What are root veg?
Potatoes, onions and carrots are all root vegetables. Any vegetables that develop under the soil surface come under the umbrella group ‘root vegetables’ including tap roots, tubers, and bulbs like fennel. Root vegetables make fantastic staple crops and often show excellent winter hardiness.
How to grow carrots from seed
Sow your carrot seeds directly into a pre-prepared seed bed in May. If you have heavy clay soil, it’s worth digging in horticultural sand, or sowing your carrot seeds in deep pots using a sandy compost mix to encourage long straight roots to form. Choose a spot in full sun to grow your carrots.
If you’re sowing your carrot seeds direct, make a shallow ditch in the soil and thinly sprinkle your carrot seeds along the row, lightly covering with soil before watering your seeds in well. Label each row with the variety and date. As your seedlings develop true leaves, thin them out so each carrot has plenty of space to develop.
Cover your carrot plants with fine horticultural mesh as they grow or companion plant with strong smelling onions and leeks to mask the scent and discourage carrot fly from damaging the roots.
How to grow swedes from seed
Swedes grow very well in free-draining, fertile clay soils. Sow your swede seeds in May and June when the ground warms, sowing directly where you want your crop to mature. Choose clubroot and mildew resistant varieties like swede ‘Invitation’.
Rake over your vegetable bed, removing any rocks and weeds. Sow your swede seeds in shallow rows, making sure to space out the seeds. Lightly cover the rows with compost and gently water using a watering can with a rosette. Label your rows with the variety and date after sowing. Make sure you water your swede plants as they develop to allow the roots to swell, ready for harvesting in autumn and winter.
How to grow parsnips from seed
Parsnips are a fantastic winter vegetable to grow from seed. Choose a shorter rooted variety like ‘Gladiator’ if you have shallow or stony soils, whereas a long straight rooted variety like ‘Hollow Crown’ does better in lighter sandy soil. Loosen the soil before you sow by digging it over, removing any rocks or obstructions to avoid forking roots by raking the soil. Remove any weeds at the same time to remove any competition.
Sow your parsnips seeds between February and May into their final positions. Sow your parsnip seeds under a cloche to speed up germination if the weather’s cold. Choose a fertile position in full sun. Thin your young seedlings as they develop to allow each parsnip plant plenty of room for the root to swell.
How to grow turnips from seed
Turnips are easy to grow from seed. Sow a few seeds every week from March until mid-August to have successional harvests of young, tender turnips from mid summer through into autumn. Choose a mix of varieties like turnip ‘White Globe’ for sweet tender flesh and the maincrop hardy variety ‘Golden Ball’ to provide a tasty harvest in autumn.
Sow your turnip seeds in spring, seeds germinate better in cool, damp weather so make sure you sow before the hot dry weather arrives in summer. Sow your turnip seeds into their final positions, scattering the seeds along a shallow trench before covering with a light covering of soil and watering well. Keep your turnips watered while they develop. Alternatively, sow your turnip seeds in between summer crops for a quick crop of crunchy roots.