Root vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, beets and turnips keep well through the winter months if stored in a cool, dry place such as a root cellar or protected garage or basement. Root vegetables prefer cooler weather. They can be grown in summer in northern states and in fall and winter in warmer climes. Unlike other vegetables, which develop fruit from the blossom of the plant, root vegetables develop as tubers under the ground.
Prepare the soil. Since root vegetables grow underground, they grow best in well-tilled soil free of rocks, hard lumps and other obstacles. Use a rake to break up lumps and sift the soil.
Test the pH of the soil with a home test kit. The University of Minnesota Extension Service recommends a pH of 6.5 to 7 for root vegetables. Add lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower pH. Peat moss will also lower soil pH.
Add well-rotted manure or another organic fertilizer to add nutrients to the soil.
Plant seeds according to package directions. Potatoes are usually planted on top of the ground and soil raked into hills over them, while radishes, carrots and beets are planted about 1/4 inch deep.
Water regularly to keep soil moist but not soggy. A deep watering once a week is better than several light waterings.
Thin carrots, beets, turnips and radishes when seedlings emerge by removing extra seedlings so that the remaining plants are about 2 inches apart.
Remove any weeds as soon as they begin to sprout. Weeds will compete with the root crops for both space and nutrients.
Harvest your root vegetables at any time after they reach eating size. New potatoes, baby carrots and beets can be eaten early in the season, while other plants are left to mature to a larger size. Root crops may be left in the ground until after the first frost, but should be removed and allowed to dry for a few days before storing for winter.