The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Refrigerator root cellar step 1...dig

digging in the dirt

The new plan for a root cellar is to bury the old refrigerator that stopped working. I still need to modify it to take advantage of the chimney effect so that cool air will flow from the bottom and out through some sort of PVC pipe.

This post is part of our Fridge Root Cellar series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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i love being able to see how this will turn out. I hope you have posted everything you experienced with this. With all your posts, It will take me some time to find all the info your have for your root cellar. I also like your other posts, I plan on reading them all. have you checked out the video of a root cellar made with plastic 55 gallon drums?? That idea would be more to what I can do while I live in the city, if I should move to the country I would like to try your idea. If you want to see the plastic drum idea, I typed in root cellar in youtube and found that video. If you know when you placed the root cellar comments would you let me know, I would like to read all of them first, then start at the beginning of your blogs. I love the country life, just haven't been able to have one of my own yet. Thank you.

Comment by john york Mon Jul 11 11:24:54 2011
Unfortunately, our root cellar slumped over during a heavy rain the first winter, and we haven't found time to dig it out (and add the roof or anchor that I think will be necessary to keep that from happening again.) Until then, though, the temperatures were hanging quite steady!
Comment by anna Tue Jul 12 17:42:06 2011

Hi Was wondering if you were successful in maintaining a good temperature in the root cellar! We want to put one in our garden but not sure yet that the fridge will work as we are in the UK and the temperatures here are poor at the best of times. Please advise. Cheers David (UK)

Comment by David and Lisa Mon Jun 18 15:29:21 2012
David and Lisa --- Please see my comment above. Maybe this will be the summer we'll have a spare minute to put it back into place....
Comment by anna Mon Jun 18 18:08:04 2012
Why not just lay it down flat in a pre-dug hole and use it that way, seems to me that woulda been working smarter.
Comment by matt Wed Dec 18 00:03:58 2013
matt --- We considered that, but the "coffin" method makes it much tougher to get into the fridge during the winter. We figured a bit of time up front was worth it for easier access in years to come, and that turned out to be true.
Comment by anna Wed Dec 18 08:12:52 2013
Mold and/or Mildew is that an issue at all?
Comment by wesley Sat Oct 3 22:01:22 2015
wesley --- Rot issues shouldn't be a problem as long as you focus on copious airflow. But if you skip the ventilation steps, you could definitely see mold or mildew.
Comment by anna Sun Oct 4 11:43:18 2015
maybe a walkable roof covering the lid of either use (pail/fridge) will keep access in rain/snow conditions plus shade to the spot ... any thoughts?! cheers
Comment by cris Fri Jan 8 00:28:15 2016
As a family with six kids, we grew all our own veggies. Each fall, dad would tell us where to dig and my brothers and I would go for it, digging a bunker about 6 feet deep, large enough to accommodate a years worth of potatoes. Then, we hauled the potatoes in burlap sacks into the hole, covered them with the potato vines and a few shovels of dirt. Then throughout the winter, about every three weeks, one of us would be sent to the garden to expose another sack of spuds, haul it out and into the potato bin in mom's cold room, then replace the potato vines and whatever snow we'd removed. In this way, we kept our potatoes fresh, all winter.
Comment by James Hunter Sat Jan 9 16:55:18 2016
In the description of your first step you mention having to figure out some way to make the cool air going through a vent on the top. Unless you use some kind of mechanical fan, this may not work. The laws of physics dictate that cold air has a higher density than warm air, is therefore heavier and wil draw to the bottom, as warm air wil rise to the top and may flow out of the chimney. Nevertheless this may be the effect you really want. You want the warm air out and the cool air in. That is why you want a cellar in the first place, so there may be no problem to solve here at all.
Comment by Bert Mon Mar 7 17:12:26 2016
I guess, this can be build in regular cellar as well. I would place some some fans in the hole, a try to build some mechanical windmill next to it to circulate cold air from the bottom? any thoughts?
Comment by PGM Sat Mar 12 04:10:12 2016

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