Turnips are one of those vegetables I’d never tried until I started gardening. Freshly-harvested turnips and greens are sweet, tender, and delicious. Learn how to grow turnips, and add this cool-weather root vegetable (and its greens) to your table. 

How to Grow Turnips - 5 Tips for Growing Turnips

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5 Tips for How to Grow Turnips

Want to try turnips? Here are 5 tips for how to grow turnips.

How to Grow Turnips - 5 Tips for Growing Turnips

1. Give turnips what they need to grow well

How to Grow Turnips - 5 Tips for Growing Turnips
  • Grow turnips in rich, well-drained soil high in organic matter. 
  • Keep soil evenly moist throughout the growing season to keep turnips from becoming woody. 
  • Mulch soil to preserve moisture and prevent weeds. 
  • Although turnips prefer cool weather, they do best with at least 6 hours of sun. Turnips will tolerate partial shade.

2. Plant turnips at the right time

How to Grow Turnips - 5 Tips for Growing Turnips

For a continuous harvest, plant turnips every week or 10 days throughout the growing season. 

In cooler areas, begin planting turnips 2-3 weeks before your last frost date for a spring harvest. Plant again in late summer for a fall harvest. 

In warmer areas, plant turnips in the fall for a winter harvest. In Maricopa County, plant turnips beginning August 15th through the end of February

3. Plant turnips from seed

How to Grow Turnips - 5 Tips for Growing Turnips

Turnips do not transplant well; start seeds directly in the garden. Plant seeds 1 inch apart and ¼ – ½ inch deep. Turnip seeds germinate quickly. Thin seedlings to 3-4 inches apart (depending on the variety) when they are 2-3 inches tall. 

Use row covers to protect young plants from flea beetles and root maggots.

For square foot gardening, plant 9 turnips per square foot.

To grow turnips in containers, plant turnips in containers that are at least 8 inches deep. 

Turnip varieties to try: 

Golden Globe turnips – white-fleshed turnip best harvested when 2-3 inches wide. 

Purple Top turnips – purple on top and white below. Best harvested when 4-6 inches wide.

4. Harvest turnips when young for best flavor

How to Grow Turnips - 5 Tips for Growing Turnips

Harvest bulbs 45-50 days after planting when small and flavorful, and before the weather gets hot. Begin harvesting when bulbs are about 2 inches wide or about the size of a radish.

Harvest turnip greens anytime they’ve grown to 10-12 inches. Harvest outer leaves as needed until turnip roots are harvested.

5. Enjoy turnips a variety of ways

The tender young leaves are delicious fresh or cooked and are a good spinach substitute. Use the roots fresh, roasted, sautéed, or added to soup. Turnips can be substituted for potatoes with delicious results.

How to Grow Turnips - 5 Tips for Growing Turnips
How to Grow Turnips - 5 Tips for Growing Turnips
How to Grow Turnips - 5 Tips for Growing Turnips
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