Planting Root Vegetables – Growing Root Vegetables

A Guide for Planting Root Vegetables

A root vegetable is any underground part of a plant for human consumption. Some popular types of root vegetables are Carrots, Radish, Potatoes, Yams, and Onions. Root vegetables are naturally gluten-free, and many are rich in vitamin A and C, potassium, and fiber. In this article we also covered the below topics about how to plant root vegetables;

  • Process of preparing the soil for root vegetables
  • Are root vegetables easy to grow
  • How do you grow root vegetables in pots or containers
  • Growing Root Vegetables year-round
  • The best fertilizer for root vegetables
  • Root vegetables you can successfully grow
  • Tips for successfully grow root vegetables
  • How To Grow Root Crops Successfully

A Step-by-Step Guide for Planting Root Vegetables

Guide for Planting Root Vegetables
Guide for Planting Root Vegetables (Image credit: pixabay)

There are many colorful and healthiest root vegetables found in India. Tips to growing root vegetable crops are building a good seedbed, starting early, and staying on top of the thinning and weeding. Also, these crops are ideal because they take up little space and can be harvested over a long time. Root Vegetables are easy growing plants in containers, in your balcony, patio, or rooftop.

Soil and Bed Preparation for Planting Root Vegetables

Your soil needs to be prepared deeply for planting root vegetables. Turn it to a depth of 12 inches to make it easy for root crops to grow down and straight. The ideal pH level for root crop growth is from 6 to 7, but root crops do well where soil pH ranges from 7 to 8.

Root vegetables need well-drained, loose soil to grow and expand their roots. On all but sandy soil is the key to build a raised bed. After that build the bed 8 to 10-inches tall, not more than 3 feet wide, and as long as you like. Border the raised bed with untreated wood, plastic wood, bricks, cement blocks, or stone. Avoid treated woods. Also, you can build a temporary raised bed in spring by just mounding up the soil and flattening out the top of the bed. You’ll have to rebuild the bed each spring season as it will naturally flatten during the growing season.

Root vegetable crops grow best in sandy loam and peat soils. The addition of organic matter can improve heavy clay soils and start seedbed preparation when you can form a ball that will crumble into medium-sized fragments. Mix crop residues and organic matter in the top about 7 to 8 inches of soil. Then, this provides a small, granular-type bed for transplanting.

Thinning and Planting Root Vegetables

The process of germination is the sprouting action of seeds, and some root crops germinate more quickly than others. For example, Radishes sprout in just 2 to 3 days; Turnips and Rutabagas in 5 to 10 days. Though the seedling develops into the greens above the ground, a large, edible taproot forms and grows downward. Some root crops have more of these hairs like roots than others, but you can scrub or wash them off before eating the vegetable.

Root crops like cool weather conditions. Direct seed into the garden in spring when the soil temperature level is 10-15ºC. Leave 12 inches between rows and follow instructions on the packets for seed spacing and planting depth. Water in your planted seeds, and then cover with a light layer of straw to hold in the moisture to help with germination.

Thinning is a crucial part of growing root vegetable crops. Crowded plants will reduce crop yields. Leave the strongest plants to grow to maturity. Optimal spacing for beets and parsnips is 3-4 inches, carrots 1-3 inches, and turnips 6-8 inches. Wash your thinning, and toss them in a salad or stir fry. Succession plantings every 2-3 weeks in the summer season, and a late summer planting for fall digging will provide a bountiful harvest for the whole year.

Process of Growing and Planting Root Vegetables

Planting time – Root vegetable plants germinate best in 50°F to 60°F soil conditions. Start planting 2 weeks before the last frost date in your area. Plant seeds in rows spaced based on the package directions or broadcast the seed. After that, cover the seeds with potting soil, sand, or a thin layer of fine garden soil. Then, moisten the bed. If the weather stays warm and sunny locations, cover the bed with a floating row cover or a thin layer of grass clippings to keep the bed moist. Some root crops, such as radishes, germinate quickly in 2 or 3 days. Other root crops, such as carrots and parsnips, may take 2 to 3 weeks to germinate. Every few weeks, you can continue to plant radishes, carrots, and beets into the summer to enjoy a continual harvest of these roots. To grow root vegetables, you’ll need a loose and ideally raised soil bed. They grow best in cool weather conditions, so you’ll want to plant your vegetables in mid to late summer for a fall harvest. Full sun exposure is ideal for growing root vegetable crops.

