The Vegetable Garden


    Turnips grow wild in Siberia and have been eaten since prehistoric times. Rutabagas are a cross between cabbage and turnip. Turnips are easy to grow if sown in the proper season. They mature in two months and may be planted either in the spring, late summer or fall for roots or greens. The spring crop is planted for early summer use. The fall crop, which is usually larger and of higher quality, is often stored for winter use.

    Because rutabagas require 4 weeks longer to mature than turnips, they are best grown as a fall crop. The leaves are smoother and the roots are rounder, larger and firmer than those of turnips. Rutabaga is most commonly grown in the northern tier of states and Canada but should perform fairly well anywhere there is a fairly long cool period in the autumn or early winter.


    Turnip (white-fleshed unless noted):

    • Just Right (hybrid - 28 days to harvest for greens and 60 days for roots; smooth, high quality, mild roots, pure white; for fall)
    • Gilfeather (75 days; Vermont heirloom; egg-shaped, uniform, large; creamy white, smooth texture, delicate flavor, smooth foliage, almost like a rutabaga)
    • Golden Ball (60 days, sweet, fine-grained yellow flesh)
    • Market Express (earliest, 38 days for baby turnips, pure white roots)
    • Purple Top White Globe (55 days, the standard purple and white; smooth, globe roots)
    • Royal Crown (hybrid - 52 days, purple top, fast growth, uniform roots, resistant to bolting)
    • Scarlet Queen (hybrid - 45 days, bright scarlet root, smooth white flesh, resistant to downy mildew, slow to get pithy)
    • Tokyo Cross (hybrid - 35 days; AAS winner; all-white, uniform, round roots; slow to get pithy)
    • White Knight (75 days, smooth, uniform, pure white, flattened globe roots)
    • White Lady (hybrid-pure white, sweet, tender, delicious roots, slow to get pithy; smooth tops)

    Turnip Greens:

    • Alltop (hybrid - 35 days, vigorous, high-yielding, rapid regrowth, resistant to mosaic)
    • Seven Top (open-pollinated - 40 days; dark green leaves; for tops only)
    • Shogoin (42 days; tender, mild; roots good when young)
    • Topper (hybrid - 35 days; heavy yields, vigorous regrowth; good bolt resistance; resistant to mosaic; pale green roots also edible)

    Rutabaga (yellow-fleshed):

    • Altasweet (92 days; purple shoulders, light yellow below; mild, sweet flavor)
    • American Purple Top (90 days, large globe-shaped roots with purple top and light yellow flesh)
    • Improved Long Island (90 days; large, spherical; purplish red shoulders, light yellow below; small taproot)
    • Laurentian (90 days; dark purple shoulders, pale yellow below; smooth, uniform roots, small necks)
    • Pike (100 days; purple shoulders; similar to Laurentian, better leaf cover, may be left in field later in fall)
    • Red Chief (90 days)