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Root Cellars and Bright City Lights

By Sharon
November 14, 2012

The last time I made my way out of the darkness of a root cellar was in 1952 and I vowed then I'd never return. So why is it that now, 60 years later, I'm longing for a root cellar?

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Name: Joanne
Calgary, AB Canada (Zone 3a)
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Joannabanana
Nov 13, 2012 7:07 PM CST
Most of the old root cellars in this area have the access from inside the house. Pull up a door in the floor and you pray it doesn't fall closed. We have one in our old farm house. It's always a bit nerving to go and light the water heater and/or furnace. I don't keep any food there since we don't live there, but I know the critters are there. Still has that one-light bulb that just barely let's you make out the potato bin. If we lived there, I would definitely use it, but I would make sure extra light fixtures were added (fluorescent). I seen snakes, mice and chipmunks come out of the potato shoot hole.

I hope you get one. There are a lot of things now-a-days that would make it less scary and more secure from critters
[Last edited by Joannabanana - Nov 13, 2012 7:09 PM (+)]
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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Nov 13, 2012 7:18 PM CST
I remember seeing mice and spiders, but I don't remember anything else. I was more afraid of those things I couldn't see than what I could.

Scary things, root cellars, but I'd still like to have one!!
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Name: Vicki
North Carolina
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vic
Nov 13, 2012 7:33 PM CST
GREAT story Sharon and I kinda/sorta have a new age root cellar Green Grin!

It's a walk-in crawl space where my tender plants overwinter.

Dirt floor, block walls, spiders, used to be snakes until I told Hank I was going to start shooting guns down there so he snake proofed it for me Thumbs up I do keep mouse traps set down there. And I have LIGHTS! LOTS of high intensity fluorescent lights. I can light it up down there like NYC Rolling on the floor laughing

I've never kept fruits or veggies down there but I bet I could.

I do remember root cellars from my childhood and the smell of them and the being scared. Crying Crying
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Nov 13, 2012 7:40 PM CST
My neighbor, Sandra, did the same thing with a crawl space for her plants, it's great and I have serious envy.
I keep thinking this underground spring has surely dried up in our recent droughts, but I'm not sure.

So glad you have it, Vic. I should have known.
Now if I can borrow Hank for awhile . . .

Of course you could come too and with the 3 of us working, well, it shouldn't take long.
Better wait for spring now, though, the critters are probably already there bedded down for winter.
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Name: Vicki
North Carolina
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vic
Nov 14, 2012 4:00 AM CST
Neither of us had any idea I would use this for plants when he was building the house. If we had, he would have added more courses of block to the foundation to make the ceiling higher down there.

And when I say walk-in crawl space, it would be walk-in for you and me - Hank has to bend over and really gets claustrophobic down there.

The door to the crawl space is on the south side of the house so it stays about 55 to 60 down there all winter because even though it gets cold here, the sun really warms that side of the house up which is nice for the plants but probably not fruits and veggies.

The further north you walk down there, the shorter you need to be because it is built into a hill. By the time you get to the north end of the house, you're on your hands and knees Whistling

All that said, I'm pretty sure I could keep fruits and veggies further back in the crawl space without bending over too far Green Grin!

In our house in OH that Hank built, he did in fact build a "fruit cellar" closet for me. It was in the garage, very deep shelves against a north wall, and held all the goodies I canned from the garden. And when I said deep, I could crawl in there and sit on one of the shelves. Then, in the floor of this closet, I could lift up a panel and go into the crawl space which was maybe only 3 feet high but still, I could keep stuff in there as well if I wanted. It was good place during tornadoes too Crying

We would love to come dig you a crawl space - it would be FUN! Hurray! Thumbs up
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
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vic
Nov 14, 2012 5:05 AM CST
Very messy at moment but this is one tiny little corner. There is a 20 foot table behind me and shelves to hold my pots - when I put them away Whistling

You can see where I've started de-blooming the geraniums - I love the color and blooms but it's time for them to go to sleep.

When/IF I get the crawl space cleaned up, I'll take more and better photo's :greengrin:


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Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
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SongofJoy
Nov 14, 2012 6:26 AM CST
I like that. I'm about to utilize our crawl space that way, but I do have to crawl in it so my time in there will be limited and things will be as close to the door as I can safely put them. I'd say it's about 3-4 feet high in there.

I agree ... I want a root cellar. My grandparents built a concrete storm (tornado) and fallout shelter in the side of a hill on their farm during the 50's and used it as a root cellar. Wish I had it now. You could stand up just fine in there. It wasn't large, but it was a little more comfy than crawling and had benches for seating.

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The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Nov 14, 2012 9:40 AM CST
Vic, that looks like the part of the basement that Dad finished under the house I grew up in. We didn't have florescent lights, but it was well lit for Mom's flowers in the front part and in the back against the farthest wall and behind another concrete block wall that made it darker were shelves for canned goods and a potato bin. I guess it was the more modern version since he shored up the house and dug out that part of it in the very early 50s. I wasn't scared of it, maybe because of Mom's geraniums and all the light. Plus the door to the outside was a regular sized door.

But Vic, I love yours, it's perfect.

Tee, great about your crawl space. If I weren't facing a huge old age next week I'd be digging right now, but I am, so I won't. I need something I can walk into, and I doubt that the space beneath my house will be it. I don't have that many people to feed anyway, and heaven knows I already have enough flowers to stock a nursery. So whatever is, just has to be. But lucky you when you get yours done!

