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  • Need ideas for my basement fig storage room

    My fig storage room has an insulated ceiling and is closed off from the rest of the basement. Problem is that it only has gone down to about 50F and I know the fig trees will wake up too early (like in mid March).
    The room has no windows that I could open. I am thinking about running a
    4 inch dia. semi-rigid flexible aluminum dryer vent duct from a window in the adjacent room into the fig room. The duct would have a fan mounted in it that on a thermostat that would turn the fan on when room temp reached 45 F. The only exhaust out of the fig room is about a 1/4 inch space under the door. If necessary, I could add exhaust space by removing insulation between the ceiling joists above the wall that separates the fig room from the adjacent room.
    I would greatly appreciate any suggestions.
    Worcester, Massachusetts, Zone 6a - In containers 1 gal - 15 gal. Wish list: Dore' de Porquerolles

  • #2
    Its not clear what your goal is. Are you trying to keep your fig trees dormant, or do you want them do be actively growing? I have been able to keep small fig trees in a semi-dormant state at 65 F with moderate lighting until warm weather comes.

    Comment


    • Vladimir
      Vladimir commented
      Editing a comment
      I would like to keep them dormant but am interested in your method. How much light do you provide.

  • #3
    I believe that he wants to cool the room down by sucking cold air in from a window in an adjacent room. I have Fig trees in a room with 4 huge skylights that normally hovers around 45-50F all winter long. Light dormancy, if you will.
    Zone 7a - Dover, DE Wishlist: ALL OF THE FIGS!
    Seriously : LdA, CLBC, CC, all CdD, All LSU, Black Ischia

    Comment


    • #4
      You could put two ducts and fans in, one inlet and one outlet. Placing the Inlet on one side of the room and the outlet on the opposite side would help too. This way you are also not forcing cold air into your house.

      Also might want to manually or automatically check the outside temperature and not run the system when that temp is above your desired temperature
      Fig Plants Available Now, Free Shipping: https://tinkerbugfigs.com/product-category/figplants/
      Zone 7A - Moorestown NJ

      Comment


      • #5
        Isn't dormancy brought on and maintained by the number of chill hrs available as well as a combination of temp and light length?
        Tony. Pickens county, SC zone 7B
        WL: Azores Dark; Brooklyn White; Dominick; Florea; Golden Riverside; Napolitana; nothing I can't pronounce!

        Comment


        • #6
          If you know it'll stay at 50F (or below) you'll probably be okay until late March/early April. At that point with your venting plan you'll be bringing in warmer outside air.

          Maybe try insulating the walls and sealing up the gap under/around the door to see if it'll stabilize at it's current 50F. You can purchase an inexpensive blue tooth temperature sensors so you can track it without ever having to open the door/let heat in. My insulated "room" in the shed stays pretty stable regardless of how much temps fluctuate outside.
          “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
          – Chinese Proverb
          MA 5b/6a

          Comment


          • #7
            cepeders suggestion of both a cold air supply duct originating outside and a return duct exiting outside is my preference. A weatherstrip at the bottom of the entry door will help minimize air intrusion into the adjacent area and house. I suggest running insulated ducts to minimize heat loss and condensation. At least insulated in the area outside of the fig room.

            A thermostat will be needed for the inline fan. The fan is likely more effective in the exhaust line, also allows for a exterior vent cover. The outside cold air supply should have screening to keep out pests like mice.

            Regarding the window, either open and frame in plywood or remove the glass and replace with plywood. You can try 2 circular cuts in the glass although I don't recommend it.

            An alternate method would be to use a bathroom exhaust fan, same basic configuration. The exhaust side is 4".

            Keep an eye on condensation in the 'cold room'.

