How To Grow Turnips

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    PLANT TYPE: Annual
    SCIENTIFIC NAME: Brassica napus/Brassica rapa
    LIGHT: Full Sun
    SOIL TYPE: Rich, well-drained, deep sandy loam
    pH RANGE: 6.5
    MOISTURE/WATERING: Keep moist, not waterlogged
    MATURITY IN DAYS: 60 – 85
    KNOWN PESTS: Root maggots
    KNOWN DISEASES: Clubroot



    Turnip & Rutabaga are at their best about the time other vegetables in the garden are withering. If growing turnips mainly for the tasty tops, sow thickly and don’t thin to much. Harvest turnips and rutabagas when smaller for best flavor. For a winter crop, sow in late July or early August.

    “Rutabaga”, also called “swede” or “winter turnip”, is globe shaped with yellow flesh and maroon coloured skin. Commonly grown for winter storage. “Summer Turnip”, is flatter in shape, and the flesh is usually white and roots are harvested during the summer.


    Sow turnip thinly ¼-½” deep. Space young turnip plants to 4-6” apart in rows 24-30” apart. Sow turnip seed as early as the soil can be worked to mature crop for early market. For the main storage crop, plant turnips in late June or early July, so that roots can develop in the warmer weather. Late plantings are less susceptible to turnip root maggot damage.


    Turnip do well with the Onion family and peas.


    Turnip prefer full sun with a soil pH of 6.5. Turnip are moderate feeders; require a deep, loose cultivated soil with medium water retention. Apply generously, compost and well rotted manure prior to planting. Turnips benefit from regular feedings with a compost tea or fertilizer with higher amounts of phosphorous and potassium for good root development. Boron is a key trace element for the prevention of Brown Heart (water core). (Boron may also be applied separately as a spray 4-6 weeks after planting).


    Turnips (summer): when they reach 3” in diameter. Rutabagas (winter): when roots are 4” in diameter up until they are 5-6”. You can leave your rutabagas in the ground until just before it freezes. Sweet flavour of rutabagas is enhanced by light frosts.


    Clubroot can develop where turnips or cole crops have been frequently grown and will remain in the soil for 7 or more years. Clubroot thrives in acidic soil, keep the soil pH above 6.0. Practice good crop rotation. Root maggots in turnips can be avoided early in the season by covering plants with row covers.

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