Winter Root Crop Gardening

By National Gardening Association Editors

Whether you live in the cold North or the warm South, you can store some of your root crops in the garden. Your winter garden can yield fresh vegetables all winter long and into the spring.

Storing Roots in the North

If your soil freezes hard, you need to insulate the ground around your roots, so they don't freeze. Put a heavy layer of mulch (10 to 12 inches) over the rows, extending 18 inches on both sides of the rows. This will keep the soil around the roots at an even 35° to 40° F -- the ideal storage temperature. Once the mulch is down, you can go out anytime, move it aside and dig up some fresh roots. You can even dig carrots, beets and parsnips out from under two feet of snow! Vegetables stored in the ground don't have good keeping power once you dig them, so be sure to eat them in a day or two.

Southern Storage Techniques

If you live in the South, where winters are mild or warm, in-ground storage of turnips, beets, carrots and radishes is a good option. In warm-winter areas, however, you need to insulate your root crops to maintain a cool soil temperature to prevent them from sprouting. Cover the rows with a 6- to 8-inch layer of mulch, extending it 18 inches on either side of the rows.

Parsnips and salsify require about a week of cool nights to sweeten their taste. You can even leave these vegetables out in the garden until the spring thaw, but be sure to dig them up before they start to put on new top growth. Those spring-harvested vegetables taste unbelievably sweet.

Other articles in this series:
1. Harvesting Root Crops
2. How to Store Root Crops
3. Winter Root Crop Gardening ← you're on this article right now
4. Canning and Freezing Root Crops

This article is a part of our Vegetable Gardening Guide for Other Root Crops / Harvesting.

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