Its Winter – What’s a Gardner to do?

First off let me wish all of you the best of New Years!  Been a while since writing anything new for this blog, but Christmas is over, and after a wonderful time together with family the company has made their way home and today the sun is shining brilliantly.  Stepping outside to split and gather up some organic firewood I began thinking of next years projects.  I’m probably no different than most serious gardeners as I have a list of major projects I carry around in the back of my mind that I can never get to during the business of a normal gardening season.  As my mind drifted away on the back of one of my honeybees out making the best of the sunny day, it soon came to rest on the very site I had envisioned for a root cellar.

Over the course of the last few years this project has taken on many forms as I attempted to envision just how it would best serve us which inevitably, leads to what size it should be and where it should be located.  Since I am not the handiest person when it comes to construction I immediately knew I would need some help putting a roof on the thing.  My lack of ability in this area used to lead to great frustration but now days I just accept the fact that one of the things God didn’t bless me with was mathematical skills, which is one and the same when it comes to constructing a building.  But fail not, I have found a solution to the construction of a roof for my growing vision of a root cellar.  I am in need of more room to store equipment for my growing beekeeping business and have decided that after I construct the cinder block walls I’m going to have a local outfit come build a new shed on top of the root cellar.  Build a trap door into the floor to access the root cellar below and I will not only have more storage space but a roof over my root cellar as well.

So with the temps in the low 50’s I began digging.  At my age a calm, sunny day with the air temp hovering about 50 degrees is the perfect hard labor weather.  First I measured and then dug the outline of the root cellar before getting down to some serious digging.  Digging a hole 9 x 11 x 5 will yield a total of approximately 500 cubic feet of material or nearly three (single axle) dump truck loads.  I’ve decided it is a great way to stay in shape over the winter and accomplish a needed task at the same time, while the best thing about it is there is no schedule.  Weather cold and windy?  Snow on the ground?  We will sit by the fire and read, or work on the sequel to my book Truths Blood and dig on another day.

Today the digging went well and I hope to go at least 5 feet deep so I can build a wall about six and a half feet tall.  The excavated soil will be bermed up against the foot and a half of wall that is above ground level to insulate against outside heat.  I even transplanted a young apple tree so it will provide shade when the summer sun is shining out of the southwest in the hottest part of the day.  By insulating the floor of the shed from within the root cellar I expect to be able to have a root cellar that functions as well as one dug entirely into the ground and capped with some kind of roof that would challenge my construction abilities to build.  I will post some pictures as progress is made and hopefully this idea will be of some value to you.


2 thoughts on “Its Winter – What’s a Gardner to do?

  1. Tyler Roberts Post author

    Hello Solarbeez. You are correct, I’m in Central Oregon. We have a different problem over here, rocks! I wont be able to get the cellar as deep as I’d like, but I knew that going in. I still think it will work, though possibly not as well as it would if I could dig deeper.

    I did have a top bar hive – it came as a kit and I put it together. Just really didn’t care for the thing. I’m far more comfortable with the standard hive. I do enjoy my bees, its just quite a challenge to get them to survive for more than two years. Mites get them all the time. I’m learning that the only answer is to produce replacement nucs so I can replace the hives that die each year instead of buying more packages. Lots of things going on when it comes to bees and that keeps it interesting.

    I like your idea of the room in the shop and bet it works out pretty well for you. Thanks for stopping by and take care.

  2. solarbeez

    I see you’re in the high desert. On the Oregon Coast, if I dig down more than 18 inches, I’m hitting water. We’ve always wanted a place to store potatoes, but it’s not going to be in a root cellar. Recently I dedicated (half) a room on the north side of my shop that seems to keep very cool in all months of the year. Whew! I’m glad I didn’t have to dig the size of hole you’re working on. 🙂
    Looks like you have a top bar hive. Did you make it yourself?


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