By Jannie Vaught
Yams, beets, parsnips, turnips, rutabaga, carrot, yucca, kohlrabi, onion. garlic, celery root (celeriac), horseradish, daikon, turmeric, jicama, Jerusalem artichoke, radish, ginger are all considered roots. Because root vegetables grow underground they absorb a great number of nutrients. Botany distinguishes true roots such as (tap root and tuberous roots) from non- food roots (such as corms, bulbs rhizomes, and tubers).
The term” root vegetable” is applied to all these types in ordinary, agriculture and culinary usage. Root vegetables are in general storage organs enlarged to store energy in the form of carbohydrate. They differ in their balance of sugars, and starches and other types of carbohydrates. I have grown most of this list at one time or another and have a double food when it is a root that I can eat the greens such as beet greens, turnip, onion and Yam leaves, yes they are not a potato (nightshade) and are delicious to eat stir-fried.
I have planted turnip, sweet potato, radish, onion, garlic, beets, turmeric, Jerusalem artichoke, and ginger this year, and the Jerusalem artichoke has had the tops moved down to rest for the fall and winter. All the garden greens are being enjoyed as they are growing fast due to all the rain and some cooler temperatures, they like cooler temperatures. And as it is here in the Hill Country the Fall Garden is the best. I even have some held over tomato plants giving one last try. Tommy Toe a cherry and an I can’t remember the name sauce tomato. The markers have since left the property! I planted the Jerusalem artichokes 4 years ago and have really never harvested them as I planted them in the very worst part of the property. And they have continued to spread and build soil and break-up the hard dry layer of soil. I did have to give them some water this summer as I wanted them to not die out and they did a fair job of staying alive, no flowers this year, but lots of stalks and leaves. (they like hard bad soils). And by simply planting 6 they have come to be a large patch of sunflowers. I plant carrots in the early spring. Radishes almost all year long, and turmeric is a new grow out for me and this year I have a huge bunch of it. It had bloomed the most beautiful tropical pale yellow and white flower low on the stalk and if you have never seen it looks like Cannas.
There is so much to say and so little space but what would we do without Roots?
I start all mine with seeds and treasure any new addition of the variety to try, The list is long in the seed catalogs. Purple, white, red top and golden to bulls blood beets. The names are as good as the crop. And a plate of supper with turnips and some greens are what food is about. Plant more roots and bring that nutrient dense carbohydrate to your table. There is a book in our library ROOTS The Definitive Compendium With More Than 225 Recipes by Diane Morgan. Check it out there is a recipe for Red Velvet cake made with beets for the color and a moist rich texture with an orange icing.
Now I remember why I dig roots!
Out growing with green Jannie