Growing Turnips

Turnips are 2 to 4 inches wide when ripe.
Turnips are 2 to 4 inches wide when ripe.

Turnips are a cool-weather vegetable crop. They are grown in the fall, winter, and spring in the South, and in the spring and fall in the North. Turnips need soil that's high in organic matter and well-drained but able to hold moisture. Too much nitrogen in the soil encourages the plant to produce leaves and a seed stalk rather than a good-size root.

Turnips don't transplant well, so grow from seed sown directly in the garden. Sow seeds 1 to 2 inches apart in single or wide rows. When the seedlings are large enough to handle, thin to 3 or 4 inches apart; if you're growing turnips for greens, thin to 2 to 3 inches apart.

Water before the soil dries out; water is important to keep turnips growing as fast as possible. If growth is slow, the roots become strong-flavored and woody and the plant will often send up a seed stalk.

Harvesting Turnips

Pick turnips when they are 2 to 4 inches in diameter--before they get pithy and bitter. Pull them easily when the soil is moist. Pick greens when they are young and tender; use thinned seedlings for greens.

Types of Turnips:

  • Purple Top White Globe matures in 58 days.
  • Tokyo Cross Hybrid, 35 days, is an All America Selection that produces 2- to 6-inch pure white roots.
  • Hakurei, 38 days, is also pure white.

Want even more information about growing shallots? 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.
  • Turnip Recipes: Put your home-grown veggies to use with these recipes.
  • Seeding Turnips: You'll want to seed turnips directly into your garden--learn how!