Turnips are biennials usually grown as annuals.
Although turnips are more of a staple in European kitchens, many southern gardeners like to grow them for their greens. Turnips take up to two months to mature.
Turnips grow best in a temperate climate but can endure light frost. Fall crops are usually sweeter and more tender than spring crops—and pests are less of a problem.
- Select a site that gets full son.
- Soil should be well-draining and loosened to a depth of 12 to 15 inches.
- Mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Till soil well.
- Start sowing as soon as the ground is workable.
- Scatter turnip seed. Do not cover the seeds with more than ½ an inch of soil.
- Once seedlings are 4 inches high, thin “early” types 2 to 4 inches apart and maincrop types to 6 inches apart. Do not thin if growing for greens only.
- Keep the beds weed free.
- Mulch heavily.
- Water at a rate of 1 inch per week to prevent the roots from becoming tough and bitter.
- Harvest some turnips very early as greens.
- Harvest early types after about 5 weeks; maincrop types after 6 to 10 weeks.
- Harvest turnips at any size you wish. The small, young turnips are nice and tender.
- Pull mature turnips before they become woody and before the first frost.
- Store for up to 3 or 4 months in a cool outdoor place covered with straw.
Both the turnip roots and greens are very nutritious.