On opening day at the museum we opened the root cellar at the Pioneer Farmstead after a long cold winter. We were excited and anxious to see how our vegetables had fared. This is our 5th year with a root cellar and each year our results have gotten better. The first year there was absolutely nothing at all in the cellar when we opened it. And no trace of anything either!
We've improved our technique over the years by adding wood walls and a french drain of stones in the bottom.
This year we had an impressive array of beets, turnips and parsnips but lost the carrots. In another cellar we had cabbages and onions. Those are separated from the other vegetables as they give off a gas that will break down the other vegetables quickly.
Each cellar would have provided vegetables for a family for about a month and a typical family would have 4 or 5 of such cellars around their property. The best ones would have been built into the side of a hill if possible.
Even in the 85 degree weather that we had last week, when we peeked into the cellar it was still markedly cooler than the air above it.
|In the cellar|
One thing to note that while the vegetables have stayed quite well over the winter, they need to be used immediately after being taken from the cellar or they begin to get soft very quickly.
|Waiting to be used in the Pioneer Farmstead|