            A wildcard is opening and closing the supply line.
            Johnson1
            Zone 9b
            S of Tampa Bay, FL

            Comment


            • #8
              We grow in USDA Zone 7b, NYC but store the entire collection in the basement of our old farmhouse upstate, NY in USDA Zone 5a. When it's -20F outside the temp in the basement stays at 50F. The trees stay asleep until we take them out in the early spring. We don't cover the windows in the basement either. Have you had trouble with the trees waking early in the basement in the past?
              Danny; NYC Z7b

              List safe. Bid safe. figBid.com

              Comment


              • nycfig
                nycfig commented
                Editing a comment
                Box trailer. It's a two-day process, loading on one, unloading on the other. The worst part is arriving with a foot of snow on the ground.

              • VicD NJ7A
                VicD NJ7A commented
                Editing a comment
                Just thinking about that process makes my stomach churn… I know the terrain up there… I think I had mentioned once that I spent my summers in Delancy with day trips to Oneonta… It’s hard enough to navigate those roads (with a regular car) in the summer months let alone the fall/winter months hauling a trailer. I give you a lot of credit for that..

              • nycfig
                nycfig commented
                Editing a comment
                Lol... It certainly is a ton of work but necessary to ensure survival. We've lost an entire collection and I wouldn't let that happen again.

            • #9
              My suggestion is to use foam board insulation around your plants on the non-foundation sides. You want to block the heat from your house while encouraging the temperature to sync with the ground temp.
              I've never tried this, but it's an idea.
              Zone 6a/b - west of Boston
              Wish List: A fig-maple hybrid

              Comment


              • ginamcd
                ginamcd commented
                Editing a comment
                Well that's now two votes for this method, and both from "neighbors." 😁

              • BC BYRON
                BC BYRON commented
                Editing a comment
                This is the best method. You will also save energy by not introducing cold air into your structure.

            • #10
              I have been pondering a fig storage area, however I am still unsure what the best approach would be. During very cold periods I worry that my attached garage may get too cold in the pre-dawn hours. Alternately during warm periods I worry that my garage may get too warm in the late afternoons! Maybe the best compromise would be to insulate the garage and then set up a loud temperature alarm. If the temperature gets below 25F or gets above 50F the alarm starts beeping.
              First year newbie --- 46 Varieties --- Eastern Missouri --- Zone 6 --- Wish List: Vast and amazing rooting success.

              Comment


              • #11
                Vladimir,

                I think your own proposed method is the best and easiest. A vent pipe from the window of an adjacent room, with an attached, thermostatically controlled fan to bring in cold air, vented into the above ceiling space, by removing a section of ceiling panel, makes sense. The ceiling air space getting too cold and affecting the warmth of living quarters above it, is my only concern. If this occurs, close up the panel and just leave the door slightly ajar. The rest of the basement being cooler may be acceptable. Also, if your fig storage room door is 30" wide, and its lower clearance is 1/4", the space is equivalent to a 2.5" diameter vent pipe...maybe sufficient for venting as is, under the storage room's door's bottom gap?

                Thorntorn
                W. PA., Pittsburgh, zone 6b USDA, but more 5b, realistically. All pot grown fig trees, no in-grounds.

                Comment


                • #12
                  I have some of my figs in a "shed". What used to be a garage was made into living space in the 60s. It was extended out beyond a hill adding a section that is half above grade and the rest is in the hill. It is uninsulated but has heated living space above. Copying ginamcd, it has a 20/30 thermocube in case the temperature drops... which hasn't been needed so far. The wireless temperature sensor has shown a steady temperature around 40F (38-43) this entire winter. Almost perfect for the figs.

                  In my opinion, adding cold air from the exterior of the house would make for a fun project, but may not be needed. It may be simpler, less expensive, and more environmentally friendly to leverage the stable temperature of the ground.
                  Zone 6a/b - west of Boston
                  Wish List: A fig-maple hybrid

                  Comment


                  • Vladimir
                    Vladimir commented
                    Editing a comment
                    The problem with leveraging ground temp is that I have been doing that and the temps have been at about 50 F, lowest temp being 49 F. I am concerned that they will wake up too early at 50 F.

