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

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How to Grow Turnips (plus Health Benefits)

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

Turnips are a cruciferous vegetable. They have a creamy white color and a purple top, though they also come in different colors.

Even though they are root veggies, they are not related to potatoes. Instead, they are relatives of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula, and kale.

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

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 them 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)


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 pests off of the plants, but some require somewhat aggressive treatments.

1. 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 get rid of them 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.

Additionally, cutworms feed on tubers and roots and on the leaves and stems of young plants. If you plow your garden before you start to plant, you can eliminate the moth eggs and larvae.

Beneficial Nematodes can also kill cutworms and other harmful soil-based pests.

2. Aphids

Aphids are active pests of this veggie. These tiny critters have soft bodies and they can cause damage by transmitting viruses to the plant.

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.

3. Whiteflies

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

They produce honeydew, attracting sooty mold that can disrupt photosynthesis in turnips.

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 maggots and seedcorn maggots are hard to distinguish. These small larvae burrow into certain plant roots and live in the soil.

They enjoy feeding on newly sprouted plants but not so much on mature roots.

Cabbage maggots will tunnel in and out of the turnips. Scouting for eggs in the soil, as well as releasing nematodes to help get rid of larvae are a great start.

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.  


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

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

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 Health 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 is associated with lower cancer risk [2].

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 turnips and turnip greens to soups and other dishes that require vegetables.


Whether you’re planting turnips at home or purchasing 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.

1 comment

  • Thanks for the article, I’m just writing an essay on a similar topic

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