It is important to be meticulous and intentional in their spacing when growing root vegetables. These crops need space to grow, and since the seeds are so small, you may have to wait a few weeks after first sowing. Ideally, you want to space the vegetable plants 2 to 4 inches apart.

Types of Root Vegetables

Root vegetables are wonderful plants to have in your garden because they can be harvested over a long time and don’t take up too much space.

Stem tubers and root tubers – Some examples of stem tubers such as potatoes, yams, and Jerusalem artichokes, and tuberous roots like sweet potatoes, cassava, and jicama are underground storage organs where plants stockpile nutrients for the winter season. To grow effectively, these types of root vegetables require damp, loose soil with ample drainage. You can grow tubers in garden beds; a potato grows bag, a 5-gallon bucket, or a deep flowerpot.

Rhizomes – Rhizomes are underground plant stems that send out “runner” stems that run horizontally along the soil surface. Planting root vegetables in raised beds so their stolons don’t interfere with the rest of vegetable crops. Some rhizomes include asparagus, turmeric, rhubarb, ginger, and hops.

Taproots – To grow undisturbed, taproots need loose, rock-free soil. Some important taproots include carrots, beets, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, jicama, kohlrabi, and celery root.

Bulbs – Bulbs grow just under the surface of the ground and produce a leafy stem above the ground. Use bulbs like red onions, white onions, garlic, shallots, and leeks to enhance the flavor of foods. The best environment for growing bulbs is a deep garden bed with a large surface area and well-drained soil.

Corms – Similar to bulbs in that they grow just under the soil surface, corms survive during dry and cold seasons by storing nutrients. Examples of corms include taro, water chestnut, and arrowhead.

Fertilize the Root Vegetables But Not Too Much

Root vegetable crops need some fertility to grow their best, but too much nitrogen fertilizer can cause hairy roots. Based on a soil test, carefully add organic fertilizers that are higher in phosphorous and potassium than nitrogen. These all nutrients are key to good root formation. Add a 1 to 2-inch-thick layer of finished compost before planting, but avoid adding fresh manures since they are can be high in soluble nitrogen. If you’re growing in heavy clay soil, consider adding sand or potting soil to lighten the bed for better seedling development. Keep the pH level between 6.0 and 6.5 for best growth.

Know your growing seasons. Most root vegetable plants grow best in cool weather, but some are capable of thriving in the summer heat. Beets, radishes, carrots, and turnips are easy-to-grow root vegetables, cool weather crops that provide a worthwhile harvest even in a small space. White potatoes also love cool weather conditions; plant them as soon as the ground thaws in late winter. Sweet potatoes need a long, hot growing season. Onions and garlic are among the rare crops you can plant in fall for a spring season to harvest the bulbs overwinter underground.

All root vegetable plants are heavy feeders, as they must support not only their subterranean parts but their tops as well. Once the tops have started growing, they manufacture and then supply food for the roots and eventually die back. Depending upon each vegetable’s individual needs, the soil must be well-fortified at planting time and subsequently enriched a second time during the growing season.

Water Requirements for growing and Planting Root Vegetables

Root crop root depth averages up to about 6 inches. Their crop stress point is 60% of the total water-holding capacity. When you use sprinklers, put out some cans so that you can see when you have applied about 1 l ⁄2 inches of water. Root vegetable crops will not do well in a dry seedbed. The seedbed should be kept moist during the germination period. So, you may need to sprinkle the bed with water every day until the seeds have germinated. Some gardeners place a clear plastic sheet over the row after the seeds have been planted and then watered. Then, this warms the soil and conserves moisture. The sheet must be removed as soon as seedlings emerge. It is useful for root crops such as carrots and parsnips which have a long germination period. Vegetable plants will need water every 5 to 7 days on average unless the weather is hot or windy; temperature levels and wind can affect the soil’s water-holding capacity.

