Saturday, January 24, 2009

What am I going to do with this stupid little window?

The tinest basement window, under the front stoop

At least that's what I had thought before. It's in the basement, in a small room that houses the sump pump. The room is about 4' x 7'. It sticks out away from the basic rectangle of the foundation, so all four walls, the ceiling and the floor are masonry.

Front entrance

It is actually underneath the front porch, following about the same outline as the porch itself. I'm not sure why they felt the need to do an excavated foundation for this space.

Root Cellar

The sump pump sits in the corner of the space opposite the window, which is near the ceiling.

Initially, I thought that the space was relatively useless. It's small, cold, and humid. The ceiling in shorter than the rest of the basement. At one point I called it our "wine cellar". One should note that I have no idea if the temperature and humidity levels are appropriate for the storage of wine. One should also note that while I like the idea of a wine cellar, I've never owned more than seven bottles of wine at a time, and that presently, I have but three.

I've been interested in gardening for a while, and before I realized how affordable Shaker Heights could be, I was looking to purchase a farm. We had planned to have a small vegetable garden in our current yard. With the current economic situation, we were looking harder at how to stretch our money. As a result, we will be trying to figure out how to make more of our yard a garden while still keeping it looking clean and yardlike, at least until we get an impression of how the neighbors feel about it. Also, we will likely be joining some sort of Community Supported Agriculture group (CSA), which should provide a steady supply of fresh vegetables.

This otherwise useless room in the basement should be an excellent root cellar. With masonry walls on all sides and earth to insulate it on three of the four walls, it should keep vegetables all winter long. Building shelving to fit in the space will use up some of the scrap lumber that I have sitting around. Further, that window that I started this entry with - it'll be the perfect location to route the necessary ventilation pipes through.


Shane and Casey said...

Looks like a perfect root cellar. Did your house originally have a coal furnace? If so, any chance this was the "coal room?" Usually they don't have a glass window though.

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

I don't know what sort of fuel our boiler originally used - we're currently on an early 1980s replacement. I haven't found any evidence of a coal chute.

Jason said...

The small room underneath the front part of our house is marked "Canning Room" in the breaker box, which I think is the best. I'm sure it wasn't used for canning when the fuse box was replaced with breakers (whenever that was), so the name has survived at least one owner who didn't use it for that. We barely have room for a garden, but I think we'll do our best to return the Canning Room to its former task.

artemis said...

We had a canning room/root cellar in the New England house I grew up in that had been converted to a bomb shelter (!!) in the 60s, but my parents put shelves back and used it for its original purpose---it was a wonderful space, and I've already got a space in our house now flagged for that when we get around to getting shelves, etc.

We belong to a CSA and LOVE it---I highly recommend! We're also slowly converting our small yard to edible landscaping. You might check out the books Food Not Lawns and Gaia's Garden for some ideas. A lot of edible landscaping is also decorative (especially perennials) so you can have a yard that still looks like a yard, but is filled with yummy things to eat. Good luck!

Why S? said...

I also have a stupid little window in my house. It's part of an addition and one side is flush with a wall. Plus, it's ugly aluminum and it only looks into the driveway, so it's completely pointless besides being ugly. We now have a storage cabinet block it.

Nora said...

My parents do a ton of gardening in their flower beds since I was a baby (I'm photo'd infront of it) - to add color such as various peppers etc and also I think it is marigolds that do something for a garden...I forget what. Norbi and I are actually doing raised beds and gardening in the flower beds this year. I'm excited!

I googled and found an awesome link that answered my question and then some:

Tiffany said...

I think edible landscaping is a great idea. There are lots of plants that look pretty and taste good. Kale, artichokes and rhubarb are a few that fit the bill. You can grow all of your herbs, plant fruit trees, berry vines...even let pumpkins and gourds roam around in the beds with hardly any need for tending.

We don't really have a yard here...but if we did, I would be trying it. Now I just have to get my real raised bed garden in order finally!

StuccoHouse said...

I'd put my money on a coal chute. Mine has a glass window...probably to provide some light. It's little quirky things like that that *make" old houses. Us old house people live for stuff like that :-)