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Fresh Turnips Are Tasty, Easy to Grow

October 14, 2000|U.C. MASTER GARDENERS

Question: I know they aren't the most popular vegetable, but I really like turnips and want to grow some. How do I go about it?

C.W., Villa Park

Answer: If you like the taste of turnips now, wait until you have tried them fresh from the garden. When harvested young, they are sweet and succulent. The leaves are also very tasty.

Turnips can be planted from September through March and must be planted by seed.

They are not hard to grow, but they do have a few requirements. Your primary concern should be the soil, which must be well draining, yet fertile. Amend clay by 50% with compost for fertility and pumice or perlite for drainage. Add compost to sandy soil.

Plant in full sun.

Sow seeds one-half-inch deep and 1 inch apart in rows that are 12 inches part. After seedlings emerge, thin to 2 to 4 inches apart.

They can also be grown in containers, which should be at least 12 inches deep.

Keep turnips moist, but not soggy, as dry soil can lead to cracking and a more pungent flavor.

Feed every two to four weeks with a well-balanced fertilizer.

Pick and use greens as they grow, removing the outer leaves. Harvest roots at their peak, when they are 2 to 3 inches wide.

Have a problem in your yard? University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Gardeners are here to help. These trained and certified horticultural volunteers are dedicated to extending research-based, scientifically accurate information to the public about home horticulture and pest management. They are involved with a variety of outreach programs, including the UCCE Master Garden hotline, which provides answers to specific questions. You can reach the hotline at (714) 708-1646 or send e-mail to Calls and e-mail are picked up daily and are generally returned within two to three days.

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