Root vegetables take time and effort to grow. When you grow flowers, herbs, or other vegetables, you feel satisfied when you see them grow. With root veggies, that’s not the case. Since they grow underground, you can’t see their progress, making the process a bit intimidating.
But don’t give up, because, with this guide, you can rest assured your root veggies are growing as expected. You and your loved ones can relish healthy, organic, and chemical-free produce year-round in no time!
Types of Root Vegetables
There’s nothing more satisfying than sautéing potatoes or biting into a crunchy carrot you grew in your garden. When you grow your own food you can be sure they’re not laced with harmful pesticides.
If you’ve always wanted to grow your own vegetables but didn’t know where to start, you’re not alone. But before you begin growing your favorite root vegetables, you must know the different kinds and types, so you know what they require for healthy growth.
|Bulb||They don’t grow too deep under the surface; typically, you can see their leafy stem above the ground. Research your specific bulb to see how deep you should plant it.||Onions, garlic, spring onions, leeks, and shallots.
|Taproots||These are thick, large, dominant roots from which other roots sprout.||Beets, radishes, turnips, parsnips, and carrots.|
|Corms||Corms are similar to bulbs when it comes to growing requirements. They’re fleshy, swollen underground plant stems that some plants use to store nutrients.||Taro, malanga, and Chinese water chestnut.|
|Stem and Root Tubers||These are enlarged underground plant structures that store a plant’s nutrients.||Potatoes, cassava, and sweet potatoes.|
|Rhizomes||Contrary to the other types, these vegetables have runner stems that grow horizontally on the soil surface.||Ginger, turmeric, asparagus, and hops.|
How to Plant and Grow Root Vegetables in Your Garden
Root vegetables require a well-draining and well-aerated soil for healthy growth. Although growing root veggies can be tricky at first, once you get the hang of it all, you’ll be a ‘peeler of strength‘ for other gardeners!
Step 1. Build the Bed and Clear Out the Bed
While root veggies can tolerate most soil types, the key to having a plentiful harvest is to provide them with well-draining and well-aerated soil. If you’re growing root vegetables in containers, ensure they have drainage holes. If you’re growing them in raised garden beds, improve your soil’s drainage for healthy plant growth.
Growing root veggies straight into the ground can be a bad idea because you can accidentally step on the plants, and too much foot traffic can cause soil compaction — Compacted soil can prevent healthy plant growth. When making your raised garden bed till the soil about 12 inches deep and, don’t use materials that can leach harmful chemicals into the soil.
Replace treated wood with untreated wood and railroad ties with cement or galvanized steel. Your raised garden bed will last longer if you maintain it well and use the proper materials. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of DIY’ing a raised bed, you can purchase an already built structure or have one installed.
In-ground raised beds are flat-top mounds with an average height of 6 inches to 1 foot. You can strengthen these temporary structures by adding support frames to keep the soil in place. After building your raised garden bed, clear out the debris.
Remove sticks, stones, rocks, plastic, and other materials that won’t decompose. During that process, break down clumped-up soil to improve the structure, aeration, and drainage.
Step 2. Fertilize the Bed
Like other plants, root vegetables need TLC to thrive, so it’s a good idea to fertilize them. But before you pick your vegetable fertilizer, test your soil to see if it lacks nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P), or potassium (K). Once you have the results, it’s time to understand your plant’s NPK requirement.
For example, plants need nitrogen for healthy growth, which also helps with chlorophyll. Without nitrogen, plants wouldn’t be able to grow tall or produce fruit. But too much nitrogen can burn your plants, causing them to shrivel and die.
Plants need phosphorus for photosynthesis, but too much phosphorus can prevent the plant’s ability to absorb the soil’s iron and zinc content for healthy growth. High potassium levels can prevent the plant from absorbing calcium and magnesium from the soil.
Understanding your plant’s NPK requirements is essential to pick the right organic fertilizer for healthy growth.
Step 3. Choose Your Crops Wisely
If you have ample space, you can experiment with growing multiple types of root vegetables in different soils to see which vegetables grow better in which kind of soil. For example, vegetables like daikon radish can grow in clay soil.
You can improve your clay soil to grow other root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. If you’re growing root vegetables from seeds, read the packet carefully to know when your veggies could germinate and mature. You can even harvest seeds from a vegetable garden and preserve them so you can grow them again next year.
