Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How to Salvage Junk and use it for your Garden as a Root Cellar or Veggie Storage!

You might be thinking, "I don't want junk in my garden, why would I salvage junk?!" 

      Well, let me explain, instead of going to the expense of putting in a cellar yourself, whether through paying for physical labor, the cost of cement, etc you can simply bury a large freezer that no longer works and putting straw, raked up leaves or other insulation material on top of tarp that covers the top of the freezer door, this helps keep out critters and keep your stored food insulated in the winter months, or perhaps you need something larger and assuming you have the space for it, ever consider making use of that old, broke-down school bus lying in the local junk yard by burying it up to the rear access doors? Voila, instant Root Cellar! What about that old galvanized trash can out back that's just taking up space, bury that and you have a great little covey for your root veggies, all you need is straw for insulation and it's already rodent-proof!

That get your attention?


 Now let me delve further into the method to this madness.

 First off, be mindful of where you stash your garden treasure troves, preferably on the Northern side of your land or home and remember keep safety in mind, disable latches so kids or elderly don't get trapped in by accident.

Bury A School Bus!

Consider burying a junked school bus, yes you will need to dig a proper sized hole and make sure that the bus is water tight (sealant or wrapping will be needed) and you will also have to allow for access to the rear doors and be sure to board up the windows and seal them for effective insulation. Also, you will need at least two PVC pipe vents for air flow as with any root cellar.

Bury Garbage Cans:

(Image from Mother Earth News )

    You can also use Garbage cans that are sealed or galvanized for smaller storage areas or land allotments, you simply need a can (cut the bottom out or poke holes for drainage), straw and a bit of dirt for the inside in order to place your winter squash and root veggies in, the straw will be used to cover the top of the lid of the trash can in order to insulate it- of course you will need to dig a hole big enough to stick your can into.

To access your veggies, simply remove the tarp (opt), straw bale, and lift off the lid (if you want an additional security from rodents and moisture, put black tarp down over the straw bale on top of the lid and make sure there are drainage ditches on either side of the can and secure the tarp with cement blocks or heavy rocks) and then snatch however many veggies you need for supper and replace your insulation!

Remember to layer leaves or straw between the veggies!

Figure 4. A well box that supports an access hatch above ground level
Here is a good article from Back Woods Home Magazine that shows you how to build a small cold storage bin.

 Bury a Freezer or Refrigerator:

Stuff You’ll Need:
Straw Bales
Clear Plastic Sheeting
Plastic Sheeting
Shovel and Pick
Old Deep-freeze Or Refrigerator

Step 1:
Remove motor, shelves and lock from door (so no child can get locked inside).
Step 2:
Dig a hole large enough to hold the deep freeze where the top of the freezer is ground level or slightly below ground level.
Step 3:
Place some rocks in bottom of the hole for drainage.
Step 4:
Place the freezer into hole on its back. The door will open like a lid.
Step 5:
Fill around freezer with soil.
Step 6:
Place vegetables in freezer. Follow storage guidelines for vegetables just as if you were using a cellar.
Step 7:
Cover freezer with a sheet of plastic to keep water from freezing the lid shut.
Step 8:
Place bags of leaves or bales of hay or straw on top of the freezer to help with cold weather.

 Notes: Dig the hole one foot larger than the refrigerator on all sides to create drainage.  The refrigerator should sit just below ground level.  Line the hole with gravel or rocks.   Pour gravel in the space around the sides of the refrigerator.  Run a small vent pipe into the refrigerator for ventilation. Protect from water by covering the top with a large mat, board or other water resistant material.  Cover with bales of hay or straw to insulate. 

The amount of insulation will depend on your cold weather climate, so insulate accordingly, some will need more some less.

Looking for land in Missouri, Arkansas, Texas, or Minnesota in which to start your own homestead or garden in order to try out these new ideas?

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