When to harvest turnips?

How Long Do Turnips Take To Grow: sow to harvest

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In this article i will be covering how to grow Turnips (and Swedes), how long do turnips take to grow and how to nurture them through the early (risky) period and the pests and diseases you may encounter along the way.


Turnips and swedes are similar vegetables although slightly different. A turnip usually grows smaller in size and more oval in shape, it has a whiteish underbelly with either a purple or green top but inside it will have a white flesh.


Swedes are normally larger in size with a yellow creamy coloured bottom and a purple top. Swedes grow more round than turnips and have a yellow flesh inside. As the season progresses this will become more orange and flavourful.

Soil Conditions

Both swedes and turnips like to be planted in the same type of soil conditions. Well drained but not dry, they need only moderate amounts of fertilizer to grow well. If your ground is too strong (highly nutritious in fertilizer) you will have growth cracks in the turnips and swedes.


The plot where you will grow your turnips and swedes should be in well drained soil, dug down to a depth of 8 to 10 inches and be free of grass clods and weeds. The soil should be tilled to a fine tilth and rowed into straight rows 24” apart from the centre of one drill to the centre of the other.

The seeds should be placed along the drill every 6” apart and pushed in 1 to 2” into the soil.

See the Webb precision sower in action here:

How long do turnips take to grow?

Depending on the climate and temperature it takes turnips around 60 days to grow. You can pull them from the ground after 30 days but they will be very small – 1″ to 2″ in diameter. A turnip is better left in the ground for at least 60 days, as it will allow for more flavour to develop in the root and prevents it from tasting too watery or bland. Swedes prefer an even longer growing season – with many requiring 90 days before developing to full flavoured maturity.

Weeds in turnips

If you can get your hands on a pre emergence weed spray (herbicide) it would be a really good idea to spray this on 1 to 2 days after sowing. If you do not use a weed spray you must be on high alert to hoe any weeds away from the turnips or swedes when they are developing. Within a week you will see the new seedling appear above the soil.

Above- Two weeks after sowing.

These young plants must be kept free of weeds. If not the weeds will smother them and you crop will be lost. I cannot stress how important is is to keep your turnips and swedes clear of weeds at this early stage. You are in the clear when their leaves are able to meet along the drills. It can now be assumed they have beat the weeds.

See our modified horse drawn turnip hoe (weeder) in action!

Boron Deficiency

Swedes and Turnips are both susceptible to boron deficiency. This causes dark brown strings that run through the flesh which leaves it unmarketable. This does not ruin the turnip for eating -it can be cut out before cooking. It is unsightly and can cause alarm to people who do not know what it is. Usually this results in the turnip or swede being deemed bad or rotten which is not actually the case.

You should get your soil analysis checked and ask if it comes with a boron reading. This can tell you if your soil is low or high in boron, although soil sampling is not a very reliable method. It is rarely high and I would advise you to add boron twice minimum during the growing season. I would apply boron as a spray as uptake of boron is limited in dry soil conditions.

The best advice I would give to applying boron is spray it on four times during the growing season. Little and often has been shown to be the most effective method of application.


A young newly developing turnip or swede has very appealing leaves to rabbits. They are sweet and juicy, so it is usually a good idea to sow your turnips and swedes away from potential danger areas. Hedges and ditches are where rabbits have burrows, so try to avoid these areas.

If you have only one area to sow your seeds, keep them closest to your house away from the ditch or hedge. Wild rabbits do not like to be visible to humans.

Garlic Spray

Another way of dealing with rabbits is to spray garlic extract over the turnips or swede sown area. This acts as a repellent to the rabbits although in my experience it should be re applied after a few days to keep it effective. I have noticed that the garlic spray does work, but that the sown area should be monitored closely for rabbit activity during these early stages.

The other thing to note is that the garlic spray is really pungent. Keep this in mind if you might be using it near a residential area where you could receive complaints.

Cabbage Root Fly

The Cabbage Root Fly lay their larve up to 4 times during the growing season from April to September. They lay their larve around the base of the swedes or turnips , these larve burrow into the roots of the plant and eat worm like paths all around the roots and the base of the plant. This is unsightly at best when the bulb of the plant is large but if the plant is young it can kill it.

Depending on when you sow your swede or turnip seeds you can avoid the worst attack which occurs in April to May. It is always better to sow your crop at the end of May start of June.


For those who rely on their Turnip or Swede crop for an income, a finely woven crop fleece is placed over the whole plot soon after sowing. Next the edges are buried into the soil around the perimeter to provide a complete fly proof screen to stop the cabbage root fly laying its larve on the soil. This is a great solution and I would advise anyone who can get some to use it.


