This season we have dedicated one complete plot of our vegetable patch to roots.
Nothing beats them for hearty winter dishes; soups and casseroles.
Beetroot, carrots and spring onions are among the crops that can be sown every week of the year for a continual harvest of tasty, nutritious goodness.
A kind of kitchen staple - if you like. And cool season roots such as parsnip, kohlrabi and celeriac are delicious roasted or pan-fried.
These bulbous roots come red, purple, golden or striped, all delicious! Beetroot may be hampered by high alkalinity or manganese-poor soils. Feed them up, add trace elements and liquid feed to accelerate growth. Mulch lightly with well rotted compost or mushroom compost. Beetroot are best sown from seed direct, after soaking the seeds overnight.
Freshly harvested beetroot. Photo - Linda Ross
The main problem with carrots is misshapen roots created by stony soils. Sow from seed so you can choose between purple, red, orange, white and round varieties. Sow direct and thin radically, as each carrot needs its own space to grow. Seed is very fine so add sand and sow sparingly. Sow every 4-6 weeks for a continual harvest. Harvest every second carrot as baby carrots to allow more space.
Homegrown carrots. Photo - photolibrary.com
These require similar growing conditions to carrots, and can also be sown year-round in temperate Sydney. Dig rotted manures into soil first, cultivating deeply as these are long rooting vegetables. Parnsips need five months to grow; sowing every month will ensure continual harvest. Soak seeds before sowing directly into the garden.
Sow parsnip seed now before its gets cold. Photo - Linda Ross
Also know as salad or green onions, no garden should be without these. Plant from sets or simply sow a row straight into a prepared bed. The spring onions will be ready to eat in two months.
Easy to grow spring onions. Photo - photolibrary.com
This is not a root crop at all, but Linda snuck this purple ‘sputnik’-shaped stem vegetable into this part of the garden. Eaten raw and squeezed with lemon or lime juice or sautéed we are pleased to find it is a delicious. We know children who take kohlrabi to school and eat it like an apple for lunch! Plant one and the tennis-ball sized vegetable will be ready to eat in three months.
Fresh and crunchy kohlrabi. Photo - photolibrary.com
As we are addicted to celeriac remoulade, (what’s not to like about grated celeriac, mayonnaise and lashings of Dijon mustard!) we make sure we grow this ugly but tasty bulb. Keep the soil hilled up against the bulb, feed fortnightly and wait until bulbs are 10cm across before harvesting. Pull up, cut the celery-like leaves, remove the roots, then scrub and peel placing cut pieces into lemony water to avoid discolouration.
Tasty roasted celeriac. Photo - Dream79/Shutterstock.com