15 Best Vegetables That Grow Underground – Top Picks for 2024

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Kimberly Crawford

Why do some veggies prefer the underground club? Turns out, the earthy dance floor isn’t just for coolness or hide-and-seek with gardeners. It’s about survival and packing on the good stuff—vitamins, minerals, you name it.

These vegetables that grow underground aren’t just playing it safe; they’re soaking up nutrients and protecting themselves from the harsh world above. It’s like their secret bunker, where they beef up to become the superheroes of our diet.

Ever wondered why carrots can see in the dark? Or why potatoes are so good at powering you up? It’s all thanks to their underground hangout. This underground gig isn’t just a quirky choice; it’s a smart move.

These veggies know the earth is their best bud, keeping them moist, cool, and fed. So, next time you munch on a beet or slice up some sweet potato, remember, these guys have been chilling underground, bulking up with all the good stuff to give you a health kick.

In this article

vegetables grow underground

Understanding Underground Vegetables

What’s the Deal with Vegetables That Grow Underground?

You’ve seen them at the store, those veggies that keep it low-key under the soil. They’re not just being shy; they’ve got a whole survival strategy going on down there. Root veggies are like the underground crew of the vegetable world, and they’ve got some neat tricks up their sleeves.

The What and Why of Root Veggies

Root vegetables are the ones that say, “Nah, I’m good,” to growing above ground and choose the underground life instead. Why? It’s cooler, for one. Plus, it’s a bit of a natural bunker from pests and harsh weather.

They’re like the preppers of the plant world, stocking up on nutrients in their roots. This isn’t just any stash; we’re talking vitamins, minerals, and energy reserves that keep them—and eventually us—going strong.

Table: The Good Stuff in Root Veggies

VegetableNutrientsWhy It’s Good for You
CarrotsVitamin A, PotassiumKeeps your eyes sharp and your heart happy
BeetsFiber, FolateGood for your heart and keeps you moving
Sweet PotatoesVitamin A, Vitamin CFights off germs and keeps your skin healthy

Digging Deeper: How They Grow

Not all root systems are created equal. You’ve got your taproots—long and deep, like a carrot on a mission. Then there are tuberous roots, the chunky storage units of the root world. Potatoes are the poster kids here, hoarding starch like there’s no tomorrow.

Each type of root has its own way of doing things, but they all share the goal of keeping the plant fed and watered.

So, next time you pull up a radish or dig out a potato, give a little nod to the clever strategy of growing down, not up. These veggies have got it all figured out, from staying cool to packing in the nutrients. And that’s the dirt on vegetables that grow underground.

The Rooted Treasures: A Closer Look

Let’s chat about those veggies that prefer the underground scene. Each one’s got its vibe, packed with nutrients, and ready to add some zing to your meals. Here’s the lowdown on what makes each underground veggie a standout star in kitchens around the globe.

1. Carrots: The Visionary Snack

carrot plants
  • Description: These crunchy power sticks are like nature’s candy, growing deep to soak up all the goodness from the soil.
  • Nutritional Benefits: Loaded with Vitamin A for ace vision and a healthy immune system.
  • Common Culinary Uses: Snack on them raw, toss them in salads, or glaze them for a sweet side dish.

2. Potatoes: The Comfort Food Champ

potato plants
  • Description: The underground rockstar that gives us fries, mash, and chips. Potatoes are all about energy.
  • Nutritional Benefits: Potassium-packed and ready to support heart health.
  • Common Culinary Uses: Boiled, mashed, stuck in a stew, or crisped up in the oven.

3. Beets: The Sweet Earthy Gem

beet plants
  • Description: These burgundy beauties are sweet, earthy, and full of surprises.
  • Nutritional Benefits: Great for blood pressure and packed with fiber.
  • Common Culinary Uses: Roasted to perfection, juiced for a health kick, or sliced raw into salads.