After the turnips have emerged and you have weeded them, the fleece is on and they are closing the drills. If you continue with your spraying program for boron, that is about all you need to do. The Turnips will be ready for harvesting in September or when they are the right size for your needs. All the work in turnips or swedes goes in the first month- after that is just applying boron and letting them grow out. Great vegetable which keeps in the ground through all weathers. Good Luck.

Tips For Turnips Growing In Your Garden

Many gardeners love to grow turnip roots in their garden. Like any root vegetable, turnips (Brassica campestris L.) do well along with carrots and radishes. They are easy to care for and can be planted either in the spring, so you have turnips all summer, or in late summer for a fall crop. Let’s look at how to grow turnips.

How to Grow Turnips

If you are planting a summer crop, plant the turnips early. If you are planting so you can have turnips to store throughout the winter, plant late in the summer to harvest turnips before first frost.

Turnips generally require a full sun location but will tolerate partial shade, especially if you plan on harvesting the plant for its greens.

Preparing the bed to grow turnip plants in is easy. Just rake and hoe it as usual for planting. Once you’re done and the dirt isn’t too wet, sprinkle the seeds and gently rake them in. Growing turnips should be done with seeds in the soil about 1/2 inch deep at a rate of three to 20 seeds per foot. Water immediately after planting to speed germination.

Once you find your turnips growing, thin the plants to about 4 inches (10 cm.) apart to give the plants plenty of room to form good roots.

When planting turnips, plant them at ten-day intervals, which will allow you to grow turnips for harvesting every couple of weeks throughout the season.

Harvesting Turnips

Come summertime, about 45 to 50 days after planting, you can pull a turnip up and see if it’s ready for harvest. Start harvesting turnips once you find a mature turnip.

If you have summer turnips, they are more tender. Growing turnips to produce in late fall produces a hardier variety that stores well in the drawer in the refrigerator or a cool, dry place. You can use them throughout the winter.

Having a vegetable crop you can actually use throughout the winter is a nice thing when you have a garden. Harvesting turnips can make a great root cellar vegetable for storing along with carrots, rutabagas and beets.

Time To Sow Some Turnips!

Looking for a low-maintenance crop that can be harvested in a short amount of time? Look no further than turnips, the cool-season biennial root vegetable you can harvest in both the spring and fall.

When to Sow Seeds

Sow turnip seeds early in the spring — or as soon as you’re able to work the soil again — for a late spring harvest. This tends to be about two to three weeks before the final frost of the season. By that point, the soil should have warmed to at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, you can also sow turnips late in the summer for a fall harvest. In fact, the temperatures during that time of year (between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit) may cause them to grow even more rapidly than those sown in the early spring.
Regardless of when you sow the seeds, you have to be sure to sow them directly into the ground, as turnips typically don’t like to be transplanted. The seeds should germinate a few days after that, and they’ll be ready to harvest in about five to ten weeks. To enjoy their stems as you would other greens like kale, you’ll want to harvest them as soon as they start to appear. Both turnip roots and greens are full of nutrients. Enjoy them either raw or cooked.

Things to Consider When Planting

If you’d like to sow turnips in your garden, section off an area that receives partial to full sun and drains well (since turnips are root crops, they don’t tend to do well in moist soil). They grow best in loamy, nutrient-rich soil. Loosen the top 12 to 15 inches up and amend it with manure or compost. If your soil tends to be clay-based, try adding some sand to it to improve its texture.
To sow the seeds, simply scatter them over the soil. Rake them in, but don’t bury them, as they shouldn’t be covered by more than a half-inch of soil. If you prefer to plant them in rows, sprinkle them in lines over the ground. If you’re worried about the lines being straight, just use a string. Space your rows a foot apart, and water them right after sowing to help kick-start germination, which usually takes a week or two. Keep the soil evenly watered throughout the growing season.
After the seedlings have sprouted and are about four inches tall, thin them until only the strongest sprouts remain. You’ll want at least four inches between sprouts, but if you’re hoping to harvest greens later on, you may want to leave them just a few inches apart. You don’t need to thin the greens if you plan to use the greens.
It’s important to keep your garden free from weeds, which will rob your turnips of essential nutrients. Although these veggies can get by on rainfall, it’s a good idea to give them about an inch of water a week for a strong and healthy crop. Above all else, make sure that the plants get a balanced amount of water — too much will cause their roots to rot, and too little will cause them to become tough.

