How To Grow Turnips

This member of the Brassicaceae family is known as being a traditional Thanksgiving side dish. Turnips are so easy to grow and come in different varieties but purple and white are the most popular. You can grow the large ones, which can get as big as tennis balls, or try small turnips that resemble radishes.

How To Plant Turnips

Start: The best times to start turnips are either early in the spring or in the fall, about 70 days before the first fall frost. These need to be started from seed. Sow directly in the ground about 1/2 an inch deep. Once seedlings are around 3 inches high, thin them so they’re 2 to 4 inches apart.

Water: One inch of water per week ensures turnips grow healthy and fast.

Soil: Turnips like sandy soil that drains well—though it doesn’t hurt to mix it a little compost, too. pH 6.0 to 6.5

Light: Full sun.

Fertilize: Turnips are a fuss-free veggie that shouldn’t require fertilizing. However, if you have particularly poor soil, mixing a little bit of compost in before planting will provide plenty of nutrients.

Harvest: Both the greens and the roots can be harvested. If you want to harvest greens, wait until they’re 4 inches high, and then trim them, taking care not to damage the tops of the bulbs. The greens will grow back. Harvesting the roots depends on the variety. Most common turnips are harvested at around 2 to 3 inches in diameter, but smaller turnip varieties will be harvested at smaller sizes.

Notes: Pay close attention to the harvest time for the turnip variety you’ve chosen. Old turnips can be tough and woody, so make sure to harvest when the time is right!

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