Does anyone have experience with building a Sepp Holzer style earth bermed shelter made from logs- to be used as a root cellar? If so, I'd love to hear about your experience. We are exploring root cellar options to build into a side hill here in Vermont. I'm wondering how long an undergroundwood structure could be expected to last with high humidity?
How are your plans for the root cellar?
We live in a similar climate (I'm in Quebec) so I was wondering if you had found any answers to your questions about log construction for root cellars. The only thing I would trust would be cedar, which grows on our property. It lasts a very long time even if buried. There are some photos here of a Sepp Holzer type build and they used waterproof membrane to separate the damp soil from the wood: http://www.richsoil.com/wofati.jsp Hope that helps.
Sitting in a garden and doing nothing is high art everywhere. - Mike Garofalo
I'm not sure if I am replying correctly, but here goes. Jay Muir, thanks for checking in about our project and sorry for such a slow response. We do not have cedar growing on our land, though it can be accessed locally. From what I understand the eastern white cedar is not nearly as rot resistant as the western type which gives cedar its reputation for longevity. We looked into tamarack and black locust which are much harder to find locally. With having to purchase and ship logs, plus the cost of a waterproof membrane, building with logs seems like too expensive of an option. We are actually planning on going with a poured cement foundation now.
Depending on the location of the root cellar and the resources you have available stone might be a good alternative to pouring a cement foundation. Like with all buildings if you want them to last a long time, you need to have a appropriate cite with proper drainage, and ventilation. Building a random rubble wall into the side of a hill with a naturally insulated roof might serve your desire to build naturally and economically. Random rubble stone walls are surprisingly simple once you get the basic rules down. Here is an example of a stone root cellar I am thinking of building a stone passive solar green house into the back of a hill with a root cellar deeper into the hill. I'll let you know how the project goes, I plan on starting this fall and winter. Stone is so easily found in Vermont, all you have to do is dig anywhere. Anyway, good luck with your endeavor.
Our root cellar project has gone through many changes in concept over the couple of years that we've been researching and trying to make it happen. We've decided to go with a poured cement foundation rather than some of the methods that are cheaper materially, but require lots of labor (stone, earth bag, rammed earth) because we don't think it is realistic that we would finish such a project while working off farm and running a farm. However, we are planning to do something with our root cellar that might make it more interesting to permies. We want to add tanks of water inside the cellar that will freeze from the inside out when outside air temperatures are 31ºF or below, utilizing a passive heat exchange system of copper pipes filled with butane. The frozen tanks will slowly melt during the warmer months, cooling an enclosed space within the cellar that can be used as a walk in cooler. Once built, the passive cooler should continue to operate without the need for a power source, saving emissions and dollars.