The Q&A Archives: Root Vegetables Won't Bulb

Question: This is the third year we have tried a garden. Tomatoes and peppers have done very well but we haven't had any luck with root veggies, i.e., onions, turnips, not even radishes which I hear are fairly easy to grow. We did have a few turnips the first year that were wonderful but no luck since.

Answer: There are two important things for growing root crops. The first is having a rich, loose, well-drained soil. Add several inches of compost 2-3 months before planting. Make sure the soil is loose and deep enough so roots have plenty of room to grow. You might want to consider raised beds for your root crops. Add a phosphorous source to the soil before planting. Bone meal is an organic source of phosphorous.

Spacing is another important aspect for root crops. Sometimes it's hard for gardeners to thin plants, but you need to pull out seedlings as they grow. Onions should have about 4 inches of space between each one; turnips 2-3 inches; beets 2 inches; and radishes 1 inch.

Vegetables are heavy feeders so add a balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) when the plants are about 6 inches tall and the bulbs are starting to swell. Water well before and after applying fertilizer.I hope this info helps!

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