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

Pros and cons of a fridge root cellar

Opening a fridge root cellar

"Would you mind putting up an article about the pros and cons of making and using your Fridge Root Cellar?" --- John

This is a very timely comment because many of you are probably trying to figure out what to do with all of those root crops (and fall fruits).  I'll hit the highlights in this post, but if you want to dig deeper, I've also set my ebook version on sale to $1.99 this week so you can learn the rest of the story for very little cash.  (I guess that would turn your replica into a $12 root cellar?)  And while you're over there, you'll probably want to snap up Low-Cost Sunroom, which is free today!

Humid conditions within a root cellar
Anyhow, back to the point.  The advantages of our fridge root cellar are pretty obvious.  It was cheap and easy to build and it really works.  I particularly love how accessible the contents are --- the cook in your family will be thrilled to be able to just pop open the door like you would in a powered refrigerator and remove a few carrots or a head of cabbage.  And the dampness of the earth means that your roots stay crisp and delicious for months after harvest.

Keeping a root cellar from freezing with a light bulb
$10 Root CellarThe downsides are relatively minor, but they are present.  We use a very small amount of electricity to ensure that the contents of our fridge root cellar don't freeze when outside temperatures drop below the mid-teens Fahrenheit.  If you lived in Alaska, you'd probably have to do a lot more.  And a fridge root cellar won't do much during the summer months, so you'll need a different storage method for your spring carrots.  (I just stick them in the real fridge inside.)  Finally, youtube viewers will call you white trash if you post a video showing how to build a fridge root cellar, and your neighbors might feel the same way, so this project is not for the thin-skinned.

I hope that helps you make your fridge-root-cellaring decision!  And I'd love to see some reader photos of your own incarnations of the cheap root-storage device if anyone's given our method (or something related) a try.  Email me at and I'll share your root cellars with our readers (and maybe even add them to the next edition of the book if they're unique enough!).

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

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.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

Anyone who calls someone who is living self-sufficiently "white trash" is brain dead and doesn't deserve to be paid any attention to!

Unfortunately my property is fairly flat and so I have no way of mounding up dirt around a fridge. :(

Comment by Nayan Wed Oct 22 09:16:47 2014

Hi Anna and Mark,

I wonder if your 'fridge' has any kind of vent? ( To keep things from getting musty.) Slightly leaky gaskets, etc. would work very well.

Some 'clamps' (as in pile of dirt) used for produce storage have a chimney.

As far as I can tell this is to keep air moving slowly, probably VERY slowly through the stored produce.

And thus help keep the produce 'fresh'.

I assume the effect it to vent the few spores that escape from the stored produce?

I keep dead refrigerators for use also :).


Comment by John Wed Oct 22 09:45:06 2014
John --- I cover venting and other issues in great depth in the ebook, and in other posts here on the blog. Here and here are two relevant posts.
Comment by anna Wed Oct 22 11:02:08 2014

I agree with Nayan! There's nothing better than giving new life to throwaways.

Our homemade "root cellar" is different from yours, but also recycled. We put an old metal utility shelf unit in our crawl space (which has been dug out to make it possible to stand down there). But because we have a major field mouse problem, we had to make the storage space inaccessible to those varmints. We wrapped the unit with hardware cloth, latching it on one side so we could open it. To make it really rodent proof, we bent the top edge over the top shelf and weighted it down with heavy paint cans. On the bottom edge, we bent the hardware cloth and clamped it with binder clips. (Hard to visualize--harder to explain--but it works.) It's not as big a space as we need, but it's been adequate for potatoes and winter squash. And it really has kept the mice at bay!

Comment by Carri Wed Oct 22 22:26:00 2014
Carri --- I think I did follow you --- that's a great solution! I'd love to see a photo at if you felt like snapping one, but don't feel obliged.
Comment by anna Fri Oct 24 10:32:00 2014

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.