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Root Vegetable Crops. What they are, and how to grow them. 

Just a few of the vegetables that come under the category of 'Root Crops'

Root Vegetables are a wide range of edible plants where the roots are the main source of our food. Technically, some crops we call root vegetables - such as potatoes - are not true roots. For instance in the case of potatoes, the 'tuber' is actually an underground stem and not a root. However, we are not talking about the finer botanical details here. We are talking about food!

Some of the root crops are actually members of the cabbage - Brassica - family, so that should give you a clue as to what soil they prefer! (Turnips, and swedes being two.) Other root crops are not, such as Carrots which are apiaceae.

Root vegetablesRoot vegetables are variable in the amount of time they have to stay in the soil, but other than that are not generally troublesome apart from the wretched flies and moths which lay their eggs in the soil.

Root crops generally provide more weight per given area than any o the other vegetables. In terms f nutrition - and that's what growing vegetables is all about - the root crops are all starchy foods - providing good nutrition, and being staple diet in many parts of the world where they cannot grow cereal crops.


  • Tap Roots - such as with Parsnips and Carrots.
  • Tuberous Roots - Pig nuts, Sweet Potatoes
  • Corms - as with Chinese water Chestnuts
  • Tubers - Potatoes, Jerusalem Artichoke
  • Rhizomes - Root Ginger, Turmeric, Ginseng
  • Bulbs - Alliums (Onions)

Basically, all the above - and many more - have underground storage facilities for their food reserves. This in turn is why we find them useful for our own use - as Root Vegetables.

There is no specific cultural requirements that can be applied to all root vegetables. Carrots are happy in sandy soils - Potatoes are not. Root vegetables they may all be, but they are individual crops in the main, and require different methods of growing. Just because they spend much of their lives under the soil, does not mean that they are shade lovers, for their foliage is of course above ground.

There is no doubt that root crops are best cooked and tasted straight out of the ground. But, most of them also store well for the winter months.


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