Plants that provide edible roots form the group of root vegetables. It is one of four vegetable groups, along with leafy vegetables (cabbage), fruiting vegetables (tomatoes) and green vegetables (beans, peas). Root vegetables belong to different families of plants. However, they have similar needs. This allows for more widespread cultural practices.

There is a wide variety of root vegetables that adapt well to the weather conditions of European vegetable gardens. Here are some tips on sowing methods and planting techniques to produce the best possible tubers.

Descriptions of root vegetables

The term ‘root vegetable’ refers to vegetable garden plants that have edible roots, such as tubers (potato, sweet potato) taproots (carrot, radish), and bulbs (garlic, leek). Despite this common faculty to develop underground supplies, root vegetables belong to different families of botanical plants, including species that do not have all the same characteristics: the potato, for example, belongs to the Solanaceae family, which also includes tomatoes.

Sowing and planting techniques

While the root vegetables belong to different botanical families, they represent a group of horticultural plants that have similar planting and maintenance needs. Apart from the potato and bulbous plants such as garlic, most root vegetables are propagated by seeds, which can be layered starting from the month of February. Seedlings are then transplanted in the spring once the risk of frost is lessened. For species that need to be directly sown in the ground, wait until the soil has warmed, about April-May, and young shoots are no longer likely to die from the cold. However, we can use bells or transparent plastic tunnels to improve the outside weather conditions.

To increase the chances for success, one can use the gardening with the moon calendar as a reference. This technique, of which the effectiveness has been verified by generations of gardeners, is based on the flow of the moon’s gravitational pull on the earth and plants. A waxing moon phase is considered conducive to root vegetable seedlings. You an also wait for the moon to pass in front of the Capricorn or Taurus constellations to sow the seeds. A waning moon phase, that is to say, when the moon passes in front of the Virgo constellation, is not favourable to ground preparation and fertilization.

Root vegetables are planted in line, and the space between rows depends on the size of the plants and tubers. It can be 8 inches (20 centimetres) for certain varieties of radishes or carrots round, 12 inches (30 centimetres) for beets and turnips and 24 to 36 inches (60 to 90 cm) for potato seedlings. Sowing is generally done on-the-fly clear and further thinning is carried out once the seedlings have emerged and have two to three leaves. This is done in order to get the ideal distance between plants (2 to 10 inches or 5 to 25 cm for radish, 4 to 8 inches or 10 to 20 cm for turnips and carrots, and 12 inches or 30 cm for beets). When sowing, push the seeds down to a depth of about 1 inch (2 to 3 centimetres) for varieties that will develop large roots. For species with small roots, sowing on the ground and covering up the seeds with a thin layer of substrate is sufficient. The potato’s tubers are planted at a depth of 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimetres). It is necessary to germinate the seeds before planting.

Soil preparation and maintenance of root vegetables

Root vegetables have a preference for light and fertile soils. Fertilizer is made well in advance in order to maximize its potential. Often, ground that was well-manured during the previous year proves to be the ideal choice. A supply of wet manure should be avoided because it can cause root rot. To improve soil drainage or to loosen it up a bit, an compost amendment can be made or a small supply of sand can be added. This also applies to clayey soils. The ground is worked thoroughly, and we must ensure that it is free from pebbles, twigs or undecomposed straw. These materials hinder the root’s development and give irregular shapes. Sifting may be necessary on rocky land.

Root vegetables need regular watering. Irregular water supplies can cause the tuber to burst. These plants need moisture, but dislike stagnant water. Thus, mulching is helpful to keep the ground’s moisture at a steady level. It also helps maintain control over the development of weeds. To maximize root growth, some plants need to be regularly earthed up. Otherwise, hoeing can be carried out to improve soil aeration and to stop the proliferation of weeds.

Related posts:

  1. Fall vegetables
  2. Winter vegetables
  3. Green vegetables
  4. Green vegetables
  5. Spring vegetables

Published in Creating a vegetable garden by Alexander on 14 Sep 2011