Root Cellars : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Does anyone know where I can get good info on building a root cellar? I did several searches with poor results.

-- moose (, March 02, 1999


"Root Cellaring", by Mike and Nancy Bubel, is supposed to be one of the leading books on the subject.

About 280 pages, it should be available from Amazon or your local book store.

-- Jon Williamson (, March 02, 1999.

Hi, Moose --

I've seen a lot of references to "Root Cellaring," by Mike and Nancy Bubel, in this forum. I picked up an old copy for $1.00 at Goodwill the other day, but I think there's a new reprint out as well. This book includes instructions for building various types of root cellars.

-- Pam G. (, March 02, 1999.

moose; try in INFO SEEK under fruit cellars or try this: If you are considering to build one don't forget to use polystyrene panels as insulation on the outside of the walls,to keep moisture from seeping thru the concrete. Hope it will help some. Furie ps.and black tar on the outside concrete walls too.

-- Furie (, March 02, 1999.

Moose, You might want to check out the Old Timers site at Walton Feeds. This has a lot of good info and it may give you some ideals on how to build a root cellar. Good Luck

-- Trellis (, March 02, 1999.

Root Cellar?! ROOT cellar? root CELLAR? Whose leg are you trying to pull? Meeybee Root-Cellar-That-I-Can-Hide-In-Just-In-Case..........

Actually, the one at Waltons was pretty good. I saw another in a pamphlet put out by Lehman's that was four feet down and four feet up, and used the dug dirt as a berm. If you are using cinder block or something be sure to waterproof the outside of the blocks. The one thing in the plans sold by Lehman's was that it provided for drainage by putting a gravel filled ditch along the front of the "building."

A root cellar, if you really need one for vegetables, can be as simple as a barrel dug into the ground. However, check out Eliot Coleman's book, Four Season Harvest. He has a system that allows him to carry his veggies through the winter...just a system of management in the garden, and he also has a whole section on how to store vegetables in a "root cellar,." including which have to be kept dry, and which damp. Potatoes need humidity, eg...

A local do it yourself program on the radio last Saturday was fielding questions from folks who wanted to dig basements. Here in CA most houses don't have them. in hidey holes to put food stashes.

No body here but me and the potatoes.

Mary P.

-- Mary P. (, March 02, 1999.

umm,yeah, we're gonna do that,too. I heard about 3 foot of concrete and 3 foot of dirt to protect us,I mean our veggies. That about right?

-- y2klady2 (, March 03, 1999.

Three feet of concrete and three feet of dirt, wow. Are you Swiss?

Standard rule of thumb is that 150 pounds per cross sectional square foot gives a gamma radiation Protection Factor of 40. 1' of concrete = PF40, 18" of dirt = PF40. Therefore, 2' concrete = PF 1,600, 3' concrete = PF 64,000, 3' of concrete + 18" of dirt = PF 2,560,000, 3' concrete + 3' dirt = PF of way way way way more than needed. Unless you live in a heavy fallout zone (50 miles downwind of a silo farm and are expecting the worst, though you sure won't have to worry about roving looters) a PF of 1,000 is adequate.

See my website under survival files SHELTER.TXT, 1HRRADS.TXT, FALLFUND.TXT, and BLASTFND.TXT for the basics. Most root cellars are good fallout shelters with inadequate entry ways and inadequate ventilation. I.E. if you are going to build a root cellar you have made 90% of a fallout shelter and 85% of a blast shelter.

Most people have no idea how limited the damage is from a nuclear bomb, their energy IS finite, big but still finite. After reading my website purchase a copy of Nuclear War Survival Skills (OISM version) by Cresson Kearney. After you read the book if you have any questions contact me.

The illustrations in the downloadable version at are very poor and you need the templates in the book if you want to build the KFM. The Kearney Fallout Meter is a homebrewed radiation meter made from a tomato paste can, aluminum foil, string, saran wrap, a rubber band, a needle, some thread, gummed tape, drywall bits, paper, cloth, and a comb. It is self-calibrating and EMP-proof.

Actually NWSS is one of the best survival books around even if you have no nuclear interests. I recommend it highly.

-- Ken Seger (, March 03, 1999.

Ken, you sound like McGyver - LOL

-- Brett (, March 03, 1999.

I got a phone call from an old friend and he started telling me how he made a root celler. He said he went to a junk yard and got the box off of an old U Haul truck. He is going to do some work to it and bury it.

-- Linda A. (, March 03, 1999.

One thing about root cellars, the further north, the deeper it needs to be in order to stay below the soil freeze line. Also remember that you need two doors (an inner and an outer door) in order to keep your goodies from freezing. Even an insulated door can't prevent freezing of stored vegetables, there needs to be an air gap between two doors to protect the contents stored inside.

As an aside, those folks in California have some serious digging ahead of them. Where I spent a few years, the surface soil has a layer of caleachate which is tougher than concrete. Most of the inland and desert areas have such a layer of soil, anywhere from a few inches to a foot or more thick. Such a tough layer of soil explains why a house with a basement is a real rarity in southern California.

So, maybe those folks need to start looking at structures like military weapons storage bunkers as examples of the way to go. Take a drive by your nearest military base and see. If you're in SoCal, try March AFB (visible from I-215), the former George AFB (from Airbase Road) or the Barstow Marine Corps Logistics Center, Yermo Annex (visible from I-40).


-- Wildweasel (, March 03, 1999.


Visited a place called Navou (sp?) Illinois a couple year back. Had some reservations when friends suggested visiting this Mormon settlement but the considered the recommendation reliable and went. It was really interesting - had no idea of religious prosecution in this county - but that's getting off topic. One of the historic (reconstructed I believe) buildings had an outside earth bermed root cellar. Impressive. As I recall earth bermed 3 sides and top with brick front and single door. Sort of like a man made cave. Perhaps one of their sites would have plans.

I've noted on other threads that strawbales work for winter harvesting root crops. Harvest and place carrots, beets, potatoes, etc. in well draining soil (sand), cover with snugged bales extending a bales' width past your produce. If it gets really cold by you add second layer. Cover with tarp. Fold back tarp and remove bales as needed to access your harvest. Be sure to snug up the bales when you replace them - a gap will let the cold and frost in.

I've harvested root crops that way into february at the same latitude as Green Bay, WI.

If you come across plans for a strawbale rootcellar, let me know - it would be a lot more convenient.

Got strawbales? Got earthberms?

Good luck. jh

-- john hebert (, March 03, 1999.

Its called a storm cellar guys - if you live in the middle where tornadoes strike. A basement on the East coast, and wet if you're in Florida.

Sir Segar of the hole-in-the ground - good analysis. Thank you. A good ditch and a couple miles radius is enough to protect from most of the immediate flash-boom-big wind problems. As Ms. T. maria pointed out - there is a region around a blast where nothing can survive. A wider region where there is significant topside damage,and realistically, you shouldn't try to stay in afterwards - say 10-15 miles from a "big" blast (4-6 miles from a little one). Outside of that, little tremedous immediate health problems, even downwind, if you stay indoors for 2-3 days and have reasonable supplies available to let you do that.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, March 03, 1999.

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