If you live in a zone that tends to stay relatively cool during the summer, you have the option of growing turnips in succession. Plant more seeds every 10 days, and you’ll be able to harvest the roots all throughout the growing season.

Fertilize with Care

Gardeners tend to fertilize their crops to improve the health and taste of the things they grow. Turnips will grow best if an organic fertilizer is applied to them every month. Although nitrogen tends to make their leaves full and green, their roots are not so robust. Choose a food-safe fertilizer that’s high in potassium and phosphorous instead. Better yet, apply compost tea to your plants to give them a more balanced dose of nutrients.

Pests and Diseases

A few pests tend to like turnips, including root maggots, flea beetles, and aphids. Turnips are also prone to diseases like powdery and downy mildew. If you’d like to steer clear these inconveniences, avoid growing your turnips in the spots you’ve recently grown radishes or rutabagas in. Crop rotation also prevents these pests from flourishing. Remember that seeds sown in the early fall tend to suffer less from these issues than those sown earlier in the year.
What happens if your turnips become infested with pests and diseases? While you may not be able to save the affected plants, you can save those around them by removing all diseased plant matter and treating the soil around it.

When to Harvest

If it’s the turnips’ leaves you’re after, you’ll want to harvest them early on, when they’re tender and taste best. You can harvest the roots whenever you wish. While early varieties are ready after a month, others can be harvested in six weeks. Keep in mind that smaller roots are usually tenderer than large ones.
To see how big a root is, brush some of the soil away from its plant. If you planted all of your seeds at the same time, chances are that all of the turnips will be ready to pull when it looks like one of them is.
Turnips can be stored for up to four months if kept in a cool, dry spot like a basement or garage. Twist the tops off, but resist the urge to wash them, as the dirt may actually protect them. Be sure to cover them with straw before storing them in an any cool spot. You can also store them in the refrigerator.

Guide to White Turnips: How to Select, Store, and Cook

Photo: Greg Dupree

Winter white turnips peak from October through February. They look like oversized radishes with a cream-colored or purple-tinged skin. Unlike peppery radishes, white turnips have a delicate, sweet flavor similar to baby turnips (larger turnips can be tough and woody). The sweetness comes from natural sugars, which caramelize beautifully when roasted; keep an eye on the pan and stir occasionally to prevent over-browning. If your turnips come with greens, you’re in luck! These are also delicious. Trim the delicate stalks from the leaves before simmering.

How to Select

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Choose turnips with blemish-free skin. The roots should still be attached, but trim them off when you’re ready to cook. Bonus if the greens are also attached—they’re delicious, too.

How to Store

Turnip bulbs will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Trim the more perishable greens from the bulb right away—use a sharp knife to cut them off at the base where the stems and the bulb intersect. Store the greens separately for up to three days, wrapped in a towel to chill in the crisper drawer.

How to Prep

Peel away the purple-and-white skin with a vegetable peeler or paring knife if you like, but with small turnips, the skin is tender enough to leave on.

See Recipe: Braised Turnips with Greens

Turnips are great candidates for a variety of cooking methods: roasting, braising, sautéing, and steaming. You can also thinly shave or julienne them to use raw in salads. Try the recipe above to incorporate both bulb and greens in one dish.


Turnip, (Brassica rapa, variety rapa), also known as white turnip, hardy biennial plant in the mustard family (Brassicaceae), cultivated for its fleshy roots and tender growing tops. The turnip is thought to have originated in middle and eastern Asia and is grown throughout the temperate zone. Young turnip roots are eaten raw in salads or pickled, and the young leaves may be cooked and served. The roots are also cooked and served whole or mashed and are used in stews. Though sometimes called yellow, or wax, turnips, rutabagas (Brassica napus, variety napobrassica) are a different species.

turnipsTurnips (Brassica rapa, variety rapa).Peter Presslein

The turnip root is formed by the thickening of the primary root of the seedling together with the base of the young stem immediately above it. The stem remains short during the first year and bears leaves that form a rosettelike bunch at the top of the root. The leaves are grass-green and bear rough hairs. If left to grow a second season, the bud in the centre of the rosette forms a strong, erect, branched stem bearing somewhat glaucous (having a waxy coating), smooth leaves. Stem and branches end in clusters of small cross-shaped bright yellow flowers, which are succeeded by smooth elongated short-beaked seed pods.

