How to Grow Root Vegetables in Pots

Choose deep pots to allow space for roots to develop.
From: DK Books - Fruits and Vegetables

Easy to grow and wonderfully sweet when scrubbed and eaten fresh from the pot, most root crops thrive when sown outdoors, the seedlings thinned, and crops watered regularly. Choose deep pots to allow space for roots to develop.

Carrots

Full Bodied Carson Carrots

Full Bodied Carson Carrots

Photo by: DK - Simple Steps to Success: Fruits and Vegetables in Pots © 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Simple Steps to Success: Fruits and Vegetables in Pots , 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Carson carrots make an ideal choice for growing in containers or on heavy soils due to short, stocky roots. They are renowned for their taste, and its sweet, crunchy flavor. Stores well for autumn and winter use.

The long roots of carrots grow strong and straight in stone-free compost and their feathery leaves also look decorative in containers. Choose pots or growing bags that are at least 10 inches wide and deep, and ensure drainage is good. Sow seeds every few weeks from early spring until late summer, either with quick-cropping early cultivars (round-rooted and short types do well in pots), or larger, slower maincrops which keep well. Depending on the shape of the pot, sow seeds 1/2-inch deep, in drills 6 inches apart, or scatter thinly across the compost.

How to Plant

  • Large, deep containers, such as these bags, are ideal for growing carrots. Ensure that the compost surface is level and make a shallow drill about 1/2-inch deep, sow seeds thinly along it, cover with compost, and water well. 
  • When the seedlings have their first divided leaves, thin them to about 2 inches apart, either by pulling them up between your fingers or snipping off the plants with scissors at soil level. Remove and compost all thinnings. 
  • Carrot flies fly close to the ground and can be prevented from reaching your crops by creating a barrier with fleece that, together with the pot, is 24 inches high, or by lifting the container the same height off the ground.

Aftercare and Harvesting

Once the first divided leaves appear, thin out seedlings to allow the remaining plants space to grow. Water consistently, but don’t overwater as this causes leaves to grow at the expense of roots. Avoid carrot fly attacks by raising containers off the ground or creating a barrier. Harvest carrots from 12 weeks after sowing by pulling them gently from the compost.

Beets

Water Beets with Care for Healthy Growth

Water Beets with Care for Healthy Growth

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Water beet seedlings regularly, but avoid overwatering, which can lead to lush foliage and disappointing roots. If drainage is poor, the leaves may wither and rot.

Although beets have spherical roots they still need a container at least 10 inches deep to grow to a good size. Make a feature of the clusters of red-veined leaves or combine them with other crops or flowers, and place pots in a sunny spot for good results.

Choose bolt-resistant cultivars in early spring and all other forms from mid-spring until late summer when plants are less likely to run to seed. Sow seeds 3/4-inch deep and space evenly, about 2 inches apart, planting some every few weeks for a constant supply of roots throughout summer and fall.

Aftercare and Harvesting

Beet seeds are actually a cluster of seeds that germinate to produce several plants, so thinning is always required, unless you select single Monogerm cultivars that require no thinning. Water plants consistently, and just enough to prevent the soil from drying out. Small salad beets are ready to harvest from nine weeks, but large roots take up to three months to mature. Pull the roots gently from the soil and twist off, rather than cut, the stems to prevent bleeding.

Tip: Water beets regularly but avoid overwatering, which can lead to lush foliage and disappointing roots, and if drainage is poor, the leaves may wither and rot.

Radishes

Quick Pick Radishes While Small and Sweet

Quick Pick Radishes While Small and Sweet

©2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

2012, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Pick summer radishes all together as they will quickly run to seed if left in the soil. Harvest while they are small and sweet. Sow frequently to maintain a supply.

An ideal crop for beginners, radishes are undemanding, fast-growing, and particularly delicious when freshly picked. They germinate rapidly and are good for filling unexpected gaps, but they also tend to bolt in hot, dry conditions so place pots in some shade in summer.

Sow summer cultivars outdoors from early spring through until fall, covering early and late sowings with cloches if the weather turns cold. Sowing a small amount every two or three weeks gives a longer harvest and prevents gluts. Scatter seeds thinly or sow in rows 2 inches apart at a depth of about 1/2 inch. Larger winter radishes are slower to mature. Sow in deep pots from mid- to late summer, 3/4 inches deep, with 6 inches between rows.

Aftercare and Harvesting

Thin radishes promptly to make space for rapid growth: space summer radishes 1 inch apart and winter types 4 inches apart. Keep pots well watered since dry soil causes plants to bolt. Summer radishes can be ready to pick in as little as four weeks, while winter roots, such as ‘Mantanghong,’ take several months, but they are hardy and can be left in the soil in cold weather. To harvest, pull roots gently from their pots.

Tip: Pick summer radishes all together, as they will quickly run to seed if left in the soil. Harvest while they are small and sweet, and sow frequently to maintain your supply.

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