Freezing your food is a great way to preserve it. But if your freezer breaks, there’s no reason to take it to the dump. You can still use it to preserve your food by converting it to a mini-root-cellar. You will be able to store potatoes, carrots, onions, and other crops through winter and into spring without the need for electricity. Here’s how…
The first step is to remove the mechanical components. This could include Freon, which involves using more care and disposing of it properly so you don’t contaminate your area.
After you have stripped the freezer you are going to cut two circular holes in the sides. The holes will be used to install PVC pipes for ventilation, so cut them to the size of the pipes that you will be using. Ventilation is important to prevent spoiling so don’t go too small, the larger the freezer the more ventilation you will need. The holes should be directly above each other, one neat the top of the freezer, the other near the bottom.
Next, assemble your PVC pipes. Place short pieces in the holes in the freezer, then hold a longer piece (it needs to extend at least 1 inch below the bottom hole, and about 12 inches about the top of the freezer (more in places with harsh winters). Mark on the longer vertical pipe where you will need to cut it to attach it to both shorter pieces that enter the holes on your freezer.
Once you have assembled the PVC pipes, they should look like upside-down “F”s. Next, carefully drill some holes near the end of the vertical pipe. These will be your root cellars only ventilation so you want to drill plenty of holes. Then cap the top and bottom of the vertical pipe.
Next, attach the assembled PVC “F”s to your freezer, caulk them in place to secure them, seal the gap, and insulate. Next, wrap some wire mesh over the ends of the pipes and attach this to the pipes with hose clamps. This is to keep out bugs and rodents.
At this point, your freezer is ready to be buried. If you live in a place with a harsh winter you will want to bury your freezer so that the top is at least 12 inches from the ground level, this is why you needed to make your vertical pipes longer than those with mild winters. If you live in a place with a mild winter you can make the top of your freezer nearly flush with ground and cover it with plywood and a tarp or whatever you have available, you are done. If you have your freezer deeper to avoid freezing, you will need to fill in the gap with something light enough to remove when you want to access your root cellar, but that will insulate well enough to prevent freezing.
Don’t waste time and energy growing crops that end up spoiling because you don’t have room to properly store them. Make yourself a root cellar this year so you can enjoy all the fruits of your labor.
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