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

Planting Root Crops (page 3 of 3)

by National Gardening Association Editors

Single-Row Planting

Stake out a single row just as you would a wide row, stretching a string along the ground between two stakes to mark off the length of the row.

Rake the seedbed smooth right over the string, then mark your planting line by making a furrow beside the string. Do this with the corner of a hoe or the end of a rake handle, or by laying the hoe or rake handle beside the string and pressing it lightly into the soil.

Sprinkle the seeds thinly along the planting line, then sow radish seeds in the same line (again about five percent). Firm the seeds into the soil, cover with 1/4 to 1/2 inch of soil, and firm again.

Whether you plant in wide rows, single rows or multiple rows, you should keep the soil around the seeds moist for the first week after you plant. Root crops won't germinate well in a dry seedbed. If the soil is dry, give the rows a light sprinkling of water right after planting. Because the soil is drier in the late summer, try this trick when planting for fall: Soak the seeds for an hour or so before planting to give them a head start on germination. Place them on a saucer or plate, barely cover them with room-temperature water, wait awhile, then plant. Once you've soaked the seeds you must plant them, because you've started the germination process. The wet seeds are a little harder to plant, but the results are worth it.

Keep an eye on the soil the first few days. If it rains, check it for a hard crusting when it dries. If the seedlings have to struggle through a crust, they'll suffer. Make it easy for them by carefully scratching the top 1/4 inch of soil in the row with an iron rake, a weeding tool or a piece of wire (a coat hanger works well).

Tips on Sowing Root Crop Seeds

The easiest way to sow root crop seeds is to sprinkle them by hand, keeping your hand two to three feet above the row. This scatters the seeds more evenly than if your hand is down very close to the row. (If it's a very windy day, of course, move a little closer!) Mix some fine soil or sand with the seeds to help even out the distribution.

You can also broadcast the seeds, mixed with dry sand, from a salt shaker if the holes are big enough, or right from the packet by tearing a tiny hole in one corner for them to slip through.

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