Turnip Essentials

by National Gardening Association Editors


  • Turnips mature in about 2 months.
  • Fall crops are usually sweeter and more tender than spring crops, and insects are less of a problem late in the season.
  • For best results, sow spring crops as soon as the soil can be worked.


  • Before planting add fertilizer at the rate of 2 pounds of 10-10-10 or its equivalent per 50 square feet.
  • Prepare beds rather than rows.


  • Broadcast turnip seed over a well-tilled bed. Rake to cover seeds with 1/2 inch of soil or use a tiller set on shallow to bury the seeds.


  • Do not thin if growing turnips for greens only.
  • For turnip roots, thin seedlings to stand 2 to 4 inches apart when they are 4 inches high.
  • Water deeply once a week (about 1 inch of water at a time) so the roots don't become tough and bitter.
  • Mulch heavily.
  • See the article Summer's Bad Guys by Charlie Nardozzi for how to control common turnip pests such as root maggots.


  • Harvest turnips at any eating size during the growing season.
  • In the fall, dig mature roots before the ground freezes and store in a cool place.

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