For a delicious and abundant fall harvest, there is nothing better than root vegetables. Since growing them successfully requires a different technique than other garden plants, let’s go over some important tips for growing root veggies yourself.
1. Choose a Location
If your garden has well-drained soil that is slightly acidic and has some quality organic matter, you’re in good shape. Otherwise, find a spot that has these qualities. You can help your current soil by tilling in some good compost and fertilizer for root vegetables. If you’re going to plant potatoes (which are actually tubers), keep in mind that they do best in soil that’s been recently manured. If your ground has a lot of rocks, be warned that they may interfere with the formation of long-root veggies, like carrots.
Most root vegetables can be planted in seed form in early spring. For most varieties, you can sow seeds into narrow holes of about 3/4 inch deep. Potatoes, however, need a deeper hole of about 4 inches. Cover the seeds with soil and water deeply. If you’re planting turnips, beets, radishes, and carrots, you can sow a new row of seeds every few weeks to yield a fresh crop continuously.
3. Growing & Care
As your seedlings grow, you’ll want to thin them out, leaving the stronger ones to grow about 2″ apart. Keep weeds away, and water frequently for constant moisture. For potatoes, you’ll want cover lower stems and leaves with soil as they grow — this protects them from frost.
4. Container Growing
Beets, radishes, and carrots will usually grow well in containers, as long as they’re at least 10 inches wide and deep. If you want to grow containers in pots, they’ll need much more space. You can even start your root crops in containers in late winter, before moving them outside.
If you’re interested the greens, you can begin harvesting them from beets and turnips earlier, along with carrot greens. As long as some leaves are left on the plant, the root will continue to grow underground, and greens will grow back. Don’t give into the temptation to leave the biggest roots in the ground. Pull the biggest ones with each harvest to avoid “woody” and bitter veggies. The biggest roots will have the darkest greens with the thickest stems.