Dre Campbell Farm
How to Grow Turnips (Plus Nutrition Benefits)

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Turnip Health Benefits and How to Grow

The best thing about turnip is that it provides many nutrients and health benefits. It is also an easy root vegetable to grow.

Turnip is a cruciferous vegetable with a creamy white color and a purple top, though it also comes in different colors.

Even though it is a root veggie, it is not related to potatoes. Instead, it is relative to broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula, and kale.

Here, you’ll learn of the benefits of turnip and how to grow and prepare them.

Nutritional Values

One hundred grams of raw turnip contains the following [1]: 

  • 28 calories
  • 27 mg of phosphorus
  • 0.9 g of protein
  • 6.43 g of carbohydrates
  • 1.8 g of fiber
  • 30 mg of calcium
  • 0.1 micrograms (mcg) of Vitamin K
  • 67 mg of sodium
  • 0.27 mg of zinc
  • 0.3 mg of iron
  • 21 mg of vitamin C
  • 11 mg of magnesium
  • 15 mcg of folate

Turnip Benefits

Turnips are great for a high-fiber diet. Fiber helps to reduce pressure and inflammation in the colon. High fiber foods can also reduce the prevalence of diverticulitis flares.

Turnips 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.

Additionally, they contain dietary nitrates and provide many benefits for blood vessel health. Turnips also provide potassium.

Moreover, a high intake of cruciferous vegetables like turnip greens are associated with lower cancer risk [2].

Growing Turnips 

If you’re planting turnips as a summer crop, you want to plant them early. For a winter harvest, plant them in the late summer to be able to harvest before the first frost.

Additionally, when preparing your garden, keep in mind that turnips need full sun but can tolerate partial shade.

When preparing the bed, rake and hoe so that the soil is well combined. Next, sprinkle the seeds and rake them in gently. Ensure the seeds are sunk about ½ an inch deep.

Once the seeds are planted, water right away. After they begin growing, thin the seedlings so that they are about 4 inches apart. This will give them lots of room to form healthy roots.

Related: How to Grow Swede Vegetable (Rutabaga)

Pests

Turnips are loved for their fleshy roots and leafy greens. Unfortunately, they also taste great to certain garden pests. You can pick most of these pest 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.

You can treat by spraying the plants with Bacillus thuringiensis or hand-picking them off. Organic pesticides such as Spinosad and AzaGuard can also help eliminate these pests.

2. Soil-Based Caterpillars

Soil-based caterpillars like cutworms feed on the leaves and stems of younger plants.

If you plow your garden ten days before you start to plant, you can eliminate the eggs and larvae of the pests. Beneficial Nematodes can also kill cutworms and other harmful soil-based caterpillars.

3. Aphids

Aphids are active feeders on this veggie. These tiny crittters have soft bodies and they feed aggressively. However, you might be able to tolerate them because they will only attack the leaves.

For treatment, simply mix a solution of 4-5 teaspoons of organic liquid soap in one-quart water and spray plants. You can also apply Ecoworks following the package instructions.

4. Whiteflies

Whiteflies are sap-feeding insects that attack many crops. They are tiny and resemble moths.

They produce honeydew, attracting a sooty kind of mold that disrupts turnip photosynthesis.

Treat whitefly infestation with either horticultural oil or insecticidal soap. You can also blast them off your plants with a jet hose.

5. Maggots

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 roots.

Cabbage maggots will tunnel in and out of the turnips. Afterward, the vegetables are exposed to fungi from the soil.

Scouting for eggs in the soil, as well as releasing nematodes can help get rid of them.

Plant Diseases 

Turnip crops can suffer from root-knot nematodes, leaf spot, white rust, scab, clubroot, anthracnose, and mosaic virus.

Some of these diseases can lead to crop failure; therefore, crop rotation and other control measures should be used.

To prevent problems with infections, do not grow on the same spot for more than two years in a row.  

Harvesting 

You can harvest early to get turnip greens. When young and tender, the leaves taste the best.

Harvest at any size you like; however, the smaller, younger ones are tenderer. For fall turnips, harvest just after a light frost but before a hard freeze as they’ll have a sweeter taste.

Types of Turnips 

Here are some of the most common varieties of turnips:

  • White Lady – (matures in 35 days)
  • Purple Top White Globe – (matures in 50-55 days)
  • Royal Crown – (matures in 52 days)
  • Just Right – (matures in 70 days)
  • De Milan Rouge – (matures in 35 days)
  • Golden Ball – (matures in 60 days)
  • Scarlet Queen – (matures in 43 days)
  • Oasis – (55 days)
  • Seven Top – (matures in 45 days)
  • Red Round – (matures in 55 days)
  • Hakurei – (matures in 38 days)
  • Nozawana – (matures in 40 days)
  • Shogoin – (matures in 30-70 days)
  • Tokyo Cross – (matures in 30-35 days)

How to Cook 

Before you begin, remove the peel using a vegetable peeler.

  • You can sauté, cooking them in a pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper. You can also add the greens to wilt them.
  • Turnips can be mashed with butter and cream cheese, just like potatoes.
  • Roast them with olive oil and seasonings.
  • Make turnip fries by cutting them into sticks or wedges. Toss with olive oil and seasonings. Bake in a preheated oven.
  • You can also add turnip and turnip greens to soups and other dishes that require vegetables.

Takeaway

Whether you’re planting turnips at home or purchase them at the supermarket, this is a vegetable that is delicious.

They also offer significant health benefits. Moreover, since turnips are low in calories, they are great to add to a diet. Look up those turnip recipes!

Andre Campbell

Organic farmer and co-founder of Dre Campbell Farm. He appreciates everything in nature -- sunshine, plants, animals, and human life.

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