How to sow winter root vegetables

Sowing radish, turnip, daikon and planting kohlrabi
  • Root vegetables are an essential part of our winter diet. Because they grow underground, they absorb a great amount of nutrients from the soil. They’re packed with a high concentration of antioxidants, Vitamins C, B, A and iron, helping to cleanse our system. They’re also filled with slow-burning carbohydrates and fibre, which makes us feel full, and helps regulate our blood sugar and digestive system.
  • Sow root vegetables directly into the soil. They don’t tolerate root disturbance which occurs during transplanting.
  • Ensure your soil is free-draining. Soil is usually free-draining in a raised bed, but if you don’t have a raised bed, make sure you mound the soil high.
  • Your soil also needs to be high in organic matter, so if it feels compacted or crumbly, add compost. If the crop you had in the bed beforehand was well fed, then it will be a good bed to plant your root crops in.
  • Create shallow trenches with a niwashi or hoe, or a handle end or simply your hand. If you intend to put hoops over your bed, your trenches shouldn’t go right to the edge of the bed, otherwise the growing plant will get tangled up in the netting.
  • Sow seeds as deep as the diameter of the seed, so barely beneath the surface.
  • Rob sows the seeds reasonably thickly as there’s no guarantee how well the seeds will strike. If you get a good strike, you can always thin them out.
  • Rob starts by sowing Radish. ‘The Earth Diet’ classes Radish as the most nutrient-dense non-green vegetable. In warmer climates you can sow Radish seed all year round. The seeds germinate in about a week and you can eat the veges in around a month.
  • Next on our list is Turnips which grow quickly as well. Rob harvests them when they’re the size of a golf ball. Grate them into a salad, julienne them for a stir fry or simply roast or steam them.
  • Rob then sows Daikon or Radish Tokinashi which are long, white, icicle-looking radishes. Grate them raw into salads, or cook in a stir fry.
  • Lightly cover the seeds with soil, then pat the soil down with your hand.
  • At this time of the year there’s enough moisture in the soil, so there’s no need to water the seeds in. There’s also no need to fertilise, unless your soil is really lacking in nutrients. If you do fertilise, don’t use blood and bone or sheep pellets because these fertilisers encourage leaf growth at the expense of the root.
  • Lastly Rob plants Kohlrabi. Kohlrabi, like beetroot, is an exception to the root crop rule and grows better from seedlings. Like beetroot, it grows proud of the ground and with its striking leaf growth can look like a UFO. The word Kohlrabi means ‘cabbage turnip’ and that’s what it tastes like. Again Rob grates kohlrabi and makes a kohlrabi slaw, but you can use it in stir fries and steam it.


Camera: Jarod Murray
Editor: Thomas Asche
Production equipment and post-production services provided by The Black Forest Breathes