Turnip: sowing cultivation maintenance and harvesting

Turnip (Brassica rapa) is a herbaceous plant of the family Brassicaceae which is grown as an annual root vegetable. There are different varieties. Turnips are included in soups but they can also be eaten roasted, steamed, pan-fried and even raw. Here’s how to sow the turnip and care for it to enjoy a successful harvest.

Sow the turnip

Depending on its variety, the turnip can be sown at different times of the year, namely:

  • Between July and September for winter varieties,
  • From March to May for summer varieties.
  • Prepare furrows, remembering to space them about thirty centimeters from each other.
  • Make a semi-clear which consists of depositing a turnip seed every 10 cm.
  • Lightly cover the seeds with loose soil.
  • Water in fine rain.

The sowing method takes place as follows:

Thereafter, it is essential to ensure water regularly so that the soil does not dry out between two waterings. Maintaining the coolness of the soil promotes emergence.

After the seedlings have reached a height of 13-15 cm and have formed two true leaves, it is necessary tothin out rows of turnips. Only the most vigorous plants are kept in place, one every 25 cm. Through thinning, these root vegetables will grow properly. The weakest plants can be transplanted to another place in the vegetable garden under the same conditions.

Grow turnip

The turnip loves non-calcareous, cool, well-drained, loose soils rich in humus. He is particularly fond of semi-shaded exposures. Slight morning sunshine may suit it, but be careful, it should not be planted in full sun because it risks suffering from it during the summer season. The turnip does not support either dry soil or even negative temperatures because it is gélif. It is therefore important to carefully select the area of ​​the vegetable garden before transplanting it.

The land preparation is capital for the culture of the turnip, and it is necessary to do it several months in advance. This involves digging the garden in depth, removing all the stones and plant debris, then breaking up the clods in order to loosen the soil perfectly. It is essential to obtain well trained turnips. We obviously take the opportunity to weed with rigor. Finally, level the ground with a rake. It is only then that we can trace the furrows in which we can deposit the seeds when the time comes. A depth of 1 to 1.5 cm is sufficient.

On a daily basis, the gardener must give particular attention to its turnip crop. Under good conditions, seedlings germinate in about ten days at most. If the seedlings do not seem to want to come out of the ground, it is necessary to start the sowing again because the late germination of the seeds leads to the formation of fibrous vegetables, which is not desirable.

Take care of your turnips in the garden

Turnip needs care from sowing to harvest.


Watering should be done regularly, about every three days in summer and once a week in autumn unless it rains every day. What must absolutely be avoided is the turnip dehydration which can be spotted by the softening of the foliage, which bends and eventually turns yellow. In addition, watering turnips is essential to prevent them from becoming fibrous and tough. It also helps to mist the foliage and rid it of any pests, especially flea beetles.


It is useful to install a mulch at the foot of turnip plants, especially in case of drought. This keeps the soil cool since the water evaporates less quickly, the earth always having to stay cool. This also limits the development of weeds.


This is before sowing, at the beginning of the spring or during the autumn, that it is necessary to think of enriching the ground of the garden. The turnip is a gourmet root vegetable. Cultivating it in fertile soil is essential to benefit from an abundant harvest, to obtain turnips of a good caliber less susceptible to parasites. Before sowing, care should be taken to add organic manure rich in phosphorus and potassium. Decomposed compost is fine. The good idea is to cultivate after broad beans, green beans, lettuces or carrots.

We also take care being cultivatedto fertilize the soil by carrying out boost fertilizer such as a fertilizer based on seabird droppings. It is then enough to scratch the ground in order to incorporate guano into it.

Pests and diseases

The snails and the slugs can damage foliage. But it is enough to spread iron-based granules to limit the risks.

The attacks ofheights are frequent. These are black-colored beetles that can be feared more particularly in the event of drought. They are spotted by the many small holes on the turnip leaves. Insecticide based on pyrethrum or black soap can eliminate flea beetles as well as a good watering because these parasites hate humid environments.

The main turnip diseases are mildew and rot. the mildew can be spotted by the spots that dot the leaves. All affected parts must be removed. It can be treated either with horsetail decoction sprays or with Bordeaux mixture.

About the turnip rot which occurs especially in very wet periods, it is more common in white turnip varieties or even in soil that is not sufficiently enriched with decomposed compost. This is a disease that affects the leaves and then the roots. Affected parts should be removed without delay. Thereafter, we will no longer be able to cultivate there for about three years because the disease is difficult to eradicate.

Harvest the turnip

It is advisable not to wait for the turnips to grow too large. Early turnips are harvested in early spring and you can even eat their tender leaves, raw in salads or cooked. As for the winter varieties, they must be harvested completely before the first frosts.

To harvest turnips, you must use a fork-spade and take care not to injure the tubers when uprooting. Care should be taken to harvest when the soil is not too wet. It’s necessary let them dry for one or two days, either outside if it is not raining, or inside in case of bad weather, before store them in the cellar because they should no longer contain moisture. Once stripped of their rootlets and leaves, the turnips placed in crates containing very dry sand can keep for several months in a healthy place, frost-free, in order to be consumed according to the needs of the family.

Be careful to only store tubers in the cellar that have not been injured and of course without any disease. If you don’t pay enough attention to it, you just risk contaminating your entire crop and the turnips won’t keep.

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