Summer turnips are great for salads, pickles, and stir-fries. The mild, crunchy roots are a refreshing addition to salads, as are the edible leaves. Turnips are easy to grow at just about any time of the season, and they work in farm rows and patio containers. Continue reading below to learn some top tips on how to grow turnips from seed.
Brassica rapa var. rapa
Season: Cool season
Exposure: Full sun
Direct sow short rows starting just after the last frost date, through summer, and into the fall. Where winters are mild they can be started right into October. Optimal soil temperature for germination: 18-21°C (66-70°F). Seeds should sprout in 7-14 days.
Sow 5mm-1cm (¼-½”) deep in rows spaced 60cm (24″) apart, and thin to 15-20cm (6-8″) apart in the row.
Ideal pH: 6.0-6.8. Humus-rich, deeply cultivated soil is key. Add plenty of well rotted compost or manure to the beds and cultivate to a depth of 20cm (8″). Dig in 1 cup of complete organic fertilizer for every 3m (10′) of row. The real secret to success with turnips is speed. Sow short rows every 2-3 weeks, thin them quickly, keep them watered, harvest, and then sow some more.
Gather greens and roots throughout summer as needed. Their immature seed pods are also tasty.
At least 80% of seeds will germinate in optimal conditions. Usual seed life: 4 years. Per 100′ row: 300 seeds, per acre: 87M seeds.
Diseases & Pests
Remember that turnips are members of the Brassica family, so they should not be planted where other Brassicas have been grown in the past 4 years. This simple crop rotation will prevent nearly all diseases from occurring in the first place. Floating row cover will protect plants from cabbage moth and flea beetles.
Turnips are easy going, but benefit from mint and pea companions.
More on Companion Planting.