Learn how to grow 9 best root vegetables that are easy and fast growing, in containers without a garden in your balcony, patio or rooftop.
Growing these root vegetables is easy. Not only the edible roots you also get the chance to eat their nutritious and tasty green tops. Cook them or use them fresh and raw in salads.
A general tip for all kinds of root crops is that the soil needs to be loose enough for them to send down roots. If the soil is compacted or rocky, the roots will become distorted and forked. If you have extremely poor soil, you will be better off growing root crops in a raised bed. You could devote one section of your vegetable garden to this raised bed and rotate your root crops in it, throughout the season.
Beets are considered a root crop, but the leaves are edible too. Probably the hardest thing about growing beets is thinning the plants. Like their cousin Swiss chard, the seeds form in clusters and if you don’t break the clusters apart, the sprouted seeds will be too crowded to develop into bulbs. The good news is that you can eat any plants you thin. The tender greens are a great addition to salads and stir-fries.
Beets grow quickly and taste best when harvested small and young. Succession plant as you harvest, for a continual harvest. For such an earthy vegetable, they are surprisingly sweet, especially when roasted.
Carrots are such a popular vegetable, you would think they’d be easier to grow. The long, thin carrot we most commonly see takes several months to mature. While you are patiently waiting for them to fill out, there are many pests above and below the soil that don’t wait for maturity to start eating your carrots. So growing carrots takes some experience and a watchful eye.
If you’ve had poor luck growing carrots you might have more success growing one of the shorter varieties, like “Paris Market” or “Little Finger”. They mature faster, are just as sweet and crunchy as longer carrots and you can be eating earlier and succession planting throughout the summer.
3. Onions and Shallots
Is there a more useful vegetable than onions? Just think of all the recipes that start off with sauteing onions. Onions are fairly easy to grow. It’s planting them that takes a lot of work. You have three options. You can start them from seed, from transplants or from sets, which are tiny onion bulbs. The sets are the easiest to plant and the quickest to mature. They are also the most expensive.
Many nurseries sell onion seedlings, which saves you the step of starting your own seeds. They are inexpensive, but they are tiny and transplanting is labor intensive.
Shallots can cost so much in the grocery store, you would think they were grown under lock and key. Actually, you can grow shallots as easily as any other onion. But, like garlic, shallots are generally planted in the fall and each bulb grows offsets, to be harvested the following summer. Don’t let shallots intimidate you. Give them a try and then impress your friends with your fine French culinary skills.4.
Soft and fluffy fresh potatoes taste heavenly just like tomatoes. And, no restriction of space can stop you! Your small balcony, rooftop, terrace or patio has enough area to grow them. Growing potatoes is possible in any type of containers, growing bags and even in polyethylene bags, dustbins, sacks, and tires.
Parsnips grow well in most areas and they will store for months, getting sweeter with a little chilling. They have been overshadowed by carrots and potatoes, but that’s not because of how they taste. Different varieties can be mildly nutty to honey sweet. They can be eaten raw, mashed, sauteed and they are especially good roasted. One caveat is that they take 3 – 4 months to mature. So get your seeds in early then sit back and wait for a treat.
If you’re looking for a fast-growing vegetable, grow radishes. No need for space and you’ll start harvesting in a month. Arrange some 6-8 inches deep (wide as much you want) pots and start the seeds. A small balcony, rooftop, deck, and even a windowsill is sufficient if it is receiving around 5-6 hours of direct sunlight daily.
7. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are tuberous roots and are usually grown from slips, which are small rooted pieces of the tubers. They are not often grown in cooler climates because they need about a 4-month growing season. However, there are varieties that are better suited to northern gardens and it is quite easy to start plants in containers and move them out when the soil has warmed.
Horseradish is very easy to grow, but with horseradish, a little goes a long way. Unfortunately, it can be hard to grow just a little horseradish. The plants are perennial in most areas, so if you leave some root in the ground, it will re-grow and spread – quickly. But don’t let that deter you. You can always grow it in a pot. Or take a tip from commercial growers and dig up the whole patch of horseradish, treat it as an annual plant and start from scratch next season.
Growing ginger plant is a lot of fun in an urban garden. Ginger leaves and shoots are also edible and flavorful. You can use them like green onions. Get ginger rhizomes and plant them in approximately 12 inches deep, medium-sized pots.
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