Turnips are an easy to grow cool season root crop whose tops can be picked and used as greens as well as harvesting the root. Both the leaves and root can be eaten either cooked or raw.
There are several different varieties some that are breed especially for use as greens
Some others that will yield a good harvest of both tops and roots. The Purple Top White Globe variety being a classic example of this dual purpose vegetable.
The best turnips, both greens and root are got from sowing seeds in mid to late summer for harvesting in the cooler fall and early winter months. When growing turnips for winter use these turnip roots also store better.
Turnips are a cool season vegetable growing best in the cool of early spring and fall. they are very frost hardy and can be planted as soon as 2 - 4 weeks before the average date of the last 32 F (0 C) freeze in the spring in your area but not before soil temperatures are consistently 40 F (4 C) and above.
They like a sunny position, but will tolerate partial shade, however you'll have to wait longer for a full crop. They require a minimum of 4-6 hours of direct sunlight daily.
Turnips prefer to grow in a well drained, fertile soil high in organic matter. They can tolerate slightly alkaline soil. All root crops like a well dug bed to encourage good root development.
Direct sow only
Direct sowing turnip seeds - 1/2 inch (12 mm) deep - 1 inch (25 mm) apart in rows 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) apart .
Sowing turnips seeds thickly in the home garden allows you to harvest plenty of fresh greens for both salads and as a cooked vegetable.
The most important aspects of caring for turnips are;
Direct sowing turnip seeds is the only viable option so they will need to thinned. Thin to 3-5 inches (7-12 cm) apart in rows 12-18 inches (30-45 cm) apart
When picking greens for use, combine harvesting and thinning as one operation by removing the whole plant. This gives the turnip roots room to grow and the young roots are super sweet cooked or raw.
Consistent moisture is the big factor when growing any vegetable turnips are no exception. Say yes to garden mulch.
2 weeks before sowing apply 2-3 quarts per 100 sq feet (2.2-3.3 liters per 9.3 square meters) of All-Purpose 5-5-5 Organic Fertilizer. Side-dress with the same rate as the roots are beginning to swell.
Crop rotation is very important with all members of the Brassicaceae family. These include Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, collards, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radish, turnips, and of course, all forms of cabbage. Allow at least 2-4 years between growing any members of this large vegetable group in the same garden bed.
Aphids, Root maggots, flea beetle.
Club root, Downy Mildew, Powdery Mildew.
Harvest turnip leaves for cooked or salad greens as soon as they are big enough to eat. Make sure to leave the root with enough leaves to continue growing.
Turnip root can be harvested from 1-2 months after being sown.
Once the turnip roots are about 2 inches (5 cm) across, start pulling every second one, using the young tender turnips for your immediate needs and leaving the others to mature for storage.
When harvesting roots for storage pull roots and twist off the tops, leaving about 1/2 inch of stem.
For short term storing do not wash the leaves and keep them in the refrigerate, will store for 3-5 days but are best use as soon as possible.
Store turnips long term do not wash and place in a cool damp place, they will keep for up to three months.