9 Vegetables With Shallow Roots For Your Garden Box

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Last Updated on March 7, 2022 by Cristina

Garden beds are the perfect start for beginner gardeners, but it’s best to go for vegetables with shallow roots considering the depth. These vegetables are easy to plant and remove at the end of the season. Even though they feed on the top layer of the soil, they yield delicious produce. Just think of a crunchy kale leaf or a juicy radish.

Shallow roots are predominantly fibrous roots and rarely tuberous. Tuberous roots are more common in mid or deep-rooted plants. But this doesn’t mean your choice of vegetables with shallow roots is limited. Some of the tastiest vegetables can be grown in less than 8 inches of soil depth! Let’s dive into the details of the shallow roots.

Picking Vegetables For Garden Beds

What plants can grow in shallow soil? Many flowers, herbs, salad greens can grow in 6 inches of soil.

Garden beds or boxes are ideal for planting seasonal and easy-to-grow vegetables. One raised bed and a few containers can yield enough produce to provide your family with fresh salads the whole summer.

Picking Vegetables For Garden Beds

Almost all vegetables with shallow roots thrive in full sun. Consider this when positioning your pots or garden boxes. Make sure you fill them with good soil, a rich blend of compost or aged manure, and stay away from garden soil. These vegetables feed on the top layer of the soil, so you want it to be rich in nutrients.

But don’t go blindly for vegetables with shallow roots. Instead, choose something you would like to consume on the regular. Most of these vegetables grow fast, so you’ll have your hands full!

Shallow Roots Pros And Cons

Vegetables with shallow roots absorb water quicker than those with deeper roots. They have a larger surface area allowing them to forage the top layer of the soil. These vegetables have fibrous roots that enable them to anchor perfectly in small garden beds. These roots keep the

Shallow roots also need more moisture, especially if exposed to plenty of sunlight. The sun dries the top layer of the soil where the roots are positioned. As a result, vegetables with shallow roots are more likely to suffer from weather changes and stress.

The Best Shallow Rooted Vegetables

If you have doubts about what vegetables can grow in 8 inches of soil, we have plenty of recommendations. Add 2 more inches, and you can grow carrots, and with 4 more inches, you’ll be able to cultivate tomatoes.

The Best Shallow Rooted Vegetables

Let’s see what vegetables grow in shallow containers or garden beds.

1. Onion

Onions are easy to grow, low-maintenance vegetables with shallow roots. Plant them in spring as soon as the last frost has passed, and the soil is workable. They don’t require much space; you can place each seed 1 to 2 inches apart.

Onions mature in less than 3 months, at a temperature between 65℉ and 77℉, but you can harvest the green onions in 4 weeks.

2. Garlic

Garlic roots stretch 2 to 24 inches, depending on the type. You can plant it at the beginning of fall or 4 weeks before your last frost date. It’s easy to grow, but you might need to fertilize it and look for pests.

You can enjoy a full garlic head 8 to 9 months after planting. This is a long time, but the flavor is worth the wait!

3. Lettuce

Have fresh lettuce on hand for the whole season by planting new seeds every 2 weeks. Cut the outer leaves, and the center will keep on growing! You can start sowing in early to mid-spring, positioning the seeds 4 to 5 inches apart.

Leaf lettuce is one of the vegetables with shallow roots that’s relatively gentle, so be careful when watering. It’s easy to expose the roots with a powerful hose.

Lettuce and Greens Heirloom Vegetable Seed Non-GMO Seeds

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4. Spinach

The iron-rich salad is easy to grow year-round in around 6 inches of soil. Spinach is a very hardy vegetable; it can thrive in chilly weather and full sun but won’t tolerate temperatures over 80°F.

The best thing – you can harvest it in less than 45 days after planting!

5. Cabbage

Many cruciferous vegetables with shallow roots are part of the cabbage family. Although they’re top-heavy, most have 12 to 18 inches long roots.

The roots of the standard cabbage are the longest at 18 to 30 inches deep. Chinese cabbage has 12-inch roots as well as bok choy and brussels sprouts.

Plant cabbage 4 weeks before the last frost and harvest it in 60 to 100 days. Brussels sprouts take 100 to 200 days to mature, while bok choy only takes 45 days.

6. Broccoli

Plant broccoli in full sun or partial shade in winter for a spring harvest or mid-summer for a late fall harvest. They take between 80 and 100 days to mature.

They’re easy to grow, nutritious, and delicious vegetables with shallow roots. Broccoli raab is the easiest and fastest to grow. They need to be planted 15 inches apart, so consider this if you’re working with a small space.

7. Kale

Kale grows best in cooler weather around fall and spring. However, shallow-rooted kale doesn’t produce huge leaves. You can grow baby kale in a spot exposed to the sun for at least 4 to 6 hours a day.

Space out the kale seeds more so you’ll stimulate the vegetable to grow bigger leaves.

8. Arugula

Arugula or rocket is among the vegetables with shallow roots that reach 12 to 18 inches. You need to plant this delicious salad green in spring after the frost has passed and the soil is 40°F to 55°F.

The seeds need to be exposed to light to germinate, so just lightly cover them with soil. The arugula is ready for harvest in around 40 days.

9. Radishes

Want to know what vegetables have the shortest roots? Radishes are among them! They can grow in less than 4 inches of soil.

Like many other vegetables with shallow roots, they’re easy to grow but need plenty of sun. Otherwise, they will develop more foliage and less produce. Plant them in August or September and enjoy a harvest in 20 to 60 days.

Best Shallow Rooted Vegetables - Radishes

Bottom Line: Planting Vegetables with Shallow Roots

Most vegetables with shallow roots are easy to grow and can become a staple in your kitchen. Even though they don’t reach the deep layers of the soil, they’re still one of the most nutritious vegetables. Take kale, for example!

Start some of them this spring and enjoy fresh summer salads directly from your garden.


What vegetables have the shortest roots?

Salad greens, corn, broccoli, radishes, garlic, onion, and many other cruciferous vegetables have the shortest roots.

What vegetables grow in shallow containers?

You can grow lettuce, mustard greens, watercress, microgreens, chard, bok choy, and onions in a shallow container.

What vegetables can grow in 8 inches of soil?

Bush beans, garlic, onions, some kinds of cucumbers, and spinach can grow in 8 inches of soil or less. Carrots and tomatoes need 8 to 12 inches of soil.

What plants can grow in shallow soil?

Swiss chard, pansies, zinnia, aloe vera, snake plant, lavender, most herbs like mint and thyme can grow perfectly in shallow soil.

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