                • #13
                  Agreed. There won't always be colder air available outside -- not unheard of for us to see a stretch of 60's and 70's in January... And bringing in outside air still won't eliminate the danger of an early wake up come March/April when outside temps usually start to climb.

                  My goal would be stabilizing the temp in the room with insulation on the interior walls and sealing the door gaps, or building a box out of insulation for three walls and putting it against the foundation wall as FigTreeJunkie suggested.

                  Last spring when outside temps were on their usual New England rollercoaster ride, the temp in my insulated part of the shed barely moved, even on days that the sun was shining on it all day.
                  “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
                  – Chinese Proverb
                  MA 5b/6a

                  Comment


                  • FigTreeJunkie
                    FigTreeJunkie commented
                    Editing a comment
                    The temp at about 8ft down is 50. I assume the top few feet is frozen now.

                    You can always try the approach TorontoJoe suggested with an insulated room and see what happens if you shut the vents, insulate the floor, e.t.c.

                  • TorontoJoe
                    TorontoJoe commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I would not insulate the floor. The natural siphon should bring plenty of cool air into the room.

                  • ginamcd
                    ginamcd commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I recall reading in the past that a stretch of temps at or above 55F are needed to break dormancy. If you can maintain 50F, you should be okay. The trick will be maintaining it when things warm up in the spring.

                • #14
                  Vladimir - The air duct idea is an excellent one. It’ll give you both cool air intake and ventilation. This is the exact method that so many Italian old timers use to keep their basement cantinas cool enough in winter to maintain temp and air flow to hang their Salumi. You’ll want to insulate walls between heated and unheated areas so you’re not chilling the home. I have specs on this somewhere. I will look.
                  Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

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                  • #15
                    Vladimir - Here it is

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                    This works for salumi curing or a basic root cellar but is a perfect solution for storing container fig trees.

                    The two vents create a siphon effect that lets you regulate the flow of cold outside air into the insulated cellar room, allowing the temperature to remain near freezing through the winter months. As you custom-cut your wall studs to length, make them short enough to leave an eighth- to a quarter-inch gap between the top of the wall and the joists above when combined with the top and bottom plates. Basement floors are often damp, so use a barrier between the floor and the bottom wall plate.


                    It’s a good idea to consider using rigid sheets of foam instead of traditional fibreglass batts. The most important is moisture resistance. Also working with fibreglass isn’t fun.

                    Traditionally, this cold room was an underground space built under or near the home, insulated by the ground and vented so cold air could flow in and warm air out in the fall. Then when winter temperatures arrived, the vents were closed, and the cellar stayed cold but not freezing.

                    Most modern basements are too warm for long-term winter storage, but you can create an indoor version of the cellars by walling off a basement corner and adding the vents, as shown in the drawing above. The two vents create a siphon effect that lets you regulate the flow of cold outside air into the insulated cellar room, allowing the temperature to remain near freezing through the winter months.

                    You’ll need to watch the temperature to be sure you open or close the vents during major temperature shifts.

                    Some things to consider...... The first is location. Because you’ll need access to the outdoors for fresh air, choose a cellar position that includes a window if possible. If not it’s possible to bore holes through a basement wall for the 3- or 4-inch vent pipes you’ll need to install, but it’s a whole lot easier to simply remove the glass from a window, replace it with plywood and then run your pipes through holes in the wood. In cold regions, you can create an insulated panel to replace window glass.

                    Laminating a layer of half-inch-thick exterior-grade plywood on each side of a piece of thick extruded polystyrene foam is a terrific way to make an insulated panel for vent pipe access. Polyurethane construction adhesive is perfect for holding the foam-and-wood sandwich together.

                    When it comes to any basement cellar, the exterior walls create ideal interior temperatures. This is what delivers the cooling action, and the more masonry surface you’ve got, the better. That’s why you’ll want to choose a corner location for your installation if you can. This offers maximum exposure to exterior walls while minimizing the need to build and insulate interior walls. And if you’ve got a choice, select a spot with the highest soil height outside. Does one of your possible options include northern exposure? Terrific! That’s great if you can get it.

