Last year I mentioned the need for a root cellar.
This was predicated upon the expectation of a large potato crop–the results of my hand made potato box.
The final yield was, however, lackluster, and my other root crops, onions and garlic, don’t require root cellar conditions.
But the carrots did exceptionally well, and storing them in a combination of the crisper drawer in the fridge and the garage, well, was annoying. So I revisited my plans to convert the crawlspace.
All I intended was to add some shelving, but I never got around to it, and my earlier attempts at using it for storing radishes resulted in a box of moldy radishes. I abandoned the plan.
Then our chest freezer died. Its thermostat had always been finicky, refusing to settle anywhere between 0 and -30. And when the power went out, the compressor never clicked back on again.
Everyone surely remembers the great toilet paper shortage of COVID. Faced with a temporary yet inconvenient possibility of having to wait a few days to buy what we wanted immediately, people began stockpiling items they were most afraid of going a day without: food, sanitary products…ammunition…?
You never know when you might need to shoot your neighbor because they bought all the toilet paper. And apparently that’s going to require a thousand rounds.
Anyway, on this list was deep freezers, to store all this frozen food that you might have to go a day without. And now, almost a year after the quarantines, they’re apparently still hard to find. But find one we did, at a former Sear’s warehouse, for too much money. But it was either that or lose all the steak, and I’ll be damned if I have to go a day without steak. So we bought it and lugged it home and hooked it up and…at that point I noticed the old freezer had finally clicked back on.
But then I got an idea. We could take it back, or I could convert the old glitchy one into a root cellar! Which is essentially just a giant refrigerator. It’s impossible to keep a dirt cellar 33-40 degrees with 98% humidity anyway. So while this approach might not be more efficient, it was certainly more effective.
But one problem remained: freezers aren’t refrigerators and aren’t designed to act as such. Fortunately, that problem had already been addressed. The market is flooded with thermostatic controller overrides, which turn the power on and off to the external cord independently of the freezer’s wonky and cheap internal thermostat.
So far it’s working pretty well, though I might add some water jugs in there to help regulate. It tends to turn on and off more frequently than I’d like. I know compressors don’t like that.
And with one last addition, milk crates, I have stackable storage in there too, which keeps things off the metal liner (hopefully this will also prevent frostbite). And even though these reduce the usable space, it’s still a ton of storage. I even thawed a turkey in there last week, so there’s certainly uses beyond just vegetables.
I won’t have to occupy an entire fridge door for a week brining pork belly for bacon, either. And that’s something I’m unwilling to go a day without!