As far as I can tell, there are three big enemies to root cellars everywhere: dry air, warmth, and mice.

You want some humidity in the root cellar atmosphere because dry air will cause fruits and vegetables to shrivel up. This is not a problem for us as we have a sink in our root cellar (because it used to be a dark room), so we just turn on some water and fill up the sink when it feels dry in there.

You don’t want warmth because the root cellar is functioning like a large refrigerator; the cool air slows down the aging process; warmth speeds it up. Although it was warming up in our part of the  world last week, temperatures are generally cool enough to ensure that it’s pretty much like a refrigerator in our root cellar.

And then there’s mice.

I actually saw a little mouse scurrying fast when I turned on the light in our root cellar last weekend. I also detected evidence of the mouse’s presence here and there.

There’s an area of our darkroom where the wall is chewed at the bottom, and I believe the mice are burrowing in from the outside.

We’ve positioned a tray of d-CON at the tiny opening in the wall. We hope that if the mouse eats some of the poison, he will simply crawl outside again and have the good grace not to die and rot away in our root cellar.

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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...

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