4. Sweet Potatoes: The Vitamin A Hero

sweet potato plants
  • Description: Not just potatoes with a sweet twist. These guys are nutritional powerhouses.
  • Nutritional Benefits: A massive hit of Vitamin A and plenty of antioxidants.
  • Common Culinary Uses: Roasted, turned into fries, or baked into pies.

5. Radishes: The Peppery Crunch

radish plants
  • Description: Small but mighty, radishes pack a peppery punch and add a crisp bite to dishes.
  • Nutritional Benefits: Great for the digestive system and high in Vitamin C.
  • Common Culinary Uses: Perfect pickled, fresh in salads, or as a zesty garnish.

6. Onions: The Flavor Foundation

27 green onions
  • Description: The unsung hero of the kitchen, laying the flavor groundwork for countless dishes.
  • Nutritional Benefits: Boosts bone density and has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Common Culinary Uses: Sautéed to start off any good stew, soup, or sauce.

7. Garlic: The Aromatic Powerhouse

garlic plant
  • Description: Small cloves with a mighty flavor kick that can transform any dish.
  • Nutritional Benefits: Known for its heart health benefits and immune-boosting properties.
  • Common Culinary Uses: Essential in almost every cuisine, from stir-fries to marinades.

8. Turnips: The Versatile Root

  • Description: A bit peppery, a tad sweet, and completely underrated.
  • Nutritional Benefits: Loaded with fiber and Vitamin C.
  • Common Culinary Uses: Roasted, mashed, or added to stews for an earthy depth.

9. Parsnips: The Sweet, Spicy Root

  • Description: Looks like a carrot, tastes like sweet spice. A real cold-weather comfort veg.
  • Nutritional Benefits: A good source of fiber and Vitamin C.
  • Common Culinary Uses: Best roasted or pureed into soups for a creamy texture.

10. Ginger: The Zesty Healer

ginger plant
  • Description: Fiery and fresh, ginger adds a zing to dishes and soothes your stomach.
  • Nutritional Benefits: Famous for its nausea-reducing and anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Common Culinary Uses: Grated into stir-fries, brewed into tea, or used in baking.

11. Turmeric: The Golden Spice

turmeric plant
  • Description: Bright yellow and bursting with health benefits. It’s the spice of life.
  • Nutritional Benefits: A powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.
  • Common Culinary Uses: Gives curry its color, added to smoothies, or used to spice up rice.

12. Yams: The Starchy Staple

  • Description: More than just a sweet potato’s cousin, yams are starchy, sweet, and nutritious.
  • Nutritional Benefits: A good source of fiber, potassium, and manganese.
  • Common Culinary Uses: Boiled, baked, or fried into delicious treats.

13. Jerusalem Artichokes (Sunchokes): The Nutty Tuber

jerusalem artichoke
  • Description: Not from Jerusalem, nor an artichoke, but a nutty, sweet root that’s great for your gut.
  • Nutritional Benefits: High in inulin, a prebiotic fiber.
  • Common Culinary Uses: Roasted to bring out their sweetness, or sliced raw into salads.

14. Rutabagas: The Swede Surprise

  • Description: A cross between a turnip and a cabbage, rutabagas are sweet and earthy.
  • Nutritional Benefits: Full of fiber and Vitamin C.
  • Common Culinary Uses: Mashed, roasted, or added to hearty winter dishes.

15. Daikon Radish: The Winter White

  • Description: Mild and slightly sweet, daikon is a radish that loves the cooler months.
  • Nutritional Benefits: Low in calories but high in digestive enzymes.
  • Common Culinary Uses: Pickled, grated into salads, or used in Asian cuisines for a crisp texture.

