when-to-plant-turnips

When to Plant Turnips? Early or Late & Not in Between

Turnips, like radishes, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collards, and kale are members of the Brassica family. All of these vegetables are cold weather crops. A little frost even enhances their flavor, making them taste even sweeter. Hot weather though turns turnips tough and bitter. So, plant turnips early or plant them late, but don’t plant them in mid-season in heat even with shade.

When to Plant Turnips in the Fall

As already mentioned, a few frosts sweeten the taste of turnips, so fall is the best time to plant and grow them.

For a fall harvest, you can plant your turnips as early as August in the beds where you’ve harvested earlier crops. Try planting them in the spaces where you grew crops like the following:

  • Squash
  • Beans
  • Sweet corn
  • Onions

Turnips even grow in poor soil, so they easily thrive on the nutrients left in the soil by earlier crops. They are known as a “mop up crop” for that reason.

Because turnips mature quickly, you might be able to get several harvests winters of greens and roots by planting turnips every week or so. If you have colder winters and you’re planting your turnips to harvest the root, your final planting should be 10 to 11 weeks before the hard freeze date for your area.

If you are planting for greens, your final planting should be seven to eight weeks before the hard freeze date. However, if you live in an area with milder winters where the ground doesn’t freeze, you might be able to plant turnips all winter long.

When to Plant Turnips in the Spring

You can plant turnips in the spring as soon as the soil temperature warms to a steady 40°F (4°C). In some areas, that can be as early as March. If you aren’t sure about the soil temperature, you can begin planting your turnips two to three weeks before the last frost date in your area.

Again, you can plant crops in succession every week or two. Time your final planting for roots 10 to 11 weeks before temperatures usually go above 75°F (24°C). For greens, make your final planting seven to eight weeks before warm weather begins. While warm temperatures cause the greens to become bitter and the roots to become tough, woody, and bitter, longer days induce turnips to bolt or to stop producing greens in favor of producing flowers and preparing to produce seeds.

How to Plant Turnips

Choose a location with full to partial sun and well-drained, loamy or sandy soil that has a pH between 5.5 and 6.8. To prevent anything from inhibiting the growth and development of the root, you will need to loosen the soil down to 12 inches to 15 inches. Break up clods of dirt, and remove stones. Work 2 to 4 inches of compost or aged manure into the soil before planting.

You can broadcast your seed by hand or with a planter at a rate of three to 20 seeds per foot. Space rows about 12 inches apart. Rake soil over the seeds, covering them with no more than 1/2 inch of soil.

If you are growing your turnips for the roots, thin them to 4 to 6 inches apart when they are 4 inches tall. If you are growing them for greens, you can thin them to 2 to 3 inches apart or just let them grow as is.