Gardens sometimes outperform our expectations. When you find yourself with an excess of root vegetables, it’s a good idea to have a ready way to store them. That’s what a root cellar is for. By keeping root vegetables like beets, carrots, potatoes and turnips at a consistent temperature and humidity, the cellar maintains them longer and lets you enjoy the yield of your garden well past harvest.
The instructions that follow show how to build a miniature root cellar—just under 3 and 1/2 cubic feet—perfect for storing the produce of a small vegetable garden.
To create the face of the crate, lay three of the 20” boards parallel to one another with their edges flush. Draw a line from top to bottom, ¾” in from either side, so that the line crosses the all three boards. Draw another line across the length of the bottommost board ½” up from its lower edge.
Inside the pencil border you’ve drawn, lay a swath of wood glue a little less than 6″ wide. Align one of the 15” support slats with the pencil border and press it into the glue. Use at least two nails to affix the slat to the boards. Using the same method, affix another 15″ slat to the other side of the crate face.
Repeat steps 1 and 2 to create a second face for the crate.
Run beads of wood glue along the ¾” border. Press one the 15″ side slats into the glue and attach it by driving nails through the front of the face. Continue adding slats until you’ve completed the lateral sides of the crate.
Line the ¾” border of the second face with wood glue. Press it into place at the opposite side of the crate from the original face, and fix it into place with more nails.
Stand the crate on one end to install the cellar floor. Settle the plywood panel into the 1/2″ recess and nail it into the end of the interior panels.
Flip the crate to the remaining open end and attach the lid to one edge using the small hinges.
Once you’ve finished building the root cellar, allow the wood glue to fully dry before placing it in the ground. Choose a dry location out of the way of foot traffic. Before digging the pit for your cellar, call 811 to make sure there’s no danger of striking underground utilities. Leave several inches exposed above ground to keep the lid visible and the hinges clear of dirt and water.
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