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February 2018
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Episode 65 Root Crops From Seed

In this episode I discuss growing root crops from seed and why I love this particular group of plants so much!

Its that time of the year…time to start planting root crops.  And I could not be happier.  I love root crops because of their durability, versatility, longevity and did I mention they taste good?

I talk about root crops that can be grown from seeds.  That means I left out potatoes and garlic which are grown from division.  I also don’t talk about the strange root crops like oca and sunchokes.

So what do I talk about?  How to grow beets, carrots, onions, turnips and a few others from seed successfully.  What parts are not only edible but delicious (this is where beets really shine!).  I also talk about what varieties of each I grow and why.  And of course, I talk a little history and science as well.

I’ve also added a listener feedback and questions section at the end.  Learn about a unique method of starting seeds outdoors in winter.  Also listen in to find out why I have to backpedal on my hate of using raised beds for every situation.

15 comments to Episode 65 Root Crops From Seed

  • Hey Jason,

    Great podcasts! I’ve really been enjoying them. I had some good success with turnips over the winter (I live in north FL – lucky me!), and I agree that they are tasty. My wife and I especially like them roasted or in a soup.

    Your points about raised beds make a lot of sense, especially from a self-sufficiency standpoint. However, my wife and I used a raised bed when we planted our first garden in September, and I think we had some good reasons:

    1. Very limited space – We moved into a rental townhome, and the best place to put a garden was a little 4 foot by 10 foot (approximately) strip behind our porch. I liked that Mel Bartholomew’s Square Foot Gardening methods are specifically geared for such situations.
    2. Landlord issue – In other words, it had to look pretty. A raised bed had more aesthetic appeal to our landlord.
    3. Uncertain soil content – Grass grew in it, but I had no idea what else was in there. We aren’t too far from a road, and the building has been around since the days of lead paint and leaded gasoline. I wanted to avoid heavy metals.

    So that’s why we went with a raised bed. If I did it over again, I’m sure I could have done it more cheaply or worked something else out with the landlady. But as it is, we’ve had good success with our broccoli, kale, lettuce, turnips, and mustard greens, so I’m very pleased. Most importantly, we actually did something instead of waiting around to get everything perfect; I think that matters a lot more than what kind of garden setup one chooses.

    Keep up the good work! I feel my brain expanding every time I tune in.

  • Jason


    Thanks for listening and thank you for taking the time to comment.

    “Most importantly, we actually did something instead of waiting around to get everything perfect; I think that matters a lot more than what kind of garden setup one chooses.”

    You pretty much said it all right there. I try not to talk in absolutes. Some people know which type of garden setup is best for them and as long as they know that, me or no one else can tell them that they are wrong. Its a matter of not just going the route that requires the least thought but rather taking the time to think about it. You (and it seems all of my listeners) know what you are doing and why and I salute you for it.


  • Anonymous

    Carrot tops actually don’t taste too bad, although they’re a bit difficult to chew raw. I will use them occasionally in green smoothies. I’ve heard that you can cook them in soup, too. In the past when I didn’t get the carrots seeded soon enough and they turned bitter w/the hot weather b4 the roots were big enough to eat, I was at least able to harvest the tops.

  • another great show! better watch out, you might wind up fertilizing somebodies raised beds w/ talk like that! lulz! just kidding. hahahaha

  • Jason

    I’ll have to try them. I did cut some up with my parsley by accident last year but they smelled so carrot-y that I threw them out thinking they might throw off the flavor of my tomato sauce. I should have tried them to see.

    Thanks for the tips!


  • Jason


    I’m going to put in my last will and testament that I be buried in the forest. A garden might be a little too….weird. A raised bed-definitely not! LOL


  • Nes

    One more reason to use raised beds: toddlers!
    My little guys LOVE to follow me around the garden, but our first year I didn’t used beds & lost a ton of my harvest to little feet. Last year I had raised beds with BIG spaces between the rows, kept both small children & pets *mostly* out of my heavy clay soil. We’re moving in June this year so I won’t have a chance to do much with my garden this year, so instead I’ll use stakes & twine to define my garden plots & plan raised beds for next year. Raised beds make rotating crops difficult, but when you’ve got little guys they are definitely the best way to go.

