The Q&A Archives: Root Crops - Heavy Soil

Question: My soil is fairly "rich"(loamy). When I plant carrots or turnips they start off fine, but by mid-summer the soil begins to get compacted and stunts their growth. Is there some type of sand I could add to the soil to help the plants "push" the soil away as they grow?

Answer: To grow good carrots and turnips you need to keep the plants in active fast growth with plenty of water and a deeply prepared soil. Many gardeners find that although their soil is rich, the texture is inadequate for carrots and such. One approach is to add copious amounts of organic matter to the existing soil, another is to build raised beds created specifically for these plants. The goal is to have a deep, loose, friable soil which is moist yet well drained, and organic matter will accomplish that. At first thought sand would be a good addition, but on second thought, sand plus a heavy soil will combine to make brick if allowed to dry out at all. The organic matter will help hold both air and moisture in the soil and also "feeds" the soil as it decomposes and so does triple duty. Good luck with your root crops!

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