Gardening Articles: Care :: Soil, Water, & Fertilizer

Planting Root Crops (page 2 of 3)

by National Gardening Association Editors

Wide-Row Planting

Once you've prepared the soil, follow these easy steps for wide-row planting:

Mark the row by stretching a string close to the ground between two stakes spaced the length you want. You only need one string for a straight line -- the width of your rake will determine the width of the row. Garden rakes are usually 14 to 16 inches wide.

Hold one edge of an iron garden rake next to the string and drag the rake down the length of the row. This marks off the area where you'll broadcast the seeds.

Rake just the seedbed a few times to remove lumps and stones and get it really smooth and level before you plant. There's no need to rake your whole garden. Don't walk on the seedbed once it's prepared or you'll pack it down again. A smooth, clod-free, loose seedbed is one of the most important elements for gardening success.

Add extra bonemeal, rock phosphate or superphosphate now, raking it into the top inch of soil.

Sprinkle the seeds onto the planting area, trying to broadcast them thinly and evenly. Root crop seeds are small, and you'll have to develop your own system to keep from sowing them too thickly. Beet seeds are larger than the others, and they're easier to control. But once you get the hang of it, the rest are no trouble, either.

You'll be thinning the row when the seedlings first come up, so don't worry if a few extra seeds slip out of your fingers as you go. In fact, more seeds will ensure not having any skips or bare spots within the row.

Lightly sprinkle radish seeds in with your main crop. Use about five percent as much radish seed as the other vegetable.

Firm all the seeds into the soil with the back of a hoe. This anchors the seeds and gives them good contact with the soil, helping them germinate.

Cover the seeds with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil pulled from the side of the row with a rake, leveling the top of the seedbed as you go. The rule for all seeds is to cover them with fine, moist soil to a depth four times their diameter. These small seeds don't need much soil over them. Only cover them more (with an extra 1/4 inch of soil) in midsummer plantings, when the weather is hot and dry.

Gently firm the soil again with the back of a hoe.

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