Growing Tips
Gardening Tips for Turnips That Actually Work!

Gardening Tips for Turnips That Actually Work!

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Turnips are a fast, easy-to-grow, multi-purpose vegetable grown for their sweet, mild roots as well as their tasty, nutritious leaves.

Gardening Tips for Turnips That Actually Work! Article cover image with purple topped turnips

Their roots may be egg-shaped, rounded and slightly flattened, or round. Some types even have long, narrow, carrot-like roots. The upper part of the root generally pushes above the soil, topped by a cluster of broad, strap-like, deep green leaves with deeply cut margins.

Gardening Tips for Turnips That Actually Work!

Turnips are usually categorized by the color of their roots. White turnips bear all-white roots. Purple turnips are purple above the soil line, but while below. A few varieties of turnips have been developed to grow only for their leaves or greens.

Turnip Benefits

This super dense cousin of the rutabaga is loaded with fiber and vitamins K, A, C, E, B1, B3, B5, B6, B2, and folate (one of the B vitamins), as well as minerals like manganese, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, and copper. They are also a good source of phosphorus, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein.

Whew! That is a lot!

It means that these babies are good for your heart, help fight cancer, are good for your bones, help with immunity, help with digestion, help prevent body odor, help with your metabolism, are good for your eyes, help you lose weight, and so much more!

It is certainly worth popping into your garden rotation!

8 Amazing Turnips Benefits quick video

Turnips are cool weather crops for spring or autumn harvest. Autumn crops are often best for storage as well as taste. A light frost helps to improve the flavor of the maturing roots.

Basic Turnip Facts:

What is the germination time?

The seeds should germinate in 3 to 10 days at an optimal temperature of 70°F (21C) or thereabouts; germination will take longer in colder soil.

What is the growing season?

Since they are cool-weather vegetables that can be grown both in spring and fall, those are the times to focus on instead of summer.

What is the best growing temperature?

Turnips grow best in temperatures from 40°F to 75°F (7-24°C). They are best harvested before temperatures exceed 75°F (24°C)

What is the yield per plant?

If one plant gets you one turnip, it is often suggested to plant 5-10 turnips for each person who will be eating them.

How do you eat it?

You can eat turnips raw, but the taste is pretty strong. It can be good with dips or on a salad. Cooking them yields better results, and even the greens can be eaten.

Being related to cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli, they are subject to the same pests and diseases. To reduce problems, avoid planting turnips where any of these have been grown in the past two to three years.

To plant your turnip crop, you will need:

  • Turnip seeds
  • Compost
  • Garden fork
  • Hand cultivator
  • Sharp knife

Begin by digging the soil to a depth of 20-25cm. Spread a 5cm layer of compost over the bed and work into the top few centimeters of soil.

In late summer, sow the seeds 2cm apart and 1 cm deep in rows 23cm apart as the seedlings sprout, thin them to about 5-8 cm apart.

Shallowly cultivate the soil around the plants when the seedlings emerge and every two weeks thereafter. Keep the soil evenly moist.

Harvest the turnip greens with a very sharp knife as soon as they are tall enough.

Keep sowing the seed into the winter; these seeds will sprout and produce turnips that will be ready to harvest in spring.

Make sure you check out our other Gardening Tips!

Turnips are at their best when harvested as baby vegetables. Pull out the roots when they reach 5-8cm diameter.

When turnips are grown at temperatures above 25 degrees C, they will develop bitter greens and woody, bitter roots. For the best flavor and texture, grow them in cool weather with evenly moist, well-cultivated soil.

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When purchasing your seed:

             Buy seeds of two different turnip colors for variety. There is a Dutch variety that is mainly grown for its young green leaves and can be sown most of the year.

             Avoid buying turnip seedlings. Transplanting can stunt the growth of this fast-growing crop, leading to poor flavor.

The best conditions for planting turnips:

             Full sun. Turnips require a site with full sun in order to develop properly while thriving in cool weather.

             Rich, deep, well-drained soil. Turnips form the best roots in deeply prepared, loose soil that is kept evenly moist but not wet.

Harvesting advice:

             Turnips will keep best if you harvest them before a frost. Store them in a cool place in boxes full of damp sawdust or wet sand. The greens can be frozen successfully.

             Winter crops harvested after frost have the best flavor. In mild climates, plant in autumn and grow over winter.

Early autumn sowing seeds:

             Sow a few turnip seeds every two weeks, beginning when the weather cools so that you won’t have too many at once. Stop sowing at the end of winter, as crops harvested in summer are not as tasty and may bolt to seed.

Winter maintaining:

             Cultivate the soil around plants without disturbing the roots and water regularly to keep the turnips growing quickly. Begin harvesting after the roots reach a diameter of 5-8cm.

Spring harvesting:

             Continue harvesting the turnips as the weather starts to warm. Keep the soil moist and loose for fast growth. Follow the turnip crop planting with a leaf or vine crop.

A great picture of a metallic flea beetle courtesy of the Old Farmer’s Almanac

Metallic flea beetles are tiny, black, or brown insects that jump when disturbed and chew tiny, round holes in the leaves. To easily prevent flea beetle damage, cover the plants with landscaping fabric covers at planting time. Tuck in the edges all around the plants by covering them with soil.

Easy Turnip Recipe

OK, all I can think of is Queen Latifah’s movie Last Holiday when Gerard Depardu is talking about the poor misunderstood turnip.

So – they are very simple – as the “original potato” to steam and mash:

Turnips once were the “potatoes” in people’s diets. Turnips are easy to prepare and easy to eat…keep them small.

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