Apr 02

The Green Closet

my green closet

green or white?

I’ve always thought it would be ‘cool’ to have a root cellar- or some similar kind of cold holding.

Imagine being able to eat fresh homegrown veggies farther into the winter, instead of frozen, canned and dehydrated.

I’ve seen wonderful areas built in basements; my FB friend The Farmer’s Garden told me recently she uses an area in a room over an unheated garage.
I have heard stories of people using old out buildings, even read about one that semi-buried an old truck and used that.
I don’t have a basement or a garage, nor any old vehicles or unused buildings.
So I had pretty much given up.

Until one morning as I was getting ready for work, standing in our laundry/utility room getting some socks out of the dryer.
My feet were freezing from the cold floor, and an idea hit me.
You see, our laundry room is situated over a crawl space; and although there was insulation underneath at one point, the local field mice have long since removed it and used it for their own homes.
The floor gets very cold.

The project began with a few obstacles to figure out-
We do plan on reinsulating under the floor, so I needed an alternative way to cool the closet.
Likewise we heat the room somewhat, so I needed to keep the cold in and not let the closet get warm.
And, we need to keep the aforementioned mice out.

air vent installation

Mandolin installing the air vent

So what we did is build a basic closet, but with a vent going to the outside that can be opened and closed manually and is covered in a fine mesh metal screening. The inside is well insulated.

The project seemed to stall at one point, at a place where Mandolin needed to take the next step.
Then I got another good idea- I went out and bought a case of beer and put it in the closet.
When he saw (tasted) how nice and cold it was, he was encouraged to finish the job.

If you're wondering why I call this a 'green' closet, when obviously it is white, I’m referring to the energy this will save.
This will use no power and yet keep our food cold. Plus, we won’t be opening the fridge every time we want an onion or some garlic.

simple shelving

shelves ready and waiting

I’ve been monitoring the temperatures and playing with the vent and it looks like this will work well.

I can just picture it this coming fall, filled with baskets and tubs of veggies, garlic and herbs hanging down…
and in there somewhere I know...
...will be a case of cold beer.

Because of the 'green' nature of this project, I have listed it in the Gardener's Sustainable Living Project 2011.
Check it out to find some great ways gardeners are going green, and leave a comment for a chance to win some fabulous gifts.

Veggies and Cold Holding
The Farmer's Garden

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    • Avatar of gj
    • Donna on April 2, 2011 at 7:14 am

    what a great idea…perfect and very “green” indeed

    • Avatar of gj
    • gj on April 2, 2011 at 7:23 am

    Thanks Donna- I can’t wait to try it out this fall.

  1. Great idea…I hope it will work well for you! I imagine it might get a bit warm in there during the summer months…but perfect for that extended cold period during the late fall-winter. Thanks for linking to my project! I am not sure why you couldn’t leave a comment…you just have to scroll all the way down. But don’t worry, I got your message;-)

    • Avatar of gj
    • Beth on April 2, 2011 at 8:35 am

    Awesome! And if it’s on the shady side of the house, it just may stay cool in summer. Love the case of beer incentive!!

    • Avatar of gj
    • gj on April 2, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Even today it was at 40 on the bottom shelf, but 60 at the top- and almost 50 outside. This was without opening the vent, which would have cooled it off a little more.
    It is on the more wooded side of the house, Im glad you mentioned that Beth; I’ll have to keep playing with it and see how long I can keep it cool in there.

    • Avatar of gj
    • Bea Poultney on April 2, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    I have been looking for how to information on ‘root cellar’ types of storage for my veggies. I tried last year wrapping my green tomatoes in newspaper and storing them in a cold room in my house, but it didn’t work. Not sure why. Does it have to be dark as well? Any guidance you can give me would be appreciated. Thanks!

    • Avatar of gj
    • gj on April 2, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Tomatoes don’t do well in long term storage of this type, neither do peppers and eggplants – they are all in the same veggie family.
    I can, freeze and roast/dehydrate these veggies for storing. Except the eggplant, we cook that then freeze.
    Root Cellars are primarily for root crops- carrots, turnips, etc.; other veggies do well there too that can be held a long time, like the onions, potatoes and cabbages.
    I wish there was a way to hold tomatoes all winter, that would be wonderful!

    • Avatar of gj
    • A on April 7, 2011 at 6:11 am

    Great job to Mandolin! Fantastic idea Jones! I’m curious to see what the temp will be come summer..Please keep us posted!

    • Avatar of gj
    • gj on April 7, 2011 at 6:47 am

    Thanks A. I’ll pass that onto him. I’m also curious to watch the temps, I don’t expect them to stay very cool in the summer though.

  2. Great article.

  1. […] This hybrid, developed for Burpee’s in England, grows smaller veggies in much less space. As you can see from the picture, it can even be container grown. The plants are still vining to some extent, growing to about 2-3 ft., but most certainly more bush like than conventional butternut. This is great if you have little space, or if you are just trying to maximize what space you have. The fruit are smaller, only about 1-2 pounds, but the perfect size for 2 people. Of course, they can be held well into the following winter and even spring, as you normally would hold squash. […]

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