Country Lore: Dig a Bucket-Size Root Cellar

A 5-gallon bucket and bucket-size hole are all you need to make a simple root cellar for carrots.
By Chriss Stutzman
October/November 2010
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To make a nifty, mini root cellar right in the garden, simply bury a bucket and cover it with a straw bale.

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For sweet, crisp carrots all winter, we always left them in the ground under a thick layer of leaves or straw to keep them from freezing. But digging carrots in midwinter was not my idea of fun.

I wanted a better way to store the carrots, so I made a miniature root cellar right in the garden. First, I cut the bottom from a 5-gallon bucket. Then I dug a bucket-size hole in the ground just deep enough so the top of it was flush with the ground. I filled the bucket with just-dug carrots, placed the lid on the bucket and plopped a bale of straw on top for insulation.

My winter carrots stay sweet and crisp — just as they did in the ground.

Chriss Stutzman
Navarre, Ohio

Post a comment below.


david g
1/23/2013 8:27:55 PM
onions are best stored in a dry light airy place in the ground with moisture they will rot

Tennille Onyx
1/16/2013 2:11:06 PM
Will this work with potatoes???

Anita Welch
1/10/2013 3:15:30 PM
That is a crazy good idea. I know that my husband talks about stacking old tires one on top of the other to plant potato plants. We have such a hard time getting our gardens to grow in the last few years. We live in the Oklahoma panhandle and it is so very hot that we either loose our veggie plants and leaves to grasshoppers or the extreme heat burns them up. Any good suggesstions other than watering more? We are on a limited budget so we can't afford to buy a greenhouse. Wish we could that way we could have food year round. :-)

Melody Harms
1/9/2013 11:43:23 PM
I also wonder if it could be used for potatoes or possibly onions.

katherine a lewis
1/9/2013 6:22:17 PM
i wonder if you can do this with all veg or just carrots?

kelli worley
1/7/2013 5:42:03 PM
I am doing my gardening in 5 gal buckets because of the way the property at my house is. I have heard of people leaving root vegis in the ground til mid winter. Is there a reason that I couldn't just move the bucket into the trash can root cellar? dirt and all? Also, can't you just drill big holes in the bottom. I don't have any help so I have to think of things that I am able to do with limited abilities.

Curt Larsen
11/16/2012 5:41:51 AM
Then what about putting some kind of permeable bottom of the barrel like chicken wire or contractor cloth so that especially gophers don't crawl in from under and have a snack?

John Grasett
11/14/2012 9:46:36 PM
My guess is if you don't cut the bottom out, you will get condensation as the moisture in the carrots moves out into the surrounding area, then your carrots will get soggy or moldy. By removing the bottom of the bucket, the moisture level is regulated by the soil.

Leisel Clayton
5/29/2012 11:35:58 PM
I'm also confused about why you would cut off the bottom. It's a lot of work to go through and makes the bucket so it's useless for anything else... so before I did it, I'd want to know why.

Lori Tullis
3/26/2012 2:08:43 PM
Why do you cut the bottom out of the bucket?

12/28/2010 11:39:08 AM
Article: Sweet, Crunch Winter Carrots Oct/Nov 2010 pg. 54 Why do you cut the bottom from a 5-gallon bucket before placing in the ground? Is this for cold to reach the carrots? What about ground dwelling insects and such getting into the carrots while they are in the ground? King of confused on this issue. Help.

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