  • Swedish turnip, or rutabaga (Brassica napus).Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
  • turnipBunch of organic turnip roots (Brassica rapa, variety rapa).© STUDIO GRAND OUEST/iStock.com

The turnip is a cool-season crop but does not require a long growing season. In mild climates, turnips are sown either in early spring or in late summer and develop rapidly enough to produce a crop before extremes of summer or late fall weather occur. It is sometimes grown as a fodder crop for cattle.

All About Root Vegetables: Turnips, Rutabagas and Parsnips

With recipes for

  • Mashed Parsnips with Roasted Leeks and Nutmeg
  • Roasted Winter Vegetables with Basil Oil
  • Turnip, Potato and Parsnip Gratin
  • Clay Pot Curried Winter Vegetable Stew

Mashed Parsnips with Roasted Leeks and NutmegRoasted Winter Vegetables with Basil OilTurnip, Potato and Parsnip GratinClay Pot Curried Winter Vegetable Stew

There was a time when asparagus wasn’t available in December, lettuce in January and zucchini in February. It was a time – and this is most of recorded history in temperate climates – when people had to stock up on the earth toned vegetables of fall to last them through the winter. No greens, few reds, but a lot of whites, browns, yellows and oranges.

These are root vegetables for which a special place was made: the root cellar. We’ll talk another time about other root vegetables – potatoes, onions and the like – but this space is reserved for those hard-core root vegetables that aren’t quite as glamorous – turnips, rutabagas and parsnips.

Root vegetables are often referred to as lowly, more of an indication of their status than of their location. When someone questions your intelligence, the appropriate response might be, “Hey man, I didn’t just fall off a turnip truck.” And then there are the stories of families so destitute they are reduced to eating turnips.

James Beard said that parsnips were one of our “most neglected” vegetables, though he personally loved them and preferred them to sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving.

But root vegetables are experiencing a kind of renaissance. Not long ago, Joel Patraker, the Special Projects manager of the Greenmarkets in New York City was waxing poetically on the radio about rutabagas. And one of the signature dishes at the Union Square Cafe, one of New York City’s best restaurants, is creamy mashed turnips (they actually use rutabagas) with crispy shallots. Chef Michael Romano says he also likes to make parsnip pancakes as a side vegetable with roast venison.

So it looks like those subterranean Rodney Dangerfields are finally getting some respect. As the authors of the fine book “The Essential Root Vegetable Cookbook,” Sally and Martin Stone, put it “…we forget that the most expensive, glamorous, exotic, rare and idealized foodstuff of all, the truffle, is truly a buried treasure.” Treasure, indeed. I hope this article on root vegetables is the shovel to help you dig up your own.


Before there was agriculture, there was the turnip. That’s how old the turnip is. Turnips were cultivated some 5,000 years ago and may have been eaten as long as 5,000 years before that. Turnips were as important to the Romans as potatoes were to the Incas. But while turnips are still used often in Europe, one would hardly call them important today.

The history of the rutabaga is much shorter. In the early part of the 17th century, Swiss botanist Casper Bauhin crossed a cabbage with a turnip and got a rutabaga, sometimes called a yellow turnip. It became popular in northern Europe and, in fact, derives its name from the Swedish rotabagge. (Rutabagas are sometimes called swedes.) But the rutabaga hasn’t yet found similar success in the United States. Nor is it universally liked in Europe. The French, for example think the rutabaga is not much better than animal feed.

Regardless of where the parsnip originated – there are estimates from the Eastern Mediterranean to Northern Europe to Asia – it became a popular vegetable with ancient Greeks and Romans, the latter often preferring them for dessert with honey and fruit. The popularity of parsnips spread to the rest of Europe and it remained a mainstay of the European table until the potato supplanted it in the 18th century. Parsnips came to America with English colonials but never reached the kind of widespread appeal it once achieved in Europe.


The major turnip and rutabaga producing states are California, Colorado, Indiana, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Texas and Washington. A significant amount of both is imported from Canada. Parsnips are also grown in Canada as well as in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.


Both rutabagas and turnips are members of the mustard family. All turnips have a snowy white flesh. The differences in varieties mostly involve outside coloring and size. Some have reddish rings around the crown of the vegetable, others purple. Flavors are essentially the same although larger turnips (3 or more inches in diameter) which appear later in the winter tend to be more pungent than the smaller (11/2 to 2 inches) turnips that appear earlier in the season. Major turnip varieties include Purple top, White Globe, White Egg, Golden Ball, Amber and Yellow Amberdeen.

