The Ins and Outs of Growing Turnips
The turnip, a root vegetable grown in most temperate climates is known for its whites bulbous flesh just above its long taproot while its upper-side (exposed to sun) is either purplish or red; the interior is completely white. The taproot is quite thin and so long it must be trimmed before selling. When growing turnips, the smaller tender varieties are chosen; larger varieties are sold to farmers/rancher's or factories for livestock feed.
Eaten since prehistoric times, they grow wild in Siberia and are easily grown in the US if sown at the right time of the year. Though it is known more as a cool weather crop, growing turnips can last all season. Actually, there are varieties called summer turnips. The vegetable matures in roughly two months, so it is not hard to get several planting in per year-spring (for summer use), late summer and/or fall. Because they keep well in cool storage, they can be grown a bit larger in Ml and eaten all whiter long.
Turnip leaves are harvested and grown as turnip greens, and are similar to mustard greens in flavor. A common side dish, turnip greens are served throughout the southeast as part of a staple diet. Per 100g a turnip has 4.4g of carbohydrates, and 3.5g of dietary fat. There are good amounts of Vitamins A and C, folate and calcium as well as 350% of the body’s daily need for Vitamin K in the leaves, while the flesh is high in Vitamin C.
Such varieties as Just Right, Market Express, Scarlet Queen and Tokyo Cross can go from garden to table in 45 days or less, while the leaves of Alltop, Seven Top, Shogoin and Topper can be harvested in about the same amount of time. Consider the White Lady when growing turnips. They take longer but they are sweet, tender and slow to become pithy over time.
When growing turnips for summer use seeds should be planted as early as possible. They can be started indoors and transplanted or started directly in the garden in full sun. Plant ½ inch deep-about 10-12 seeds per foot, allowing a couple of feet between rows. Provide plenty of water while seedlings are geminating and thin seedlings to 2-4 inches apart selecting the best looking plants when they are between 4-6 inches tall. Turnips do best in a rich soil but will grow anywhere they are planted. Because turnips are root vegetables make sure soil is fairly loose and rock free. Remember. The turnips pulled while thinning are large enough for a side of greens for dinner.
When growing turnips for their greens, if you are careful and the growing points of leaves are not cut down too far during harvesting, the greens will continue to grow-or regrow. Plant seeds every 10 days or so for continuous greens harvesting. Cultivate between plants and keep weeds in check.
For fall harvesting, growing turnips is best when planted about 60 days before you expect the first frost of the year. These seeds can be planted in rows or broadcast in and between such crops as potato, beets and sweet corn. For this time of year be sure your seed beds are well worked. If broadcasting-rake the seeds into the ground and keep watered for good plant growth.
When harvesting spring turnips pull when tops are a suitable size. Growing turnips for fall harvesting, collect them when they are of medium size (2-3 inches in diam.). Some leave their crops in a little longer believing they will be sweetened by cooler weather. A heavy mulch of straw can prolong growing time into the early winter months.