When our hand me down refrigerator died, I was a bit lazy about carting it off to the dump and just dragged it over by the barn. Fast forward a couple of years and we were growing enough carrots and potatoes to need a root cellar, but lacked the funds to build a proper cinder block version which can cost hundreds of dollars not to mention several days of back breaking labor. That’s when I came up with plan B.
The first attempt failed due to a heavy rain washing it out. It was easier to store the carrots in our new refrigerator’s crisper drawer and put the project on hold for a while. We grew our biggest carrot crop ever this year and needed a space larger than the crisper drawer so we decided to resurrect the refrigerator root cellar experiment.
We first thought maybe it needed a small roof to divert any heavy rain from eroding the hill but settled on using mobile home dirt anchors to secure it from the back and one of the sides. Placing a digital thermometer inside helped us to monitor the state of our carrots and on a few nights where outside temperatures dipped in the low teens the refrigerator root cellar registered 34 degrees, a bit too close to freezing for our comfort so we added a ThermoCube which turns on a light bulb at 34 and shuts it off at 45.
Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton experiment with things like this all the time and share most of the results at WaldenEffect.org. They support this lavish lifestyle by building and selling a new kind of chicken waterer that brings industrial poultry technology to the back yard chicken keeper.