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Root Cellar Update

Garth Brown |

I have a lot riding on the root cellar's performance right now, and this week has been be a real test. Upstate New York landed a hefty dose of the recent blast of arctic air assailing the entire eastern half of the country. We've had many bitterly cold nights, -17 on Tuesday, -20 last night, and several day time highs near zero with strong wind. Seven days ago the cellar's internal temperature was down to 33.6 degrees F, which is close enough to freezing to set me a little on edge. Realistically the roots in storage could tolerate a degree or two below freezing since their cells' solutes prevent ice from forming right at the freezing point of pure water, but I'd rather not risk it. Most of the cold that penetrates the cellar passes through the door and the bits of concrete wall on either side of the door. Cement does not have a very good r-value, and around the door there is an area with no dirt piled over and nothing insulating on the inside. The interior humidity condenses and freezes into beautiful thick frosts on those walls. I watch the weather forecast like a hawk, so in preparation for the cold, last Saturday I pulled out a big bag of roots to split with Garth and then shoveled a pile of snow against the door to insulate and stop any air leaks around the door seam. The wind and weather did the rest of what you see above. The drift over the door is more than 6 feet deep.

There is some kimchee in there I wanted on Wednesday, but ultimately I decided against getting it out until today as both Thursday and Friday were forecast to plunge back into deep winter and I did not want to shovel that much snow back against the door almost as soon as I pulled it off. Today I'm going to dig it out and get at the spicy cabbage though. I hope the temperature inside hasn't dropped much since I was last in there.


Update on the update 5:50 pm - It was way windier today than I expected it to be. I didn't end up digging out the drift to access the cellar. I hope tomorrow I will... I still want kimchee.

Update on the update 2/23/15 - I dug in on Sunday and got my kimchee, as well as a big supply of other roots. I was worried about the temperature. It held steady through that arctic week (33.4 this time). The cold came back Sunday night and all day Monday the 23rd. I saw the forecast and didn't dilly-dally. I shoveled a big pile of snow back against the door as soon as I finished pulling things out. Sadly, the last of the potatoes came out in this excavation. The last potato meal (until summer) is nigh upon us.

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