We are most familiar with the white and purple tennis ball-sized turnips commonly sold, but there is a good deal of variety, including small, tender radish-sized turnips. Turnips are in the Brassicaceae or mustard family and their green tops have a flavor that is similar to mustard greens. They have been cultivated for centuries.
- Leaves: Leaves are light green and slightly hairy. They grow into an elongated oval, with toothed or wavy edges.
- Flowers: The flowers are small and yellow. As with other Brassica plants, the 4 petals form a cross, which is why they are also referred to as cruciferous vegetables.
USDA Hardiness Zones:
Mature Plant Size:
When to Harvest:
Larger turnips can be baked or used in stews, but like most root vegetables, they are fantastic roasted. Older, woodier turnips can still be used for mashing or for soups and stews.
If you are going to store your turnips, remove the leaves first, or the leaves will continue to draw energy and nutrients from the bulbs. Use the greens ASAP. The bulbs can be stored in the fridge or any cool, dark place, for months.
- Alltop - Bred for its greens. Fast growing and will re-spout quickly after harvest. (35 days)
- Golden Ball Small, sweet yellow bulbs with a faint almond taste. (60 days)
- Purple Top White Globe - Most popular variety because it grows so well. (55 days)
- Scarlet Queen - Bright red outside, white inside. Slow to turn pithy (45 days )
- Shogoin - Grown for its broad, mild greens, but the bulb is also good. (45 days )
- Tokyo Cross - AAS winner. Very uniform, quick growing and slow to turn pithy. (35 days)
Soil: Turnips prefer a slightly acidic soil pH in the range of 6.0 to 6.5. Good soil fertility will help them grow quickly and make sure the soil is well-draining, so the bulbs don't rot.
Planting:Turnips grow best in cool weather and are direct seeded in the garden either in early spring or in the fall, about 70 days before your first frost date. Plant seeds about ½ inch deep.
When the plants are 3 - 4 inches tall, thin them to 2 - 4 inches apart. You can use the thinned out plants as greens.
For a prolonged harvest, succession plant every 10 - 14 days.
Maintenance:At least an inch of water per week is vital for good root development. Turnips need to grow quickly and regular water, along with a rich soil, will help them do that.
Since they grow so quickly, you shouldn't need to fertilize your plants. Just make sure the soil has plenty of organic matter in it, before you plant.
Pests & Problems:Diseases: Turnips are prone to all the usual problems associated with growing Brassicas, including: anthracnose, clubroot, leaf spot, scab, turnip mosaic virus, rhizoctonia rot, root knot and white rust. The best way to prevent these diseases is to avoid planting any Brassica in the same spot for more than 2 years in a row. For clubroot, waiting 6 years to grow Brassicas in the same area is recommended.
Insects: Insect pests include: Turnip aphids and flea beetles, which damage the greens. Row covers can be used to keep them off the leaves. Root maggots and wireworms cause more of a problem because they damage the bulbs.