GROWING HEALTHY ROOT CROPS
2018 has been a good year for root crops. I planted turnips, carrots, and radishes around the 1st of November, 2017.
As usual I planted the Purple Top turnip seeds too thick which means that the turnips would be small if they develop at all. We eat a lot of turnip greens with pork seasoning. I also planted Hakurei, a white salad turnip, and Scarlet Queen Red Stems, a salad turnip, both are found in Johnny’s Select Seeds. These two are sweet, tender, and crunchy and can be used in a salad or cooked with seasonings. The Scarlet Queen has spicy red skin with scarlet streaks inside.
To my pleasant surprise, most of the Purple Top turnips have developed from golf ball to baseball sized turnips which, of course, are stronger flavored than the two salad turnips. Why are they so large? Yes, I tilled in the usual organic fertilizers of soybean meal, bone meal, chicken manure compost, dried molasses meal, other trace minerals, plus Spray-N-grow, of course. However, Hurricane Harvey had dumped over 14 inches of rain in August, 2017 raising the water table to within a foot or less of the top of the ground. I had used my large tiller to till in a thick mass of weeds and grass (green manure) in October. Beginning in late December until now (mid-February) we have had more overcast misty to rainy days than sunny days. Both the turnip and mustard greens are over two foot tall. Such large thickly sown plants soak up a lot of water usually drying out the top foot of sugar sand soil. The mist and capillary soil action of the water table have produced large roots.
Again, I usually plant my carrot seed too thick and they all germinated well this winter season. However, they too have produced extra-large tender and sweet Nantes carrots. I planted
three varieties of onions from Dixondale Farms. They are already starting to develop bulbs.
Radishes! Why be so excited about radishes? First, the Daikon variety of radishes I grew this year have grown to the size of two softballs. They are solid, tender, and sweet providing a good crunch in salads. They are good keepers in the refrigerator. The other variety I like is “Watermelon” with green external skin at the top fading into the first layer of thin white skin. Inside, it is a beautiful deep burgundy. They are sweet, crispy, delicious and delightful in salads. The tops can also be used in salads. Some of mine are the size of softballs without being too peppery or strong flavored. The seed are found in Willhite Seed catalog. Similar varieties are found in Park Seed and Johnny’s Select Seed catalogs or websites.
Root crops are healthy for us to eat!