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Root Crops

What are the advantages of growing root crops in your garden?

Many root crops, like carrots, potatoes, parsnips, turnips and rutabaga, store well, often for several months—so you can enjoy produce months after harvest. Some crops, like parsnips, can be left in the ground over winter and harvested in the spring. Turnips are grown for their greens and roots. Harvest early for greens. The roots can be stored in the refrigerator crisper drawer for months or in a root cellar.

Root Crops from Gurney's

For more than 150 years, Gurney's has supplied home gardeners with top-quality seeds and plants. Every year, we grow many varieties of root crops in our trial gardens and select the best varieties in terms of flavor, yields, disease resistance and garden performance. We offer quality root vegetable seeds and certified seed potatoes.

What are Root Crops?

Root crops are vegetables grown specifically for their edible roots. Often they are cool-season vegetables that perform best in well-drained soils and full sun. When growing root crops, start with quality seed and root (seed potatoes). For most root crops, when to plant root crops is in the cool weather of spring.

Choosing the Right Root Crops for Your Garden

While potatoes, carrots, beets, radishes and onions are some of the most popular root crops to grow in home gardens, other root crops such as parsnips, turnips and rutabagas are also easy to grow. When selecting the right root crops for your garden, start by determining what you like to eat and grow--and your available garden space. Here is a list of root crops to consider:

Carrots

Carrots are one of the most popular vegetables to grow and to eat. When selecting carrot varieties, first note your soil type. Carrots thrive in well-drained, loamy or sandy soils. If you have clay soils, select a carrot variety that is suitable for clay soils. Other considerations when selecting carrots are their flavor, color and shape.

Potatoes

When selecting potatoes, consider their flavor and how you want to use them. Starchy potatoes are best for baked potatoes, French fries and fluffy mashed potatoes. Waxy potatoes are favorites for salads, stews, steamed and boiled. All-purpose can be used across all categories of cooking. No matter what variety you choose, make sure to buy certified seed potatoes. Success at harvest time starts by using disease-free seed potatoes. Gurney's sells certified seed potatoes.

Parsnips

Thick, wedge-shaped roots makes preparing parsnips easy. Parsnips can be dug up in the fall for storage or left in the ground until spring.

Turnips

Turnips are eaten for both their roots and their green tops. When selecting turnips to grow in the garden, consider how you want to use them. Some are best for cooking. Others are good for eating raw. Some turnip varieties are tops for their greens.

Rutabaga

Rutabagas, also called Swedish turnips, is a cross between a turnip and wild cabbage. Its nutrient roots are often cooked.

Peanuts

Peanuts need about four frost-free months to reach maturity. Virginia type peanuts, sometimes called ballpark peanuts, are often best for boiling and roasting, while Valencia types are often boiled. When selecting peanut seeds to buy, consider days to maturity, disease resistance, uses and flavor.

What Are the Advantages of Growing Root Crops in Your Garden?

Root crops are a valuable addition to the garden, often don't take up lots of space and are a great way to enjoy homegrown vegetables for months. Many root crops, like carrots, potatoes, parsnips, turnips, and rutabaga, store well, often for several months--so you can enjoy produce months after harvest. Some crops, like parsnips, can be left in the ground over winter and harvested in the spring. Turnips are grown for their greens and roots. Harvest early for greens. The roots can be stored in the refrigerator crisper drawer for months or in a root cellar.

Almost all root crops require well-drained soil and full sun. They're excellent for growing in raised garden beds. While carrots and potatoes are some of the most popular root crops to grow, consider trying some of the lesser-known root crops. Read more to learn why rutabaga, turnips and parsnips are often undervalued vegetables and why you should consider adding them to your home garden.

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