Well, if you ask the average gardener, the word “fruit” means the desired yield or the product of a plant itself. Which essentially means anything a plant produces or is considered edible can be called fruit.
So, a carrot can be considered a fruit just like a watermelon?
Yeah in a sense.
How about inedible berries?
Yeah, berries, both edible and inedible are considered a fruit because a plant produced them.
So, we should consider everything in the produce section a fruit?
Well, not really.
There are still some differences when it comes to classifying what we call fruit. What is for sure is that vegetables are a lot harder to classify than “real” fruits, since what we consider a fruit is the plant’s ovary, while a vegetable can come from different parts of the plant including the leaves, roots, tubers, seeds, etc. They also can be grown different ways too.
Vegetables grown underground are called root vegetables. These vegetables have an edible root or tubers underground to go along with the beautiful greenery (which in some cases is edible too) above-ground that can make a garden look amazing. Since the roots are where a lot of a plant’s nourishment is stored, root vegetables are typically high in carbohydrates, but can also be a good source for protein, minerals, and vitamins.
Root Vegetables & Fruits That Grow Underground
The list below is made up of root vegetables that you may grow in your very own garden along with some steps on how to grow them.
Beets: (Beta Vulgaris)
A root vegetable that is in the same family a is the parsnip. The part of the beet that is edible is the plant’s root, also called its taproot. Ruby red beets (beetroot) is a deep purple or ruby red root vegetable that has a staining juice. The greenery from the beet may be added to a salad, and the roots make for a good source of Vitamin C. Beets can be pickled, canned, or even made into borscht. It will take the beet around 50 to 70 days to mature and are quite a durable crop, which makes it possible to plant them even before winter is over.
Peanuts: (Arachis Hypogaea)
Peanuts come from flowers that grow near the bottom of the plant, the section that is above ground. The peanuts (or the fertilized ovaries of the plant) grown down and into the soil until reaching maturity. When the peanuts are ready for harvest, the whole plant will need to be removed.
Radishes: (Raphanus Sativus)
Radishes mature in as little as 4-weeks’ time making them one of the easier root vegetables to grow. Available in both round and tubular forms, radishes make for a quick and easy option to add to a salad or recipe. Keep in mind the earlier a radish is picked, the stronger the flavor.
Onions (Allium cepa), garlic (Allium sativum), and leeks (Allium ampeloprasum):
This group is very versatile. Garlic, onions, and leeks all come from the bulb of the plant. Leeks and fennel have edible leaves. The same goes for some onions, like the green onion (scallions). The bulb of the plant thrives underground as the leaves protrude from the ground in a stalk-like structure.
Onions planted in the spring can be ready to be harvested by the late summer or early fall. When dried, onions hold up very well, especially during the winter months. This makes them a great addition to add to a soup or stew during those long and cold winter months.
Potatoes: (Solanum Tuberosum)
The “meat” of the potato, or what is eaten, is a fleshy tuber, like that of ginger. Hidden underground a tuber acts like a storage tank where food and water are stored for the plant. This helps provide necessary nutrition to the plant during times of drought. The roots of the plant extend out of the tuber while the shoots grow above. Other tuber vegetables are yams, taro, cassava, and sweet potatoes. Potatoes take around 60 days to harvest but keep in mind, the longer you wait for, the more tender the potato.
Ginger: (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger root is not a root. In spite of its name, the edible part of the ginger plant is a fleshy tuber and not an actual root, similar to that of a potato. Turmeric is another edible plant that comes from the same family, but with turmeric, the plant’s rhizome is of a lot more useful than its root.
Carrots (Multi-colored): (Daucus Carota)
Ever seen a carrot that was not orange? Well, they are out there. Carrots are available in different colors like red, white, and purple beside the orange color they are known for. The orange color comes from Beta Carotene, which is essential for Vitamin A and eye health. Carrots can be enjoyed a few different ways. When eaten raw, a carrot can make for a crunchy snack. You can also cook them, which will soften them up, making them a great side dish or even the main ingredient in carrot cake. Carrots are best grown in cold temperatures and can take anywhere from 50 to 75 days to fully mature.
Sweet Potatoes: (ipomoea batatas)
If one is looking for a quick harvest, sweet potatoes are not the option. The tubers require a long cultivation period (two to five months) to reach full maturation. When first planted, the crop is susceptible to drought and excess water or waterlogging. Sweet potatoes are an excellent option as a side dish or a delicious pie. Sweet potatoes are sometimes referred to as yams.
Turnips (Brassica rapa) and Rutabaga (Brassica napus):
These bulb-shaped root vegetables turnips are usually fed to livestock during the winter months but can make for a sweet and tasty addition to your salad. Turnips take an average of 28 to 100 days to mature. The leaves from the turnip are usually eaten as “turnip greens” and make for a good choice for a side dish. They can be either steamed or boiled.
The rutabaga is very similar to the turnip and is even sometimes referred to as the “white turnip.” It too has a swollen root that adds a sweet flavor to any dish. When eaten raw, it permeates a strong spicy flavor that lessens as it cooks. These root-vegetables can be served either mashed or whole. However, they are served; they will both make for an excellent side dish.
Tips on How To Grow Root Fruits & Vegetables
It is possible to grow root vegetables in your yard. You can plant directly into the ground or make a soil bed to keep the vegetables organized. The most important part is the soil. Hard soil would make it almost impossible for the roots to grow, making it extremely difficult for the plant to survive. Using soft soil would ensure that the root vegetables can be grown. Some root vegetables like the potato and bulb turnip can even be grown in pots.
No special treatment is needed, making root vegetables very easy to grow. There is one exception: pests. Root vegetables like carrots and potatoes are at risk of attracting pests and critters that will ruin a crop. Keeping a close eye on your crop will help to eliminate any pest infestation which in turn would destroy your crop.
When planting, allow for space when planting seeds. If planted too close to one another, it will not allow enough space for the roots to grow fully. Onions will need extra fertilization to ensure a perfect crop. Other than that, make sure the area is properly hydrated, and temperatures are not too cold. Most root vegetables will take an average of 60-90 days to harvest, with the longest being the sweet potato.