Turnips (Brassica rapa) are quick growing, root vegetables, ideal for stews and stir fries. Modern varieties are tender and fast cropping, ready in around six to eight weeks from sowing to harvesting.

How to Cook >> Popular Varieties

Growing Conditions

Soil Type: Sandy, deeply dug, loam.

Conditions: Full sun.

Ease of Cultivation: Easy.

Type: Root Vegetable.

Hardiness: Hardy in most regions of the UK.

When to Sow: March to May.

Harvest Season: Late summer to autumn.

Planting and Growing Turnips


As for other root crops, do not manure the year before as this can cause the roots to fork (split). The ground should also be free of stones.

Turnips 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.

When to Sow

Sowings may be made in the open from March to August. Successional sow every few weeks to ensure a regular harvest.

Can be sown as early as late February under cloches. Maincrop varieties are usually sown from July to August for harvesting in November and December.

Sow seed in shallow drills approximately 12in (30cm) between rows or equidistant in raised beds. Young plants should be thinned to at least 6in (15cm) apart.

Taking Care of Turnips

Keep weed free and water as required.

Pests and Diseases

As part of the brassica family club-root can be an issue. Modern, fast growing varieties are less affected. They are also vulnerable to cabbage root fly.

Harvesting & Storing Turnips

Harvest as soon as the roots are large enough to use, approximately 6 to 10 weeks after sowing.

Turnips are best harvested when small and tender. As they grow-on they become less tender and less flavoursome.

Storing Turnips

Cover with a few inches of leaves or straw and leave in the ground over winter. In the spring, any roots left will send up a crop of young green shoots called "turnip-tops", which are edible as leafy greens.

How to Cook Turnips

Like swedes, turnips are traditionally cooked in pies, casseroles and stews. Modern hybrid varieties tend to be smaller and much more tender, and can be delicious grated raw into a salad.

Wash thoroughly. Trim off the stalk and root, and peel. Small turnips can be cooked whole or larger ones cut into chunks or slices. Boil in lightly salted water until tender.

Nutritional Value

Low in calories, they are high in vitamins, potassium and dietary fiber.

Popular Varieties of Turnips

Turnip 'Milan Purple Top' is fast cropping, pink/purple topped variety, that is best eaten when small and tender. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Turnip Market Express is a hardy late variety. Best eaten when small and tender.

Turnip Manchester Market is a round, white fleshed type with a green top. It has a mild flavour and keeps well.

Turnip 'Oasis' can be picked at any size with a sweet juicy flavour. It can be eaten raw or grated and added to salads. Ideal for summer and autumn harvests. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Turnip 'Snowball' is traditional and dependable, sweet flavoured, creamy white globe turnip. Cropping from early autumn to early winter. Height and spread to 10in (25cm). Available from Van Meuwen.

Turnip 'Sweetbell' (F1 Hybrid) is a flavoursome white turnip with attractive purple-tops. Delicious cooked or grated raw in salads. Available at Thompson & Morgan.

Plant Groups