The humble rutabaga is often called a turnip, but rutabagas are much more useful in the kitchen, are more nutritious, and they store well. Amazing yields of flavourful roots are possible in a small space. Introduce rutabagas on dip trays (like carrot sticks), soups and stews, and raw in lunch boxes. Continue reading below for some of our top tips on how to grow rutabagas from seed.
We Recommend: Laurentian (RU692) has been a West Coast Seeds favourite for decades. It’s hard to imagine improving on this reliable workhorse.
Season & Zone
Season: Cool season
Exposure: Full sun
Direct sow rutabaga seeds during the period three weeks before or after the summer solstice. Optimal soil temperature: 18-21°C (65-70°F). Seeds should sprout in 7-15 days.
Sow seeds 5mm-1cm (¼-½”) deep in rows 60-75cm (24-30″) apart. Thin seedlings to 15-20cm (6-8″) apart in each row.
Days to Maturity: From direct sowing.
Ideal pH: 6.0-6.8. Rutabagas are moderate to heavy feeders that do best in rich, loamy soil amended with composted manure. Add 1 cup complete organic fertilizer beneath each 3m (10′) of row. Lime beds several weeks before planting. Rutabagas appreciate lots of organic matter in the soil. Water generously in hot, dry weather.
Pull up rutabagas when they are larger than tennis balls. Store in paper bags in a cool, dry place. Storing in dry sand or peat moss may conserve moisture and freshness. Otherwise, leave in the ground for fall harvesting. Rutabaga leaves are also tasty and nutritious.
At least 60% of seeds should germinate in optimal conditions. Usual seed life: 4 years. Per 100′ row: 300 seeds, per acre: 65.4M seeds.
Diseases & Pests
Use a floating row cover to protect seedlings from root maggots and flea beetles. Full sized plants are not badly damaged by these insects.