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Growing Turnips

Easy To Grow, Tough Cool-Weather Crops

Subspecies: Brassica rapa var. rapa

growing turnipsTurnips have been a food staple for humans since hunters and gatherers started harvesting food. They are similar to rutabagas and parsnips, but sweeter than parsnips and hardier than rutabagas.

Growing turnips is easy, so long as they are planted at the appropriate time for the climate. Turnips reach maturity in 7 – 9 weeks and should be planted so that the 7 week mark does not occur during particularly hot temperatures. April, August, and October are ideal months for turnip planting. For more details, read on to see our full guide on how to grow turnips.


Turnip seeds need to be planted at a depth of ½ inch, with about 10 seeds per row. When growing turnips, there should be 12 – 24 inches between rows. If soil is dry, provide light water on a daily basis until the seed germinates. When seedlings reach 4 inches tall, they need to be thinned to a distance of 4 – 6 inches. Seedlings removed during the thinning process can be used as greens.

If turnips are being grown for greens rather than root vegetables, they can be left closer together and the greens can be harvested when they have reached the desired size. As the plants become larger, only cultivate the first inch of surface area of the soil so the roots will not be damaged.

If the ground is heavily mulched, turnips can grow and be harvested until mid-winter in zones 5 and farther south.


Just Right is a white turnip variety. Greens can be picked in 4 weeks, the roots mature in 8 weeks. The roots are solid white and have a mild taste.

Gilfeather is an heirloom variety. They are milder and sweeter tasting than most turnips, particularly the modern hybrids.

Golden Ball are somewhat sweet and easy to grow in most geographic regions and climates.

Purple Top White Globe is the traditional turnip variety in the United States. They have bright purple shoulders and white bottoms. The greens are large and can be used in a similar way to traditional greens, such as collards and kale.


Diatomaceous earth can be used to control flea beetles.

Remove Cabbage worms manually and destroy them. Using row covers made of netting or tightly woven cheesecloth will help protect the plants from Cabbage worm damage.

A direct and steady spray of water will displace aphids from the plants. This should be done before the sun is directly overhead so the turnip greens will not wilt or be scorched.

Home Storage:

Turnip roots can be prepared a variety of ways. They can be eaten raw, sauteed, roasted, even boiled and mashed. They are actually quite juicy in spite of their appearance and this makes them particularly suited for stir fries and other quick cooking methods.

The greens have a spicy flavor similar to Mustard greens and can be used in the same fashion.

Turnip roots and the greens need to be stored in separate containers. They can be placed in plastic bags or air tight containers and kept in the refrigerator.

The roots can also be sliced and pickled.