We have 2 freezers which are currently full to the brim with our excess fruit & veg & our garage is looking rather cluttered with sacks of potatoes, boxes of carrot & beetroot layered in sand, squashes laying about everywhere & trays of onions. Already lost most of our onions when we checked them last weekend & think our garage is probably too warm especially in this milder weather. Has anyone tried to build a small root cellar & if so, how successful has it been?
Such a shame about your onions, but it may not be warmth thats the problem....the most important thing is that they should be really dry .We dry ours on mesh racks outdoors in dry weather and bring them under cover when the weather turns moist...but still with plenty of air circulation. Another problem for the last couple of years has been disease in onions, both of the foliage and a rot at the root, which we lost lots of our crop to last year. We harvested early this year as soon as we noticed the root rot. Shallots seem a bit tougher than onions and our overwintered onions did the best as they had longer to grow and were ripe before the diseases struck. I do think a root cellar would be good for other crops though . The traditional method round here ( we have clay soil) was a clamp....the roots were piled up and covered with straw and then earth..... But not quite so convenient to use. I am afraid if we dug a hole for a cellar it would fill up with water in winter!
Hi Ali - well, I haven't made a root cellar but I have spent some time investigating root cellars in Newfoundland (Canada)
It's surprising just how many root cellars still exist even near the main city - once you get your 'eye in' you can see them all over the place - many different designs. I think low winter temperatures and remoteness (until recently) meant that they were a necessity for winter survival.
Newfoundland has a special claim - it boasts the root cellar capital of the world http://www.rootcellars.com/
Here is one kind of cellar that is housed in a shed - mostly seen in level areas where there are no hills to dig into. The cellar is dug down about 8 feet and is big enough to accomodate the produce of several households.
This is the view into the cellar:
This is a type of cellar that is built into the hillside - well positioned by the back door for easy collection even in the depths of winter:
Another of the into a hillside kind:
These cellars would have been used mainly for storing Potatoes, Turnips, Rutabagas (Swedes), Carrots and perhaps hard cabbage, The diet was pretty basic in the old days. One of the favourite dishes in Newfoundland is Jigs Dinner - it relies heavily on the above veg all boiled and served with salt beef and pease pudding - better than it sounds!
I am delighted to announce that Spice ‘n’ Easy has been nominated in this year’s Hampshire Life Food & Drink Awards and I am hoping to make it on to the short list of finalists. To help in this endeavour I would be most grateful if you would…
I tried the cheese from the Fernhill Cheese Company and went back for more! Soft, creamy and fresh, the children liked it too. Worth stopping at their stall at Lymington Saturday Market just opposite St Thoma's Church.