Instead of white flesh, rutabagas have a yellow-orange flesh that, like yellow-flesh potatoes, give an impression of richness or butteriness. They’re also sweeter and denser than turnips with less moisture. On the outside rutabagas are half yellow-orange, while the other half is burgundy or purple. To increase their shelf life, most rutabagas are waxed. Commercially available rutabagas tend to be larger than turnips. The three main rutabaga varieties are American Purple Top, Laurentian and the Thomson Strain of the Laurentian.

It’s no coincidence that the parsnip resembles a carrot that has seen a ghost. The pale yellow parsnip and the carrot are in the same family. Parsnips, however, are more irregular in shape though they generally follow the same carrot tapered look with lengths varying from 5 to 10 inches. Some have likened them to sweet potatoes, but I think parsnips have a taste all their own, somewhat starchy like a potato, sweet like a carrot and a little nutty as well.


Turnips and rutabagas are available year round with peak supplies from October through March. Parsnips generally run from fall (usually after the first frost) into spring.


Turnips: Select small to medium turnips that are heavy for their size (indicating good moisture content), with good color and firmness and no bruises, soft spots or shriveling. The stem end may be somewhat flattened. Winter turnips may be larger with tougher skin, so choose carefully during that time of the year. If greens are attached, they should be bright and fresh looking. Turnip greens are nutritious and delicious. Remove them immediately if they come attached to the turnips and store them separately in plastic bags. They’ll last 3 or 4 days.

Rutabagas: Rutabagas should be medium-size, about 4 to 5 inches across, because exceptionally large ones can be a bit much to handle. And they should be heavy for their size. Lighter ones may be woody. The wax on the surface of some is merely applied to prolong shelf life.

Turnips and rutabagas like cold (as low as 32 degrees) and moist surroundings. In plastic bags in the refrigerator, turnips will last as long as 2 weeks. If waxed, rutabagas need not be in plastic. They’ll last even longer, up to 2 months under proper conditions.

Parsnips: Choose parsnips that are firm with a good creamy color and no spots, blemishes, cuts or cracks. They should have a good, uniform shape (about 4 to 5 inches long) and should not be limp or shriveled. Avoid those that are particularly large since they may be woody, and those that are particularly small since they are not as economical and require more preparation time. Parsnips like cool temperatures. Store them in plastic bags in the refrigerator and they’ll last up to 2 weeks.


A 3.5 ounce serving (100 grams) of turnips has 30 calories, 6 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram each of protein and dietary fiber, 60% of the Daily Values (formerly the RDA) for vitamin C, 2% for iron and 3% for calcium. Turnips are also a fair source of potassium and folic acid.

A 100 gram serving of rutabagas contains 46 calories, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 1 gram each of dietary fiber and protein, 11% of the DV for vitamin A, 43% for vitamin C, 6% for calcium and a small amount of iron. Rutabagas are also a decent source of potassium and folic acid.

The good news is that because turnips and rutabagas are in the same family as cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables, they have many of the same health benefits, particularly as cancer fighters. The bad news is that like other cruciferous vegetables, they too produce a fair amount of gas.

A serving of parsnips ( 100 grams, 3.5 ounces) contains 76 calories, 17 grams of carbohydrates, .5 grams of fat, 1 gram of protein, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 26% of the DV for vitamin C, 5% each for calcium and iron. Parsnips are a good source of potassium.


A pound of parsnips (about 4 medium) will yield about 2 cups, peeled and chopped. A pound of turnips will yield about 21/2 cups chopped. Rutabaga yields will be a little less because of the waste from waxing.


Turnips are normally peeled before being used, but if the turnips are small and young and the skin is thin, treat them like a potato and roast them unpeeled after a good scrub.

In other ways you can treat turnips like potatoes. For example, quarter, then roast or steam them. Or boil and mash them. Rutabagas likewise, except I think they are superior to turnips mashed. But before any cooking you’ll need a sturdy vegetable peeler (like the ones with fat handles) to get through the wax and skin of rutabagas.

Seasonings for turnips include garlic, parsley, and dill. For rutabagas, seasonings lean more toward those used for sweet potatoes – nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, and mace.

Parsnips are usually peeled, unless you get your hands on a particularly pristine organic bunch. Although James Beard said he rarely peeled parsnips, preferring just to scrub them before cooking. Parsnips roast well accompanied by carrots and perhaps turnips and rutabagas. They puree marvelously with potatoes or other root vegetables. Steaming and microwaving are also good ideas. And don’t overlook the possibility of sautéing small chunks, slices or julienne strips of parsnips.

