Rutabagas are very hardy and grow best in cool weather. In hot weather they produce many leaves but only small, stringy roots. Plant rutabagas in late summer in the North, and in the late fall in the South or where the weather gets very hot. For spring plantings sow seed directly in the garden 4 to 6 weeks before the average date of last frost.
Rutabagas do best in well-drained soil that is high in organic matter. The plants need well-worked soil with all rocks and soil lumps removed. Plant the seeds 1/2 inch deep and thin them to 8 inches apart. Thinning is important: Like all root crops, rutabagas must have room to develop. Water often enough to keep the plants growing steadily; if growth slows, the roots will be tough.
The time from planting to harvest is 90 to 100 days. To harvest, dig up the whole root when the rutabaga is 3 to 5 inches in diameter. In cold areas, mulch heavily to extend the harvesting period.
Types of Rutabaga
- American Purple Top, 90 days, gives fine-grained, yellow flesh.
- Laurentian, 90 days, is also recommended.
Want even more information about growing rutabaga? Try these links:
- Vegetable Gardens: Grow a full harvest of great vegetables this year.
- Gardening: We answer your questions about all things that come from the garden.
- Rutabaga Recipes: Put your home-grown veggies to use with these recipes.
- Removing Rutabaga Stains: We show you how to get vegetable stains out of fabric.