Category Archives: Sustain

You don’t have Root Cellar?

root_cellar2Root cellar is a wonderful structure used to store food, vegetable, root vegetable, and fruits. Structure can by built underground, partially underground or above ground, but very well insulated.  Purpose of root cellar is to keeping the temperature and humidity in stable range.  

RootCellar4Cold storage of fruits and vegetables was used extensively by our ancestors to keep food after the harvest season.  People used root cellars to store besides the vegetable, and fruits, vine, caned food, home made alcoholic beverages, salt meat, smoked bacon, and fish. In modern times, the year round availability of fresh produce in the supermarket has reduced the  use of home storage. However, even today there are benefits of home storage, which make it a good alternative to buying produce from the store. Most importantly, home gardeners often have excess fruits and  vegetables that cannot be consumed immediately but would store well. Even those without gardens can buy food ‘in season’ when it is fresh and inexpensive and then store it at home until a later date. Both these options are cheaper than buying food in the winter when it is often quite expensive. In addition, stored food harvested at peak maturity from the garden usually has better flavor and a higher nutritional value.
RootCellar5When harvesting your own produce for storage, or buying it locally in season, there are certain guidelines to follow which assure
maximum quality and minimum spoilage of your stored food.

  •  Harvest fruits and vegetables at peak maturity or as near as possible.
  • Only use produce that is free from all visible evidence of disease.
  • Do not pick any fruit or vegetable that has severe insect damage.
  • Handle food carefully after harvest so that it is not cut or bruised.
  • Leave an inch or more of stem on most vegetables to reduce water loss and prevent infection.
  • Use late-maturing varieties better suited to storage.

root_cellar1In general, use only the best food for storage. Damaged food is more likely to suffer mold and bacterial decay during storage and
thus should be used fresh, processed, or discarded.
Once harvested, fruits and vegetables must be stored under proper conditions, the most important


of which are temperature and
humidity. Each fruit or vegetable has its own ideal set of conditions at which it will store most successfully for the maximum length of time. These conditions can be classified into four groups:

  1. Vegetables which require cold & moist conditions
  2. Vegetables which require cool & moist conditions
  3. Vegetables which require cold & dry conditions
  4. Vegetables which require warm & dry conditions

The tables on the following list temperature and humidity requirements for most vegetables. In addition to proper
temperature and humidity, all fruits and vegetables must be kept in a dark, aerated environment. While most vegetables like moist
conditions, standing water must be avoided, as it will quickly lead root_cellar3to rot. Produce must not be allowed to freeze and should be protected from animal pests such as mice. It is important to remember that crops held in storage are still living plants, capable of respiration and affected by their environment. The goal of
storage is to keep them in a dormant state.
*One other note, fruits and vegetables should always be stored separately. Fruits release ethylene, which speeds the ripening process of vegetables. Fruits are also very susceptible to
picking up the taste of nearby vegetables.

