Bury 55 gal barrel for food storage or storage of lithium battery.

mart85 Posts: 10 ✭✭✭

I finally stopped talking about it, and I did it… I put underground a 55 gal barrel, and I added a wifi temp monitor so I can now get good data of what the temps are in the barrel. My hope is I can store grain in vacuum sealed food saver bags in this for long term storage. My main concerns is moisture, so I will be checking on this to make sure there is no moisture, from condensation. I put the barrel in the ground, then I put a trash bag over the top for additional moisture barrier, then a top of a 55 gal barrel, then more dirt. I liked the temps information I have seen so far. Just under 80 deg with no covering. Temp chart is outside temp compared to the lower bar which is temp of inside the barrel.


  • nicksamanda11
    nicksamanda11 Posts: 713 ✭✭✭✭

    So, then when you want grain you would just dig the dirt off and take the lid off and plastic and then voila! Grain! Interesting idea.

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 1,358 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @mart85 thank you for sharing. Please keep us updated as you gather more information. How far below ground level is the top of the barrel?

  • mart85
    mart85 Posts: 10 ✭✭✭

    That is the general plan. What I like about it is that it protects against fire, and keeps moderate temperatures so I don't have to heat or cool it so if there is a power outage the food will be protected.

    The down sides would be perhaps high moisture in the barrel may have condensation, but I believe being inside a plastic trash bag should take care of most of those issues.

  • mart85
    mart85 Posts: 10 ✭✭✭

    For the first round I have it 3 inches below ground ( because my wifi temp monitor seems to still transmit temps from that depth. I have a battery coming for my other temp monitor, when that comes I plan to go down another foot, seal the barrel, then bury 1 foot down.

    Soon I may have to come up with a pirate song to remember where my buried food treasure is ;-)

  • Marjory Wildcraft
    Marjory Wildcraft Posts: 1,541 admin

    what part of the world do you live in?

    Love the data and posting!

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,402 admin

    Welcome to the forum @mart85.

    I am curious about where you live, too. This wouldn't be deep enough in my area to keep things from freezing. I would need it quite a bit deeper. But it would be much cooler than what you are experiencing inside your barrel.

  • mart85
    mart85 Posts: 10 ✭✭✭

    I am in Florida zone 9a.

    Yeah, I think I was born a scientist as I adore geeky data ;-)

    I am waiting on batteries for my other temp monitor, I plan on going another foot down and see how that works...

    Here is a week's worth of data. temp seems to drop for a rain event....

  • mart85
    mart85 Posts: 10 ✭✭✭

    Yeah Florida zone 9a.

    When I lived in Indiana on our farm we built a root cellar out of cinder block. we built it about 6 foot tall with cinder block then used a horse to pull up a berm about 14 inches over the top and covered the sides.

    The problems I see is moisture with this with condesnsation, but I am hoping that both the vacuum sealed bags the grain is in and the trash bags I will be putting them in should protect the grain.

    If this works, then I will have food storage that requires zero energy to maintain.... no AC, or no heat required.

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 1,358 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @mart85 I'm in southern Michigan. I have heard that about a foot and a half down is a good depth for the area here. That sounds like it may compare well to the 14 inches for the root cellar in Indian. It would need a bit more depth to keep from freezing here but not much. Thanks for that info.

  • mart85
    mart85 Posts: 10 ✭✭✭

    @Michelle D

    Yeah the big thing to deal with is moisture, but that said with all the moisture it is an ideal place to grow worms.

    I have been working recently on growing mushrooms on grain spawn, I am considering testing letting the mushrooms fruit in a barrel.

  • mart85
    mart85 Posts: 10 ✭✭✭

    From the comments someone suggested using plastic lids for mason jars combined with silicon lids meant for fermenting...

    That sounds like a great idea to me.

  • mart85
    mart85 Posts: 10 ✭✭✭

    I have been looking for culverts for storage of food, and for protection against tornadoes.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,827 ✭✭✭✭✭

    It sounds like a good solution if you can dig that deep. I would hit boulders or bedrock before getting deep enough to bury it. (New England was scoured pretty thoroughly during the Ice Ages.)

    I wish I had a cold cellar, but it would be difficult and expensive to build here.

  • mart85
    mart85 Posts: 10 ✭✭✭

    Well I now have my battery for my temp logger. This morning I dug the barrel out of the ground, dug down another 8 inches. The bottom of the barrel was dry, I remove the trash bag and replaced with shrink wrap they use for pallets on top. Data logger should be running, I did a test run with it before and it worked. I sealed it all up and put a foot of dirt on top. I am curious to see in a couple months how this affects the results. I am glad to have it now at the depth I want, thought it did take some effort to get there. Fishing things out now will be more problematic but, we are getting there.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,216 admin
    edited September 21

    Welcome @mart85!

    This subject is interesting. I have thought about similar after coming across a presentation one day on one of TGN's Summits years ago. Tom Bartels had a presentation on culvert cold storage in-ground.

    It was an interesting discussion afterward with my husband. But, even more so than @Torey, it wouldn't work here on the Canadian Prairies (zone 3b). The frost has been known to go 10' deep at times, and that can move things around and would obviously freeze things that shouldn't get frozen in cold storage.

    Of interest perhaps, grain stored here in wooden bins would sometimes be used to keep hams, etc. cool in summer, and watermelon cold as well. Mind you, mice love any type of grain bin, so I sure there was damage & losses.

    I know you considered the moisture factor, but I was wondering if you have frozen your grain. To do so before storage would be wise because it would kill the creepy crawlies & the eggs. It would be so disappointing to go to all that work just to open the barrel to find everything ruined by insects.

  • mart85
    mart85 Posts: 10 ✭✭✭


    Thank you for the welcome. :-)

    I used to freeze my grain to get rid of the eggs in the grain, however since I have switched to vacuum sealing my grain / beans that is no longer a problem. Bugs just don't live without air. I put no vacuum absorbers in with the grain either as removing the air also removes most of the oxygen thus the food lasts for ages.

    You can look up Rain Country on rumble or youtube, and you can see she has been doing this for years with no issues. I am slowly moving away from bags, and I am moving toward mason jars, as they last longer are more reliable than bags, and are re-usable. I also re use peanut butter jars and other types of jars, I have made my own vacuum chamber which works with jars that are not mason jars.

    I have been in process of working out how I can get rid of the metal rings on the jars so they do not rust in the barrels....

    My line of thinking so far goes like this, I will use tattler lids instead of metal lids. I have been looking at replacing the bands with aluminum bands ( pretty pricey ) but they don't rust, the other idea is stainless steel bands ( VERY PRICEY ) and a new option I had in mind was to take plastic screw on lids and make my own bands.....

    Yet another Idea I had was to dip the mason jar top in wax or plasti dip making a seal that would protect the steel lid from rust..... ( only theoretical at this point never tested it ).

    Anyhow thank you for your questions, I do love to experiment, and i do like to research my ideas with the Youtube world out there to see what other people have done, and have tested what they have done to work.