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How to make a 'root cellar', in Zone 9

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How to make a 'root cellar', in Zone 9

Post  Ericka2385 on 8/13/2012, 9:01 pm

Hello...

So... to get to the quick of it, I want a root cellar, but I live in FL. Most guidance I can find on creating spaces to store root vegetables is for the rest of the country with four seasons. I don't think it works for our climate because our temperatures are just too high most of the year, plus we have that 'rainy season' thing that comes through every year.

I'd like to dry and hang onions and garlic, we go through more onions and garlic than anything. I'd also like to store carrots, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, and then a way to harden and store winter squash.

Here's what I'm working with.
I'm in Zone 9, not too far from Tampa. I'm in a house, we have an un-airconditioned garage, an attic, a spare bedroom/office, so there would be some space to put something there.

Here's what I've come up with so far, I've thought about getting some under the bed storage containers, fill them with sand, store veggies in them in the coolest room in the house. It'd be easy to get to get to, and easy to check once a week to make sure nothing is rotting. I'm thinking the root veggies could store this way, and then maybe a second container for onions/garlic, if I can't store them another way...

I have no idea how/where to store winter squash, which is a favorite in our house. I'd love to have it close to year round...

How do other gardeners who live in a hotter climate store these types of vegetables? Help me, please.
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Re: How to make a 'root cellar', in Zone 9

Post  littlesapphire on 8/13/2012, 9:34 pm

I did a quick google search for Florida root cellar and csme up with this discussion on Mother Earth News forum.

http://www.motherearthnews.com/forums/forum.aspx?boardid=1202&g=posts&t=95402

They give a couple of good suggestions for things you could do and things you shouldn't do. But the person near the end kind of says what I'm thinking. Root cellars need to be cold, not just cool. Some websites say a root cellar should be between 32 and 40 degrees. The point of a root cellar in the north is to keep things from freezing, but cold enough so it'll keep through the long cold winter when nothing grows.

How cold does it get there in the winter? If you can keep your rigged root cellar cold, then I say go for it. Otherwise, you may need to consider other ways of preservation, like canning, dehydrating. Or you can use the modern root cellar... a refrigerator! Very Happy
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Re: How to make a 'root cellar', in Zone 9

Post  Ericka2385 on 8/13/2012, 9:47 pm

The discussion there looks like some others I've read, but I haven't seen that one, thank you for helping me look.

It will get cold here, but from the couple of 'winters' I've been in FL, it's been hit or miss. A couple of years ago, I actually sat by the edge of a pool working on my tan, in the middle of December. The following year all we heard about on the news was protecting the strawberries from the freezes coming though.

I am planning on doing some canning and freezing, but I was hoping to keep somethings in tact. Like onions... well, I guess if nothing else I could dice/slice them, freeze them, and they would work that was in most things...

I do have a feeling the end result will be buying another fridge for the garage, and storing the root veggies in there. I've been reluctant about buying one, because the thought of powering another appliance just doesn't sit well with me.

I'm just throwing my final call help hoping there are some dry storage solutions...
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Re: How to make a 'root cellar', in Zone 9

Post  rowena___. on 8/14/2012, 12:46 pm

i try to spread out my food storage so that it is available in various configurations--frozen, canned, dehydrated, and dry stored/root cellared. not every food works in every preservation method, so for example i don't have any canned onions, but i have plenty frozen and dehydrated and dry stored.

some folks i know use an old fridge, unplugged, as a root cellar. i'm not sure how that would work in a hot or humid environment, but if you can lay it on its back and bury it or surround it with insulation to keep it cooler (i'm thinking hay bales or the like), it would work well for most things.

winter squashes keep fine in an attic or pantry. harden them outside if possible.
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