Veggie Table: At a Glance

VegetableNutrient HighlightsKitchen Staples
CarrotsVitamin ASnacks, salads, sides
PotatoesPotassiumMash, fries, chips
BeetsFiber, FolateRoasted, juiced, salads
Sweet PotatoesVitamin A, AntioxidantsRoasted, pies, fries
RadishesVitamin CPickled, salads, garnish
OnionsBone healthSoups, stews, sautéed
GarlicHeart health, ImmunityStir-fries, marinades
TurnipsFiber, Vitamin CRoasted, mashed, stews
ParsnipsFiber, Vitamin CRoasted, soups
GingerAnti-inflammatoryStir-fries, tea, baking
TurmericAnti-inflammatoryCurries, smoothies
YamsFiber, PotassiumBoiled, baked, fried
Jerusalem ArtichokesInulinRoasted, salads
RutabagasFiber, Vitamin CMashed, roasted
Daikon RadishDigestive enzymesPickled, salads, Asian cuisine

Cultivation Tips for Underground Vegetables

Gearing up to grow your own underground veggie gang? Here’s the scoop on getting those root veggies to thrive, right from the get-go.

Best Seasons to Plant

Timing’s everything when you’re looking to grow a bountiful underground crop. Let’s break it down:

  • Spring Planters: Carrots, beets, and radishes love a cool start. Get them in the ground when the frost has just said goodbye.
  • Summer Stars: Sweet potatoes and yams are all about that heat. Wait until the soil is as warm as a sunny beach day before you plant these sun lovers.
  • Fall Friends: Garlic and onions are the chill types. Plant them when the air gets crisp, and they’ll be ready to surprise you come next year.

Soil Prep and Maintenance: The Dirt on Dirt

Your underground crew is picky about where they crash. They’re all about loose, well-draining soil. Here’s how to make your soil the talk of the underground:

  • Get Loosened Up: Break up that soil! Your root veggies are claustrophobic; they need room to stretch.
  • Nutrient Boost: Mix in some compost or aged manure. It’s like a vitamin shake for your soil.
  • Keep It Clean: Weed out the competition. Your veggies don’t like to share their space or nutrients.

Watering and Care: The Drink and Tuck-In Routine

Just like us, veggies need a balanced diet—water included. But not too much; you don’t want to drown the party. Here’s the watering 101:

  • Consistency is Key: Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Think of a wrung-out sponge.
  • Morning Rituals: Watering in the morning gives your plants a chance to drink up before the sun gets too hot.
  • Mulch Magic: A layer of mulch keeps the moisture in and the temperature stable. It’s like a cozy blanket for your veggies.

From Garden to Table: Harvesting and Preparing

When your underground veggies are ready to leave their dirt digs and hit the kitchen counter, it’s a whole vibe. Let’s get into how to pick ’em, store ’em, and cook ’em to keep those nutrients locked in and flavors on point.

Knowing When to Harvest

Timing is everything. You don’t want to jump the gun or let them overstay their welcome in the soil. Here’s how to tell when it’s go-time:

  • Carrots and Beets: These guys are ready when they start to peek out of the soil like they’re checking if the party has started. If you can see a good chunk of their shoulders, it’s time.
  • Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes: Wait for the foliage to brown and die back. That’s their way of saying, “I’m done here, pick me!”
  • Onions and Garlic: These fellas let you know they’re ready when their tops flop over as if taking a bow. Time to take them off stage.
  • Radishes: Fast movers, radishes are ready when they feel firm and the top looks like it fits their roots snugly.

Storing for Freshness

You’ve pulled your veggies from their earthy bed, and now? Here’s how to keep them fresh:

  • In the Dark: Potatoes, onions, and garlic like it cool and dark. Think of a place that’s as shaded as a secret club.
  • Fridge Time: Carrots, beets, and radishes prefer the chill life in the fridge. Keep them in the crisper drawer, and they’ll stay crisp.
  • Breathable: Wrap them up but don’t suffocate them. They like a little air, so use paper bags or perforated plastic bags.

Prep and Cooking: Keeping the Good Stuff In

Cooking these underground treasures right means you get all their tasty benefits. Here’s the lowdown:

  • Roasting: Brings out the sweetness in carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes. A little oil, some seasoning, and a hot oven are all you need.
  • Boiling: Potatoes and turnips are all about that boil life. But keep the skin on to lock in the nutrients and flavor.
  • Raw and Rad: Radishes and carrots? Slice them thin and toss them in salads for a peppery or sweet crunch.

