Turnip (Purple Top Milan)
Very quick and easy to grow, turnips are a traditional favourite and a ‘must have’ for the vegetable patch. The mild tasting roots have a delicious fine texture and are very versatile. Young roots are delicious grated raw into salads, mature roots can be used a wide range of dishes such as stews, casseroles, mash and even stir-fries.
Sow outdoors March to July. Sow thinly 1.5cm deep directly where they are to grow, in rows spaced 30cm apart. Keep the soil moist and weed free at all times. Seedlings should start to appear after approximately 14-21 days. When they are large enough to handle, thin the seedlings to 10cm apart, giving the remaining plants room to grow on. It is good practice to water well after thinning out, to wash any dislodged soil back around the roots of the remaining plants. Keep well watered and weed free. Sow a new row every 2-3 weeks to extend your harvest period.
Top Tips About Seeds
Once the seed packet has been opened, the seeds can be stored in an airtight container until required for further sowings. Turnip seeds will maintain their vigour for a good number of years.
Turnips can quite easily be grown in large patio tubs or containers. Especially if grown for young and tender baby roots
Caterpillars are most common pest and can be prevented by growing plants under a fine insect netting. A fine mesh netting will also help to exclude other possible pests like cabage root flies and flea beetles which can damage the young leaves.
Harvest from June to October. Begin harvesting alternate roots from the row when they are about the size of a golf ball. For the best flavour and texture they are best harvested before they reach the size of a tennis ball.
Ideas on how to use your Turnip
Keep the soil moist as the seeds are germinating, if it dries out completely it can set them back. Water thoroughly once a week during particularly hot and dry spells as this will help the roots swell.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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