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Improvised Root Cellars — 2 Comments

  1. Hi Kelly,

    Thanks for this article (and for all of the great info you share!)

    I’ve read several posts here and on your greenbuilding blog about cool pantries and root cellars… I was wondering, if you keep a ventilated plastic bin of root veggies packed in damp sand or sawdust, will that help them keep as if in a root cellar, without raising the humidity in the pantry too much? We are attempting a cool pantry in our tire bale house…

    Also, given the choice, do you think it would be better to let the pantry have a high ceiling so any heat rises (and the high portion could be used to store paper goods or other things that don’t need the cool), or to keep the ceiling low and insulated? Our walls will be made of tire bales (exterior to 8′) and scoria (interior walls and upper wall), and we will put an insulated door between the pantry and the kitchen. The front of the pantry will have a ~12′ ceiling. We could put a lower insulated ceiling and use the top as an attic if we need to to protect the pantry environment. Of course it would be easier and more accessible if we just have the tall ceiling and store warmer items high up…

    I’m curious what you think. I think your cool pantry has a high domed ceiling, no?

    • Hi Kimi,

      Damp sand is often advised for keeping such root veggies as carrots and beets, so I am sure what you suggest will help. Root cellars and pantries should generally have good ventilation, and a good way to arrange this is with a low fresh air inlet vent and a much higher exhaust vent. This arrangement might not provide the kind of warmer upper region that you want.

      I have made a number of different root cellar/pantries, and two of them are described at http://greenhomebuilding.com/articles/pantries.htm and http://greenhomebuilding.com/articles/raincellar.htm . All of them have benefited from being substantially underground or bermed. It is tricky to combine both a humid root cellar and a drier pantry space; some compromises would need to be made. I suggest that you experiment and see what works for you.

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