Posted on 11 November 2011 by

How to Grow Turnips and Turnip Candy Memories


By Mindy McIntosh-Shetter

Growing up in a rural community brought many challenges that some people do not appreciate.

One of these challenges was sweets.

While my dad had a sweet tooth and loved pastries, pies, cakes, donuts and anything else sweet, we could only have sweets that were marked down.

I really do not think I ever had a sweet that was not marked down until I was married.

In my family, frugalness was next to godliness.

So growing up, sweets were found in the fruits and vegetables that were grown on the farm. Fresh apples, peaches and plums were the staple desert after the evening meal but for me I discovered the sweetness of a long forgotten vegetable the turnip.

Turnips are one of those easy vegetables that many do not know what to do with if you were not raised eating them. They can be peeled, boiled and mashed with potatoes or left by themselves with a little butter and sugar. Another way of eating turnips is just peeling them and eating them raw. Eaten this way, the true sweet nature of the vegetable really shines through.

Also, the tops or leaves of the turnip plant can be eaten. Just simply remove the leaves from the roots, wash the leaves thoroughly and steam.

To grow your own turnips is very simple. For me, the hardest part of this process is the waiting time between planting and harvesting.

Begin the process by preparing the garden area. Turnips are a root vegetable so making the soil as easy as possible to go through is the goal. To do this, add sand to the top eight inches of soil. After this is done, make a trough that is one-half inch deep and plant seeds six inches apart. Cover the seed with soil and water in. If planting more than one row, arrange the rows so that they are 12 inches apart.

Another approach is to create a simple turnip bed. This is done by preparing the garden area as above but instead of planting rows you just broadcast the seed. After this is done, merely take a garden rake and rake over the area. This will help bury the seed to the correct depth. Once this is done, water the area thoroughly.

Keep the garden space weed free by laying down mulch, newspapers or any other means of controlling weeds. Do not use deep cultivation techniques since turnips are a root vegetable.

Harvest the turnips when they are four to five inches in diameter or the size of a tennis ball. Do not pick any that are larger then this since they will be woody in nature.

To store turnips for later use, simply remove the leaves and place them in a bag. Store in the refrigerator of up to 21 days. The root, on the other hand, simply needs the soil knocked off and placed in a cool environment.

Turnips are a cool-season vegetable and can be grown early in the spring and fall. Just keep in mind though; spring turnips will be smaller than the fall harvest due to the heat.

So give Mother Nature’s candy a try this growing season.

Until we blog again, turnips may have humble beginning but do not let them fool you. The sweetness of this vegetable will tease your tongue for more of nature’s health food candy.

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