Turnips are popular, nutritious root vegetables. They are round, tuborous roots grown in many parts of Europe, and Asia as one of the cool-season vegetables. Botanically, they belong to Brassicaceae family, a broad family of greens and vegetables which also includes cabbage, kale, brussels-sprouts, etc.Although this bulbous root is widely recognised, its fresh green tops actually are more nutritious; indeed, several times richer in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
HOW TO GROW
- Plant in the spring or fall.Turnips thrive in cooler temperatures, so you should plant them when soil temperatures are still somewhat cool. For spring turnips, sow the seeds outdoors three weeks before the last expected frost. For fall turnips, sow the seeds in midsummer, roughly two months before the first expected frost of winter.
- The soil temperature needs to be an average of at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) for the seeds to germinate, but temperatures between 50 and 70 degrees (10 and 21 degrees Celsius) Fahrenheit encourage the most rapid growth.
- Fall turnips are typically sweeter than spring turnips, and they are also less likely to attract root maggots.
- Choose a good location.Turnips thrive in full sun, so the area you choose should receive at least six hours of direct sunlight daily, if not a little more.
- Ideally, you should also choose a spot with naturally loose, well-draining soil. You can improve the soil conditions if necessary, but starting out with good soil conditions will make your job easier.
- Also keep in mind that turnips prefer soils with a pH of 6.5. Most soils will not be too acidic or too alkaline, so testing is not always necessary. If you have difficulty with your turnip crop, though, consider testing the soil pH by taking a sample to your nearest university or by purchasing a home pH testing kit from a garden nursery or home improvement store.
- Improve the soil conditions.Loosen the soil with a rake or shovel to a depth of 12 to 15 inches (30 to 38 cm), then mix in a 2-inch to 4-inch (5-cm to 10-cm) layer of compost.
- For added benefit, consider mixing in a few handfuls of well rotted manure along with the compost.
- Scatter the seeds.Spread the seed across the prepared soil as evenly as possible. Cover the seed gently with 1/4 inch (6 mm) of soil for spring turnips or 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) of soil for fall turnips.
- Alternatively, you can plant the seeds in rows spaced 12 to 18 inches (30 to 45 cm) apart.
- Note that germination usually takes anywhere from 7 to 14 days.
- After planting the seeds, make sure that they are evenly watered. You do not want to drench the seeds since doing so can wash them out of the soil, but the surface of the soil should be somewhat moist to the touch.
5.Thin out the seedlings. When the seedlings reach a height of 4 inches (10 cm), pull the weakest ones so that the strongest have more room and resources. “Early” varieties should be thinned out so that they are 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) apart, while standard or “maincrop” varieties should be 6 inches (15 cm) apart.
- If you only want to grow turnips for their greens, however, you should not thin them out.
- Usually, the greens of the removed plants are large enough to use.
6.Water as needed. Turnips need 1 inch (2.5 cm) of water per week. Any less will cause the roots to become tough and bitter, but too much more can cause the turnips to rot.
- Monitor the rainfall in your area. During seasons of average rainfall, you may not need to do any additional watering. If the season is a dry one, though, you should water the turnips by hand.
- Add plenty of mulch.When the plants reach a height of 5 inches (12.7 cm), add a 2-inch (5-cm) layer of mulch around the greens.
- Mulch holds in moisture, and even moisture can encourage better growth and flavor.
- Additionally, mulch can help control and limit the number of weeds in your garden
8.Consider fertilizing the turnips. While not strictly necessary, a monthly application of mild, organic fertilizer can help strengthen the turnip root. Choose a fertilizer high in potassium and phosphorus rather than one high in nitrogen.
- Nitrogen fertilizers will cause the turnip greens to get very bushy, but the roots will suffer as a result.
- Look for fertilizers that also contain boron or apply a separate boron spray four to six weeks after sowing the seeds.
- Make sure that any fertilizer you use is food-safe.
- Instead of a fertilizer, you could apply a dose of compost teaonce a month or so.
- Remove any weeds.Any weeds that poke their way up through the mulch should be pulled by hand. Avoid using herbicides since the chemicals can get on the turnip plant, damaging it and making it unfit for human consumption.
Watch out for pests and fungi. Root maggots and flea beetles are among the most common pests you’ll need to worry about, while powdery mildew and downy mildew tend to be the most common forms of fungi.
- Root maggots are most often a problem when you grow turnips in soil that nurtured radishes, turnips, or rutabagas the previous year. To prevent root maggot infestations, rotate your crops and treat the soil with a food-safe insecticide labeled for use against root maggots.
- Keeping the soil pH above 6.0 can prevent most problems with mildew and other fungi, like club root. Periodically test the soil pH with a pH testing kit or by taking it to a local university extension office.
- Typically speaking, once turnip roots become infested by pests or fungi, there is not much you can do to save them. Your best option is to remove the infected plant and treat the soil as needed to destroy as much of the pest or fungi as possible. You may or may not be able to recover the rest of your turnip crop.
- Harvest the greens early on.As a general rule, you can harvest greens as soon as they are large enough to pick. Generally, this is when the green reach a height between 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm).
- As long as the growing points or nodes are not removed, the greens should regrow after harvesting them.
- If you want to harvest leaves and roots from the same plant, only remove two or three leaves per plant. If you remove all of the leaves, the root will die.
- Keep the beds weed free.
- Mulch heavily.
- Water at a rate of 25mm/1 inch per week to prevent the roots from becoming tough and bitter
- Root Maggots
- Flea Beetles
- Powdery Mildew
- Downy Mildew
- Turnips are very low calorie root vegetables; carry just 28 calories per 100 g. Nonetheless, they are very good source of anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins and dietary fiber.
- Fresh roots indeed one of the those vegetables that are rich in vitamin C. 100 grams of fresh root provides about 21 mg or 35% of DRA of vitamin C. Vitamin-C is a powerful water-soluble anti-oxidant required by the human body for synthesis of collagen. It also helps the body scavenge harmful free radicals, prevention from cancers, inflammation, and helps boost immunity.
- Turnip greens indeed are the storehouse of many vital nutrients. The green tops compose of many minerals and vitamins several times more than that in the roots. The greens are very good source of antioxidants such as vitamin A, vitamin C, carotenoid, xanthin, and lutein. Further, the leafy-tops are an excellent source of vitamin K.
- In addition, its top greens are also a very good source of B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid and thiamin and also an excellent source of important minerals like calcium, copper, iron, potassium, and manganese.