Do you grow your own vegetables? I’m passionate about showing kids where food comes from. Whether you have a window box with a couple of herbs or lettuces or a big back garden packed with rows of cabbages, broccoli and carrots, encouraging your children to get their hands dirty and start planting something is a wonderful way to get them enthused about their food.
In this guest blog, Ellen Mary shares some suggestions for growing your own delicious root vegetables.
As we reach Autumn and temperatures begin to drop ahead of the cold Winder months, we see a shift in our diets to more warming, hearty foods. It’s the time of year when delicious root vegetables become more readily available in the shops and we can pick our own tasty crops from the allotment.
Picking root vegetables is, without doubt one of the most satisfying harvests, so here are a few tips to grow your own, ready to cook up in your favourite nutritious winter warming recipes.
Swedes will grow in most soils but using a lot of organic matter can result in all kinds of weird shaped roots! They don’t particularly like hot and dry weather and take some time to mature, but are well worth the wait. Swedes can be planted in the spring to be harvested in the summer or planted in the summer and harvested in the autumn, which tends to result in a sweeter crop. They can easily be grown by sowing directly in the soil where you want them to grow.
Forget those turnips you were made to eat as a child as there are so many more tasty varieties available now. They’re really easy to grow and very nutritious. Sow directly into the soil and thin out as they grow. If harvested at golf ball size, they taste all the better.
A Sunday roast just wouldn’t be the same without some honey roasted parsnips. They do take a long time to both germinate and mature but use up the space in between by sowing some radish as well, maximising the growing space you have. Once you’ve managed to get the seeds to germinate (make sure they don’t dry out), thin the seedlings but as they grow on all you will need to do is keep the soil moist as and when necessary. The roots will split if the temperature fluctuates between wet and dry too often.
With all root vegetables, keep weeds at bay by hand weeding or using a hoe carefully so the roots do not get damaged. They are a very satisfying harvest and can be grown in containers as well, so even if you are short of space there’s no reason why you still can’t enjoy those nutritious root vegetables.
Ellen Mary is a gardener, blogger and journalist, visit her website at: www.ellenmarygardening.co.uk