The swede (Brassica napus) is hardy root vegetable that has a similar in taste to the turnip but milder and sweeter. Although, larger and slower growing, they are extremely hardy and provide an excellent source of fresh root vegetables over winter.
Soil Type: Light, non-acid soil, with good drainage.
Conditions: Full sun.
Ease of Cultivation: Easy
Type: Root Vegetable.
Hardiness: Hardy in most regions of the UK.
When to Sow: May-June
Harvest Season: November onwards.
They grow best in a light, well cultivated soil, that has been manured in the previous season. Although a heavier soil will do, so long as it is well drained. Dig the soil over and break down to a fine tilth. Rake-in a general purpose fertiliser a few weeks before sowing. Lime the soil if necessary.
Sow seeds outside in May and June. Sow thinly 4 inch (2 cm) deep in rows about 16 inches (40 cm) apart. Gradually thin seedlings to 10 inches (25 cm) apart.
Keep weed free and water well in dry periods.
Swede is a member of the brassica family so can be affected by club-root and cabbage root fly. The leaves can be affected by flea beetle.
Harvest swedes as soon as they are big enough for use, approximately 22 weeks after sowing. They can be left in the ground to be lifted as needed until March. If left longer they will sprout fresh leaves that can be eaten like turnip tops, although the root will no longer be edible.
Swede can be stored as for other root vegetables but are best eaten when fresh.
Cut off the stalk and roots and peel. Dice into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes and boil in slightly salted water for 30-40 minutes.
Serve as it is or mash with a little butter and seasoning to taste.
Can also be used as an ingredient in soups, stews, casseroles and pies.
Swede 'Best of All' is an easy to grow purple topped root, with rich yellow flesh, smooth texture and mild flavour. Very hardy and dependable. Available at Mr Fothergills.
Swede 'Brora' is a attractive reddish-purple Swede, with well-flavoured, creamy yellow flesh. Harvest from late autumn to early January. Stores well. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Swede 'Magres' is a purple topped Swede with good flavoured yellow flesh. Fully winter hardy and mildew resistant. Available at Thompson & Morgan.
Swede Marian is a purple top swede with pale yellow flesh and elognated shape. Resistant to club root and mildew. Available at Mr Fothergills.
Swede Ruby is dark purple-skinned, globe shaped, swede with fine sweet tasting creamy yellow flesh. Available at Suttons and Marshalls.
Swede 'Tweed' (F1 hybrid) is a vigourous, globe-shaped, purple topped, root. One of the tastiest varieties of swede available, with uniform globe shaped roots. Winter hardy and good for storing. Height 12in (30cm), spread 10in (25cm). Available at Marshalls. Available at Van Meuwen. Available at Thompson & Morgan.