Posted on 31 August 2011 by

Get Two for One in Your Garden Space-Plant Turnips and Beets

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Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

Growing up in the country, I learned quickly how to work smarter not harder and this was true when it came to gardening.

While planting tomatoes, peppers, beans, and peas was rewarding, it only provided one crop and most of the time that crop came all at the same time.

There was not a lull between harvests where one could really enjoy the flavors of the season.

Pepper plants all seemed to bloom and fruit at the same time along with determinate tomatoes, and beans.

While peas are a typically a cool season crop, the race was on when they would bloom and fruit. The frenzy of harvesting and preserving took away from the sweetness of the season. While I understood that this was a survival modus operandi, I stilled missed the leisure of sampling the fruits of my family’s labor.

This planting, harvesting, and preserving frenzy continued until I discovered vegetables that provided produce at a going rate of two for one. One may be a little confused by this statement, two for one, but that is the best way I can describe my budget friendly vegetables the turnip and beet.

To begin the planting process of turnips and beets begins in the spring with the soil preparation. The soil needed for both of these crops needs to be well drained and in a sunny to partial shade location. Once the soil has been prepared, it is time to sow the seed.

Turnip and beet seeds are very small. To aid in the planting, either broadcast the seed over the area or cut the top of the seed packet and let the seed roll down the crease of the packet. Using either one of these techniques will give the gardener more control over where the seed is placed. Once the seed is placed on the soil, simply cover with light layer of soil that is less than 1/2 inch.

If you do not want to broadcast the garden area with these seeds, they can be planted in rows or planted in containers.

Water in completely. Water can be a limiting factor when growing both of these vegetables. Turnips and beets require one inch of water per week, so monitor soil moisture.

Once the seeds start to germinate, you will need to thin them if you want to harvest both roots and leaves. Turnips are thinned twice during the growing season. They will need to be one to two inches apart. The product from the last thinning can be used for greens.

Beets, also, need to be thinned to encourage the root to grow. The spacing is the same as for the turnip.

After both of these vegetables begin to grow, they produce a wonderful arrangement of leaves that can eaten before and after the root is pulled. If you choose to pick the leaves without the root, make sure to leave 2/3 of the leaves intact on each root. They will need these leaves to produce food through photosynthesis.

As the season continues, one can begin to pick the vegetables when they are about one inch in diameter or slightly bigger. Turnips tend to become woody if allowed to get too large so picking them while they are small is important. Beets, on the other hand, only get woody if the soil moisture is not right.

Both of these vegetables take about two months to reach mature size but they both cannot be planted all season. Turnips do better if planted in the early spring and then replanted in the fall. Beets, on the other hand, can be planted several times starting in the spring and going all the way to the fall. They can also be grown indoors as microgreens and/or baby roots.

So until we blog again, vegetables that provide two for one have not always been valued. Roots were valued by the rich and leaves given to the poor for them to adore. Today, we as a society are rediscovering these simply greens and labeling them with gourmet names. Microgreens, baby greens and galore grace many plates with five star lore but for these simple gree

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