Root Crops - Growing Facts
Note: Radishes, beets, carrots, parsnips are best seeded directly into the ground, when the soil is dry enough to prepare. Root crops should be thinned enough for three fingers to fit between each plant. Virginia Tech Extension Service is an excellent source for growing tips. Consult the monthly archives in Garden Tips for generic information on growing or Garden Links for other sources.
This is our calendar for growing beets, a two-for-one crop that gives us greens and roots. (We don't have space, time, or good backs for growing carrots, another favorite.)
See January/February Archive for selecting seeds.
This is the month for seeding root crops directly in the ground. See April Archive for tips.
Succession seed for continuous crops throughout the summer. Be sure to keep root crops well mulched so their shoulders do not dry out or get sunburned, causing roots to become woody.
Beets should be ready for harvesting, though ours are delayed by the cool wet spring. This is a two-fer plant--cook the roots and the green tops.
Once you try Beet-Onion Salad or Pickled Beets, you'll be hooked. It takes about one pound of beets to produce one pint of canned beets.
Pinch back the fuzzy growing tips on vine crops to prevent them from taking over the garden and to direct the plant's energy into fruit production instead of leaf growth.
According to the Virginia Tech Extension, summer squash that has reseeded itself should be avoided. It can contain a natural toxin, curcurbitacin E, that causes a bitter taste, which may result in food poisoning symptoms like stomach cramps.
Before storing root crops like carrots and beets, cut off the green tops.The leaves transpire pulling moisture out of the roots, thus drying them out.