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Planting Turnips: A Complete Guide for Home Gardeners

Published: 09.04.2023

Turnips are easy to grow and a great addition to any home garden. In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about planting turnips, including the best time to plant, how to care for them in winter, and the different turnip varieties that are perfect for small gardens.

How to Grow Turnips in Pots

Benefits of Planting Turnips in Pots

Turnips are one of the easiest vegetables to grow in a pot, making them a great option for beginner gardeners. One of the main benefits of planting turnips in pots is that it allows you to have control over the growing conditions. You can choose the perfect location, soil type, and even the amount of sunlight your turnips receive. Growing turnips in pots is also great for those with limited space, as they can be grown on a balcony or patio.

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Choosing the Right Pot for Turnips

When choosing a pot for turnips, it’s important to select one that is at least 10 inches deep and has a diameter of 12 inches or more. The pot should also have drainage holes to prevent water from accumulating and causing root rot. Additionally, choose a pot made of lightweight material like plastic or fiberglass to make it easier to move around.

Soil Requirements for Turnips

Turnips prefer well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Before planting, mix in compost or aged manure to improve soil fertility. The ideal pH range for turnips is between 6.0 and 7.5. If your soil pH is too low, add lime to raise it.

Growing Turnips from Seeds in Pots

To grow turnips from seeds in pots, fill the pot with well-draining soil and sow the seeds about ½ inch deep. Water the pot regularly, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged. When the seedlings reach about 2 inches tall, thin them out to leave only one plant per every 4 inches of pot space.

Turnips typically take between 55 and 60 days to reach maturity. Harvest them when they are about 2-3 inches in diameter. To harvest, simply grab the stem near the base and gently pull up.

Best Time to Plant Turnips

Best Season to Plant Turnips

Turnips are cool-season root vegetables that can be planted in spring or fall. In the spring, turnips can be planted as soon as the soil can be worked, usually about 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date. Fall planting should be done about 10 weeks before the first frost date in your area. This will give the turnips enough time to mature before the cold weather sets in.

Soil Temperature Requirements for Turnips

Turnips prefer cool soil temperatures between 50°F and 65°F. They will germinate in soil temperatures as low as 40°F but will take longer to sprout. If the soil temperature is above 75°F, the turnip seeds may not germinate at all. To ensure the soil temperature is ideal for planting turnips, use a soil thermometer to test the temperature.

How to Prepare the Soil for Planting

Turnips prefer well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. Before planting, remove any weeds or rocks from the planting area and loosen the soil to a depth of at least 8 inches. Work in a layer of compost or aged manure to add nutrients to the soil. If your soil is heavy clay, add some sand to improve drainage.

When to Transplant Turnips

Turnips are usually grown from seed, but they can also be transplanted as seedlings. If you start your turnip seeds indoors, they can be transplanted into the garden when they have their first set of true leaves. This is usually about 3 to 4 weeks after sowing. When transplanting, make sure the soil is moist and plant them at the same depth they were in their containers. Water them well after transplanting.

Companion Plants for Turnips

Benefits of companion planting with turnips

Companion planting is a gardening technique where two or more plants are grown together to enhance each other's growth, repel pests, or attract beneficial insects. Turnips, like most plants, benefit from companion planting. Companion planting with turnips can help improve the soil, increase yield, and deter pests.

Plants that grow well with turnips

Some plants grow well with turnips and can be planted together in the same bed. One such plant is beans, which can fix nitrogen in the soil that turnips need for healthy growth. Other plants that can be planted with turnips include peas, radishes, spinach, and lettuce. These plants do not compete for nutrients with turnips and help in attracting beneficial insects.

Plants that do not grow well with turnips

Not all plants are suitable to grow with turnips. Plants that belong to the Brassica family like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale should not be planted together with turnips as they compete for similar nutrients and can attract the same pests. Also, plants like fennel, dill, and coriander can reduce the growth of turnips as they produce chemicals that inhibit its growth.

Companion planting techniques with turnips

There are several companion planting techniques that gardeners can use when planting turnips. One technique is intercropping where two or more crops are grown together in the same bed. For instance, gardeners can plant radishes between rows of turnips as they mature faster and provide ground cover. Another technique is crop rotation where crops are grown in different beds each season to prevent the build-up of pests and diseases.

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Turnip Varieties for Small Gardens

Different types of turnip varieties

Turnips are versatile root vegetables that come in many different varieties. The most common types of turnips are purple top, white globe, and golden globe. Purple top turnips are the classic variety with a white base and purple top. White globe turnips are smaller and rounder with a white skin and flesh. Golden globe turnips have a yellowish skin and sweet, mild flavor.