                    After you’ve picked your cellar location and replaced the window glass with a solid panel that accommodates the vent pipes, turn your attention to the walls. Find yourself a helper, grab a sheet or two of plywood or wafer board, and get ready to use your imagination. It’s amazing how temporarily propping up sheet materials can help you imagine the floor plan of a new room, leading you to better finished results. How long should your cellar be? How wide? Is a 3-foot-wide door big enough? These kinds of questions are much easier to answer when you’ve got something to hold up, look at, move around and tweak.

                    With the footprint and door location of your cellar finalized, mark the relevant outlines on the floor with a big felt-tipped marker. Although you’ll need to build some kind of wood frame for the wall and doorway, it needn’t be as beefy as a typical load-bearing wall for a house. You can extend stud spacing beyond 24 inches on centre if you need to economise, but regardless of the wall design, you’ll have to secure it at the top and bottom.

                    Basement floors are often damp, so consider using barrier between the floor and bottom wall plate.

                    Insulated doors can be expensive. You can substitute with a regular interior door to which you've glued a sheet of rigid insulation.

                    Insulation is your next challenge, and good reasons exist to consider using rigid sheets of foam instead of traditional fibreglass batts. The most important is moisture resistance. Any basement is likely to get damp from time to time, and fibreglass has almost no ability to resist mold growth and deterioration when water is present. Foam, on the other hand, tolerates moisture much better. It’s also easier to use than fibreglass, and it’s non-irritating. Extruded polystyrene is especially good in this regard. It’s also a highly effective thermal insulator. Just be aware that some jurisdictions require foam to be covered with a fire-resistant sheet to meet code specifications. As you plan your insulation strategy, be sure to include the ceiling of your cellar. Warmth coming down from heated areas above could raise cellar temperatures too high for the food.

                    A key feature of the basement cellar is the two-vent design. To function optimally, space the interior ends of the intake and exhaust pipes as far apart as possible. Also, you’ll need to plan your shelf layout to allow as much top-to-bottom air movement as you can achieve. This is where ceiling-mounted shelves can really help. The best idea is to use hanging metal wire frames that support shelves made of 2-by-12-inch lumber you cut yourself. Cover the vent openings with screen to keep out insects and mice.

                    I
                    you want to really cool the room down quickly, add a little exhaust fan to supplement the natural flow of cool air down into the room. A small DC fan will allow you to flow in either direction by reversing the poles.

                    Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

                    Comment


                    • Mr.Figs
                      Mr.Figs commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Plese sticky this in the FAQs, Joe.

                    • TorontoJoe
                      TorontoJoe commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Good idea. It’s a pain to do from my phone. Will start a thread with this in frequent topics tonight

                  • #16
                    Vlad- Do you have space in the yard to build boxes?
                    Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

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                    • #17
                      I do not have space in yard for boxes but I do have a shed. I was thinking of building an insulated space in it the way Gina did but decided against it because of cost.
                      Worcester, Massachusetts, Zone 6a - In containers 1 gal - 15 gal. Wish list: Dore' de Porquerolles

                      Comment


                      • Figs4All
                        Figs4All commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Hi Vladimir, if you can run electricity to your shed you might try a fig box similar to what I made for my basement. I had the opposite need you have, which is to keep my figs above 70 deg F, but it can work for your situation too, to keep your figs around 45-50 deg F (if it is colder outside your shed) if you place a heater in the fig box and control it with a thermostat. You can custom shape your fig box to almost any fig plant size.

                        https://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-h...ent#post690844

                    • #18
                      You’re going to need to build a cold room or find somewhere appropriate off site
                      Guildwood Village - Toronto, Canada - Zone 6

                      Comment


                      • #19
                        As a FYI, my northern greenhouse has 2 double pane storm doors as windows and then is plywood around the rest with 2" foam covering (most of) the plywood. I also have about 180 gallons of water as a thermal mass.

