How to Grow Turnips

Turnips are a versatile and nutritious vegetable that are easy to grow in your home garden. With a little bit of planning and attention, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of turnips to use in a variety of recipes. Here’s a guide on how to grow turnips successfully, from planting to harvesting and beyond.

Planting Instructions

Turnips prefer cool weather and can be grown in the spring or fall. In the spring, plant turnip seeds as soon as the soil can be worked in early spring, when temperatures are around 50°F. In the fall, plant seeds 6-8 weeks before the first expected frost. Turnips grow best in loose, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Choose a location that gets full sun to partial shade, and plant the seeds about ½ inch deep and 2-3 inches apart. Thin seedlings to 4-6 inches apart when they reach 2 inches tall.

Watering Requirements

Turnips need regular watering to ensure healthy growth. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged, and water deeply once or twice a week, depending on weather conditions. Inconsistent watering can lead to tough, bitter roots, so it’s important to keep the soil consistently moist.

Fertilizing Tips

Turnips are not heavy feeders and generally do not require a lot of fertilizer. However, if your soil is poor or lacking in nutrients, you may want to fertilize lightly with a balanced fertilizer at planting time. Avoid using too much nitrogen, as this can lead to large tops and small roots.

Pest Management

Turnips can be susceptible to pests such as flea beetles and root maggots. To prevent damage, cover the plants with floating row covers or insect netting. You can also plant turnips alongside companion plants such as marigolds, which can repel pests.

Disease Management

Turnips can be prone to diseases such as clubroot and powdery mildew. To prevent these diseases, rotate crops each year and avoid planting turnips in the same location for several years. Keep the soil well-drained and avoid overhead watering, which can promote the growth of fungal diseases.

Harvesting Instructions

Turnips are ready to harvest when the roots are about 2-3 inches in diameter and the tops are about 6-8 inches tall. You can also harvest turnip greens when they are young and tender. To harvest turnips, gently pull them out of the soil, being careful not to damage the roots. Cut off the tops and store the roots in a cool, dark place.

Storage Tips

Turnips can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks, or in a cool, dark place for several months. To prevent spoilage, store turnips in a perforated plastic bag to allow for air circulation.

Recipe Ideas

Turnips are a versatile vegetable that can be used in a variety of recipes. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Roasted turnips: Cut turnips into bite-sized pieces and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven at 400°F for 20-30 minutes, until tender and caramelized.
  • Turnip fries: Cut turnips into French fry shapes and toss with olive oil and seasoning. Bake in the oven at 425°F for 20-25 minutes, until crispy and golden brown.
  • Turnip and potato mash: Boil turnips and potatoes until tender, then mash with butter, milk, and seasoning for a tasty side dish.
  • Turnip and apple slaw: Shred turnips and apples and toss with a dressing made from olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, and mustard.

In conclusion, turnips are an easy and rewarding vegetable to grow in your home garden