Fruits & Vegetable that require cold, moist conditions
Name Temperature (`C} Humidity (%) Lenfh of storage
Asparagus 0-2 95 2-3 w
Apples 0 90 2-6 m
Beets 0 95 3-5 m
Broccoli 0 95 10-14 d
Brussels Srouts 0 95 3-5 w
Cabbage, Early 0 95 3-6 w
Cabbage, Late 0 95 3-4 m
Cabbage, Chinese 0 95 1-2 m
Carots, mature 0 95 4-5 m
Canots, immature 0 95 4-6 w
Cauliflower 0 95 2-4 w
Celeriac 0 95 3-4 m
Celery 0 95 2-3 m
Collards 0 95 10-14 d
Corn, sweet 0 95 4-8 d
Endive, Escarole 0 95 2-3 w
Grapes 0 90 4-6 w
Kale 0 95 10-14 d
Leeks, green 0 95 1-3 m
Lettuce 0 95 2-3 w
Parsley 0 95 1-2 m
Parsnips 0 95 2-6 m
Pears 0 95 2-7 m
Peas. green 0 95 1-3 w
Potatoes, early 10 90 1-3 w
Potatoes, late 4 90 4-9 m
Radishes, spring 0 95 3-4 w
Radishes, winter 0 95 2-4 m
Rhubarib 0 95 2-4 w
Rutabagas 0 95 2-4 m
Spinach 0 95 10-14 d
Vegetabtes that require cool, moist conditions
Name Temperature (`C} Humidity (%) Lenfh of storage
Bears. snap 4-10 95 7-10 d
Cucumbers 7-10 95 10-14 d
Eggplaat 7-10 90 1 w
Cantaloupe 4 90 15 d
Watermelon 4-10 80-85 2-3 w
Peppers sweet 7-10 95 2-3 w
Potatoes, early 10 90 1-3 w
Potatoes, late 4 90 4-9 m
Tomatoes, green 10-21 90 1-3 w
Tomatoes, ripe 7-10 90 4-7 d
Vegetables that require cool, dry conditions
Name Temperature (`C} Humidity (%) Lenfh of storage
Garlic, onion 0 65-70 6-7 m
Vegetables that require warm dry conditions
Name Temperature (`C} Humidity (%) Lenfh of storage
Peppers, hot 10 60-65 6 m
Pumpkins 10-15 70-75 2-3 m
Squash, winnter 10-15 50-60 2-6 m
Sweet Potato 13- 15 80-85 4-6 m

Would you like to build your own root cellar?  Here is my step by step video. If you have any question don’t hesitate to ask.


Breathable living- Straw Ball House

sand bagsStraw bales were a fairly common building material in the world between 18

There remains much we do not understand about appropriate ways to build with straw bales in different individual building assemblies, climate zones, and weather conditions. Two of the current straw bale construction methods include non-load-bearing or post-and-beam, which uses a structural framework with straw bale in-fill, and load-bearing, which uses the bearing capacity of the stacked bales to support roof loads.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA electrical box in straw bale wall WorkingTogetherCXbc

1800 and 1940. Boom in straw-bale home construction began to re-interest people in the mid-1960s. The biggest interest in this building technique started when the cost of conventional construction materials raised, and people started to have concern about our environment. Straw ball houses have become popular among enthusiastic people interested in living in Eco homes.

Super Insulated. Solar heating and cooling, passive solar design and solar tempering is less an issue when the house is superinsulated. Properly done, superinsulation (with accompanying sealing), greatly reduces the total amount of heat required from solar and supplemental sources. A poorly insulated house could use huge banks of south facing windows and accompanying thermal mass to provide part of the enormous heat requirements. With the well build straw bale (superinsulated house), solar measures can be modest and get the job done. If the plan looks too solar…maybe it is.

Straw Bale Module. Most plans are based on either a 3 foot (two string) or 4 foot (three string) bale module, with design decisions (outside wall dimensions, window size and placement for example) images1strongly influenced by this module. Most plans can be designed and built using either three or four tie bales (with window size and placement modified accordingly). A 12 foot wall section for example, can be constructed with 4 three foot bales, or three 4 foot bales. In the real world of straw bale home building, the bale module often gets ignored for other considerations.

Load Bearing Option. Generally, the smaller and simpler the plan, the more likely one has the option of using load bearing construction (which may be less expensive). As size and complexity increase, it becomes more likely that post and beam construction will be required. Often, a hybrid system is possible, with post and beam or stick construction on the south wall (with more windows), load bearing on the north wall (assuming few and small windows), and maybe a center suport post and beam system.

Symmetry. Many factors influence house design including for example, education, class, custom, intuition, art, science, tradition, culture, code, (you name it). Within these constraints, designers have the opportunity to bring something personal to their work. Symmetry is a theme that runs throughout mine. My underlying assumption is, if a plan looks good (to me), feels good, works well, in plan, energy will generate and flow well, and the house will be enjoyable to live in. For me, in most cases, this means symmetry. The shape, the footprint is the starting place for me, with use areas expected to fit into this matrix. In most cases, use areas gracefully adjust, in respect to the overall form. Obviously, there are other ways to design a house…

50 plans for straw ball houses