In addition to the root cellar at the Ecology Action Centre, I have a little side project that I’ve been working on – my own root cellar.
In last week’s post about the root cellar tour, I posted a couple photos of my (then-empty) root cellar. I also noted my root cellar order in an earlier post this week. This weekend, I finished getting the root cellar ready.
Step one: Putting mesh over the vents. I was lucky in that the little room was already vented to the outside. The next step was to make sure that critters couldn’t get inside.
To do this, we got some mesh, with relatively small holes, and attached it to the vents with wire.
(We’ll see how it holds up with the winter rain, snow and wind.)
Step two: Buy a thermometer and hygrometer. This one cost about $10 at the local hardware store.
Step three: Increase the humidity. When I put the hygrometer into the root cellar, the humidity was at about 70%. We wanted it to be at about 90-95%. So, I poured some water on the concrete floor, and left an open bucket of water in there. Within about a day, the humidity was up around 95%. Yay!
My potatoes, carrots, beets, cabbage and apples are all safely stowed away. (Though I still need to get some sawdust or sand.) And my onions, squash and sweet potatoes are outside the cellar, in the drier and warmer basement.
Following Mike & Nancy Bubel’s instructions from the book Root Cellaring, I wrapped the sweet potatoes in newspaper for storage. Before I wrapped them, I also sorted them into three piles: large sweet potatoes (which apparently store best), small sweet potatoes (which store less well), and sweet potatoes with bruises or cuts (which don’t store well at all). Unfortunately, I had more than a few sweet potatoes in the latter category, so I’m eating those up as quickly as possible. The largest sweet potatoes were wrapped and places in the bottom of the bins, and the smaller ones went on top.
I’m feeling very prepared for winter. Now, if only the temperature outside would drop, so that my root cellar cools down!