Growing Rutabaga

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.

Harvesting Rutabaga

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.

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