How to Grow Turnips

I don't care much for turnips but here's a bit of information for your to grow and harvest your own turnip roots and greens:

The turnip is a biennial which means it grows in one summer, hides a little during the winter, and flowers the next season. It's usually considered an annual, though.

The leafy stems may get 1-2 feet tall and the root (the actual turnip) could get up to a foot in diameter. (We're using the term "root" lightly as it's not an actual root but a swollen part of the stem).

Americans prefer to grow 'Purple Top White Globe' for the roots and 'Seven Top' for the turnip greens, but there are a plethora of varieties to choose from - it depends on what color and taste you prefer.

The turnip has been "gardened" by humans for a long time - some say more than 4,000 years! North America discovered them in the late 1500's.

How to Grow:
In a square foot raised bed, you can plant 9 turnip seeds per square foot - spaced 4 inches apart. Turnips can grow in almost any soil, if it isn't too hard or too wet, but should be near-neutral PH. They need full sun, and a deep watering once a week (otherwise they could bolt prematurely). Very cold tolerant, and can tolerate frost and moderate freezes (down to around 15 degrees F). These are a cool-weather crop, so plant in very early Spring (now is a good time) or in late Summer to mature in the cool Autumn.

Sow turnip seeds thickly. Cover with about 1/4 inch of soil; water well. Germination may happen in less than a week.

IF growing for roots, thin seedlings to 6 inches apart when they are 3-6 inches tall. Eat the seedlings (wash first!) in salads or steam.

USDA Zones 3-10.
Grow fast and pick young because as the weather warms, the greens (tops) will get bitter and the roots (turnip) will become stringy and woody. Frost improves the flavor.

Greens are ready to harvest in 5-7 weeks - just take a few leaves from each plant so that it will continue to produce more leaves, and will continue to grow the turnip. Harvest roots in another 2-3 weeks. Note: if growing in the Autumn, can leave the turnip in the ground if it doesn't freeze solid.

Eat the little seedlings raw in salads or steam like spinach with onions and served with ham.

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