    We used un-used 2x4s from a construction site, they were just going to burn because it’s cheaper to burn and buy new wood then move it from job to job! And I used my own soil to half-fill the beds, with some 4 year old cow manure from the farmer next door. Didn’t cost us more then a box of nails.

  • Jason

    Great tips for saving money and you are absolutely right about the raised beds and kids. I never thought about that but yeah I’ve definitely lost a few plants to stompage!


  • Hey Jason, I you mentioned that carrot greens aren’t all that edible. I actually used them in a pesto last summer that was inspired by this video at one of my favorite websites “The Perennial Plate”. http://www.theperennialplate.com/episodes/2010/07/episode-19-summer-vegetables/ Everybody loved the pesto, and the carrots prepared the way he does it on the video were pretty awesome too.

  • Jason

    Thanks Jake, you are absolutely right that I mispoke. It was a combination of not doing my research and personal experience. I guess I just don’t like the taste. A pesto sounds interesting though, I’ll check that out!

  • Jason

    Thanks Jake, you are absolutely right and I mispoke. It was just due to lack of research and personal experience. I didn’t care for the taste. A pesto sounds interesting though and I’ll have to check that out!

  • I see I’m a little late getting to this episode, but I wanted to add some fuel to the raised bed debate. I appreciate Jason’s stance on raised beds and wish I had listened to this podcast 2 years ago! Would’ve saved myself about ~$1000. We put 2 raised beds in our backyard just because we thought it was the thing to do. Bought the lumber, the hardware, and bagged topsoil. It was a huge expense and produced pitiful results. I finally did a soil test last fall and that bagged premium topsoil had produced an alkaline mess. The pH was off the charts. The untouched soil beside the bed? Fine, just add a little lime said the report. I heard that bagged topsoil is risky because you never really know what you’re getting (don’t know if that’s true or not). For my purposes I probably will not be investing in anymore raised beds. Love the podcast. Happy to see a fellow Kentuckian providing such great information!

  • Jason


    Wow, that is a lot of money! I’m sorry to hear it didn’t work out for you though. I’ve heard the same about bagged topsoil. I occasionally use a bag of store bought compost and even then I worry about doing so. By the way, everywhere I’ve been in Kentucky the soil tests say “needs lime”. I don’t know if its endemic to our clay soil or what. You’d think with all the limestone we’d be doing fine! But anyway, glad to have another Kentuckian listening and thank you so much for the compliments and comments.

    Take care,

  • Nick

    Hi Jason,

    I’ve recently discovered your show and really enjoy listening to the content you put out. We need more great gardening podcasts like yours!

    I can understand your view on growing onions from sets (or even seeds) and how you only get one-for-one. Have you ever tried growing shallots? You plant them like garlic, where one shallot bulb divides into 4-8 new bulbs over the course of the season. You can save some for replanting and eat the rest, just like garlic. In my experience they’re also easier to plant and care for than onions.

    Also, I would encourage you to rethink your stance on potatoes. One potato can be divided up so each eye produces a new plant (as you mentioned early on in this episode), but on top of that each plant will produce numerous potatoes. Say on average you can split one potato into 3 chunks with eyes (so you get 3 plants) and each plant produces an average of 5 potatoes, that’s a 1-to-15 ratio — not bad! Depending on what potato variety you grow and how you grow it you could get an even bigger payoff.

    (Full disclosure: I commit a large percentage of my garden space to onions and potatoes since they store so well. They become a staple of my diet in the winter months when it’s too cold and snowy for anything substantial to grow.)

    Just my two cents. Love the show, keep up the great work!


  • Jason

    Nick- Thanks for the comments!  I appreciate it.

    I haven’t tried shallots yet but I need to. I was unaware that they divided.  Need to study up on my alliums more!  LOL

    I have been rethinking my stance on potatoes lately. Right now I just don’t have the room in the garden for them.  I love to eat them and I agree its not like its one for one.  Just peeves me that they don’t make seeds! hahaha  But I agree with you they are definitely one of the more reward crops to grow.  I need to do more but space, time and skill is limited.

    Thanks for commenting!