Turnip lovers prize its deliciously sweet and tender white roots. The turnips are often 4" and sometimes 6" across, handsomely blushed with pink to purple at the crown. Young leaves make the classic cooked 'southern greens'.
How to Sow
Sow seeds in well-worked soil in full sun in early spring and again in late summer for a fall crop. In frost free areas, sow in fall. Do not plant cabbage family members in the same place 2 years in a row.
Roots benefit from soil that is light, loosened deeply, and free of stones. Consider using a soil amendment such as composted organic matter if the soil is heavy.
Prepare the bed by turning the soil under to a depth of 8 inches. Level with a rake to remove clumps of grass and stones.
Sow thinly in rows 1½-2 feet apart and cover with ½ inch of fine soil.
Firm lightly and keep evenly moist.
Seedlings emerge in 7-14 days.
This to stand about 4 inches apart when seedlings are 1-2 inches high.
How to Grow
Keep weeds under control during the growing season. Weeds compete with plants for water, space and nutrients, so control them by either cultivating often or use a mulch to prevent their seeds from germinating. Avoid disturbing the soil around the plants when weeding.
Keep plants well watered during dry periods to promote rapid, uninterrupted growth. Plants need about 1 inch of rain per week during the growing season. Use a rain gauge to check to see if you need to add water. It’s best to water with a drip or trickle system that delivers water at low pressure at the soil level. If you water with overhead sprinklers, water early in the day so the foliage has time to dry off before evening, to minimize disease problems. Keep the soil moist but not saturated.
Monitor for pests and diseases. Check with your local Cooperative Extension Service for pest controls recommended for your area.
Harvest and Preserving Tips
For turnip greens, pick 4 weeks after sowing or wait until the roots develop and harvest turnip roots when they reach 2-3 inches in diameter, no less than 30 days after sowing.
If grown in spring, be sure to harvest roots before hot weather arrives so they will not grow too large or woody and pithy. Harvest fall turnips after a frost for a sweeter flavor. To extend your harvest in fall, mulch heavily in the fall to keep the ground soft.
Eat turnips raw or cooked. The thinned turnip seedlings are also delicious on top of sandwiches or salads. Rinse thoroughly before use.
Turnips may be stored two weeks in the refrigerator or 8-10 months in the freezer after blanching. Keep away from raw meat and meat juices. Turnips may also be canned.