Turnip has a long history of growing, and without doubt is among the most tasty vegetables.
Top turnip facts
Name – Brassica rapa or napus
Family – Brassicaceae
Type – vegetable
Height – 8 to 16 inches (20 to 40 cm)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – humus-rich, well-drained
Harvest – April to December
From sowing to harvesting, caring and preserving, every step is important and helps produce quality turnips.
- Read also: turnip health benefits
Sowing and planting turnip
Cultivate turnips from spring to fall to provide for food almost all year round.
Season for sowing turnip
Sowing turnips is best indoors from February onwards or directly in the ground from April to September.
- Sow spring and summer varieties from March to June.
- Sow fall and winter varieties from July to September or even October if you start your seedlings indoors.
Sowing turnip correctly
- Turnips love rather rich soil, so adding manure in fall of the preceding year is good.
- Bury the seeds around ½ inch (1 to 2 cm) deep and cover with soil mix or light earth.
- Thin and space to 4 inches (10 cm) apart as soon as the first leaves appear (2 to 3 weeks after sowing, depending on growing conditions).
Caring for turnip
- It is important to keep the soil slightly moist, especially during hot summer days.
- Turnips are vegetables that like cool soil, and watering with fine drops or drizzle cools the ground well.
- Thick mulch in the summer retains moisture in the soil and avoids weed growth.
Video on growing turnip
Diseases and parasites that attack turnips
Turnip flea beetle
The most common parasite attacking turnips is the turnip flea beetle. This is a small black flea that drills small holes in turnip leaves and can have a devastating impact on your harvest if you don’t catch the infestation early enough.
- Flea beetles don’t like moisture, so watering leaves morning and evening can hinder their spread seriously.
- Regularly spray water on the leaves.
- Insect-proof mesh is an essential tool in fighting flea beetles.
Turnip root fly (also called the summer cabbage fly)
Parent flies lay eggs near the root crown of turnips, which hatch into larvae that burrow underground and feed on the roots.
- Destroy plants that have been infested because they will not mature anymore.
- Plant herbs and spices nearby such as thyme or rosemary or fennel.
- Set up yellow glue traps to catch laying flies early in the spring.
This white butterfly also lays eggs on turnip leaves, but caterpillars will only attack air-born parts. If you catch these caterpillars, the main root harvest will be safe!
Slugs and turnip
Slugs definitely love turnip leaves, and they can destroy an entire production in just a few days.
- Set up organic slug traps
Blight in turnip
Blight is one of the most devastating diseases for turnips. In the summer, heat and high moisture spur the growth of this fungus.
- As a curative treatment if plants are already contaminated, the only solution to keep blight from spreading is to destroy sick plants.
- As a preventive treatment, spraying regularly with Bordeaux mixture may protect against the spread of blight.
This is a disease that causes yellowing on leaves. Aphids spread the virus, and leaves develop chlorotic yellow spots. It can infect all cabbages and lettuce.
There isn’t any treatment, so do your best to control aphids.
How to correctly harvest turnip
Harvest turnip around 2 months after sowing for spring and summer varieties, and 3 months after for winter turnips.
During the harvest, turnips must feel firm and heavy, and they must be harvested ripe for them to really stand out once cooked.
Spring and summer turnip are best harvested just when you plan to eat them; they will also keep well in a cool and ventilated place.
- Pull them out preferably in dry weather.
Fall and winter turnip are also best harvested ripe, but to extend their keeping you can put them away in dark, cool and ventilated place.
Companion planting and crop rotating with turnip
The best way to avoid diseases is to enhance your turnips’ defense mechanisms through companion planting and crop rotation.
Turnips DREAD growing near garlic.
Turnips LOVE growing near thyme, rosemary, lettuce and pea.
For crop rotation, the best thing to do, especially to fight flea beetle, is to plant turnips and rutabaga in alternate years.
But turnips are vegetables that heavily drain soil nutrient reserves and it’s best to wait 3 years before planting turnips in the same spot.
Turnips keep easily over several weeks, preferably in a cellar or in a cool room.
To keep winter turnips best, leave them in the ground until January, at least those that have been sown as late as possible.
If you only need to keep them a few days, the vegetable rack in your refrigerator is fine.
- If you bury them in dry river sand, they will keep longer still.
Therapeutic value and health benefits of turnip
Native to Asia, it is said that turnips are excellent in treating winter infections and also have a positive effect on skin.
Turnips are full of water, fiber-rich and harbor very few calories, which make them ideal vegetables for bowel functions.
Boasting high potassium content, turnips help prevent common ailments such as the flu or bronchitis.
When cooked, their many flavors flourish around the palate and if freshly picked they don’t even need any peeling. They then melt in the mouth.
Turnips are also delicious in soups, roots of course, but also leaves which you can blend into delicious turnip leaf soup.
- Health: health benefits of turnip
Smart tip about turnip
Beware of letting the ground dry up, water generously during the hotter months. Small turnips do not like heat waves. Plant them near tomatoes or pole beans for shade.
Don’t throw the leaves away but eat them in delicious soups.
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