For example, radishes can be harvested between 30 and 50 days after sowing, whereas parsnips can take longer to mature before they can be harvested. It’s important to know when your root veggies will mature, so you know exactly what to expect and when to pull them out, so they taste nice.
Step 4. Choose the Best Time to Plant
After selecting your favorite root veggies to grow, it’s time to pay close attention to planting seasons. For example, potatoes grow best when the soil temperature is between 59 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit whereas carrots prefer soil temperatures between 80 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
Knowing your vegetable’s ideal soil temperature will help you understand when to sow them. Also, keep in mind the ideal spacing between each seed. This information is also listed in your vegetable seed packet. Spacing helps increase the availability of nutrients and water for plants to absorb for healthy growth.
Step 5. Weed, Water, Feed
Lastly, don’t forget to weed your garden to prevent weeds from stealing essential nutrients from your root vegetables. Since you’re growing root vegetables, weed by hand instead of using any tools that can disturb your crops.
Understand how to measure soil moisture, so you’re not under or overwatering your crops. As far as fertilizers are concerned, mix them with your garden soil in spring. If you’ve already planted your seeds, gently mix granular fertilizer in the top 3 to 5 inches of your soil around the crops.
Don’t use liquid fertilizer, as that could burn your plants. Remember to test the soil before applying fertilizers.
Popular Root Vegetables and Their Brief Approximated Outlook
The below table has approximated values of ideal temperatures, germination, and harvest time for some of the most popular root vegetables. Read your seed packet carefully to cross-check, verify or obtain updated information based on the variety you’re growing in your garden.
|Type||USDA Zone||Ideal Temp in Fahrenheit||Germination||Harvest (after planting)|
|Beetroot||2 – 11||60 to 65 degrees||5 to 10 days after sowing||50 to 80 days|
|Carrot||2 – 11||80 to 95 degrees||3 weeks after sowing||70 to 120 days|
|Cassava||9 – 12||77 to 80 degrees||8 to 30 days under favorable conditions (8 months to mature)||6 months to 3 years|
|Celery Root||3 – 6||60 to 75 degrees||2 to 3 weeks after sowing||100 to 110 days|
|Daikon Radish||2 – 11||50 to 65 degrees||3 to 12 days||3 – 6 weeks|
|Fennel||4 – 9||70 to 75 degrees||8 to 12 days||5 to 7 months|
|Garlic||4 – 9||40 to 60 degrees||4 to 8 weeks||About 9 months|
|Ginger||9 – 12||60 to 77 degrees||Will depend on the soil temperature.||8 to 10 months|
|Horseradish||4 – 8||60 to 65 degrees||Will depend on the soil temperature.||In the fall, after leaves fall off.|
|Jicama||10 – 12||65 to 85 degrees||5 to 7 days||4 to 6 months|
|Kohlrabi||2 – 11||64 to 77 degrees||3 to 10 days||55 to 60 days|
|Onion||5 – 10||59 to 77 degrees||4 to 10 days||130 to 175 days|
|Parsnip||4 – 8||54 to 70 degrees||7 to 30 days||32 to 36 weeks|
|Potato||2 – 11||59 to 65 degrees||14 to 28 days||3 to 4 months|
|Rutabaga||2 – 11||59 to 68 degrees||4 to 7 days||Will depend on variety, but approximately 3 to 4 months|
|Shallot||5 – 10||50 to 60 degrees||5 to 8 days||Will depend on variety, but approximately 98 to 110 days|
|Sweet Potato||9 – 11||70 to 80 degrees||About 1 month||Will depend on variety, but approximately 90 to 150 days|
|Taro||8 – 11||70 to 82 degrees||2 to 4 weeks||12 to 15 months|
|Turmeric||8 – 11||68 to 86 degrees||2 to 4 weeks||10 to 12 months|
|Turnip||2 – 11||59 to 68 degrees||7 days||8 to 9 weeks|
Rooting for Each Other!
Growing root vegetables can be intimidating, but it’s time for a fresh ‘starch!’ Growing root vegetables need practice, and once you get the hang of it all, you’ll be able to grow your favorite veggies in your garden. Remember to pick your crops wisely, keep your USDA planting zone in mind, and test the soil before using fertilizers.
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