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"Root cellar????" questions???

 
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I have a question about an interesting feature of an old house we recently bought in southwestern Virginia.  The gentleman that sold it to us (who hadn't ever lived in it) said that the approximately 2 foot wide, 8 foot deep metal cylinder extending down into the dirt part of the basement was used as a root cellar!  Cool, I said, as this summer has been my inaugural foray into vegetable gardening.  We've grown an abundance of root vegetables and were wondering how to use this space.  I put a digital thermometer at the bottom, and it registered 71 degrees, which was the same temperature as the whole basement at the time.  I was wondering if I could use this cylinder/root cellar to store the produce that is ready to be put by now (like cabbages), as the temperature is far from cold???  Any ideas as to how to reach what might could possibly be stored at the bottom (one I get the petrified mice out)?
 
pollinator
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Location: Yukon Territory, Canada. Zone 1a
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I have a neighbour who, in the Winter, freezes an entire ICB 'Cubey' solid. He then puts it in an insulated room and uses the cool space for veg storage all Summer long.

Do you think you could do a similar thing with this 'cold well'? Put a big block of solid ice at the bottom, covered in saw dust and have a raisable platform on top of it to retrieve stored root crops? Maybe with an insulated lid.

Kinda like the pic below, but more like your larger well.

Plastic-Pail-Root-Cellar.jpg
[Thumbnail for Plastic-Pail-Root-Cellar.jpg]
 
Philiose Terzi
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Chris,  that is a great idea!  The raise-able platform could be custom fit and attached to two pulleys (one on each side) mounted on the floor joists of the room above. There is a lid that I could put foam insulation on!  My only question would be temperature... The bottom of the "well" was the same temperature as the ambient air in my cellar - 71 degrees - and that was on a day that was probably in the high seventies outside.  Do you think it would stay cool enough to keep my veggies from spoiling?  I really like the concept!
 
Chris Sturgeon
pollinator
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I'm afraid to admit that I have no idea what 71 degrees means. That's 3/4 way to boiling to me!
I'd say it's worth a shot! Once you get the thermal mass of the earth around the metal cylinder cooled, it won't warm up quickly. You may have to give it a double dose of ice the first time, to 'charge' the mass with cold.
I love your pulley idea.
 
master pollinator
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71 degrees does not seem cool enough to function as a root cellar. Was the access "door" open for a while before you took the temp.
 
pollinator
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Right, earth temp should be about 50 degrees, I think.

You might get some ideas from this dorky beer cooler:  https://smile.amazon.de/dp/B01AC4I7LW/  as far as how they handle the casing, lifting out, etc.

It's great that you have a joist right above - absolutely with the weight of vegetables a pulley system would be helpful.
 
John F Dean
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To address the cleaning issue, I would attempt it with a good shop vac. Use plastic pipe and duck tape to extend the wand.  The design  of this thing is a concern. It strikes me as a child trap. At  minimum put a good locking lid on the thing.

If you can't get the temp to lower significantly. Consider filling it with dirt. But before you do that, examine it closely.  It may have been designed to be something  other than root cellar.
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