Build a Mini Root Cellar that Actually Works



Some kind of food storage space is as important to the self reliant gardener as a hoe and shovel. But food storage is also where many people have trouble.  While it’s true that millions of homes across the continent include a small cold room off the basement for storing food, most of these cold rooms don’t actually work – at least not without the upgrades I’ll tell you about here.

The kind of cold rooms I’m talking about extend underneath the concrete front steps of homes. There are other styles of root cellar storage, but this blog is all about making under-the-steps basement cold rooms work. What is the usual problem with these things? Too cold in winter and too warm in summer, cold rooms fail for one main reason: they don’t have enough soil cover to function as the miniature root cellar they claim to be.

Why Some Cold Rooms Don't Work

If you’ve got an under-the-front porch cold room at your place, you probably know all too well what the major problems are. It’s not unusual for frost to penetrate the top 25 percent of the structure during winter. On its own, frost on walls might not seem like the end of the world, but when it melts and runs onto the floor, it comes close. Besides soaking the floor, the added moisture boosts airborne humidity high enough to promote mold and mildew. You might even get significant amounts of water pooling on the floor of your cold room because of melted frost. Not good.

Poor warm weather performance usually goes hand-in-hand with a cold room that’s bad in winter, too. Without the moderating effects of enough soil around the structure, cold room temperatures are likely to get way too high in summer for effective root cellaring.

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