how to grow turnips, sowing turnips, planting turnips, growing turnips

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how to grow turnips


turnips 2 how to grow turnipsTurnips have been grown for over 3000 years. They can be found in most home gardens as they are really flavorful bulbs. Turnips are as easy to grow as radishes, so let’s try and sow some turnips in the backyard garden and learn how to grow turnips.

where to grow turnips?

Turnips are cool weather crops who love lots of sunlight and good fertile soil.

turnip root how to grow turnipsTurnips should be sown in loose, well-draining soil. They will appreciate a good layer of compost or composted manure mixed in the bedding about a month prior to sowing. You should loosen the soil to a depth of about 10 inches or 25 centimeters deep to make sure you don’t get any misformed turnips.

If the soil is a dense clay soil, you can think of amending the soil with sand to make the soil drain better when the rain comes around. Heavy clay soil makes it difficult for the turnips to pierce through the ground and form a nice bulb root. it’s also more prone to diseases in the heavy soil. Heavy soil also has the tendency to collapse easily so making the soil crumbly doesn’t really make a difference.

Most of the time, you should sow turnips directly in their final spot as they don’t  handle transplanting well. There is a way to sow the seeds in pots but more on this later.

six turnips in how to grow turnipsDon’t sow your turnips any deeper than half an inch or one centimeter. The seeds will be able to easily sprout this way and find their way to the top of the soil.

how to grow turnips in rows

If not growing in the square foot gardening method it’s best to grow the turnips about 4 inches or 10 centimeters apart. You can just scatter the seeds around on the plot. But thin them out as soon as they are about 3 to 4 inches or 10 centimeters high.

how to grow turnips in square foot gardening

Turnips grown in the square foot gardening method is really easy and you can sow nine turnips in one square foot. Some people start with sixteen turnips in a square foot and thin them out to nine while harvesting the greens of the turnips.

When to grow turnips?

Turnips should be grown in spring or in fall as they could bolt easily when the heat of the summer comes around.

It’s possible to start sowing about 5 to 6 weeks before the last frost because turnips are quite hardy plants. If you’re not really sure whether the seedlings will survive the frost or not, you can always cover them the first two weeks with fleece or some other cover to keep them a bit warmer.

transplanting or planting turnips

Okay, this is a part that most gardening blogs won’t even talk about as transplanting turnips, in most cases, isn’t going to work out but there is a way to do it.

I am used to making my own paper pots origami style and that’s how I came to a point where I tried out, growing the turnips in these pots and transplanting them into the soil when the time comes. Law and behold, it worked.

One of the advantages of being able to transplant the turnips is the fact that you can start even sooner in the season without the plants being killed by hard frost.

I just had to know how to grow the turnips in the greenhouse because the temperature indoors was too hot and the temperature chock when transplanting was too harsh, which gave me weirdly shaped and tasteless turnips.

I don’t know if being able to transplant turnips will be of any use to you. But I just wanted to put it in this article to show that sometimes, there are ways to do things differently. And after all, this is an article on how to grow turnips.

taking care of your turnips

turnips in cupboardIf the amount of compost or composted manure is as described above, there is no need to amend the soil with fertilizer. You could, however, amend with an organic fertilizer where the N-P-K ratio is equal. But this is only necessary if the soil isn’t healthy.

About 5 to 6 weeks after they have emerged from the ground you can add a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. To keep it cheap, you can use a nettle tea or something similar you can make yourself.

harvesting turnips

Harvesting turnips is as easy as pulling them out of the ground. They should be easily removed from the soil if you took the precautions about the soil.

Harvest the turnips when they are greater than two inches or five centimeters. You’ll have them at the perfect flavor with a good crunch.

diseases and pests


Turnips don’t compete well with weets when they germinate and in the first weeks so remove any competing weeds. Try to pull out the weeds and not cultivate the ground to deep. Cultivating the soil too deep can shock the plants and stunt their growth.


aphid infestationTime and time again, we see aphids coming to kill of our crops, Aphids have a lot of host plants. Luckily there are different ways to get rid of them or at least control the aphids so they don’t reek havoc in our harvest.

The cheapest solution is to spray the aphids off the plants every so often with a strong water stream. Don’t do this to your germinating plants as you will blast them out of the ground.

A cheap, self-made spray with insecticidal soap can do the trick as well. Just repeat the process several times with a week in between.

It’s also possible to use pyrethrum, that’s what I use. But you’ll have to repeat it as well for at least three times with one week in between each time.


caterpillar on kale leafTurnips are in the same family as cabbages, so they can be attacked by the cabbage worm. If you don’t have too many turnips, like in square foot gardening, you can just pick them off. I pick them off with the leaf and throw them to the chickens.

If you have a lot of turnips and you can’t possibly do it by hand, you can use a product containing Bacterium thuringiensis.

Flea beetles

Flea beetles will chew on your seedlings, potentially killing them or at least stunting the growth.

Yellow sticky traps can do wonders when these critters are around. Of course, they don’t kill the larvae, they’ll only kill flying adults.

Neem oil is another solution to deal with this pest, make sure you soak the plant and let the neem oil drip onto and into the soil so the larvae are killed by it as well.

Turnips are quite fast growing so they don’t have too much trouble with diseases. I personally haven’t had any disease on my turnips and that’s partly because I use crop rotation seriously.

If I find pictures about diseases, I will amend this article.

So now you should know how to grow turnips.

If you still have a problem with your turnips, Make some photos and contact me. We can work out what the problem is and how to solve it.

So this is it for this blog post. I hope you’ve found it interesting. If so, please share with friends and other gardeners. Thanks for reading and see you in the next post.

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