When Dorothy Tweedt wrote about how she enjoyed fresh picked turnips, I asked Randy if he liked turnips enough to plant some seeds and see how they'd do here in our garden, he remembered how much he loved those picked from his granddad's garden fresh out of the ground, peeled and sliced right in the garden. I found a few items we needed to order from Gurney's so I added turnip seeds. But they had almost no information on growing the turnips. I went back to Park Seeds since they are our favorite source and below is what I found on white turnips, one of two varieties ordered. They had listings for the purple top but the only difference was that it takes 57 days to harvest while the white variety only takes 38 days. Look below for general planting directions.

Turnip Hakurei

This Fruity-Sweet Turnip is Tops for Salads!
Gleaming white roots are delicious raw or cooked, and hold so well!

38 days. Tops for flavor! This white "salad turnip" has a fruity-sweet taste that's great raw or cooked. The smooth white roots are best harvested young. As if all this weren't enough, it has great holding ability, too!

Turnips are easy to grow in spring or fall. Harvest the greens as the roots grow; they will regrow several times as long as the crown isn't damaged. The roots are best harvested at about 2 to 3 inches in diameter.

Planting Turnips

Sow turnip seeds 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart in rows that are 12 to 36 inches apart. Thin the plants so that they are 2 to 6 inches apart. You can sow turnips in the spring for a summer crop, in the summer for a fall crop and sometimes even in the early fall for a fall crop. Turnips are flexible.

Days to harvest: 35 to 70 days
Days to germinate: 3 to 7


Q. What causes turnips to fail to make large roots?

A. Like radishes and other bulbing crops, crowded turnips will fail to enlarge. Turnips also require a moderately fertile soil and adequate moisture to grow large, fleshy roots. For good size bulbs, space turnips 2 to 3 inches apart. Plant in the spring as soon as the ground can be worked. For a fall crop, plant when daytime temperatures average below 80 degrees F. In many areas of Texas, planting can begin in early fall and continue until about 5 to 6 weeks before maximum daytime temperatures average 80 degrees F.

Q. Are there varieties of turnips grown just for the tops and not their enlarged roots?

A. Yes. The varieties Crawford and Shogoin are grown primarily for their tops and usually fail to make large, high- quality roots.

Q. What causes my turnip greens to often have a bitter and pungent flavor?

A. Conditions which result in slow growth or stress of the turnip plant will often cause the leaves to have a bitter, off- flavor. This condition is prevalent when turnip leaves mature under high temperatures combined with unfavorable growing conditions.


Q. My plants appear to be stunted and have small, round galls on the roots.

A. This is root knot nematodes. They are controlled by rotation and summer fallowing. Root knot is a species of nematode which causes galls or swellings on plant roots. It restricts the uptake of nutrients from the root system to the foliage, resulting in a yellow and stunted plant. Root knot lives in the soil and can survive on a number of weed and vegetable crops. It is best controlled by planting a solid stand (close enough for root systems to overlap) of marigolds three months before the last killing frost of fall and/or planting cereal rye (Elbon) for a winter cover crop. Cereal rye should be shred and tilled into the soil 30 days before planting a spring crop.


Q. How do you control aphids or plant lice on turnips?

A. Aphids can be easily controlled with an insecticide such as malathion. Begin applications the first time the insects are observed and repeat periodically.