                        The past couple of weeks have had a number of days at about 15F low. The greenhouse has a thermometer below the windows (so it's the coldest part of the greenhouse) the has stayed above 28F. I assume this means the temperature in the greenhouse is starting at a minimum of about freezing.

                        The space heater (turns on at 20F) has yet to turn on this winter.
                        Zone 6a/b - west of Boston
                        Wish List: A fig-maple hybrid

                        Comment


                        • FigTreeJunkie
                          FigTreeJunkie commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Low temp of 8F last night and my greenhouse only went down to 26F measured under the window. Probably 32F near the water barrels.

                        • ginamcd
                          ginamcd commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Sounds like your set up is doing the job! My fig room was down to 24F when I last checked yesterday evening, and this morning it was 29F so I know the heater kicked on at some point. Tonight it's holding steady at 27.6F (it's currently 10F outside) so it may not get cold enough for the heater to run again (on at 20/off at 30).

                        • FigTreeJunkie
                          FigTreeJunkie commented
                          Editing a comment
                          that's good to know. The outdoor temp had a low of 8F this morning, but the greenhouse only went down to 25F under the window.
                          The high was 54F yesterday. I can't tell if the heat gained by the windows during the day is greater than the heat lost at night. From your numbers, it may be close. I am closer to the ocean than you are which may account for the few degrees warmer temperatures.

                      • #20
                        My basement fig room has been between 47 and 50F for the last 6 days. Hope it stays below 50F for a while. I plan to just keep an eye on the temps and will take action when temps stay above 50F.
                        Worcester, Massachusetts, Zone 6a - In containers 1 gal - 15 gal. Wish list: Dore' de Porquerolles

                        Comment


                        • #21
                          As another data point. a couple of days ago, the temperature dropped to a low of 7F. Again, in the greenhouse, the temperature low was 25F under the windows, so it was warmer further back.
                          The barrels of water (thermal mass) has been effective. Other years, the temperature would drop into the teens in the greenhouse.
                          Zone 6a/b - west of Boston
                          Wish List: A fig-maple hybrid

                          Comment


                          • #22
                            I really wonder if I want to insulate and improve my attached garage or dig a root cellar. I have been using the garage but it is certainly not ideal when we have warm winter days or extremely cold nights. Maybe the most fantasical creation would be a root cellar with an upstairs greenhouse? I do have a hill so I could build into the side of the hill.
                            First year newbie --- 46 Varieties --- Eastern Missouri --- Zone 6 --- Wish List: Vast and amazing rooting success.

                            Comment


                            • #23
                              Dave a root cellar with a ground level greenhouse would be ideal if you can build into a hill and your area allows such a structure without too much hassle.
                              Chris - Zone 6b

                              Comment


                              • davej
                                davej commented
                                Editing a comment
                                Yeah, regrettably I would have that issue and figuring out how to obtain the necessary permits would be a headache.
                                EDIT-- Oh, I just realized that up to a 10ft x 12ft "shed" does not require a permit here.
                                Last edited by davej; 02-17-2020, 11:59 AM.

                              • FigTreeJunkie
                                FigTreeJunkie commented
                                Editing a comment
                                I think the two would actually work against each other. For the greenhouse, you want to try to raise the temperature on the ground beneath whereas a root cellar targets keeping the temperature low (40F) to preserve food.

                              • Cguitar
                                Cguitar commented
                                Editing a comment
                                You could build the greenhouse/root cellar with heating/cooling and air movement in mind. Just like any greenhouse during winter, supplemental heating may be needed. If I had such a structure I would store the figs during colder months down in the root cellar and most likely in a climate like Dave's would rarely if ever have to heat to get figs above 25F during their dormancy. 6-8 feet in ground with an insulated roof (greenhouse floor separating them). If the entire structure was well insulated the root cellar would provide more than adequate temperatures for dormant fig trees to survive. In the hot summer Dave could exhaust the hot air inside the greenhouse to the outside. This would then pull some cooler air into the greenhouse from the cooler root cellar.
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