Choosing the right turnip variety for a small garden

If you have a small garden, it's important to choose a turnip variety that will thrive in limited space. White globe turnips are ideal for small gardens because they don't take up much room and mature quickly. You can also consider growing baby turnips, which are harvested when they're only an inch or two in diameter.

Turnip varieties that are easy to grow

If you're a beginner gardener, you'll want to choose a turnip variety that is easy to grow. White and golden globe turnips are both low-maintenance and can be grown in most soil types. Purple top turnips require slightly more care, but are still relatively easy to grow.

Where to buy turnip seeds

You can buy turnip seeds at most garden centers or online retailers. Look for reputable seed companies that specialize in vegetable seeds. Some popular options include Burpee, Johnny's Selected Seeds, and Park Seed Company. Make sure to read reviews and choose a variety that is appropriate for your garden size and experience level.

How to Care for Turnips in Winter

Preparing turnips for winter

Before the first frost, it is important to prepare your turnips for winter. Begin by harvesting any remaining turnips that are mature enough to eat. Remove the tops and store them in a cool, dry place. For turnips that are not yet mature, leave them in the ground and cover them with a thick layer of straw or leaves. This will help to protect them from frost and keep them from freezing.

Turnips Storage hacks

Winter protection for turnips

Once the winter sets in, it is important to continue protecting your turnips. Cover the turnips with a thick layer of mulch or straw to insulate them from the cold. This will also help to keep the soil moist and prevent the turnips from drying out. You can also use a row cover or cold frame to protect your turnips from wind and snow.

Watering and fertilizing turnips in winter

Watering your turnips during the winter is important, but you should be careful not to over-water them. Too much water can cause the roots to rot. Water only when necessary, and make sure the soil is well-drained. Fertilizing during the winter is not necessary, as turnips are not actively growing during this time.

Harvesting turnips in winter

Turnips can be harvested throughout the winter months, but it is best to wait until after a few hard frosts. This will help to sweeten the flavor of the turnips. Use a garden fork or spade to gently lift the turnips out of the ground. Be careful not to damage them in the process. Once harvested, store them in a cool, dry place.

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How to choose the right turnip seeds

Before you start planting turnips, it is important to choose the right seeds. Look for seeds that are specifically labeled as turnips, as there are many different varieties of turnips available. If you are a beginner, it is best to choose a variety that is easy to grow and has a short maturity time. Also, consider the size and taste of the turnip you want to grow. Some varieties are best for roasting, while others are better suited for salads.

Pre-germination seed treatment techniques

Pre-germination seed treatment techniques can help improve your turnip yield. One technique is to soak your seeds in water overnight before planting. This helps soften the seed coat and allows for faster germination. Another technique is to place your seeds in a damp paper towel and leave them in a warm spot for a few days until they start to sprout. This helps ensure that your seeds will germinate before planting.

When to sow turnip seeds

Turnips are a cool-season crop and should be sown in early spring or late summer. The ideal temperature range for turnip seeds to germinate is between 45 and 85°F. It is important to keep the soil moist during germination, so make sure to water regularly.

Different methods of sowing turnip seeds

There are several methods for sowing turnip seeds, including broadcasting, drilling, and using seed tape. Broadcasting involves scattering the seeds over the soil surface and then lightly raking them into the soil. Drilling involves making shallow furrows in the soil and placing the seeds in the furrows before covering them with soil. Seed tape is a convenient option that involves pre-seeded tape that can be laid down in rows.

How to Plant Turnip Seeds: Step by Step

Soil preparation for planting turnip seeds

Before planting turnip seeds, it is essential to prepare the soil properly. Turnips grow best in loose, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Start by removing any weeds or rocks from the planting area. Then, loosen the soil to a depth of at least 8 inches using a garden fork or tiller. Work in 2-3 inches of compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil fertility.

Digging holes for turnip seeds

Once the soil is ready, it's time to dig holes for the turnip seeds. Use a dibber or your finger to create holes 1/4 inch deep and 1 inch apart in rows spaced 12 inches apart. Alternatively, you can scatter the seeds and rake them lightly into the soil.

Planting turnip seeds in rows or clusters

Turnips can be planted in rows or clusters, depending on your preference. Planting in rows makes it easier to weed and harvest, while planting in clusters can help conserve moisture and provide some shade to the roots. If planting in clusters, space the holes 4-6 inches apart.

Sow the seeds thinly to avoid overcrowding. Cover the seeds with soil and gently firm the surface with your hand or a rake. Label the rows or clusters with the date of planting and variety name.

Watering and mulching turnip seeds

After planting, water the turnip seeds thoroughly but gently. Avoid over-watering as it can lead to seed rot or fungal diseases. Keep the soil moist but not soggy until the seedlings emerge.

