How to Grow Turnips
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 and can be planted either in the spring, so you have turnips all summer, or in the 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 it and hoe it as usual for planting. Once you’re done and the dirt isn’ too wet, sprinkle the seeds and 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 growing turnips to about 4 inches 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.
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.
What Causes Turnips to Crack?
Turnips prefer full sun exposure in fertile, deep, well drained soils. Turnips are started from seed 2-3 weeks before the last frost of the season. Soil temps should be at least 40 F. (4 C). Seeds will germinate best at 60-85 F. (15-29 C) and will take seven to 10 days.
If your soil is a heavy clay, it’s best to amend it with plenty of organic matter (2-4 inches) and a dose of all-purpose fertilizer prior to planting; 2-4 cups of 16-16-8 or 10-10-10 per 100 square feet worked into the upper 6 inches of soil Sow seeds ¼ to ½ inch deep in rows 18 inches apart. Thin the seedlings 3-6 inches apart.
So what causes cracked roots on turnip? Temperatures of over 85 F. (29 C.) can affect turnips, yet they tolerate low temperatures quite well. Regular irrigation is a must for the most palatable turnip growth. A drip system would be ideal and mulching around the plants will also aid in moisture conservation. Turnip plants will need 1-2 inches per week depending upon the weather, of course.
Inadequate or irregular irrigation is the most likely reason when turnips are cracking. The stress will affect growth, decrease quality and make for a bitter flavored root. Regular watering is paramount, especially during high summer temps, to prevent cracked roots on turnip, as well as pithiness and bitter flavor.
Turnips also tend to crack when a heavy downpour follows a dry period. Balanced fertility is also a factor regarding the splitting of turnip roots. Feed the plants ¼ cup per 10 feet of row with a nitrogen based fertilizer (21-0-0), six weeks after the seedlings first emerge. Sprinkle the fertilizer around the base of the plants and water it in to encourage rapid plant growth.
So there you have it. How to fix turnip cracking couldn’t be easier. Simply avoid water or fertilizer stress. Mulch to cool the soil, conserve water and control weeds, and you should have crack free turnip roots about two to three weeks after the first fall frost.
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