Rascally Rutabagas and Torquate* Turnips

Apr 13, 2016

One rutabaga, two rutabaga, three rutabaga, four, please tell me I will not have to eat, one rutabaga more!  As a cabbage/turnip cross and being nutritious and easy to grow and usually high yielding, I, for one, would need to be threatened with a jab in the eye with the dull end of a sharp stick, before eating a rutabaga or turnip.  But, I digress.

Root vegetables can be a challenge, more soil-related than other factors.  Well-attended soil will nurture those small seeds into tasty (if, you are so inclined) tops and roots.  Fall crops are generally, more tender and usually sweeter.  Rutabagas generally take 3-4 weeks longer to attain similar maturity than do turnips, so plant accordingly by planning at least 100 days before the first Fall frost.  Turnips are usually mature in 40-60 days.

Basic Gardening Steps

These steps will produce a zestful rutabaga root mash with carrots, tasty turnip greens and/or extremely eatable roots and tops for livestock winter feed.

Good Site Location

Select an area with good sunlight, though root vegetables will tolerate partial shade.  Do not plant near competing shrub or tree roots.  Well drained loamy, level, loose and fertile soil is best.  Ensure that fertile soil by mixing in 6-12 lbs/1000 sq. ft. of area of Dry Crumbles 6-10-1 + 10% Ca.  This organic fertilizer will feed all beneficial soil microorganisms that will, in turn, feed the vegetables.  Heavy clay, very sandy or sodic soils are to be avoided.  Sodic soils may occur because of continuous use of synthetic sodium-based fertilizers (have a soils lab run an analysis of your garden site sample).  Areas infested with rhizomatous grass or similarly rooted weeds must be avoided.  A nearby watering source is also desirable.

Recommended Varieties

Local garden stores and state or county agencies can be helpful in variety selection for the area in which you reside.  Rutabaga varieties can be American Purple Top Yellow, Western Perfection, Superba and many different Heirlooms. Try turnip Heirlooms and Purple-Top White Globe, Shogoin or Hakurei.

Soil Preparation and Care

The seedbed should not be worked when it is too wet.  If soil crumbles in your hand it is time for seeding.  Make raised beds if irrigating by furrow.  Apply Dry Crumbles 6-10-1 + 10% Ca during the growing season as needed.

Plant Properly

Mark out straight rows and nice spacing between rows (18”-24” for rutabagas, 12”-18” for turnips).  For rutabagas sow 4-6 seeds per foot of row (thin, 6”-8”) and ¼ – 1/2 inches deep.  For turnips, sow 6-8 seeds for root or 15-20 seeds for greens per foot of row (thin, 2”- 4”) and ¼ – ½ inches deep.  Seeds should be uniformly spaced.  Plant a bit deeper in sandier soil.  Cover the seeds and firm the soil over them (all of us kids know how to do this).

Irrigate by lightly sprinkling the soil surface and keeping the soil moist until germination.  If furrow irrigating, the water must be kept in the furrow until the moisture moves across the seed bed.  Prevent crusting and drying by watering enough.  After emergence, water less often, but deeper.  Do not wait too long to thin to desirable plant numbers.  Root damage can occur from crowding if plants grow too large.  Remove the weakest seedlings first.

Careful Irrigation

Maximize root density (sugars, carbohydrates) and longer storage life by use of Seaweed Creme.  Increase soil friability, buffering of sodium and increase population numbers and diversity of beneficial soil microorganisms with use of Soil Source.  Mix 2 Tbsp. of Seaweed Creme and 1 Tbsp. of Soil Source in one gallon of water.  Use this mix as a soil drench every week when watering.

Watering frequency depends on many factors.  Soil type, weather, and plant size are the most common.  Sandy soils will need more attention than loamy-clay types, root crops, of course, will need deeper watering and well established plants will, by year’s end, need less shepherding.  Just like commercial farming, to understand what is happening with your crop, you need to put your shadow in your garden.

Weed Control

Early on, the best weed control apparatus is at the end of your arm.

Disease and Insect Control

A well-attended fertilization program (please, no excess nitrogen) will serve the beneficial soil microbial community, plants and yourself very well.

Peak Quality

Harvest at the times that fit your needs best.  Now, where is that dull end of a sharp stick?

*Ringed about the neck

Product Recommendations

Soil Source®

Soil Source works to reverse damage and return soils back to their natural, optimum state. This product is a unique, biologically-enhanced humic acid, with a diverse spectrum of naturally occurring, beneficial microorganisms that help rebuild and restore soils. At BioFlora we utilize a proprietary extraction process, which maximizes the amounts of humic acid we are able to procure. Our product is also comprised of many different characteristics that are not found in other organic acid products, such as soil carbon, carbohydrates, and other essential nutrients.

Seaweed Creme®

Our Seaweed Creme is made from the finest source of Ascophyllum nodosum, a type of seaweed that grows in the cold waters of the North Atlantic. From there it is hand-harvested, sun-dried, and homogenized. This differs from most of the seaweed extracts you will find on the store shelf, which use a harmful, chemical-based, high heat extraction method, which diminishes seaweed’s vital content and produces a sub-standard product.

Premium soil amendment for planting trees, shrubs, flowers, vegetables, ground cover and much more. May be used as a mulch or seed cover. Helps break up clay soil.

Dry Crumbles®

Dry Crumbles® 6-10-1 + 10% Ca is a dry, granular fertilizer that is easy to broadcast and well-suited for broad-area coverage. BioFlora® formulated this product to provide an excellent source of high quality, organic nutrients for all types of plants, trees, and lawns. With this idea in mind, Dry Crumbles® was developed to be a balanced blend of not just nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, but to also contain high levels of calcium and other minor and trace minerals.