Since it was in the 50s when Dad remodeled beneath our house, I suspect he had was preparing the area as a fallout shelter as well. It had electricity and running water. One part of it housed our furnace (coal) and also in that larger front room was the water source so it became the laundry room.
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Name: Margaret
Delta KY
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Mindy03
Nov 14, 2012 11:39 AM CST
Ah shoot ladies, root cellars aren't scary places at all. There is one under the house I grew up in and we played down there on really hot summer days. Originally the doorway was in the floor in a small bedroom but Dad dug an outside entrance when he remodeled the house.
There were two block sized openings to let in light and fresh air. Once our eyes adjusted to the dimness we could see pretty well down there. There was one light bulb hanging down there and the swtich was upstairs where the old doorway used to be. We never turned it on because we weren't allowed to unless Mom sent us to get something.
We played hide and seek and other games suitable for the darkness. When we wer in trouble with Mom and wanted to stay out of her way we'd hide in the cellar because she rarely thought of looking there for us. It was really comfortable down there during our hot summer days.
There were dirt shelves along the walls for canned food, a potoat bin for the potatoes which was a great hiding place when empty. Dirt floors and dampness that smelled earthy.
One of these days I'm going to talk my brother into letting me back down there.
Name: Vicki
North Carolina
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vic
Nov 14, 2012 11:45 AM CST
I love hearing memories like that Lovey dubby
Name: Carole
Clarksville, TN (Zone 6b)
Cherish today
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SongofJoy
Nov 14, 2012 1:14 PM CST
Well, I have a hitch in my get-along at the moment so my progress may be slow. Glare
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched -- they must be felt with the heart. ~ Helen Keller
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Nov 14, 2012 5:54 PM CST
Oh but Margaret, you had brothers and sisters maybe and I didn't. Going alone when you are 6 or 7 or 8 into a root cellar with only an outside door, well, a whole different story. No windows or light holes either.

Great stories, though. Glad you and your buddies had fun in yours. Big Grin
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Name: Margaret
Delta KY
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Mindy03
Nov 14, 2012 6:55 PM CST
Well Sharon those light holes got blocked when we wanted it pitch dark down there for monster scares. I really did go down there by myself at that age when it was blocked too. Daddy didn't make the door too heavy and once you learnt how to open it just enough to crawl in it was a done deal.
Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Nov 14, 2012 6:57 PM CST
You are a brave soul, Mindy/Margaret!!
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Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
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chelle
Jan 16, 2014 11:02 AM CST
No root cellar here either, but I do use the part of the crawlspace area that I can reach from the tiny access panel in the floor.


While growing up, I lived in a historic home with a Michigan Basement. There were three rooms down there; the first was for laundry and storage, the second for the furnace, and one tiny room that must have been designed for food storage. It had bricked walls, the obligatory dusty low-wattage bulb, and nothing else. No windows, a very snug-fitting walk-in door and a packed-dirt floor. Once I grew weary of the oft-repeated idea that I'd be sent there if I misbehaved, I decided that I'd spend time alone in there anyway; just in case. Hilarious! It soon became my special hiding place when I was confined to the house, as no one else ventured near it if the light was off. I'd nestle in there with a good book and read while listening for the opening of the door at the top of the stairs; it always and forever stuck, no matter what was done to it, so I had advance warning if anyone was headed my way. Even though I can't recall us using the space much for food stuffs, it still taught me a lot about conquering some of my fears. It was a good place. Smiling I can't say as I'd ever want to live in that house and be a "Townie" again, but I sure wouldn't mind having that room now.

Thanks for bringing back the memories with the sharing of your wonderful story. I tip my hat to you.
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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Jan 16, 2014 11:13 AM CST
And thanks for sharing your story, Chelle. What a great way to conquer fears. I did much the same thing with our attic, my room was right in the middle of it, but there were little storage closets on each side that led to the attic space. One of the little closets had a single light bulb. So I'd go into my closet, close the door, and read, my own private space, much like yours, but half closet and half attic.
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Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
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chelle
Jan 16, 2014 11:34 AM CST
Now that sounds just about perfect. Smiling


Funny, but I never did venture into our top-most space; about all I ever had the courage to do was open the overhead panel and take a quick peek underneath. Rolling on the floor laughing The furnace-monster was much more preferable to whatever lurked up there!

It's snowing again and I'd planned to go out, so I'm dithering the day away. *Blush* Guess I'll go check on my plants/tubers in the icky crawlspace. It's certainly not a place I'd ever go to read, that's for sure. Blinking Hilarious!
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Newest Interest: Rock Gardens


Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
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Sharon
Jan 16, 2014 11:38 AM CST
Actually the attic part was off to the side of the upstairs area that was used for bedrooms, so it wasn't like crawling up into an over head panel. Not sure I could have done that either, although that's what I have now. Pull down ladder. It can get pretty creepy up there, too.
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Name: Lyn
Weaverville, California (Zone 8a)
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RoseBlush1
Jan 16, 2014 12:11 PM CST
@chelle ...

What a great story ! I used to hide out in the acacia tree down at the bottom of our property when my birth-mother would get into a snit. From a child's point of view, that was the time to disappear. I'd take my book and hide out in that wonderful tree for hours.

I do have a root cellar in this house, but it is located down on the street level behind the garage and is kind of difficult to get to when you need/want something, so I don't use it. Since I am only cooking for myself, I don't do a lot of canning any more. I'd rather stuff the freezer ... Smiling

Smiles,
Lyn
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Name: Sharon
Calvert City, KY (Zone 7a)
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Master Level I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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Sharon
Jan 16, 2014 12:21 PM CST
Me too, Lyn, stuffing the freezer just for me!
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