My friend Lee Blackwell, at Blackwell Roots Farm, in Vermont has acres of roots.
How does he wash tons of roots?
Where does he keep tons of roots?
There are different rooms for cabbage, for taters, for carrots.
Coming soon to B/R Farm is a big room dedicated to sauerkraut and kimchee production, but that’s another story.
I dream of perfect root storage, as at Lee’s farm.
Perhaps I could have a nice, heavily insulated, easily cleaned home root cellar, as featured in the vegetable porn sections of gardening magazines, tucked into the corner of my basement? It would have different zones for different crops, would be thermostatted and wired with fans to be cooled by outside winter air instead of using fossil fuel grid power to keep a cooling machine working. Please don’t forget that automatic humidity control—-
But it’s not going to happen, not at Wishetwurra Farm.
Our house doesn’t have a basement, only a crawl space. We don’t really need a big root cellar, because there are only two of us, and in one winter we couldn’t really eat what it would take to fill a big root cellar.
And don’t forget that I’m cheap.
I’m a Cheap Yankee, and can’t stomach the thought of spending the thousands of dollars it would cost to build the perfect root cellar, when that much money would keep us supplied with carrots, beets, and potatoes for the rest of our natural lives.
If small is beautiful, then Wishetwurra Farm is gorgeous.
It’s such a small place that success can fit on the tailgate of a Toyota Tacoma.
How does Wishetwurra Farm store roots for the winter?
We don’t have to store more than a few hundred pounds of roots.
We have a really simple, “dirt cheap” setup that meets our needs.
Our setup is a hole in the ground.
There’s a plastic tote in the bottom of the hole.
The top of the hole is bordered with salvaged 2X6 boards, to keep dirt from falling onto the tote top.
The 2X6 boards also provide a framework for a cover of 2″ plastic foam insulation board.
Over this goes a piece of plywood, to help keep out rain and snow.
When it’s time to store our crop, a layer of damp sand goes into the tote bottom, and roots are bedded in.
In between layers of roots, we place more sand, then we add more roots.
When full, we top off with a final layer of sand.
The tote cover goes on, and it’s covered with 2″ of (salvaged) foam plastic insulation.
The (salvaged) piece of plywood goes on top.
We come out to get carrots from time to time, throughout the cold season. We’ll bring in enough to last a week or two. In the tote, they’ll last unstil at least April or May. When it’s storage time again next fall, we take the old sand out and toss it onto a garden path, and get fresh sand for a new storage season.
If we had really hard winters here, I might cover this with a layer of leaves and a tarp, to insulate even more, and to make access easier during prolonged cold and snowy spells.
That’s the basic idea.
You could use sheetrock buckets with drainage holes if you didn’t have an old tote.
We keep our taters in (salvaged) sheetrock buckets with sand, in the crawl space. They seem to keep OK.
Can you beet that?