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Growing Turnips

How to grow Turnips in garden beds, containers  & allotments



Family/Latin Name

Brassicaceae - Brassica rapa var. rapa

Type of Plant

Brassica - Crop Rotation Group = Brassicas

Suitable for

Garden Beds, Containers, Allotments

Pests & Diseases    Companion Plants    In the Kitchen

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


Plant Dimensions

Height up to 25cm/10"  - spread up to 20cm/8"

Yield per plant
Yields per 1.5cm/5ft row
1 Turnip

Time between sowing and harvesting

6-12 weeks

Where to Sow

Outdoors in open ground or in pots or troughs

Sowing time

Earlies:- Late March  to early June  -  temperature   +12C/54F. 

Maincrop:- Mid July to Mid August and can also be sown in August/September to produce "spring greens" in  March/April of the next year

How to Sow

12mm/½-inch deep - very thinly -  in rows 30cm/12" 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. 

Growing on -  in Pots

Continue thinning in stages until the plants are 15cm/6" apart. Keep watered and avoid dry spells which may  cause the roots to split or become woody. Keep weed free.

Growing on- in ground

As above


As above


Start pulling when the globes are the size of a golf ball up to the size of a tennis ball. Harvest alternate globes to allow remaining ones room to get bigger. Crops over 16-20 weeks.

Pests and Diseases

Companion Plants

Turnip Mosaic Virus
Indications Young leaves twisted and mottled with dark green, raised spots
Treatment None - lift and burn diseased plants
Prevention Organic
As aphids carry the disease:-
1. Spray with a weak solution of soapy water
2. Use water through a hosepipe to knock the aphids off the plants
Spray with an insecticide containing Fenitrothion
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 1. Try growing crops under a net which will prevent the butterflies/moths getting to the plant to lay their eggs
2. 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


If you know aphids are a problem in your area, grow flowers such as nasturtiums, calendula asters,  dahlias, and zinnias nearby but not close to turnips as aphids find them attractive so they act as a lure.


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: Twist off the leaves. 2 - 3 weeks  in a cool, dry, dark place.  Can also be placed between layers of peat or sand in a box and stored in a cool shed or garage for a longer period.

Preparing:  Twist off leaves and trim the tapering root if present. Wash and peel. Can be eaten raw



Chunks/ Cubes/thick slices/Whole baby   =  30 - 45 minutes sprinkle with water and cover the dish with a lid or foil.


Cubes/Chunks/whole baby   =    10 - 20 minutes


Slices/Batons/Cubes   =  Sauté 10 - 20 minutes


Chunks/Cubes = 5 - 10 minutes


Cubes/Thick Slices   =    20 - 30 minutes

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

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