Dear Jackie

You were kind enough to answer a quetion I asked a few years back
regarding buying land in BC – we have since realized that we
definitely can’t afford to buy land in BC or Alberta anymore –
however we can in eastern Canada which is why we moved out east. We
are now looking for land and hope to buy a nice piece by this summer.

I have a couple of quick questions to ask you about cellars – we had
originally planned to build a separate root cellar but after reading
your ‘starting over’ series I see that you built a basement and you
use the basement as you cellar – is it better to have a basement for
a cellar or a separate root cellar outside of the house? Also what
make/model of wood cooking stove do you recommend? Lastly, we have
heard differing comments about external wood furnaces vs just having
a wood stove unit or central fireplace in the house – what would you
suggest – what do you use for heating your house in Minnesota?


Monica Blaney
Ottawa, Ontario

I’m so excited for you!  Wow are you in for adventure.  I love it.  I really prefer a root cellar in the basement for cold climates.  First of all, it’s really hard to keep a separate root cellar from freezing when the temperature gets below zero for a week or more.  And secondly, it’s sometimes brutal running back and forth to one when it’s snowing and blowing.  In the basement, you can pick the coldest corner, usually a north corner, partition it off from the rest of the basement, which is heated at least to some extent.  If it is a warm basement, you can just insulate the walls of the root cellar to keep it cooler.  Then if it gets really cold, you can simply open the door to circulate some warm air into you storage area.

Right now we heat our house with a combination of propane wall heaters and our wood burning kitchen range.  Next spring, we’re continuing our new greenhouse around the southeast corner of the house and running it along the east end.  Then in the southeast corner, I’m putting in a wood burning stove.

Eventually, we want to put in a masonary chimney from the basement up to the peak of the roof and we’ll install a wood stove down there.  Or maybe we’ll opt for the outside boiler.

I do like these; they are totally safe, no wood mess in the house and you can burn some big stumps, etc.  You get free hot water and can also heat a workshop, garage or whatever.  My son, Bill, has one down at his place and likes it a lot.  We need to figure out a way to operate it via battery bank, as they do need a pump to circulate the water.  Now you’ve got ME excited!

As for make/model of wood kitchen range, I really don’t have a favorite, although Monarch is a tried and true brand.  I have one now and like it just fine.  There are sure some nice ones on the market, new now, but I don’t have that kind of money.  Only in my dreams!  Try to find one with warming ovens and a large fire box so you can keep a fire longer on a fill.  And if you buy a used one, make sure the grates aren’t burned out.  This sometimes happens when folks either burn coal in a wood grate or burn a lot of hardwood.

Have fun!  And keep us posted on your new homestead. — Jackie