Sunday, August 28, 2016

root cellar upgrade

Our home has a root cellar that the builder attached right to the house, with access through a door in our utility room. Since the house is built in to the side of a hill, the root cellar is on the same level as our main living space, and quite convenient.

Hoever, the builder did a couple things wrong, so I am finally improving the performance with some modifications this summer, in preparation for the upcoming root vegetable harvest.

Only one vent was provided in the ceiling of the root cellar. Correct design has two vent pipes, one that exits from the ceiling, and one that has a pipe extending down close to the floor. When cold weather begins, the cold air flows down the pipe, and warmer air in the root cellar exits through the top vent. this all happens automatically since the colder air is denser and stays down at floor level, displacing the warmer air.

I had to rent a hammer drill and a concrete drill bit, and cut a new hole through the top of the root cellar. The drill worked fine, and a piece of 2 inch ( 50mm) PVC pipe is now set to bring cool air in to the cellar. Please ignore that other hole, which will be filled back in. Mistakes were made.

 Existing pipe is to the right in the middle of the chives patch. The new one will be caulked in and have its return elbows glued on shortly.

The other thing I did was repair the foam insulation board that was covering the roof of the cellar. Since the top of the cellar is so close to grade level, they only had room for a few inches of soil, so they put foam on the roof before backfilling. Over time, this had deteriorated. In addition, there was a water leak between the root cellar and the house foundation wall. It was minor, but getting worse. I redid the foam boards, and used spray foam to fill the gaps. 

This style of foam board has a stucco like coating to help protect it. I'll still be covering it back up with dirt.

Our root cellar should get cold quicker, and stay cold longer, keeping our veggies in prime condition.

Finally got some sand and a couple totes to store root crops in. Those go in next.

I also bought a cheap humidity meter/thermometer, so I can keep track of the humidity, and possibly adjust if needed. 

One more summer photo- Our Roma tomatoes have produced fairly well, but we got some early blight ( I think) that is slowly killing the plants, causing some of the tomatoes to fall off before fully ripening. We're just letting them redden up a bit more in the sun room before canning.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

what to complain about?

Complaining is a well loved traditional small talk topic and group cohesion behavior us social primates engage in a lot. We commiserate about our commute, the local sports team's woes, our children's misbehavior, the restaurant that gets your order wrong, or long checkout lines, or whatever is handy. With farmers, it is especially important to complain about the weather. It is done constantly, and is usually the first thing farmers mention when greeting each other. It's too dry, too wet, too hot, too cold, too windy, on and on.

Only one problem this year. The weather in our area has been wonderful. Not too dry, no exceptional downpours, and rains at uncannily regular intervals, such that we hardly ever watered our garden. Cool enough earlier that the brassicas did well, and enough warm later for the peppers and tomatoes to ripen. So what's a guy to chit chat about?

I've decided this summer to complain about what to do with all the veggies pouring forth from our garden. Too much to eat, too much to process, preserve and store. It's all hitting at once! What a waste, if we don't pluck every tomato and pepper and okra pod, or get those broccoli heads all in before they bolt. And the weeds! they are constantly shooting up and haven't slowed down this summer like they usually do. This is the Queen Anne's lace summer of the century. What's a guy to do?

Seriously though, the weather has been great, and our continual build up of the garden soil with cow manure seems to really be showing results.

So, just this once, I'll briefly stop whinging, and say I'm really thankful for a good growing year. What are you thankful for?