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Growing Swede

How to grow Swedes (Rutabaga, Yellow Turnip) in garden beds and allotments



Family/Latin Name

Brassicaceae - Brassica napus

Type of Plant

Brassica - Crop Rotation Group = Brassicas

Suitable for

Garden Beds, Allotments

Pests & Diseases    Companion Plants    In the Kitchen

See also:-  Vegetable Growing Glossary  |    Container Growing  | Buying Seeds & Plants


Plant Dimension

Height up to 30cm/12"  - spread up to 23cm/9"

Yield per plant
Yield per 1.4cm/5ft row
1 Swede

Time between sowing and harvesting

20-24 weeks

Where to Sow

Outdoors in open ground 

Sowing time

Late May  to early June  -  temperature   +17C/63F. 

How to Sow

12mm/½-inch deep - very thinly -  in rows 37cm/15" apart or in groups/blocks

After Germination

When the seedlings are large enough to handle,  thin to 5-7.5cm/2-3" apart. Throw away the thinnings as these do not transplant well.  Make sure the ground is well drained and avoid over-manuring.

Growing on -  in Pots

Not recommended

Growing on- in ground

Continue thinning in stages until the plants are 23cm/9" apart. Keep watered and avoid dry spells which may  cause the roots to split or become woody.


As above


Start pulling when the globes are the size of a grapefruit. There is no need to wait for them to get to their full size.  Pull every other plant to leave space for remaining globes to get bigger. Crops over 16-20 weeks.


Can be left in the ground over winter for use in Spring or can be bulk stored by twisting off the leaves, placing the globes between layers of peat or sand in a box and kept in a cool shed or garage.

Pests and Diseases

Companion Plants

Club Root
Indications Discoloured leaves which wilt in warm weather, swollen, solid galls on roots
Treatment None - lift and burn diseased plants
Prevention Organic
1. Lime plot where you intend growing brassicas
2. Do not grow brassicas in the same place for 2-3 years (crop rotation)
3. Make sure the site is well drained
Indications Holes in leaves or much of the leaf eaten away in severe cases
Treatment Organic
Inspect plants regularly and pick off eggs or caterpillars. The caterpillars like to lie right next to the veins of leaves, sometimes making them difficult to find
Spray with a pesticide containing Fenitrothion
Prevention Try growing crops under a net which will prevent the butterflies/moths getting to the plant to lay their eggs
Pick off and destroy eggs as soon as you see them to prevent them from hatching
Cabbage Root Fly
Indications Stunted growth especially seedlings. Discoloured wilted leaves. Roots are black and rotted with maggot damage and tunnelling and white maggots present
Treatment Organic
Prevention 1. Place a 15cm/6" diameter collar around each plant stem as early as possible which will prevent the fly laying eggs on the soil near the plant.
2. Grow crops under a tent of fleece
3. Dispose of affected plants and practice crop rotation in future years

Companion Flower Graphic


Celery, Beetroot, Onion, Shallots, Garlic, Chamomile, Spinach, Chard, Geraniums,   Rosemary, Nasturtium, Borage

Create a bio-diverse environment by planting flowers nearby to attract bees, ladybirds and other "friendlies".  To learn more about companion planting click here.

In the Kitchen

Storage: Uncut - twist off the leaves. 2 - 3 weeks  in a cool, dry, dark place. Cut - Up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.   

Preparing:  Wash well in cold water.  Peel thickly. Large bulbs are best cut into quarters before peeling as the skin is quite tough.



Chunks   =  40 - 50 minutes. Best par-boiled first for 10 minutes. Coat in oil or goose fat an sprinkle with salt or seasonings before roasting.

Cubes = 25 - 25 minutes Best par-boiled first for 5 minutes. Coat in oil or goose fat and sprinkle with salt or seasonings before roasting.

Slices/Batons =  45 - 60 minutes baked in a sauce or cream


Cubes/Chunks   =    10 - 20 minutes


Slices/Chips (French Fries) /Batons/Cubes   =  Sauté 10 - 20 minutes;


Chunks/Cubes = 5 - 10 minutes


Cubes/Thick Slices   =    20 - 30 minutes


For more preparation and cooking information about Swede plus lots of  recipes visit our sister site www.recipes4us.co.uk.

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