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Gary350
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Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

Root crops, potatoes, onion, garlic, carots, beets, etc.

Living in TN I have never been able to grow any root crops. When I lived in Illinios they all grew great. The soil here is pretty bad lots of clay. I have put 4 bales of peat moss in the garden for the past 3 years. My garden is about 20 ft by 45 ft. I put sand in the garden last year. I put my wood ashes in the garden too. I have a compose too.

My potatoes are usually the size of golf balls. Red potatoes do better than white potatoes.

Onions sprout roots but never get any larger than the day they were planted.

Garlic will sprout roots too but it just sets there never gets any larger.

Carrots grow 2 inch long pencil diameter.

Beets are about the size of marbles.

Last summer I saved all the ash from the wood stove and put it in the potato row. I fertilized the row with 15/15/15 too. My potatoes were a little larger than gold balls but the crop was very very small for some reason a whole row of potatoes produced only about 20 potatoes.

This year I hauled 2 tons of sand for the carrot, onion, garlic, potato patch. I also tilled in 2 large bales of 3.8 cu ft peat moss and 2 5 gallon buckets of wood ash. I bought 4 lbs. of Super Phosphate and 4 lbs of Murate of Potash and 5 lbs of Sulfur to make the potato patch acid.

Any suggestions?

eshenry
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Location: Tennessee

mmm, the only thing I can think of is some manure. Have your soil tested by the the Rutherford County Ag Extension, the Ag Extensions are WONDERFUL in your area.
I lived in Smyrna and was also never able to grow root crops. I blamed it on the learning curve moving from Mississippi to TN. But I now live on the Cumberland Plateau, and have good crops....but, alas, potatoes just will not produce as much in this shallow soil.
Some people weave burlap into the fabric of our lives, and some weave gold thread. Both contribute to make the whole picture beautiful and unique.

Venomous_1
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Location: Murfreesboro, TN - USDA Zone 6b

TN Soil

Hey there Gary. I feel for you. I'm right down the road in Bell Buckle and my soil was like that the first few years as well. Been 5 years and it's now much improved. It does take some time. Sounds like you are on the right track though. eshenry is absolutely right though, get a soil test. It will tell you alot.

Here are a couple of things I do though for root crops. Carrots, onions, etc. I grow in raised rows. I till the soil and rake rows up to about 12" deep. Onions grow great, carrots grow long and straight. Of course, I limit my carrots to Nantes Half-Longs. If you try to grow those big ol' Danvers or larger they may get stunted.

I've never grown garlic or beets so I can't help you there, but the raised rows may help you as well.

Potatoes I grow in tires. Yes...tires. Google 'growing potatoes in tires'. Trust me, it works. Learned that trick from some old timers.

Hope this helps you out.

2cents
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Ven-1
The potatoes in tires, I tried that and the skins were extremely thin, almost non-existant and the yeild was average.
Wondering what I did wrong. I thought it was something in the tires.

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applestar
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FYI -- I was just perusing some old Organic Gardening magazines and there was an article about Alaskan gardener growing melons in old tires. OG added a side note advising against growing food crops in tires because of leaching chemicals.

elevenplants
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Location: alabama

Oh, please don't grow anything in tires. That just couldn't be healthy! Raised beds are the way to go for root crops. I've just discovered that the past couple of years and am loving the beets, carrots, radishes, everything does wonderfully for me in about a 12" deep bed. Read up on raised beds and/or lasagna gardening and give it a try. It's fun!

Rebecca

Venomous_1
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Location: Murfreesboro, TN - USDA Zone 6b

Tires

LOL. There's nothing unhealthy about growing potatoes in tires. If that was the case I'd have been dead years ago.

2cents - The main key is the soil. Make sure you enhance the soil that you are filling the tires with that benefits potatoes. DO some research for your particular soil. Also, it depends on when you harvest. You see, one of the benefits to growing potatoes in tires is the extended harvest. You can grow them and when the flowering top dies, you can leave the potatoes in the tires and knock off one or two tires at a time as needed. The rubber keeps the potatoes warm and you can harvest out til December or even January.

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jal_ut
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Re: Root crops, potatoes, onion, garlic, carots, beets, etc.

I am with venomous_1: The main key is the soil.

The things you mention adding: Peat moss, sand, wood ash are not food for the plants. This fall when the leaves come off the trees rake them up and put them on the garden and till them in. In spring and summer as you mow the lawn the grass clippings are used as mulch on the garden. If you can get a load of manure this fall and spread it on the garden plot. Here a little pelleted ammonium nitrate works wonders in the spring at planting time. You may want to try something with NPK in it. Apply according to instructions on the package. You don't want to over do these things.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

imafan26
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Root crops, potatoes, onion, garlic, carots, beets, etc.

I get better root crops in my plots that are more alkaline and less rich in nitrogen. I get mostly tops in my acidic garden because it is nitrogen rich.
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Taiji
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Location: Gardening in western U.P. of MI. 46+ N. lat. elev 1540. zone 3

Re: Root crops, potatoes, onion, garlic, carots, beets, etc.

I think the best thing anyone can do is find someone in your area that is successful with whatever it is that you're having trouble with and see what they do. Looks like a couple of Tennesseans have already chimed in! I'll be gardening in another different location next year and hope to talk to the local gardeners really quick!

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Gary350
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Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

Re: Root crops, potatoes, onion, garlic, carots, beets, etc.

Wow this is an old thread I don't live at that house anymore. Soil is excellent at the new house the big problem here is yard is flat as a table no drainage in the rainy season there is 1" of water standing in the garden March to May.

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jal_ut
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Re: Root crops, potatoes, onion, garlic, carots, beets, etc.

Yep, this does go back a ways. I too am in a different house now than I was in 09. Good black soil here and we have sprinkler irrigation water from the reservoir up above.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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