11 Quick Answers to Your Root Veggie Questions


A pile of different types of root vegetables.

There are many tasty root veggies that offer fantastic choices for both novice and seasoned gardeners. In this post, I’ve gathered 11 key questions about growing root vegetables. 

Let’s dive in!

1. What Are Root Vegetables?

In simple terms, root vegetables are a type of veggie with a large, fleshy edible root. The focus of these veggies is their roots. This is the part that’s usually eaten. In many cases, though, the greens are also edible, making those plants doubly beneficial!

2. How Long Does It Take to Grow Root Vegetables?

Root vegetables have a wide growth spectrum, ranging from 30 to 100 or more days, depending on the variety.

Radishes are the sprinters of the group, needing only about 30 days. Turnips follow closely at around 45 days. Others, such as carrots and parsnips, need longer, anywhere from 70 to 130 days to reach maturity.

3. What Are the Easiest Root Vegetables to Grow?

For those starting their root veggie journey, radishes and onions should be top of mind. 

Radishes are quick growing, so you’ll see early success. But, these guys need thinning as they grow.

Onion bulbs planted closely together.
Image by Kerstin Riemer from Pixabay

Onions, while easy to plant, require a bit more time. You can start onions from seed, transplants, or sets (tiny onion bulbs). When starting from a set, you need to plant each individual bulb.  

I always start my onions from sets, planting them close together and then harvesting every second one. This allows the remaining onions to continue to mature and widen.

4. What’s the Hardest Root Veggie to Grow?

Carrots and parsnips can pose challenges because of their soil requirements.  Especially with in-ground gardens. Loose, rich soil – at least 6 inches deep – is essential for preventing stunted growth. 

Sweet potatoes, or yams, also demand specific conditions due to their tropical origins. They don’t like cold soil and need a long, warm season.

5. What Type of Soil Do Root Vegetables Like?

Root veggies thrive in loose, well-draining soil. This goes for all root vegetables. Hard soil hampers root growth, resulting in misshapen and stunted vegetables.

6. Can I Grow Root Vegetables in Containers?

Container gardening is entirely possible for root vegetables. Keep in mind, that choosing the right pot is crucial. Larger veggies, like potatoes, need deep containers. Whereas smaller vegetables, like radishes, can get away with shallower pots. 

I’ve written an article on growing root vegetables in grow bags. It’ll come in handy if you’re thinking of dabbling in container gardening.

7. Can Root Vegetables Grow in Partial Shade?

Root veggies can tolerate some shade – the extent depends on what you’re growing. Some, like radishes, appreciate protection from the intense afternoon sun. While others, like potatoes, need more sunlight. 

In general, aim to give your root veggies 4 to 8 hours of sunlight daily.

8. How Often Should I Water My Root Vegetables?

Root vegetables generally require 1 to 2 inches of water weekly. Individual plant needs might vary, so consult seed packets. Container-grown root veggies often need more frequent watering. And if you’re overwintering your root vegetables, they’ll have additional water requirements.

9. Can Root Veggies Be Grown Indoors?

Yes, root vegetables can be grown indoors. However, spacing consideration is vital. 

Some, like potatoes, require larger containers.  While others, like green onions or radishes, demand less space.

I’ve written an article that delves into which root veggies to grow indoors. Take a look if indoor gardening piques your interest. 

10. What Are the Most Common Root Vegetable Problems?

Colorado beetle larvae on a leaf.

Root veggies face a range of challenges. Common ones include:

  • Alternaria Leaf Spot: A fungus that causes grey or brown circular patches to appear on leaves. Treatment includes removing affected leaves and using a fungicide.
  • Common Scab: A soil-borne bacteria that produces circular, rough lesions on potatoes. Treatment includes maintaining low pH levels and increasing moisture as the tubers are forming.
  • Beet Leaf Miner: Larvae of the mangold fly burrow inside leaves, causing damage. The leaves become marked with large brown spots. Treatment includes removing the affected leaves and using an insecticide.
  • Carrot Fly: With this pest, you’ll see rusty brown lines appear on the skin. Beneath the surface, the grubs riddle the roots with narrow tunnels. Treatment includes planting resistant varieties, using protective netting, and destroying infected plants immediately.
  • Colorado Beetle: Symptoms of this pest include leaves riddled with holes, or even eaten completely. Treat by removing the adult beetles and squashing the eggs and larvae.  Using row covers or releasing beneficial insects are also options.
  • Flea Beetle: These pests leave small holes in the seedling leaves of certain root veggies. Treatment includes dusting the leaves with talcum powder, insecticides, or sticky traps.

This article from the Utah State University Extension Office delves more into root crop pests.

11. How Do I Harvest Root Vegetables?

With many root veggies, you have the option of harvesting smaller specimens or allowing the root to fully mature.  Personally, I usually pick every second crop when smaller and then let the remaining veggies grow to full size.

However, with some, radishes, for instance, you want to avoid letting them grow too large, or they’ll become woody. 

In some locations, certain root crops can be left in the ground throughout winter, even after a frost. This allows harvesting throughout the cold season. The veggies will need protection though, such as mulching around the plants or using row covers.

Always handle root vegetables carefully when harvesting, regardless of the timing. This will prevent damage. Mindfully dig up your crop and gently wipe off any dirt. Store root vegetables in cool, moist locations – such as a cold cellar.

Conclusion

Root vegetables encompass a fascinating array of delicious plants. Whether you’re nurturing quick-growing radishes or patiently tending to long-season parsnips, understanding the needs of your root vegetable contributes to a bountiful and scrumptious harvest.

If you enjoyed this article on root veggie questions, feel free to share it.

Angela

Hi! My name is Angela Carr. I started this site to share my love for plants and gardening. My aim is to provide my readers with easy tips and tricks on plant care, fun facts, and encouragement for the new plant owner or anyone questioning the colour of their thumb!

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