Growing root vegetables in your Tasmanian veggie patch requires a few key ingredients.
Winter is the time to grow all of those lovely root vegetables like carrots, parsnips, turnips, beetroot, potatoes and onions. But remember where they are doing most of the growing – under the ground!
Nitrogen and Phosphorus are two of the main nutrients that we add to the soil through fertilisers and conditioners to promote the sort of plant growth we desire.
As a general rule, for abundant leaf growth and strong healthy growth above the surface, Nitrogen is a driving force. The plant uses it for synthesizing amino acids, proteins, chlorophyll, nucleic acids, and enzymes. We can add Nitrogen to our gardens in a variety of forms like pelletised chicken manure, seaweed solution or good old compost.
But with our root crops, we also need to think about what the plant needs under the ground for strong healthy root growth, and that is Phosphorus! Phosphorus is actually present in the soil naturally, but it is very hard to get it moving into your plants. The plant needs to be in direct contact with a phosphate to be able to make use of it. So, we need to add our own.
The sources of Phosphorus we most readily use are aged manures and “meals” like bone meal or fish meal and rock phosphates. These get added to the soil at least a few weeks before planting and need to be mixed into the soil to the depth where the roots and tubers will be developing. Laying them on top of the soil wont deliver the nutrients to the root zone where we want it!
Remember, root crops like deep, well drained soil that is friable and rich in organic matter. Give the soil a good working over and keep adding that all important organic matter! Add your Phosphorus and your root vegetables will thank you for it come harvest time.
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