What You Need to Know For Growing Turnips Successfully

Turnips or Rutabaga as they are more properly known are grown from seed (not transplants) and are specific in what they like.

For example, they don't like fresh manure (leads to high nitrogen levels that cause poor storage and taste) or high doses of chemical fertilizer for the same reason. Compost is a great food for this root crop.

Growing Turnips

Sow seed when the soil temperatures reach 60F (late May – early June) at 3 seeds to the inch.

Be prepared to thin out the seedlings to one every 6 inches when the plants are three inches tall.

If you plant more than one row, the rows should be 24 - 30 inches apart.

You can sow as late as the last two weeks in June to get fall crops and it is these fall crops that will grow larger and more reliably than the earlier sowings.


Turnips are a pretty pest free and disease free crop. You might see black rot or black leg (rotting) if you've planted turnips or cabbage family crops in the same space in the preceding two to three years. This is a great crop to rotate around.

For the same reason, do not work around the plants when they have wet leaves (this is a pretty common recommendation for all garden plants). Remove all turnips from the garden in the fall and do not leave any to rot over the winter as this will encourage the development of rotting problems in your soil.

You might see aphids or flea beetles on the leaves and controls are easy – see the section on insect control.

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Harvesting roots is as simple as digging them up and washing them well with clean water. We want to avoid any dirt on the root to store them properly.

Dry the roots, trim off the leaves and store at 32F -34F(just above freezing) with high humidity and they'll keep for 4 to 6 months.

Waxing them will help with storage. There's no need to buff the wax though. :-)

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