Weed Control for Planting Root Vegetables

Shallow cultivation (1 to 2 inches deep) when weeds are small is best. Pull weeds when they are small because as they get larger they compete with root vegetable crops for water and mineral nutrition. Once seedlings are up, a mulch material like compost or straw can be used to suppress weeds and conserve moisture. Only mulch a moist, warm soil.

Pests and Diseases Management in Growing, Planting Root Vegetables

There are different insect and disease problems with these different vegetable varieties. Some attack the roots, and some the leaves. Prevent pests and diseases with cultural practices, such as crop rotation, keeping plants well-watered, using row covers, and buying seeds of disease-resistant varieties. Check out this in-depth information on root vegetable crop pests.

With root vegetable crops, we don’t always find out if there are problems until harvest time. The best method to succeed is to take extra care in growing them. For growing root vegetables, pest control can be achieved using a combination of biological, cultural, and chemical methods. Ensure weeds that may pests, including viruses are removed. Crop rotation is very important for root vegetables, as is soil preparation and irrigation management. Carefully plant a certified seed and use varieties that are less susceptible to disease. Good farm hygiene, including in the packing shed must be practiced.

Tips for Planting Root Vegetables

Root vegetables need the right soil – Root vegetable plants can’t just be shoved in the ground and forgotten about. They take some preparation and consideration. So you will need to begin by making sure that you plant them in the right soil in the right place. Most all root vegetables like to be in full sun.

Build a raised garden bed – A raised bed offers you better control of the type of soil in the garden, making it the ideal environment for root crops to flourish. Root vegetables flourish in well-drained, deep, and loose soil where their roots can easily expand. Root vegetable crops generally grow well in sandy loam and peat soil, and they tend to struggle in clay soils.

Direct sow for success – Planting root vegetables can be challenging because they need direct seeding to grow strong, and some grow rather slowly from seeds, especially in cooler spring soils.

Spacing is important to root vegetables – Root vegetables that grow as needed are super important to root vegetables. That means, when you plant your root vegetables you will have to go back about 3 to 4 weeks later and create the proper space. When you plant root vegetables you cut a row with a hoe or other garden item. You’ll sprinkle the seeds as evenly as possible. You’ll then go back through by hand or with scissors and then cut or pull out the seedlings that are too close. Now, you will need to check with a spacing guide for the exact amount of space each root vegetable needs. But a safety measure is anywhere between 2 to 4 inches. This will change depending upon how large the crop itself is when it has reached full maturity.

Growing and Palnting Root Vegetables in Pots

Type of container – Choose a container with a minimum depth of about 12-14 inches and a bigger spread area depends on available space and your requirement, e.g., Rectangular deep containers. Root vegetables can also be grown in drums and big-sized grow bags.

Propagation – Regular root vegetables like Carrot, Beetroot, Radish, and Turnip are grown by seed sowing only. Seeds are directly sown in the containers. Also, these can be re-grown from kitchen scrap by encouraging them to root and sprout.

Pot mixtures – Rooting vegetables need plenty of space and aeration in the soil. The ideal potting mixture can be 1 part garden soil, 1 part coco peat, and 1 part Vermicomposting.

Fertilizers – The addition of fresh manure must be avoided in growing root vegetables. They need an extra layer of well rotten manure at the bottom of the container. Potash either given in chemical form or the form of wood ash is helpful and avoids feeding high nitrogen fertilizers as they promote leafy growth rather than roots.

Sunlight – Root vegetable crops need full sunlight (6-8 hours) in winter, so place your containers accordingly. Some varieties can grow under outdoor partial shade.

Plant care – Always look for the early signs of any insect, fungal, and any other infections. Then, spray appropriate medicines as soon as any symptoms of such infections are spotted in root vegetables.

Harvesting – Depending on the plant species, at the end of the growing season vegetable roots can be harvested by uprooting them along with the whole plant from the pot. One plant gives you a single giant taproot vegetable.

Tips for Planting Root Vegetables in Raised Bed

Root vegetable plants are perfect for raised beds. When you’re growing vegetable plants for their roots, it’s important to have complete control over the soil. Raised beds can be filled with the perfect soil to suit needs; free of rocks, clay, and debris that can hinder the growth of roots or cause misshapen vegetables.