Carrot seasonings are appropriate for parsnips. That means nutmeg, parsley, dill, and orange flavoring. Roasted garlic turned nutty and sweet is also a good seasoning.



Root vegetables mash nicely by themselves or in combination with other root vegetables. Try them instead of the usual mashed potatoes.

  • 1 1/2 pounds parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Olive oil spray
  • 1 large or 2 small leeks, white part only, halved lengthwise and washed thoroughly
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup skim milk, warmed
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1) Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Put parsnips and potatoes in large saucepan, cover with water. Bring to a boil and boil gently, about 12 minutes, or until very tender.

2) Meanwhile, spray a cast iron frying pan with olive oil spray. Halve leeks again, crosswise, if using only one large one. Add to pan and put in the oven. Cook about 15 minutes until nicely browned all over. Turn a few times to cook evenly. Remove, chop and set aside.

3) When parsnips and potatoes are cooked, drain well and return to the pan over low heat. Mash, adding milk as you do. Add just enough milk to give the texture you prefer – and leave a few lumps if you like. Fold in leeks and season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Serves 4 to 6.


This dish is so substantial it could be the main part of the meal. Feel free to substitute with other winter vegetables.

  • 3 medium red-skinned potatoes, washed but unpeeled
  • 3 small turnips, peeled
  • 3 medium parsnips, peeled
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled
  • 1-1/2-pound butternut or other winter squash, peeled and seeded
  • 8 to 10 small onions, peeled
  • 1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons basil oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil spray
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried (omit if using basil oil)

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut potatoes, turnips, parsnips and squash into 11/4 to 11/2-inch square chunks. Cut carrots into-11/2-inch lengths. Mix stock with half the oil and half the salt and pepper. In a large mixing bowl, pour mixture over vegetables and toss.

2) Put all vegetables except squash in a large roasting pan greased with olive oil spray. Roast 15 minutes. Add squash and cook 30 to 35 minutes longer, stirring a few times, until nicely browned and easily pierced with a fork. Toss with remaining oil, salt and pepper. Serves 4.

Sam’s Cooking Tip: One of the great ways to get intense basil flavor when fresh basil isn’t in season is to use basil oil. (Yes, fresh basil is often available year round these days. But winter basil doesn’t have the intensity of flavor that summer basil has.) I like the one made by Consorzio best, but Loriva also makes a credible one. If you use either, eliminate the dried or fresh basil


Gratins, like mashed potatoes, can be vehicles for lots of fat. But this one uses defatted chicken stock, skim milk and a minimum of butter.

  • Butter flavored spray
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup defatted chicken stock
  • 1-1/2 cups skim milk
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 pound turnips, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 medium leeks, white only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1) Preheat oven to 350. Spray gratin dish with butter-flavor spray and set aside.

2) Heat butter in a saucepan until the foam subsides. Add flour and whisk a few minutes. Add stock and stir vigorously until well incorporated. Add milk and whisk until mixture returns to a boil. Simmer a few minutes. It should have the consistency of a thin white sauce. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

3) Arrange half the turnips on the bottom of the gratin dish. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the leeks. Add parsnip slices. Then 1/3 more leeks. Then potatoes and remaining leeks and turnips, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper.

4) Pour sauce over, cover and bake 30 minutes. Mix cheese, bread crumbs and parsley. Sprinkle on top and bake 30 minutes more uncovered. Serves 8.


Curry is a blend of spices made into a convenient single yellow powder by the British during their occupation of India. Most Indians would make their own blend, as you can too for this dish, if you have the time and inclination.

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground, toasted cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 16-ounce can tomatoes, seeded and chopped, with juice
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 medium parsnips, peeled, and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 medium to large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 medium rutabaga, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 medium turnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 pound wedge winter squash, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 bulb fennel, trimmed, and cut into sixths, lengthwise
  • 1 pound can chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or parsley, for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

1) Soak the clay pot in cold water 15 minutes. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil and sauté onion until it just starts to turn color. Add garlic, curry, cumin and cayenne and cook a few minutes, stirring, so that garlic does not burn. Add tomatoes, stock and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss vegetables with salt and pepper. Fold in chick peas and put in the clay pot. Pour stock mixture over. Put in a cold oven and turn the heat to 450 degrees.

3) Bake, covered, 1 hour or until all vegetables are tender. Garnish with parsley and sesame seeds and serve in soup plates with good, country bread or over couscous or basmati rice. Serves 4 as a main course, 8 as a side dish.