Quick Table Guide: Harvest, Store, Cook

VeggieHarvest HintStoreCook
CarrotsShoulder peekingFridgeRoast or Raw
PotatoesFoliage dies backCool & darkBoil with skin
OnionsTops take a bowCool & darkSauté or Raw
GarlicTops droopCool & darkRoast or Mince
BeetsShoulder peekingFridgeRoast
Sweet PotatoesFoliage dies backCool & darkRoast or Boil
RadishesFirm and snug fitFridgeRaw in salads

The Environmental Impact

Talking about the green side of things, growing underground vegetables is more than just a way to get fresh produce. It’s a step towards a healthier planet. Let’s dig into how these rooty friends of ours are doing their part for Mother Earth.

Sustainability of Growing Root Vegetables

First off, root vegetables are kind of the low-maintenance buddies in the gardening world. They don’t ask for much—just some decent soil, a bit of water, and they’re good to grow.

This laid-back attitude makes them sustainable stars. They require less water compared to some of their leafy cousins, which is a big thumbs up in areas where water is as precious as gold.

Moreover, these underground champs are often grown locally, cutting down the need for long-haul transport. That means less fuel, less pollution, and fresher veggies on your plate. It’s a win-win-win situation.

And because they can be stored for months without losing much of their nutritional value or taste, we can reduce food waste. Storing carrots and potatoes over the winter? That’s an age-old trick that still works wonders in cutting down trips to the grocery store.

Soil Health and Biodiversity

Now, let’s get down to the dirt. Root vegetables are like the underground heroes, working their magic in the soil. When they grow, they break up the soil, making it easier for water and air to get through. Think of them as nature’s little plowmen, helping to keep the soil healthy and aerated.

But wait, there’s more. By planting a variety of root vegetables, we’re not just spicing up our dinner plates; we’re also promoting biodiversity. Different plants attract different beneficial insects and microorganisms to the garden.

This mix of life helps keep the soil healthy and can even improve crop yields. It’s like hosting a below-the-surface party where everyone’s invited—from earthworms to bacteria, all doing their bit to keep things balanced.

Quick Earth-Friendly Guide

VeggieSustainability FactorSoil Superpower
CarrotsLow water usageBreaks up compact soil
PotatoesReduces transport pollutionNatural soil aerator
BeetsStores well, reducing wasteIncreases soil nutrients
OnionsMinimal water & care neededFights soil pests naturally
GarlicPest deterrent, reducing need for chemicalsImproves soil structure

In the grand scheme of things, choosing to grow underground vegetables is like giving the earth a bit of love back. It’s about making choices that are good for us and the planet. So next time you’re enjoying that crunchy carrot or making a batch of garlic mashed potatoes, know that it’s not just tasty; it’s a step towards a healthier world.

Incorporating Root Vegetables into Your Diet

Adding more root vegetables to your meals isn’t just good for your health; it’s a treasure trove of flavors waiting to jazz up your dining table. Let’s break down how to make these underground gems a staple in your kitchen.

Creative Ways to Include More Root Veggies

Root vegetables are versatile. They can slide into your meals in ways that both surprise and delight. Here’s how to sneak them into your diet:

  • Start with Breakfast: Grate some carrots or sweet potatoes into your morning pancake batter for a sweet, nutritious twist. Or how about beetroot smoothies? They’re a powerhouse of nutrition and color to kickstart your day.
  • Snack Time: Ever tried crispy beet chips or carrot fries? Just slice them thin, toss them with a little oil and your favorite spices, and bake until crunchy. Perfect for those mid-afternoon munchies.
  • Bulk Up Salads: Raw beets, carrots, and radishes bring color, crunch, and nutrients to any salad. Dice or spiralize them for a refreshing change.
  • Soups and Stews: This is where root vegetables truly shine. They add depth and sweetness to soups and stews, making them the perfect comfort food for chilly days.
  • Sneaky Sides: Mashed potatoes are a classic, but have you tried mashed parsnips or turnips? They offer a new flavor profile that might just become your next favorite.

