My partner and I have built an earthbag dome home and we're getting ready to put in an earthen floor. Space is limited, walls curve in as you go up, and we want to minimize noise/energy usage (we do have solar), so we're opting out of having a refrigerator.
We've been getting frozen bones/organ meat from the butcher for our dogs and keeping them in an ice chest with anything we want to keep cold for ~48hrs. This got me thinking about building some kind of food storage right in our kitchen floor, but I'm struggling with the engineering part.
Essentially, I want two things, and I think I need two different designs. 1) Occasionally we will have meat/dairy/beer/etc. that I want to keep cold/frozen and as such I want insulation. 2) Much more often we will have fruits/veggies/etc. that we want to take advantage of the cool thermal mass of the floor and we will want airflow.
For the insulative box, I would like it to be around 10-12" deep*, 12-15" wide, and 16-18" long. For the "mini-root cellars" we can go wider and longer if we want to and I wonder if we can't work in some kind of little shelf to get a little more storage.
* Our floor base of gravel is already in. We are going to top it with nylon as DPM, then wool and/or straw, then the earthen floor. We have about 10" to get to where we have marked floor level... If I dig out ~2" of gravel under the two (or three) boxes, can I get a little more depth? (Running the DPM under the box still.)
Then, for access, the door/lid has to be strong enough to withstand foot traffic over them and they can't be so heavy that we strain our backs opening them. If we use hinges or a handle, they would have to be recessed to sit at floor level. We can put a rug over them for insulation and to avoid abrasion on the door and joints.
Back on the "mini-root cellar" box -- here we want to take advantage of the cool, even temperature of the floor. Airflow is important and I'm thinking we're close enough to an interior wall that I could run some kind of small "exhaust tube" up a little so that the warmer air rises out from the box. For cool air flowing in from the ground, I'm all ears on how best to achieve that. I don't think we'd need any fans but please tell me if I'm wrong. I'd rather find out now than later And how do I keep kitchen scraps/critters/general detritus from falling in the "exhaust" or the "intake"?
To note, besides the nylon DPM, we are trying to work with natural/eco materials as much as possible and don't want to use cement. We've got the earthen floor recipe figured out; we just need to see how we can design and incorporate these boxes into it. Materials we have on hand or have easy access to: rock, coarse & fine gravel, fine sand, beautiful ~30% clay soil we use for cob & earthbags, straw, hydrated lime, bricks, pine/eucalyptus/elm/cedar, iron/stainless steel/copper & metal slag, brick powder, wood ash, old paving tiles, wool, fine hemp fibers, old burlap sacks, vermiculite & perlite, and sodium silicate.
Looking forward to any ideas, questions, and suggestions. Many thanks in advance for your help.
My advice is not specific to your situation but there's two things I notice about our cellar, one is the vents in the window have netting over them which keeps out mice etc, you can get finer nets that keep out smaller bugs as well, I expect you could net any vents you put in. The other is that our cellar is under the floor of the house, so the "roof" of the cellar is a layer of thick floorboards, then a layer of plyboard and then lino and it still feels a lot colder than the same floor just over the crawl space. so I would advice considerably more insulation than just carpet if you have outside vents.
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