If you’re growing lots of vegetables this season, you may want a way to continue to enjoy those homegrown foods during the deep cold of winter. Many garden-grown vegetables lend themselves to long storage in a root cellar, but building a structure specifically to keep roots and vegetables may not be a reality for you. But you can easily make your own root barrel to store all those potatoes, carrots, leeks, and more! All you need is little more than a large drum, some soil, and straw.
Vegetables such as onions, potatoes, carrots, beets, leeks, and others are all very good storage vegetables that can last for months under the right conditions. Different vegetables have slightly different requirements, but basically, a humid, cold environment (not freezing) will keep these vegetables fresh for a long time.
Root cellars were a mainstay for agrarian families to store summer’s harvest, but you might not have the space, time, or money to invest in such a project. You can, however, build a very simple root barrel to achieve the same goal. Here’s how.
How to make a root barrel
Find a 55 gallon barrel, some soil, and straw, and that’s most of what you need to build such a root barrel. Start to mound up some soil (or even sand) and lay the barrel on the mound at an angle, and then cover it completely with soil. You can also use 1-3 feet of straw around the barrel to better insulate it, if you live in a particularly harsh climate. If you do, be sure to shovel several inches of soil on the straw. Make sure the barrel is completely covered, except for the lid. Place your vegetables in layers in the barrel, with straw all around and between layers, and cover the barrel loosely with a lid to let the vegetables breathe.
That’s about all it takes to keep your own homegrown vegetables fresh during winter with your own root barrel. For more information, visit this website and an article about building a simple root barrel.