On the root route this year, we stopped by Sylvia’s basement cold room once again.
In addition to checking out the cold room in this 1920s house, we had a great conversation about bulk buying. Just where DO you get all the veggies to fill up your cellar? If you aren’t growing them yourself, talk to farmers at the market about buying in bulk. Sylvia also stores her flour, preserves, and nuts in the cold room.
(For those interested in local grains, check out Speerville Mill. If you’re in Halifax, you can order Speerville products in bulk through the Grainery Food Co-op. If you’re outside of the city, and want to order in bulk, gather together a group of neighbours or co-workers to put in a bulk order. Contact Speerville for info about minimum orders.)
Then we moved on to Louise’s root cellar. This root cellar is in its third season. Louise shared with us the good, bad and ugly of root cellaring. This cellar was built through a group work party. She put out a call to friends and neighbours, and had a whole team of people interested in learning how to build a root cellar. She recommends this as a great way to get a lot of work done in a short amount of time.
Unfortunately, she ran into problems during the first year of the root cellar. Problem one: arsenic. Arsenic is naturally occurring in the bedrock of Halifax. In digging out this area of the basement, they found arsenic. Not lots, but enough that she was concerned about sitting food on top of it. The next season she fixed this by covering the exposed rock and soil.
Problem Two: mice and rats. She acquired a large, old metal container. She now stores the carrots, potatoes and other root veggies in that to keep the critters out.
Problem Three: Insufficient ventilation. The original vents were 1.5″ pipes and she found that this wasn’t large enough. She has since increased the vent size.
So, her first year of root cellaring wasn’t successful, but she learned a lot! Year two went much more smoothly. And now the root cellar is heading into year three.
The third and final stop on the tour was the root cellar here at the Ecology Action Centre. I won’t go into a lot of detail, as we’ve posted a lot about our root cellar already.
Root Cellar Construction – Day 1
Root Cellar Construction – Day 2
Root Cellar Building Materials
The Ecology Action Centre root cellar is being run as a community root cellar and our winter vegetable order is due to arrive any minute. I have several more blog posts about our root cellar planned for the coming weeks.
And as a little bonus, here’s one more root cellar that wasn’t on this year’s tour, but will hopefully be on next year’s. Here’s my root cellar:
I recently moved to a house in the west end of peninsular Halifax and this little room was already part of the basement of my 1940s house. It’s vented to the outside, though appears to need some critter-stopping mesh on the pipes. The inside walls are cinder block. And it’s ready to be filled with veggies!
Do you have a root cellar? Send us a photo and a short article and we’ll be happy to feature it on our blog. Want to build a community root cellar? We’re accepting grant applications until December 12.