So, you have started an organic garden and are now looking to include more variety in your garden! Well! Growing root crops is not as simple as other types of crops. But don’t worry! With a little bit of guidance and a methodical approach, you will be able to grow root crops easily!
Some of the root crops that are grown in an organic garden include radish, carrot, turnip, beet, parsnips, etc.
How to grow root crops in your organic garden?
1. Understand your soil
It is important to understand the type of soil available in your garden to determine what crops to grow. By and large, root crops grow nicely in well-drained, loose soil.
Heavy clay soil is well-suited for growing crops such as beets, radishes, and short-rooted carrot varieties. Crops that long-rooted thrive well in loose sandy soil. So, you can grow crops such as radishes, parsnips, turnips, Imperator-type carrots easily in this soil.
2. Building the Bed for the Crops
Root crops need a raised bed to grow. The height of the bed should be 8-10 inches and its width less than 3 feet ideally. There is no particular length specified for the bed.
The bed should be bordered with untreated wood, plastic wood, bricks or cement blocks.
3. Conditioning the Soil
Before you sow the seeds, make sure to clean the soil by removing sticks, rocks, clumps of clay, etc. to create sufficient space for the root to grow straight and long.
It is recommended to get your soil tested to determine the amount and type of fertilizer the soil requires. Organic fertilizers that have high phosphorus and potassium content serve as the best nutrients for good root formation. Nitrogen fertilizers are best avoided.
Before planting the seeds, add 1-2 inch thick layer of finished compost.
If you intend to grow your roots in heavy clay soil, it is recommended that you mix it with sand or potting soil.
4. Planting the Seeds
50-60 degrees Fahrenheit soil temperature is ideal for germinating root crops. Therefore, you can plan to plant 2 weeks prior to the last frost date.
Flatten and smooth the top of the soil in the raised bed and either sow the seeds in rows or broadcast them.
Moisten the bed and make sure that it remains moist by covering the bed with a floating row cover.
One week after the seeds germinate, thin the roots to keep a gap of least 1-2”. After a few weeks, you will have to repeat thinning to increase the gap depending on the crop sown.
Root crops need regular weeding by hand because weeds can adversely affect their growth.
Fortunately, these crops are not affected much by pests or insects. You can reduce pests with the help of organic sprays.
Water deeply a few times a week instead of daily.
The time for harvesting the root crop depends on the type of root being grown. For instance, radish matures within 30 days of seeding, parsnips 100 days, etc.
Grow root crops of your choice easily with these tips!