By A.S. Atkinson
A combination mushroom cellar and workshop is a most useful adjunct to the farm or rural home where it is necessary and desirable to economize in space and material. The growing of mushrooms is quite common today on thousands of small county places, and those very fond of these edibles resort to all sorts of methods to raise sufficient for the home table. The cellar of the ordinary house is not a good place for mushroom culture, and very few barns are provided with a good cellar suitable for the work.
A country resident who wished to raise his own mushrooms decided that he would build a cellar for this purpose back of his house, but as there would necessarily be a great amount of waste space in such a structure he built the combination house here shown. He wanted a mushroom cellar at least 14 x14 ft., but in the plans submitted the cellar was made 18 x 20. An excavation was dug 6 ft. below the soil line, and the bottom cemented in 2 in. of good concrete. An opening was left in the middle to serve as a drain. The walls of the cellar were made a foot thick and composed of field stones laid in cement. These stones were of all sizes and shapes, and no attempt was made to secure a particularly even surface except on the inside. Some of the stones projected several inches beyond the line into the soil, as it was easier to do this than to break them off even. The work of building the walls below the soil line was, therefore, so simple that anyone could do it.
A foot above the soil line 2×6 beams were carried across to furnish a foundation for the floor above. Space was left in the walls for two shallow windows on opposite sides of the cellar. The tops of these windows projected above the soil line, but the lower half was below it. The dirt was scooped out to a level of the stone sills so as to admit light. This made it simple to exclude the light and cold from the cellar if necessary by piling straw or litter into the holes. When open the windows admitted sufficient light to make the cellar suitable for mushroom culture.
Above the cellar a ventilation pipe was carried to the upper part of the building. A trap door at the other end when left open produced a circulation in the cellar. It was possible in this way to secure just the atmosphere desired, and also any degree of moisture necessary. The heating of a mushroom cellar is chiefly by the manure piled in the bed, but an oil stove was used for increasing this if needed. Any fumes from the oil stove escaped up the ventilation tube, and any excess of moisture dripped away through the drain in the middle of the floor.
The workshop above the cellar was enclosed by ordinary joists and sidings, with a shingle roof to produce an artistic effect. The upper part of the building had sufficient room to keep the tools and implement of carpentering and gardening, and also gave space for the owner to work at little odd jobs. Two windows were placed in this workshop, so that ample light was obtained. A door at one end led directly into the workshop, and a trap door with a pair of steps admitted one to the mushroom cellar.
The whole structure cost less that $75, including the labor and lumber. From this mushroom cellar the owner raised all the mushrooms his family used in one year, and besides he sold nearly $25 worth at good market rates. He estimates that he could pay for the building in one season if he sold all of his mushrooms, and after that could secure big interest on his investment. But the design is intended for a private home and is not a commercial affair, although one on a large scale could be built for this purpose.
Carpentry and Building – Oct. 1909
– Jeff Burks