Growing Swede in the Winter Vegetable Garden
Brassica napus napobrassica
The swede, also known as rutabaga, is most popular in the north of England, and indeed is easier to grow in the cooler, wetter areas of the country. Like other brassicas it takes up quite a lot of space in the garden, so if you have only a small plot you will need to plan your cropping programme carefully if you intend to grow cabbages, sprouts, broccoli, or cauliflower as well.
When growing swede, sow in May in the north and in mid-June in the south; water the rows before sowing to help germination. Sow at a depth of 20-25 mm (¾-1 in), with two or three seeds at each growing point and with 400 mm (16 in) between each point. If you stagger the positions of the growing points in alternate rows, the rows can be spaced only 200 mm (8 in) apart. Thin to the strongest seedlings at each point.
When you are growing swede, the should have been dug well in the autumn or winter, with compost thoroughly mixed in for a previous crop. Like all brassicas swedes will not tolerate acid soils. Before sowing break the soil down to remove any lumps, and work in a general fertiliser and also hydrated lime if necessary (see for quantities of lime required). Keep the soil moist.
Pests and diseases: see Brassicas
Harvest as required in late autumn and winter in milder areas. In cold areas it may be best to store the mature roots. Lift the plants, remove their tops, and place the roots in boxes of sand in a cool, frost-free place; alternatively, they may be stored in clamps, where they will keep better than turnips.
It is better to buy seed of either the purple top or the bronze top kinds. Purple Top Kelvedon Advanced, glebe-shaped; free from neck, good quality, suits north or south.
Tipperary, rosy purple globe. Good, heavy cropper. Bronze Top Lord Derby, elongated globe. Good keeper and heavy cropper.
Ne Plus Ultra, a round root with dwarf foliage. Good keeper. Suitable for small gardens.
‘Marian’; ‘Sutton’s Western Perfection’ (both these varieties resist club root)
Soil: Good, moist, and enriched with compost; add lime if necessary
Sow: May in the north, mid-June in the south
Harvest: Late autumn and winter Sutton’s Western Perfection is one of the newer varieties of swede, with good resistance to club-root disease.