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

Filling the refrigerator root cellar

Autumn harvest

The real reason I moved our refrigerator root cellar resurrection to the top of the list is that lows have hit 22 and there's no more room in our real fridge for the rest of the cabbages and carrots.  If I didn't want them to freeze and ruin in the garden, these crops needed to find some cool, damp storage immediately.

Storing carrots in sawdust

It's a bit risky to fill the refrigerator root cellar up with valuable crops when we don't know for sure if it'll hold above-freezing temperatures (and refrain from falling over again).  On the other hand, you can look at this a bit like putting tomato plants in the forest garden --- a wheelbarrow load of carrots is going to ensure I pay attention to our new experiment.  If there's a problem, we won't be waiting three years to fix it this time.

Refrigerator root cellar

Usually, I sort my carrots, putting the few that are broken, nibbled, starting to rot, or excessively small on top for immediate consumption.  But I don't really know the intricacies of our fridge root cellar yet, so I opted to leave the carrots all mixed together.  That way I'm hedging my bets --- if one area doesn't work right, all of my best carrots won't happen to be there.

Carrots in a root cellar

I packed some of the carrots in sawdust and left some plain as an extra experiment.  While the keeping quality of the crops will be the real indicator of root cellar function, Mark also tossed in a max./min. thermometer.  I'm ordering another analog version since I have a feeling the digital one won't last long in the damp conditions.

If the fridge works as planned, I can see another one in our future.  An afternoon's work filled our current unit halfway up, and I haven't even moved our white potatoes and fig scionwood out there yet.  And once we start having apples, we'll want to keep them in their own unit so the ethylene given off by the fruits doesn't spoil the vegetables.  So many exciting experiments ahead!

Our chicken waterer keeps flocks busy pecking at something other than each other.
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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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Keep us posted on how it goes - I'm waiting to see how yours works before we try one here :)
Comment by Ruth Sat Nov 10 19:01:17 2012
Well done! I hope this works just right for you! Those are some nice looking carrots and cabbages!
Comment by Deb Sun Nov 11 02:52:15 2012

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