A root is a root, right? Actually, you might be surprised to find out that not all roots are the same! There are many differences between root crops and what determines if they are suitable for container gardening. Read on to find out which root vegetables you can grow in your EarthBox® garden.
Roots and Shoots: 5 Types of Root Crops
1. Tuberous Roots
- Sweet Potatoes
Tuberous roots need consistently damp (not wet), loose soil with good drainage to grow properly. The soil will need up to 2 weeks to dry out before harvesting. Tubers can be grown in 5-gallon buckets, burlap sacks, or any deep flowerpot.
Rhizomes are roots that send out “runners” horizontally under the soil, which shoot stems above the surface. Bamboo and asparagus are the most recognizable forms of rhizomes; but ginger, arrowroot, and hops also fall into this category. These crops are best grown in raised beds, so they have enough room to send out runners and shoots without becoming invasive to the rest of the garden.
Otherwise known as “true roots,” taproots need a loose, rock-free medium to grow without disruption. Deep containers are excellent for growing these types of root crops.
Bulbs provide nutrition to the plant that grows above the soil surface. Often forming in layers, bulbs need loose, well-drained soil to develop properly. Deep containers with a large surface area are best for growing bulbs.
- Water chestnuts
Like bulbs, corms are swollen plant stems under the soil surface. They help plants survive drought conditions and long, cold winters by storing nutrition for the plant.
Growing Root Crops in the EarthBox®
Both the EarthBox® Root & Veg and the EarthBox® Original gardening systems are great choices for growing any sort of taproots and bulbs. Some growers have reported success experimenting with growing tubers, as well. Our Planting Guides make it easy to determine what crops you can grow in each system.
The larger or longer the root, the deeper the container you will need for growing. The EarthBox® Root & Veg was designed to accommodate carrots, parsnips, rutabagas, beets, and onions since these roots are on the larger size.
Smaller bulbs and taproots can be easily grown in the EarthBox® Original. Shallots, garlic, radishes, and turnips are all suitable options for growing in this system.
Rooted in Success
Like many other crops, growing root vegetables can come with its fair share of challenges. You can be prepared by following these tips for a successful harvest:
- Ensure you have the ideal growing conditions during the required growing period for your root crops. Attempting to grow Jicama in Maine may not work since it has an extremely long growing season and requires a lot of heat and sunlight. Likewise, most bulbs require a cold-weather dormancy period, so if you are in southern Florida, be cognizant of the weather and move your boxes around as needed. Check our Growing Guides for plant requirements.
- When growing from seed, thin out sprouted seedlings so your roots don’t grow into disfigured clumps.
- Be mindful how far apart or close together you plant root crops. Some varieties grow larger than others, therefore limiting how many you can place in a single container.
- Keep an eye out for pests. Just because the root grows below the surface, doesn’t mean that pests won’t attack the plant above.
Let your harvest rest before consuming or preserving. Most bulbs, like onions, shallots, and garlic need a chance to cure, which means letting them hang to dry so they develop their papery skins. This process usually takes 2-4 weeks.
Tell Us in the Comments: What root crops have you successfully grown in your EarthBox® garden?