Some root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, and turnips are ideal for raised beds; just make sure the bed is deep enough for the roots. Some vegetables are ideal for raised beds and other containers are Beetroot, Carrot, Cauliflower, French Beans, Garlic, Lettuce, Onions, Parsnip, Radish, Spring Onion, Potato, and Tomato, etc.

List of Root Vegetables in India


Growing potatoes is possible in any type of container, pots, growing bags, and even polyethylene bags. Select a large container with sufficient drainage holes in the bottom. Temperatures are the main factor that will determine how well potatoes will grow. Potatoes will grow best in soil pH levels between 5.2 and 6.4. If you have neutral or slightly alkaline soil, you can gently amend the pH level to improve the potato harvest.


Start carrot seeds about 2-3 weeks before the last frost date in spring. In hot climates, grow carrots in the fall and winter seasons. Garden-grown carrots are full of flavor and texture. For growing carrots proper soil preparation is important. Plant them in the spring and summer for a continuous harvest through the fall season.


Choose a location in full sun and prepare your soil with organic matter for growing beets. Begin planting beetroots in spring, avoid when the temperature warms up in summer, and start planting again in the late summer or fall season. In tropical and subtropical parts, grow beetroots in fall, winter, and early spring season.

You may also check this: Organic Vegetable Farming In Greenhouse.

Beets (pic source: pixabay)

Beets can be red, white, or yellow and may vary in shape from oblate to long and cylindrical. The oblate to globe-shaped, red-rooted types is popular in the home garden. Beet tops are a good source of vitamin A, and plant roots are a good source of vitamin C. The tops can be cooked or served fresh as greens; roots may be pickled for salads or cooked whole, sliced, or diced. Recommended beet varieties include Early Wonder, Detroit Dark Red, Red Ace, Little Ball, Sweetheart, and Ruby Queen.


Select a location that receives full sun in a cool climate and part sun in a hot climate. Grow ginger year-round in a frost-free climate, start the plants after the summer season. In a temperate climate, the best time to start growing ginger is the spring season. It is the second most popular root in India used as a spice and folk medicine. Ginger belongs to the family of Zingiberaceae, India is the largest producer of ginger spice in the world.


Onions are a popular variety of root vegetable plant, which is used in almost all dishes in India.  Generally, Onions can be grown from seeds, transplants, or sets. Choice of Onion varieties is very limited when you use transplants or sets. Red, white, or the standard yellow Onion varieties are available. Examples of Onion varieties are (Yellow) Rocket, Simcoe, and Golden Cascade; (Red) Bennie’s Red, Carmen Tango, Italian Red Torpedo; (White) Blanco Duro, White Delight. You also may use Onion varieties such as Buffalo, Keep Well, Top Keeper, and Walla Walla Sweet for overwinter production.

In case if you miss this: How To Grow Broccoli In Greenhouse.

Onion Plantation
Onions (Image credit: pixabay)


If you’re looking for fast-growing vegetable plants, grow radishes. For growing Radish, a small balcony, rooftop, and even a windowsill are sufficient if it is receiving around 5 to 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Grow radishes in spring, late summer, and fall season. Keep planting the Radish seeds until a few weeks before the first expected frost. Also, there are some radish varieties available to grow in winters. Keep the soil evenly moist. Otherwise, radish roots will become hard and fibrous.

Turnips and Rutabagas

Turnips are root crops that belong to the mustard family. Generally, Turnips are more common in gardens than the closely related rutabaga (also known as Swede turnip). Though there are white and yellow forms of each, most turnips are white-fleshed, and most rutabagas are a yellow color. Some recommended turnip varieties are Purple Top White Globe and Tokyo Cross Hybrid. The recommended rutabaga plant variety is American Purple.

Sweet Potato

Sweet potato vine is a creeper but you can train it as a climber and taking advantage of vertical space. Recommended Sweet potato varieties are Centennial, Maryland Golden, and Orlis. Growing sweet potatoes in a container requires warm weather. Begin planting when the temperature starts to stay above 15ºC. Sweet potatoes need constant warmth and moisture, so water deeply and regularly.


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