Turnip (Brassica rapa) and Rutabaga (swede) (Brassica napus)

Turnips – also referred to as summer turnips which helps to differentiate them from Rutabagas. Turnips grow faster than Rutabagas and taste delicious either eaten raw or cooked. They are smaller, rounder and have a white flesh. Turnips do not have a long storage period.

Rutabagas – also known as Swedes, Swede Turnips and Winter Turnips. Rutabagas are grown the same as Turnips but are shaped like large beets, sweeter and most often have creamy-yellow flesh. Excellent when served as a cooked dish these vegetables can be baked, mashed, scalloped or made into fries just like a potato. Alternatively, they are tasty as a raw vegetable for dipping. They take twice as long to mature as turnips but are hardier and can be stored throughout the winter months under proper conditions. Many people are actually referring to rutabagas when they say turnips.

When to Plant

Sow directly outside in early spring.

Location/Soil

Plant in full sun in a rich, well drained location. Work soil well as turnips and rutabagas are root crops and require room for proper development.

Planting & Growing Information

Sow seeds 13 mm (1/2″) deep and 2.5 cm (1″) apart. Plants should be spaced 10 cm (4″) apart with rows spaced 45 cm (18″) apart.

Seeds germinate in approximately 8-12 days.

Days to Maturity

From date sown directly into the garden.

Other Information

Consistent moisture throughout the growing season is essential.

Turnips are susceptible to root splitting which is often caused by periods of fluctuating moisture levels.

Practice crop rotation to avoid pests.

Root maggots can often attack both turnips and rutabagas. Putting row covers over the plants early in the season can help with this problem. Some gardeners find planting cabbage by the turnips and rutabagas to be a natural way to help control root maggots.

Avoid adding excessive organic matter and especially raw manure which will cause root vegetables to become hairy.

Harvesting & Storage

Turnips taste best when harvested at a size of approximately 8 cm (3”) in diameter.

Harvested turnips stored at room temperature should be used up within a week and can be stored for 2-3 weeks in a cool and humid location.

Turnip greens can be harvested throughout the season and are an excellent addition to salads or wonderful when prepared as a steamed vegetable.

Rutabagas are best when roots reach a diameter of approximately 10-15 cm (4-6”).

Rutabagas can be left in the ground until just before it freezes. The sweet flavor of rutabagas is enhanced by light frosts.

Rutabagas stored at room temperature should be used in about a week’s time; they can be stored in a refrigerator for several weeks and can be stored for many months when placed in a cool location with temperatures slightly above freezing.

Companion Planting

Likes: Cabbage, onion, peas.