Simple and Healthy Recipes to Get You Started

Here are a couple of easy recipes to help you welcome more root vegetables into your life:

Roasted Root Vegetable Medley

  • Ingredients: A mix of your favorite root veggies (carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, parsnips), olive oil, salt, pepper, and any herbs you love (rosemary and thyme work wonders).
  • Instructions: Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Peel and chop your veggies into bite-sized pieces. Toss them in olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs until well coated. Spread them on a baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes or until tender and caramelized. Enjoy as a side dish that’s both colorful and flavorful.

Carrot and Ginger Soup

  • Ingredients: 1 lb carrots (peeled and chopped), 2 tablespoons grated ginger, 1 onion (chopped), 4 cups vegetable broth, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  • Instructions: In a large pot, sauté the onion and ginger in olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add the carrots and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the carrots are soft. Blend the mixture until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. This soup is a hug in a bowl, with the ginger giving it a warming kick.

Quick Veggie Guide

VeggieMeal IdeaRecipe Tip
CarrotsBreakfast PancakesGrate into batter
BeetsSmoothiesBlend with fruits
RadishesSaladsSlice for crunch
Sweet PotatoesSnack FriesBake until crispy
ParsnipsMashed SidesBoil and mash


best vegetables grow underground

Wrapping up, root vegetables stand out not just for their earthy flavors and comforting textures but for their impressive benefits too. They’re nutrient-dense, versatile in the kitchen, and they bring a splash of color to your plate. From the humble carrot to the robust beetroot, each brings its unique taste and health benefits to the table.

We’ve seen how these underground treasures can boost our meals, from simple snacks to hearty dinners. Plus, they’re champions of sustainability, helping to nurture the soil and reduce our environmental footprint. It’s clear that incorporating more root veggies into our diets is a step towards not only healthier eating but also a more sustainable way of living.

So, why not shake things up in your kitchen? Dive into the variety of root vegetables available. Experiment with flavors, textures, and cooking methods. There’s a whole world beneath the soil waiting to be explored, and it’s packed with flavor, nutrition, and a little bit of magic. Whether you’re roasting, boiling, or blending, let these underground gems inspire your next culinary adventure.

FAQ: Vegetables That Grow Underground

What makes root vegetables different from other types of vegetables?

Root vegetables are the underground parts of plants that swell up and store nutrients. They’re special because they pack a lot of energy, vitamins, and minerals into their roots, making them superfoods in their own right. Plus, they have this amazing ability to keep fresh for longer periods, which is handy for storing through the winter.

Can I grow root vegetables in my garden? How hard is it?

Absolutely, you can grow them, and it’s not that tough either! Most root veggies aren’t too picky and can thrive with basic care. They need soil that’s loose and drains well, a bit of water, and some sunlight. Carrots, beets, and radishes are great starters for beginners. Just give them some space to grow downwards, and you’ll be a root vegetable farmer in no time.

Are there any root vegetables that are particularly good for health?

They’re all pretty stellar for health, but some stars include sweet potatoes, rich in Vitamin A and antioxidants, and beets, which are great for heart health and stamina. Carrots, with their high Vitamin A content, are excellent for eye health. Really, adding any root vegetable to your diet is a step towards a healthier you.

What’s the best way to cook root vegetables without losing their nutrients?

Roasting and steaming are your best bets. These methods cook the veggies gently, keeping most of the good stuff inside. Boiling is okay too, but some vitamins might take a swim in the water. If you do boil, try using the water for soups or sauces to make sure you’re not missing out on those nutrients.

I’ve heard root vegetables can be stored for a long time. How do I do that?

That’s one of their superpowers! Most root veggies like a cool, dark place. Think cellar or a cool pantry. For potatoes, onions, and garlic, make sure they’re dry and in a well-ventilated spot. Carrots and beets do well in the fridge, in the crisper drawer. Just remember, if they start looking sad, it’s time to eat them up or compost them.