Once the seedlings are established, mulch around them with straw, leaves or grass clippings to help retain moisture and suppress weeds. Mulching also helps regulate soil temperature and prevent soil erosion.

Germinating Turnip Seeds

How long does it take for turnip seeds to germinate?

Turnip seeds typically take 5-10 days to germinate, depending on the temperature and moisture conditions. The soil temperature should be between 45-85°F for best results. If the soil is too cold, germination will be slow, and if it's too warm, the seeds may not germinate at all.

Temperature and moisture requirements for turnip seed germination

Turnip seeds require consistent moisture to germinate. The soil should be kept moist but not waterlogged. Too much water can lead to fungal diseases and rotting of the seeds. The ideal moisture level is similar to a wrung-out sponge.

Temperature is another critical factor in turnip seed germination. As mentioned earlier, the soil temperature should be between 45-85°F. The optimal temperature range for turnip seed germination is between 60-75°F. At this temperature range, the seeds will sprout in 5-7 days.

Common problems with turnip seed germination

The most common problem with turnip seed germination is damping-off disease caused by soil-borne fungi. This disease can cause the seedlings to wilt and die before they emerge from the soil. To prevent this disease, use sterile potting mix, avoid overwatering, and maintain proper ventilation.

Another issue that may arise is poor seed quality. Old or damaged seeds will have a lower germination rate than fresh and healthy ones. Always purchase seeds from a reputable source, store them in a cool and dry place, and use them within a year or two of purchase.

Tips for successful turnip seed germination

To ensure successful turnip seed germination, follow these tips:

Turnip Seed Spacing

Recommended turnip seed spacing

When planting turnips, it is crucial to ensure that the seeds are spaced properly. The recommended turnip seed spacing is between 2-4 inches apart with rows spaced 12-18 inches apart. Turnips planted too closely together can lead to overcrowding and stunted growth, while those planted too far apart can lead to wasted space and lower yields. It is essential to strike a balance between the two when deciding on your turnip seed spacing.

Importance of proper turnip seed spacing

Proper turnip seed spacing is vital for the health and growth of your plants. When turnips are spaced too closely together, they compete for nutrients, water, and sunlight, which can result in smaller and weaker plants. On the other hand, if turnips are spaced too far apart, it can lead to weed growth and soil erosion, which can reduce yields. By ensuring that your turnips are spaced properly, you can ensure that your plants receive the necessary resources they need to thrive.

How to thin turnip seedlings

After planting your turnip seeds, it is essential to thin them out once they have germinated. Thinning helps to ensure that each plant has enough space to grow and develop fully. To thin your turnip seedlings, simply remove any extra plants that are too close together. You can use a pair of scissors or pruners to cut away the unwanted plants at soil level carefully. Be sure not to disturb the roots of the remaining plants.

Tools needed for turnip seed spacing

To ensure that your turnip seeds are spaced correctly, you will need a few essential tools. Firstly, you will need a ruler or tape measure to help you measure out the distance between each seed. Additionally, you may want to use a hoe or rake to help create furrows in which to plant your seeds. Finally, a watering can or garden hose will be necessary to water your newly planted seeds.

Planting Turnips in Pots

Benefits of Planting Turnips in Pots

Planting turnips in pots is a great way to grow these vegetables even if you don't have a big garden. Potted turnips can be grown on a balcony, patio, or any small space. It also provides more control over the growing conditions, such as sunlight and water, and prevents pests from attacking the plants. Moreover, planting turnips in pots allows for easy harvesting and can be a decorative addition to your home garden.

Preparing the Pot for Turnips

Before planting turnips, you must first prepare the pot. Choose a pot that is at least 12 inches deep and has enough room to accommodate the turnip roots. Fill the pot with a well-draining soil mixture made of equal parts of garden soil, compost, and sand. Ensure that the pot has drainage holes at the bottom to prevent waterlogging.

Choosing the Right Turnip Variety for Pots

There are several turnip varieties that are suitable for growing in pots. Some of the best varieties include Tokyo Cross Hybrid, Scarlet Ohno Revival, and Purple Top White Globe. Choose a variety that suits your taste and is recommended for container gardening.

Caring for Turnips in Pots

To ensure that your potted turnips grow healthy and strong, you must provide them with proper care. Water the plants regularly, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged. Fertilize the plants every two weeks with a balanced fertilizer. Turnips prefer cool temperatures, so ensure that they are grown in a shady spot or partial shade. You can also use shade cloth or cover the pot with a white cloth to protect them from direct sunlight.

Author: Michael Chen
Bio: I'm gardening specialist with a mission to empower people to grow their own fruits and vegetables. With my background in Plant Science from the University of California and experience working with farmers and community gardens, I'm dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture practices and helping individuals achieve bountiful harvests. Let's get growing!