Turnip is a fast-growing root crop that thrives in cool weather. Its flavor profile is akin to carrots without the sweetness. Instead, it’s slightly spicy which makes it perfect for stews. During the fall when the cold weather is conducive to the spread of flu viruses, turnips can fortify the immune system. Its a good source of vitamins A, C, B vitamins, fibers, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc (1). It also contains bioactive compounds that fight cancer. Grow turnips in your garden not only to satisfy your taste buds but also to strengthen your body.
Turnip Health Benefits
- Helps boost immunity (2)
- Promotes a healthy gut
- Contains bioactive compounds (glucosinolates and indole-3-carbinol) that fight cancer (3, 4, 5)
- Supports heart function (6)
Guide to Growing Turnips
My urban garden is located in hardiness zone 10a-b where it is ideal to grow turnips in early spring or late summer. Once sown on the ground, it quickly germinates and matures in little over a month. Scroll down below to get some tips on how to grow turnips.
Depending on your zone, sow seeds between March to May and August to May. Just keep in mind that turnips prefer cool weather. If it gets too hot during the growing season, it can get a bit spicy and bitter. Work the soil and apply fertilizer (if needed) before sowing seeds. Like other root crops, turnip prefers a sandy loam soil for a good drainage.
Sow seeds 1/2 inch deep, 1-2 inches apart, and in rows at least 6 inches apart. Water thoroughly and keep the soil moist throughout the growing season.
When seedlings are large enough to handle, begin to thin turnip patch. Each plant should have at least 4-6 inches of space between each other for proper growth.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep the soil moist. Dry soil and heat can stress the plant and make it bitter and too spicy.
Harvest and Use
Like beets and carrots, turnip roots will also partially rise out of the soil so it’s easy to approximate size. Harvest when they are between 2-3 inches in diameter. If there is a sudden heat wave, harvest your crop and store in the fridge to avoid an overly spicy and bitter flavor.
During the fall when the productivity of my edible garden is slow, my turnip patch never fails to produce quickly. This highly productive crop can be eaten raw, mashed as a low-caloric substitute to potatoes, and chopped up for a hot and savory stew. Its leaves are also edible and can be braised or steamed.