Turnips are a root vegetable that belongs to the Brassicaceae family, which also includes other cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. The turnip itself is bulbous and usually white-skinned with a purple or green top, although there are other varieties that come in different colours. The turnip’s flesh is white, firm, and somewhat sweet when cooked, with a slightly bitter taste when raw. They are often eaten boiled, mashed, roasted, or as a part of stews, soups, or casseroles. Turnips are also used in some cultures to make pickles and fermented products. Turnips are a good source of vitamins, minerals, and fibre, and they are low in calories.
How to Grow Turnip Organically
- Choose a planting site: Turnips prefer full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil. It can be grown in containers or in the ground.
- Prepare the soil: Turnips prefer loose, fertile soil. Amend the soil with compost or other organic matter to improve fertility and drainage. Turnips prefer a soil pH between 6.0 and 7.5.
- Plant the seeds: Sow turnip seeds directly in the garden bed in the early spring or late summer. Plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep and 2-4 inches apart, or plant seedlings at the same spacing. Cover the seeds with soil and water gently.
- Thin the seedlings: Once the seedlings have emerged, thin them to a spacing of 4-6 inches apart.
- Water the plants: Turnips need consistent moisture to grow well. Water the plants regularly, especially during dry periods.
- Fertilize the plants: Turnips benefit from regular applications of balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10. Apply the fertilizer according to package instructions.
- Manage pests and diseases: Turnips are susceptible to a variety of pests and diseases, including flea beetles, aphids, and clubroot. Monitor your plants regularly and take action if you notice any signs of damage or disease.
- Harvest the turnips: Turnips are ready to harvest when they are 2-3 inches in diameter, usually 30-60 days after planting. Use a garden fork to gently lift the turnips out of the soil. Turnips can be stored in the refrigerator for up to several weeks.
By following these basic steps, you can grow your own turnips and enjoy their crisp, sweet flavour. Turnips are a versatile vegetable that can be eaten raw, roasted, boiled, or mashed.