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GROW IN ABUNDANCE: Tips For Growing Root Vegetables - Carrots, Beets And Radishes

By Sommer Cartier, for Let’s Talk Plants! November 2023.

Photo by Markus Spiske:
Freshly harvested carrots. Photo from by Markus Spiske.

Tips for Growing Root Vegetables: Carrots, Beets and Radishes

Root vegetables are not only a culinary delight, but also a valuable source of essential nutrients. Whether you have a spacious garden or a small balcony, cultivating root vegetables is a rewarding and a worthwhile experience. Below are some tips for growing your own nutrient-rich carrots, beets, and radishes, ensuring a bountiful harvest and a healthier lifestyle.

Photo by Wendy Wei:

1. Selecting varieties –

When choosing which beet, radish, or carrot to grow, select varieties that appeal to your eye and palate. These root crops come in a variety of fun shapes and colors that can add an artistic touch to any dish. Radishes have varying degrees of heat that add complexity to recipes while beets have flavors that range from earthy to sweet. Carrots are generally selected for their visual appeal, such as shape, length, and color.

It's also important to consider your microclimate when selecting varieties. While root veggies are a cool season crop, they can thrive year-round in San Diego, despite the summer heat. With this said, some growing zones in San Diego experience more frequent heat spells than others. To help mitigate this challenge, select varieties that are well suited for warmer climates.

2. Choosing the right location -

Most veggies need at least six hours of direct sunlight a day, including carrots, beets, and radishes. Select a full-sun location for maximum success.

For optimum growth and yields, select a location that has slightly acidic to neutral soil, roughly a pH of 6.0 – 7.0. It’s recommended that you add organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil fertility and structure. This provides essential nutrients and promotes good drainage.

3. Planting tips -

Root crops do best when seeds are sown directly in the ground. Make sure all debris, such as rocks and twigs, are removed from the bed to allow for unhindered root growth. When considering depth, follow the directions on the back of the seed packet. Planting too shallow or too deep can affect germination.

Keep the soil consistently moist, especially during germination and root development. Inconsistent watering can cause cracking or splitting in some vegetables like carrots. It’s equally important to avoid overwatering. Make sure the soil is well-drained. Waterlogged soil can lead to rot and diseases.

Once the crop seedlings are a few inches tall, you may need to thin them. This will help you achieve correct spacing and prevent the young plants from competing for space.

4. Harvesting -

Timing is everything when it comes to harvesting carrots, beets, and radishes. It’s ideal to harvest these crops when they are young and still tender. Over-mature vegetables might be tough or woody. To help loosen the soil and allow for easy removal, I suggest using a garden fork or trowel to loosen the soil around the vegetable. Once loosened, you can remove the plant without damaging any parts or separating leafy tops from roots.

By following these tips and remaining diligent in your garden, you can increase your likelihood of successfully growing a variety of delicious and healthy root vegetables.

Photo by Eva Bronzini:


Sommer Cartier

Master of Arts, International Development and Social Change

Clark University


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