Tuesday, November 11, 2008

root cellar

We are owners of a share in a CSA and normally at this time of year are overrun with root vegetables. To make these root vegetables last the longest it is best to have them in a root-cellar like environment. We have no such environment in our house.

My wife agrees with the need and so I submitted to her three ideas.

The first one is described here and here where you seperate off a part of your basement and build a root cellar there.

The second one is described here where you dig a big hole in the back yard, put into it an old freezer, back fill around the freeser and get a few bales of hay to sit on top of it..

The third one is to buy a second fridge that we would keep in the basement that while it doesn't quite act the same as a root cellar with respect to humidity, it is unmatched for ease of installation compared to the previous two ideas.

So after I came up with the three ideas, I rated each idea in terms of four different categories as follows:





IdeaInitial PriceOperating CostEase of installationEase of use
1mediumlowmediumhigh
2lowlowlowlow
3highhighhighhigh


For the cost columns the lower is better, for the ease columns, the higher the better, so by attributing a value to the prefered low, medium and high in each column, idea 1 wins out.

My wife doesn't like the idea of altering a small part of our basement to turn it into a root cellar as she feels that any money spent in altering or improving the house should be with the idea of increased house value in mind and this doesn't increase value. She prefers the idea of buying a second fridge.

I prefer the basement root cellar idea because it sounds like a fun project, and once it is built there is no further cost. Having a second fridge will always have an operating cost and there is a lifespan to a fridge that involves a new capital cost every ten years or so. Also, if we have a second fridge there is the risk that we use it for more than just a root cellar in which case a power failure would have us risk even more food losses.

I guess I will need to do a better cost/benefit analysis to make my case that idea #1 is a much better option as compared to idea #3.

3 comments:

ghost said...

good luck with all that, phil.

my root celler is actually just a cabinet full of canned goods.

Phil Plasma said...

canned goods do not have specific temperature or humidity requirements other than extreme heat avoidance. Potatoes, carrots, onions, beets, garlic and other such things can store for long periods (weeks to months) in a root cellar with appropriate temperature and humidity levels.

handmaiden said...

I think the root cellar idea is a good one if you really need one & will use it consistently over the years. Having access to a large supply of root vegetables & being able to store them is great. Not only that but apples can be stored in there, right? It could be very handy. You could tell your wife how handy it would be as a temporary fridge in case of a power failure.