Root crops, like onions, potatoes, beets, turnips, and carrots, can easily be grown provided that the following needs are met: good soil, water (preferably rainwater collected, then stored in a large rainwater tank), and the correct spacing. This means preparing properly the soil bed, ridding it of weeds, and giving plants sufficient room for growth. There’s also the need to give the plants the right amount of water as needed.
More details on the points mentioned above are highlighted below.
Every root crop likes well-drained, fertile, loose soil. Aside from potatoes, which best grow in hills, all root crops best grow in raised beds. These can also grow if there is a gardening spot in your property which gets direct sunlight for four to six hours each day. In that patch, you can grow onions and carrots.
To get the soil ready, add a manure or compost layer that measures three to four inches three months before planting. If fresh manure or compost is added just days prior to planting, you can expect the root crops to grow poorly because while a high amount of nitrogen fertilizer on both potatoes and carrots during spring can promote foliage growth, it cannot promote good root and tuber formation.
As such, you are better off giving root crops phosphorous, a substance that promotes the growth of roots. Better yet, do a soil test. The results will determine the exact amount of rock phosphate fertilizer or bone meal to be added prior to planting in order to keep roots happy.
Additional tip: Onions love being given a lot of fertilizer, not to mention that they are able to stand additional nitrogen, which can help in the growth of leaves. Add more fertilizer once all transplants have a height of six inches and all bulbs start swelling. Then organic fertilizer may be added at a pound for every ten feet.
All root crops, most especially onions and carrots, need proper spacing for optimum growth. Thin all young seedlings out once they are three or four weeks of age by pulling or snipping these out until such time that they are spaced properly. One onion needs to be four inches away from another, one scallion needs to be two inches away from the next scallion, and one carrot must be three inches away from the next carrot. Potatoes, however, will not need thinning, but must be planted ten inches apart.
Additional tip: Thinning, as a practice, seems cruel, but if it isn’t done, your roots will not have sufficient room for expansion, and this will cause you to get a lot of plants, but very few roots. Few roots means few onions and carrots.
You can expect to get a lot of crisp roots within a short period if the root crop patch is weeded on a regular basis. Once thinning has been done, hand-weed the beds of onions and carrots. As for potatoes, a hoe may be used to weed them. The bed can be mulched with straw or hay. There is no need to mulch between single carrot and onion plants. Just mulch around beds, making sure to keep these properly watered.
Like so many root crops, potatoes, carrots, and onions love cool temperatures. These taste well and grow best when grown in temperatures not exceeding 80 degrees Fahrenheit.