Root vegetables and tubers grow underground. The root is typically used to store energy for the plant, which translates into energy for you. Underground food is typically rich in carbohydrates, the energy cells of the food chain, but it can also be a good source of protein, vitamins and minerals. Only one plant, the peanut, is classified as an underground fruit, but it makes up for its lonely status by being versatile.
Typically orange, but sometimes red, white or even purple, the carrot is a long, tapered root. Eaten raw, carrots are crunchy, but when cooked you can use them to make moist carrot cake. The bright orange color comes from beta carotene, which forms the basis of vitamin A. Carrots grow best in cool temperatures. Carrots take 50 to 75 days to grow.
Also known as beetroot, the beet is a deep purple, round root vegetable with staining purple juice. The greenery is eaten in a salad, and the roots are a good source of vitamin C. You can eat beet as fresh vegetables, pickled or canned, or turn them into borscht. Beets grow in approximately 50 to 70 days and are hardy, which means you can grow them early, before winter is quite over.
The potato is the Swiss army knife of the culinary world. Potatoes can be baked, boiled, mashed or turned into bread. The potato has a high-starch content and is therefore a good energy source. One medium potato has, on average, 44 g of carbohydrate, but potatoes also have protein, vitamin C and other nutrients. Potatoes are tubers, a kind of stem that grows underground.
Radishes are one of the easiest root crops to grow, since they mature in about four weeks. Radishes are a quick-and-easy salad vegetable, appearing in both tubular and round forms. The younger you pick them, the stronger the flavor.
Turnips and Rutabaga
Turnips are bulb-shaped root vegetables, and rutabagas are a cross between turnips and cabbage. Although turnips may be fed to animals during the winter, small turnips are sweet and tasty. These root vegetables mature in 28 to 100 days, with rutabagas taking longer to mature. Turnip greens are also edible.
Classified as a fruit, peanuts are the only fruit that grows underground. The nut, or fruit, is the peanut plant's seed. The quintessential snack food, peanuts are also good for attracting wild birds to your garden, making oil, and for use in making flour. Peanuts require warm weather and mature during the summer. You should allow at least 120 days for a crop. Peanuts grow in shells, each containing one or two nuts.