rotting vegetable roots

by Susan

I found that about 2/3 of my parsnips and onions, both from dug and undug beds, had rotted from the bottom of the root up. I harvested the whole lot in August before I lost the whole crop. The parsnip were magnificent in June and started wilting near the end of June, I pulled the wilting ones up and the whole root had rotted away.

Later in August I noticed two chicory (for forcing) wilting in the parsnip bed, same story. Two plants left in the row who seem to be doing fine.

Is this a disease in the ground? Does it spread by mulching with the tops? How to avoid it?

This is an allotment site which I have had for 3 years. This is the first time this has happened. Before I had the plot it was an allotment for more than 20 years.

The soil in the plots around mine is 20cm higher as they have added compost over the years and evidently my predecessor did not. Soil underneath is clay. I started with manure, straw and compost in raised beds four years ago in November, then added straw/compost for mulch. The bed in question did not have straw on this year. It was dug and had peat added by a friend who I lent it to for the first two years. He had mixed crops in it which seemed to do fine, though he hardly harvested. I added a layer of municipal compost for this season.

There is occasionally standing water in another part of the allotment but my raised beds are above the "waterline". I do not think problem was damp, like I said they looked great and then suddenly wilted. This was beginning of August (I just checked the dates)

I am in Switzerland, Lake Geneva region, and the carrots for sale here have to be kept in the fridge or they will get slimy black splotches and rot, is this related?

Anyway I really want to know if sheet composting (I just cover all the debris with compost and sow into that) poses a risk of the disease returning.

Comments for rotting vegetable roots

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Oct 09, 2013
Roots rotting NEW
by: Joe

I think you should move to another plot, there could be some nasty fungus there. I always grow my veg in slight furrows on top of ridges, especially carrots as they are prone to rot.

Oct 10, 2013
rotting veg roots NEW
by: Bill T

I agree with Joe on planting on slightly raised beds. you mentioned that you have some clay around. I have a feeling you have a drainage problem. Parsnips and some carrot species have a long root therefore need a good depth of friable soil. Added to this you mention the use of compost and peat. do you also add sand and a good helping of dolomite to help break up the clay and improve is a link I downloaded full of ideas I hope will help.. going back to the mention of compost and peat. without sand or a similar material(river sand is much prefered)these two materials will potentialy become gluggy sludgy and produce an atmosphere akin to sludge. Use peat and compost but mix in a good helping of sand or similar to aerate the growing material.I make my own compost/potting mix and River sand is the most valuable material I use for aeration and drainage. I remember a radio gardening presenter comenting about the amount of moisture in your growing mix.the soil mix should be of the consistancy of a well rung out sponge. I hope the above has been a help. Happy gardening Bill T. :)

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