After salad crop failures in Spain and shortages of courgettes, broccoli and other ‘long distance’ vegetables gardeners could to worse than focus on traditional and non-traditional root crops.
Chinese artichoke, Stachys affinis was popular in Edwardian times. It is a sprawling plant that produces knobbly roots for baking, mashing, frying or stir frying. Harvest as needed, after a long growing season, as they do not store well
Jicama or Yam bean have crunchy roots similar to dahlia tubers useful for adding to salads.Can only be stored for about a month.
Rampion have a strong taste, knobbly and fiddly roots and would be at the end of our list of experiments.
Hamburg parsley is popular in Germany with edible, evergreen leaves. Roots are upto 8inches long. Roast or use in stew.
Salsify and Scozonera look and taste similar and have been grown in the UK for hundreds of yaers . Salsify or Oyster plant, is biennial Scozonera is a hardy perennial that grows 3ft high.
Mouli or winter Radish cultivars of Raphanus sativus grow to the size of grapefruit. Round black are best for storing and all varieties red and yellow are prone to bolting unless sown after mid-summer.
Sweet potato Beauregard has been cultivated for UK growing and is available from Marshalls, Thompson Morgan and others. Protect from frost. Tubers tend to be smaller Sweet Potato ‘T65’. They have salmon-orange flesh and a sweet flavour.
Old faithful Root crops
- Swede, turnip and rutabaga
- Beet and manglewurzels
- Jerusalem Artichoke
Root out some Tips
- Root crops are generally heavy feeders.
- Roots will ‘fang’ or fork if the soil has been freshly manured.
- To get the straightest roots avoid stony soil and keep soil light
- Plenty of water and high potash feed will help grow better crops.
- Grow in full sun with adequate space and avoid competition from weeds.
- Look after the leafy tops to get good underground growth