A root cellar is handy to own when you live in the country and grow food in a garden. At one time, root cellars were common since many people didn't have the luxury of owning freezers and large refrigerators. You can store your food from the garden during all seasons of the year in a cellar that's under the ground since the temperature and humidity are ideal for food preservation. A root cellar also makes a good place to take shelter from a bad storm or tornado. Here's a look at putting in a root cellar.

Choose A Good Location

If you have hills on your property, you might have an excavation contractor dig into a hill so you can walk right into your cellar. The cellar can be buried in the hill, or you may want the entrance to be in a hill so it's easy to get in and out of the cellar. However, it's also possible to dig a cellar on flat ground and enter it through a staircase. Either way, you'll want the location to be away from trees and their prying roots, a short distance from your house, and in an area that has good drainage.

Determine The Depth Of The Cellar

Expert help might be needed when you design your shelter since the depth is important. The type of soil you have can make a difference in the depth you need. Determine the temperatures you want to have or if you want to have different temperature areas. For instance, the ideal temperatures for storing root crops and tomatoes differ, so think about all the foods you'll store.

Decide On The Size Of Your Cellar

A root cellar doesn't have to be very big. You need enough space for benches and tables to hold food as well as space to hang foods and herbs. Consider the size of your family, if you'll use the space for other storage, and if you want enough room for your family and farm workers to fit in the cellar during a storm. Also, if you grow enough produce to sell at a farmer's market or to local stores, then you'll need a much larger cellar.

Dig And Prepare The Cellar

An excavating contractor can dig the cellar to your specifications. It's worth hiring a professional to do the job rather than dig a cellar out by hand unless you have a lot of time to invest and don't mind the hard labor. An excavating company can do the job quickly and make sure the hole is flat and the walls are stable. You can compact the soil and leave the floor bare earth or pour a concrete slab. Also, protecting against pests is important, so you may need to line the cellar with wire mesh to keep out tunneling animals and add screens that keep insects out of the vents. Vents are important for your cellar so gases don't build up that cause your food to ripen and rot more quickly.

Once your cellar is dug and you have the earth back in place and the door installed, it's ready to act as an emergency storm shelter, emergency refrigerator, storage for your garden produce, and storage for your survival food supplies. Check the temperature and humidity frequently to make sure they stay in the ideal range and you can store your food for months longer than you could by keeping it in your house in the cupboard or on a shelf.