Sam’s Cooking Tip: The clay pot is a great way to seal in juices for roasts, stews and any number of braised meats or vegetables – you can even make an apple pie in it. The three most important things to remember when using a clay pot are: 1) soak it before you use it, 2) put it in a cold oven, and 3) make sure the cover is always secure.

All About Turnips

We grow all kinds of turnips on the farm, they’re great cold weather crops. The 3 varieties grown at Early Morning are, Hakurei Turnips, Pink Turnips, and Purple Top Turnips. The different varieties of turnips vary in taste, Hakurei Turnips are mild and sweet tasting, pink turnips a bit spicier, and the purple top turnips are the most spicy and bitter tasting. Turnip greens are edible and you’ll see them in the CSA Share boxes during the summer months. The greens are refreshing in salads and stir-fries! If up until now turnips have not made a regular appearance in your menus, you’re in for a treat! Turnips lend themselves to in a variety of preparations, from roasted to stewed to raw and pretty much everything in between. Try them in a mash with half turnips, half potatoes, and a lot of butter! Pink turnips and Hakurei Turnips are younger and peeling is unnecessary, for Purple Top Turnips remove the skin. I love turnips sliced on top of any salad, they’re great in stir fries, and the previously mentioned soups & stews. In my opinion different turnip varieties can be used interchangeably. Here’s a round-up of our tried and true turnip recipes from our index. We’ve got some more recipes on our list to try, and when we do we’ll share them with you. In the meantime feel free to share your favorite preparations with us anytime. Do you have a favorite turnip recipe? Let us know in the comments!

In soups and stews:

Beef Stew with Red Wine & Herbs

Beet Bourguignon

Miso Noodle Soup

Oven Baked:

Roasted Root Vegetable Pot Pie

Root Vegetable Gratin

Basic Roasted Root Vegetables

Kale Turnip Frittata

Turnip Gratin with Mustard & Thyme

Turnip & Parsnip Breakfast Hash

Sriracha Roasted Root Vegetables


Easy Pickled Turnips

Purple Top Turnip Apple Slaw

Shaved Turnips with Arugula

Other Ways:

Hakurei Turnip, Beet, & Kale Medley with Hazelnuts

Hakurei Turnip Farro Salad

Grilled Hakurei Turnips

Turnip & Kohlrabi Pakoras

Knowing the Different Species of Turnips

Turnips are very easy vegetables to grow but there are actually a number of different species of turnips each of which is slightly different.

Common Turnips

The most common variety of turnip is white fleshed. Most turnips grown for human consumption are small, which means they are tender. However, larger turnips are often grown for livestock food. The tops of the common turnip plant can also be eaten and these resemble mustard leaves in flavor and appearance.

Baby Turnips

A baby turnip is a specialty type of turnip and this isn’t actually a different species. This is simply where the turnips are harvested before they have chance to grow to a bigger size.


A rutabaga, or swede, yellow turnip, or Swedish turnip is a different species of plant which is also sometimes called a turnip. This plant is very similar to other types of turnips. This was created by crossing a cabbage with the common turnip breed. It’s also possible to eat the leaves of this vegetable as a salad.

Chinese Cabbage (Bok Choy)

Chinese cabbage is from the same family as turnips but is a different sub-species. This plant originally came from China in the 15th century.

Napa Cabbage

Napa cabbage is a popular plant used in Chinese and Asian cuisine. This plant also belongs to the same family as the common turnip.

Turnip or Rutabaga?

Because they’re sometimes marketed as yellow turnips or wax turnips, rutabagas (right) are frequently confused with turnips (left). Both of these root vegetables are members of the Brassica family, which includes cabbages, but the rutabaga is probably a hybrid of a cabbage and a turnip.

Turnips are usually white-fleshed with white or white and purple skin. Rutabagas usually have yellow flesh and a purple- tinged yellow skin, and they’re bigger than turnips. (There are also yellow- fleshed turnips and white-fleshed rutabagas, but you won’t generally find them in supermarkets.) Both vegetables have a slightly sweet but snappy flavor reminiscent of cabbage. Rutabagas are sweeter than turnips.

When purchasing either, choose those that are firm and feel heavy for their size. Turnips tend to get woody as they grow, so look for ones that are less than 4 inches in diameter. If the greens are still attached, remove them before storing the roots in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Store the turnip greens separately if you plan to eat them.

Prep tips

Before peeling a turnip or rutabaga, trim off the top and bottom; this gives you a flat surface on which to stand the vegeetable and will eliminate wobbling. Turnip skin is usually tender enough to pare with a vegetable peeler. Rutabagas are often sold coated in food-grade wax and usually require paring with a knife.

