Turnip is a vegetable with a creamy white color and a purple top, though it also comes in different colors. This is a popular European staple food and root vegetable to grow.
Even though turnips are root vegetables, they’re not related to potatoes. Instead, the turnip is relative to broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula, and kale. They belong in the same family as rutabagas.
The best thing about it is that these cruciferous vegetables provide many nutrients and are low in calories. They can be prepared in many different dishes and even eaten as a side to meats and other prepared foods.
For those who need more fiber in their diets, turnips provide plenty. So look once again at this vegetable that is often overlooked and learn how to grow, harvest, and prepare it.
If you’re planting turnip vegetable as a summer crop, you want to plant them early. If you’re going to have them all winter through then, you have to plant them in the late summer to be able to harvest them before the first frost.
When preparing your garden, keep in mind that turnips need a full sun location but can tolerate partial shade.
When preparing the bed, rake, and hoe so that the soil is well combined. Then sprinkle the turnip seeds and rake them in gently.
When planting, ensure that the seeds are sunk about ½ an inch deep and 3 to 20 seeds per foot. Once the seeds are planted, water right away.
When the turnips begin growing, thin the seedlings so that they are about 4 inches apart. This will give them lots of room to form healthy roots.
Space your gardening in breadths — planting at ten-day intervals as this will have you harvesting every couple of weeks.
Pests that Affect Turnips
Turnips are a staple food in many cultures around the world, and very common in many backyard vegetable gardens. They are loved for their fleshy roots and leafy greens.
Unfortunately, they also taste great to pesky bugs. Most pests that attack turnips can be picked off of the plants, but some require somewhat aggressive treatment.
1. Foliage Caterpillars
Caterpillars that feed on foliage enjoy turnip greens. The most common caterpillar pests are cabbage loopers, beet armyworms, imported cabbage worms, and diamondback moth caterpillars.
These can be treated by either spraying the turnips with bacillus thuringiensis or handpicking them off.
2. Soil-Based Caterpillars
Soil-based caterpillars like cutworms are nocturnal. These feed on the leaves and stems of younger plants.
Even if you don’t see these pests, you’ll notice that seedlings down to soil level and the attack has been among the rows.
If you plow your garden ten days before you start to plant, you can eliminate the eggs ad larvae of the pests. Beneficial Nematodes can also kill cutworms and other harmful soil-based caterpillars.
Turnip, green peach, and cabbage aphids are active feeders on turnips.
These tiny bugs on plants have soft bodies and they feed with sharp mouthparts. However, they can be tolerated because they don’t harm turnips but will affect the leaves.
For treatment, simply mix a solution of 4-5 teaspoons organic liquid soap in one-quart water and spray plants.
ECOWORKS can also be applied during cloudy conditions and when the temperatures are below 90 degrees F.
Whiteflies are sap-feeding insects that attack turnips. They are tiny and resemble moths in flight.
They produce honeydew, attracting a sooty kind of mold that disrupts turnip photosynthesis.
Cabbage and seed corn maggots are hard to distinguish. These legless and small larvae burrow into the roots and live beneath the soil.
They enjoy feeding on newly sprouted plants but won’t feed on enlarging turnip roots.
Cabbage maggots will tunnel in and out of the turnips. Afterward, the turnips are exposed to fungi from the soil.
Scouting for eggs in the soil, as well as releasing nematodes can help get rid of these.
Turnip crops can suffer from root-knot, leaf spot, white rust, scab, clubroot, anthracnose, mosaic virus, and Rhizoctonia rot.
Some of these diseases can lead to crop failure; therefore, rotations and other control measures should be used.
To prevent problems with infections, Brassicas should not be grown on the same spot for more than two years in a row.
If the problem is clubroot, then rotations should be six years.
Some turnips can be harvested early to get turnip greens. When young and tender, the leaves taste the best.
You can harvest at any size you like; however, the smaller, younger ones are more tender.
For fall turnips, harvest just after a light frost but before a hard freeze as they’ll have a sweeter taste.
Types of Turnips
Turnips can be found in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Here are some of the most common varieties:
- White Lady – (matures in 30-35 days)
- Purple Top White Globe – (matures in 50-55 days)
- Royal Crown – (matures in 50-55 days)
- Just Right – (matures in 60-70 days)
- Gilfeather – (matures in 70-75 days)
- Golden Ball – (matures in 40-45 days)
- Scarlet Queen – (matures in 40-45 days)
- Baby Bunch – (harvested while young)
- Seven Top – (matures in 40-45 days)
- Red Round – (matures in 50-55 days)
- Hakurei – (matures in 35-40 days)
- Nozawana – (matures in 30-40 days)
- Shogoin – (matures in 30-35 days)
- Tokyo Cross – (matures in 30-35 days)
One cup of raw turnips contain:
- 36.4 calories
- 35.1 mg of phosphorus
- 1.17 g of protein
- 0.13 g of fat
- 8.36 g of carbohydrates
- 2.34 g of fiber
- 39 mg of calcium
- 0.13 micrograms (mcg) of Vitamin K
- 87.1 mg of sodium
- 0.351 mg of zinc
- 0.39 mg of iron
- 27.3 mg of vitamin C
- 14.3 mg of magnesium
- 19.5 mcg of folate
Turnip Health Benefits
Turnips are great for a high-fiber diet. Fiber helps to reduce pressure and inflammation in the colon. High fiber food can reduce the prevalence of diverticulitis flares.
They absorb water in the colon and therefore make for easier bowel movements. However, it is advisable to talk to a doctor before eating high fiber foods.
They also contain dietary nitrates and can provide many benefits for blood vessel health. Among them, blood pressure reduction, and will inhibit blood platelets from sticking together.
Turnips also provide potassium that can help to lower blood pressure by releasing sodium from the body and helps dilate arteries.
A high intake of cruciferous vegetables like turnip greens are associated with lower cancer risk. They contain several compounds that can protect against certain cancers.
How to Cook Turnips
Wondering how to cook turnips? Before you begin, you need to remove the peel using a vegetable peeler.
- You can sauté turnips cooking them in a pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and you can add the turnip greens to wilt them.
- They can be mashed with butter and cream cheese, just like potatoes.
- Roast them with olive oil and seasonings.
- Make turnip fries by cutting into sticks or wedges. Toss with olive oil and seasonings. Bake in preheated oven.
- Turnip and turnip greens can be added to soups and other dishes that require vegetables.
Turnips are versatile, and you can use them in many different ways.
Whether you’re planting turnips at home or purchase them at the supermarket, this is a vegetable that is delicious when added to many different kinds of recipes.
They also offer significant health benefits and the nutrition your body needs.
Since they are low in calories, they are great to add to a diet, and their taste will keep you satisfied. Look up those turnip recipes!