Growing Turnips in the Winter Vegetable Garden
Unless you live in an area which is always cool and moist, summer turnip crops are not easy to grow successfully; extra watering is apt to reduce the flavour. Turnips are not as hardy as swedes but otherwise re the same cultural conditions. Follow the growing instructions for growing swedes, but note the different timings and spacings given below. Turnips may, incidentally, be grown to provide some spring greens.
When you are growing turnips for roots, sow in frames or under cloches in February for early crops. If unprotected, sow first from late March to April, then from late July to August (the last sowings will provide roots for storage). Sow at a depth of 20-25 mm (¾-1 in), with two or three seeds at each growing point. Stagger the growing points in alternate rows: the points should be 250 mm (10 in) apart, with 130 mm (5-1/4 in) between rows. Thin to the best seedling at each point.
For further cultivation, pests and diseases: see Swede.
When you are growing turnips for spring greens, sow thinly 20-25 mm (¾-1 in) deep in rows 250 mm (10 in) apart in late August.
Harvest the roots of early turnips when they are golf to tennis-ball size. Later crops should be lifted in October-November from your Winter, for storing; twist the tops off, and place the roots in boxes of dry sand in a dry, cool, but frost-free place.
EARLY-SOWN: ‘Marteau’ (‘Jersey Navet’), long-rooted, white, very early, suitable for sowing under protection; ‘Milan Purple Top Forcing’ (‘Sprinter’), flat-rooted, very early, suitable for sowing under protection; ‘Milan White’, flat, early, white; ‘Purple Top Milan’, flat, early, purple and white; ‘Snowball’ (‘Early White Stone’, ‘Model White’, ‘Six Weeks’), globe-rooted, white; ‘Tokyo Cross’, F1, globe-rooted, white
LATE-SOWN: ‘Golden Ball’ (‘Orange Jelly’), globe-rooted, yellow skin and flesh, the best for overwintering; ‘Manchester Market’ (‘Green Top Stone’), globe-rooted, half green, half white; ‘Purple Top White Globe’, globe-rooted, red-topped
SPRING GREENS: ‘Imperial Green Globe’ (‘Green Globe’, ‘Green-top White’), also suitable for late sowing for roots
Soil: Good, limy, moist
Sow: From February under protection; in open, late March to April and late July to August
Harvest: Early-sown when 50-75 mm (2-3 in) in diameter, May-June; later sowings in late October-November for storing