Purple Top Turnips for Food Plots

Species Report

By: Deer Creek Seed

Purple Top Turnips are one of the most widely planted, highly nutritious food plot species grown. Turnips are part of a large family more commonly referred to as Brassicas. This plant family is known for its rapid cool season growth and high yields. The brassica family includes crops such as radish, kale, rutabaga, rapeseed, and broccoli. Like others in this vast family, turnips are a cool season annual and grow best during the cooler periods of the year.

Turnips are truly an amazing food plot plant. They are not only high in available protein and highly digestible; they can produce up to 6-8 tons of forage per acre! Like closely related forage radishes, purple top turnips are not affected by light frosts. In fact, turnip palatability increases after cold weather arrives because the young leaves are somewhat bitter at first but turn sweeter as they mature with cooler temperatures. Deer will preferentially eat both the leafy green tops and the big round roots over surrounding browse.

Some varieties of turnips produce more leaves than roots, whereas Purple Top Turnips are known more for their roots. ‘Purple Top’ comes from the fact that the shoulders of the round roots stick out above the soil line and turn purple, while the below ground root stays white. The protruding ‘Purple Tops’ are a boon for deer as they stick out above the ground allowing deer better access to graze not only on tops, but also the roots of the plants. Late into winter when all other food sources are gone deer will keep coming back for the turnip roots.

Purple Top Turnips can be grown alone or in a mixture and require minimal growing effort with excellent results. They are adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions, but prefer fertile, loamy soils with a pH range between 6.0 to 7.5. Beware, they do not grow well in heavy clay soils, wet, or poorly drained locations – especially at establishment. For turnip seeds to germinate, minimum soil temperatures must reach 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Under ideal growing conditions, they’ll grow very fast and can reach maturity in 50-80 days. For hunting season, plant late summer in the north or early fall in the south.

The recommended broadcast seeding rate is 10 lbs/acre, less if you seed in a mixture with other species. If seeded precisely, plants will grow quite large and can shade out other species in a mix. Reduce seeding rate of turnips to 2-5 lbs/acre when combining with other seeds. Keep in mind that turnip seed is quite small and a little bit goes along way. It is always best to not over seed, even when planting alone, as the plants will crowd each other, causing stunted growth. Because of their small size, turnip seed can be shallowly planted and can even be spread into an existing plot with little or no tillage. If broadcast seeded, it is always best to drag and or cultipack after planting to ensure good seed to soil contact and germination.

Turnips are moderate to heavy feeders. If your food plot has not been fertilized in a while, it may be best to consult with your local agricultural extension office to arrange for a soil test – or see our Soil Test Kit here. An all-purpose fertilizer (such as 12-12-12) can be applied at planting but for best results, conduct a soil test prior to applying any fertilizer for the best rate recommendations.

Purple Top Turnips in your food plots will not disappoint. They are easy to grow and mange, and provide a great crop for deer to browse throughout the fall hunting season and winter months. They are a great starter crop when first experimenting with food plots and are a wonderful addition to previously established plots that are thinning out. If you’re short on time or just want a “one-stop-shop” kind of plant, Purple Top Turnips are the way to go.

Write a Review

*Organic* Turnips are often the brunt of jokes and considered barely edible. This is unfortunate because they are excellent vegetables that keep well. They can be used much like potatoes in soups and stews and are even delicious when served mashed like potatoes. They retain their firm texture when cooked in a stew much better than most potatoes. Fun Fact: Turnips and rutabagas are quite similar in their needs, habits and even appearance. Turnips have white flesh and grow much more quickly. You can begin harvesting small turnips just 30 days after planting, and full-sized roots in 60 days. Both of these crops need full sun (at least six hours a day) and rich soil that has a pH that’s near neutral (6.8 to 7.5). If you have acidic soil, mix in wood ashes or limestone before planting. At the same time add some compost or rotted manure. Don’t add fertilizer or the plants will produce more greens than roots.

Fast-growing spring turnip crops are best harvested while the weather is still cool. The flavor of fall crops is improved by light frost. Don’t forget the greens which are delightful raw or cooked.

• From early spring to late summer, sow seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep, 1 inch apart in rows 12 to 18 inches apart. Thin plants to 4- to 6-inch spacings.
• Plant every 2 weeks for continuous harvest. Quality and flavor are best if harvested when whether is cool.
• Use floating row cover to protect crop from early pests.
• To help reduce disease, do not plant turnips or other cole crops in the same location more than once every three or four years.

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