Building with Earthbags: An Adventure in Root Cellar Construction

By Steve Nicolini

We have finally completed our 4 years-and-running earthbags building project.  We wanted a natural cold storage for all of the root crops we grow here in the western foothills of Washington’s Cascade Mountain range.

This is a wonderful alternative to conventional construction.  They are much less expensive and much more ecologically friendly.

The story of our earthbag root cellar begins with a man who loved to dig.  This man could often be found digging the hole for our root cellar.  The sound of his shovel and pickaxe would only be drowned out by his grunts and groans as he dug deeper and deeper into the earth, pulling out gigantic rocks (that would one day edge our garden beds).

The man’s perseverance and work ethic was so inspiring I decided to jump in.  One day, we were throwing shovels full of dirt from the 8 ft. deep x 11 ft. wide hole in the ground when the man said, “Okay.  That is deep enough.”  It was time to review our notes on building with earthbags and design our cellar.

The materials needed:

–      Earthbags (enough to complete your structure)

–      Barbed wire

–      Strong wood for door/window forms

–      Drainage and foundation material (we used gravel and perforated pipe)

–      Some straight pieces of wood or metal or plastic to make a compass.

–      Baling twine

–      Tampers (full pounders and quarter pounders)

–      Levels

–      Measuring tapes

–      Big Old Coffee cans




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