all our animals in there would be our only shot. I'm guessing a metal door with concrete/stone frame would be necessary, but I worry that intense heat might damage/warp the door so we would be stuck inside. Then I think maybe a decent sized hole in the top with a spiral ramp/stairway, because a metal covering over that could be easily moved even if it got warped. It would only have dirt to adhere too. Wildfires are the only thing I really want to have a plan for out here, earthquakes and storms don't bother me.
  3. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    You would need bottles of air. Wildfires kill by burning, but also by using up all the oxygen. It needs a lot more than you do.
    Those wildfire fighters who recently died were all in thier emergency burritos, which are made to reflect away heat. But the fire took too long to pass over, and they died when thier air ran out. (My son has just completed his wildfire training course. )
    Ganado, Dont and chelloveck like this.
  4. VHestin

    VHestin Farm Chick

    Yeah, was just talking to a neighbor about it, and they said the same thing, have breathing masks/air available for when the fire burns out the oxygen.
  5. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    Zimmy, Gray Wolf, Motomom34 and 5 others like this.
  6. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    I plan to build a root cellar, however it will double as a bomb shelter, which means it will be under ground by several feet of dirt over head. Might as well do it right the first time.
    Zimmy, chelloveck and Ganado like this.
  7. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    This is something I was intending to do until I realized our crawl space is just about as good. We currently are keeping all the canned products we get from the garden and other things the wife cans down there. The Californian that built this place made the crawl space ~5 foot high. Why in the world he didn't just go down another 3 feet and make a full basement I will never understand, but then, he did a few other strange thing here. Anyway...

    Anyway, I think the best option to build is like the 2nd photo from the top, on a slight hill (so water drains away), dig into and down, cover with dirt and then seed with grass. The question is how deep which if I remember correctly depends a lot on how cold it gets where you lived (frost line) and water table. I did build one in Central Asia, nothing extravagant, pretty much a deep hole with concrete walls and floor, vents but realized after the fact that I did it wrong, but it worked well except for one thing - it would filled with about a meter of water. I resolved the water issue with some good sealer from Germany, gave it 3 coats and was good to go.

    BTW @Ganado That is an excellent website for plans. I saved 3 for possible future projects.
  8. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    I really like her and her husbands links to plans for building stuff [winkthumb]
    Tully Mars likes this.
  9. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey

    Know some folks in central Washington that have the same kind of set up. It's actually kinda cool. He dug the "shelves" they use for storage out of the dirt sides. Works pretty dang slick and always stays a nice even temp year round.

    @Ganado Thanks for the link gurlfriend!!

    You [rockon]
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 13, 2016
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  10. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    @ Tully Mars I have actually thought of digging out more, say a and 8 foot square area and dig down another 3-5 feet but it would be a hassling hauling the dirt up and getting it outside and besides, it is cool/warm enough already.
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  11. Tully Mars

    Tully Mars Metal weldin' monkey

    I feel yer pain Rick. That's what these folks did. Brought every shovel full out in a 5 gal bucket. He didn't dig this all at once, but over a period of years.
    chelloveck and Ganado like this.
  12. arleigh

    arleigh Goophy monkey

    Kind of like eating an elephant, one bite at a time.
    prepping is just the every day things you do as a life style .Just a little change, every effort, something,
    It's nice of you got the money to do things all at once, but it's not always the best way to do things.
    Oft times in the middle of a project, because I go slow, I can make alterations to the plan before I've too much invested.
  13. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

  14. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    My FIL buried an old reffer 'face up' in the back yard with holes drilled to drain water. The gasket had been removed as well as the latch - he had 10 kiddos after all. Every Fall they put the spuds and turnips intp straw in the reffer. Easier that pitting, no second dig needed and no worry over frozen ground.

    This was in addition to the basement where the canned goods (bottled, really) sat on shelves.

    We portioned off our semi-unheated 'garage' in the basement and put an insulated plug over the garage door. In the winter have to use supplemental heat to keep the food storage area above freezing. In the summers, it stays nice an cool. What little we store (there is just the two of us now) sits on commercial shelving units, bolted to the partition wall. Must be OK, passed the Earthquake Test.

    Typical house in Anchorage w/'daylight' basement'
    The garage is part of the home with bedrooms usually over the garage part.

    @Ganado - thanks for the link to the vid - I've watched other offerings from these folks on no-dig gardening. I'm sure they have monetized their channel as the productions are very 'professional'.
    chelloveck likes this.
  15. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    Nice thread with pics and all. Fairly sure I've posted mine here before, but in case not, here goes:

    One of our gable end garage walls is north facing and built into the mountain our house seat was benched out of. About 10-12 years back, I had a guy with a big track hoe up here doing some other projects and go him to work thru the woods around to that end of the garage and dig me a hole for a root cellar. To access the hole, I used a chop saw to cut a doorway in the 8" block exterior wall. Cellar is about 8x10'.


    Then I hand poured a small footer (with the shale, didn't figure to need much) and laid up 8" block walls:


    Then cut some posts/beams/2" planking on my sawmill to make a temporary concrete form for the roof.
    Completed the form with a lot of rebar and had a 6" roof pumped on top while I had a pump up here for another project. Top was cover with 4" foam insulation and back filled with about a foot of dirt.


    Finished the inside with couple coats of white paint, electric, shelves. 2 draws in cold air because the other has a small fan on a timer that runs at night to draw in colder air.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
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