Growing Root Vegetables At Home
Root vegetables (beets, carrots, turnips, and radishes) can be grown in window boxes or fabric containers as long as they have the right depth. The key to growing the best quality crops is to care for them as they grow.
Select Soil For The Crop Bed
The first step in preparing a garden bed is to choose the right type of soil. Clay soils are bad for root vegetables. Peat and sandy loam soil which provide good space for roots to spread out are best. Root vegetables grow well in deep, loose, well-drained soil.
Preparing The Bed And Testing The Soil
Prepare the bed by removing sticks, stones, trash, and weeds. Then add an inch of compost and loosen the soil with a garden fork. This creates an ideal environment for growing roots. Water the bed before sowing, this ensures adequate moisture. Raised beds provide for better control over the crop. Root vegetables grow best at a soil pH that is between 6 and 6.5. Organic fertilizers with high potassium and phosphorous are excellent for root growth.
Sowing The Seeds
When sowing seeds, plant them to a depth that is twice their diameter. Plants may not come out if planted too deep. Space the seeds at least one centimeter apart, well-spaced seeds mean less thinning later.
Caring For The Crops
After sowing, water the bed. Maintaining good soil moisture is important. While watering the bed ensure that it gets at least one inch of water per week. This ascertains good germination and prevents soil crusting thus helping the root vegetables to grow.
Thinning The Seedlings
One month after sowing it is time for thinning the crop. This step is a necessary step for harvesting good quality crops. One way to do this is to remove every second seedling. Beets and winter radishes need a spacing of five centimeters. Thinning is important for plants to have enough space to absorb nutrients and grow.
Preventing Pests And Other Animals
Fencing the area or enclosing the crop beds is one physical way to prevent pest attacks. Using hoops and row covers is another fantastic physical barrier to prevent attacks from pests, deer, and rabbits. An example of a biological barrier is to use companion plants that can attract useful insects and keep pests away. For instance, growing cilantro with potato attracts useful ladybugs and lacewings which prey on the Colorado potato beetle pest.
Harvest The Crop At The Right Time
Harvest the crop when roots reach peak quality. Check by slightly pulling over a root to be sure if the crop is ready for harvest. Once you see that the vegetable has matured, it is time to harvest. If you aren’t sure about when to harvest, look at the seed catalog. The seed packet lists days to maturity for each variety. For example, most winter radishes take 51-60 days, spring radishes 21-30 days, carrot varieties 65-80, turnips 38-50 days, and beets take about 50-60 days until they are ready to be harvested.
Care After Harvest
Remove the leaves after harvesting so that the moisture remains in the root. Store the root vegetables in a cool, dark place.