How To Plant Turnip Greens [ Full Guide ]

Turnip greens are not only a delicious addition to any meal, but they also boast a plethora of health benefits. These leafy greens are easy to cultivate and make a great addition to any home garden. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of planting turnip greens, from selecting the right soil to preparing the planting area and timing the planting for a successful harvest.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Turnip Greens

To plant turnip greens, choose a sunny location with well-draining soil. Plant the seeds directly in the soil about half an inch deep and one inch apart. Water the seeds thoroughly after planting and ensure the soil remains consistently moist. Once the greens germinate, thin them to about 4-6 inches apart to provide ample space for growth. Harvest the turnip greens when they reach a desirable size, typically around 4-6 weeks after planting.

Now, let’s delve into each step in detail to ensure a successful turnip greens planting experience.

Choosing The Right Soil For Planting Turnip Greens

Turnip greens thrive in well-draining, fertile soil. Choose a soil type that is rich in organic matter and has a slightly acidic to neutral pH level, ideally between 6.0 and 7.0. The soil should also be loose and friable to promote root development and allow for easy expansion of the turnip greens.

If you’re unsure about the quality of your soil, consider conducting a soil test. This will provide valuable insights into the soil’s nutrient content and pH level, allowing you to make necessary amendments before planting. Most local agricultural extension offices offer soil testing services, or you can utilize DIY soil test kits available at garden centers.

Once you have a good understanding of your soil’s composition, consider enriching it with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. Incorporating organic materials not only improves the soil structure but also enhances its nutrient content, providing a favorable environment for turnip greens to thrive.

Recommending The Best Time For Planting Turnip Greens

Turnip greens are cool-season crops that thrive in mild temperatures. The best time to plant turnip greens is during the early spring or late summer/early fall, depending on your local climate. Planting during these periods ensures that the greens avoid extreme heat, which can cause them to bolt and turn bitter prematurely.

In regions with mild winters, turnip greens can even be planted in the winter for a late winter or early spring harvest. However, it’s essential to be mindful of the first frost date in your area, as turnip greens can tolerate light frost but may succumb to harsh freezing temperatures.

By aligning your planting schedule with the optimal time for turnip greens, you’ll increase the likelihood of a successful and bountiful harvest.

Picking The Ideal Area For Planting Turnip Greens

Selecting the right location for planting turnip greens is crucial for their growth and development. Turnip greens thrive in full sunlight, so choose a spot that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Adequate sunlight not only promotes vigorous growth but also enhances the flavor and nutritional content of the leaves.

Additionally, ensure that the chosen area has good air circulation to prevent the buildup of excess moisture, which can lead to disease issues. Avoid planting turnip greens in low-lying areas that are prone to waterlogging, as the excess moisture can inhibit root growth and cause rotting.

Lastly, consider planting turnip greens in an area where they haven’t been grown in the past few years. Practicing crop rotation helps prevent the buildup of pests and diseases specific to turnip greens while promoting overall soil health.

Preparing The Soil Before Planting Turnip Greens

Before planting turnip greens, it’s crucial to prepare the soil to create an optimal environment for seed germination and subsequent growth. Follow these steps to ensure your soil is primed for planting:

Step 1: Clear The Area

Start by removing any debris, weeds, or rocks from the planting area. Clearing the site ensures that the turnip greens won’t have to compete with other plants for nutrients and space, allowing them to thrive unhindered.

Step 2: Loosen The Soil

Using a garden fork or a tiller, loosen the soil to a depth of about 8-10 inches. This process helps improve soil aeration and drainage while also breaking up compacted soil, which can hinder root growth.

Step 3: Amend The Soil

If your soil test indicated any nutrient deficiencies or pH imbalances, this is the time to address them. Incorporate organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, into the soil to improve its nutrient content and enhance its structure. Additionally, if your soil is too acidic, consider adding lime to raise the pH to the desired level.

Step 4: Rake The Soil

After amending the soil, use a garden rake to smooth the surface and create a uniform bed for planting. Raking also helps level the soil, ensuring consistent seed placement and facilitating uniform germination.

By diligently preparing the soil, you create an optimal foundation for planting turnip greens, setting the stage for successful growth and a bountiful harvest.

Planting turnip greens is a rewarding endeavor that offers a plethora of culinary and nutritional benefits. By selecting the right soil, timing your planting appropriately, choosing an ideal location, and preparing the soil diligently, you can ensure the successful cultivation of turnip greens in your home garden.

Whether you're a novice gardener or a seasoned pro, following these steps will set you on the path to a thriving turnip greens crop. With proper care and attention, you'll soon be enjoying the vibrant, nutritious leaves of freshly harvested turnip greens straight from your garden.

Ways Of Sowing Turnip Greens Seeds

Turnip greens are leafy vegetables that are not only delicious but also packed with nutrients. They are a great addition to any garden and can be easily grown at home. Whether you are a beginner gardener or an experienced one, planting turnip greens is a rewarding and straightforward process.

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Turnip greens can be started from seeds, which are readily available at local nurseries or online shops. There are two main ways of sowing turnip green seeds: direct sowing and starting them indoors.

Direct Sowing

Direct sowing is the easiest and most common method of planting turnip green seeds. It involves sowing the seeds directly into the ground where they will be growing. Here are the steps to follow for direct sowing:

  1. Prepare the soil: Before sowing the turnip green seeds, prepare the soil by removing any debris, rocks, or weeds. Loosen the soil using a garden fork or tiller to a depth of 6-8 inches. Add organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve the soil’s fertility and drainage.

  2. Choose the right time: Turnip greens are cool-season crops, so it’s important to sow the seeds at the right time. For most regions, early spring and fall are the best times to sow turnip green seeds. The soil temperature should be around 40-70°F (4-21°C) for optimal germination.

  3. Sow the seeds: Using your hands or a garden tool, create shallow furrows in the prepared soil. The furrows should be about ½ inch deep and spaced 12-18 inches apart. Sprinkle the turnip green seeds evenly along the furrows, leaving about 1 inch between each seed. Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil, and gently tamp it down.

  4. Water the seeds: After sowing the seeds, give them a good watering to ensure they are properly hydrated. Moisten the soil evenly, but avoid overwatering, as it can lead to poor germination or rotting of the seeds.

Starting Indoors

Starting turnip green seeds indoors is another option, especially if you want an early start on the growing season or have a short growing season. Here’s how to start turnip green seeds indoors:

  1. Start 4-6 weeks before the last frost date: To get a head start, sow the turnip green seeds indoors about 4-6 weeks before the last expected frost date in your area. Check the seed packet for specific instructions on the ideal start dates based on your location.

  2. Use seed trays or pots: Fill seed trays or small pots with a sterile seed-starting mix. Moisten the mix before sowing the seeds. Make small indentations in the soil, about ¼ inch deep, and place one seed in each indentation. Cover the seeds lightly with soil or vermiculite.

  3. Provide optimal conditions for germination: Place the seed trays or pots in a warm and brightly lit area, such as a sunny windowsill or under grow lights. The ideal temperature for germination is around 70°F (21°C). Make sure to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.

  4. Transplanting: After the seeds have germinated and the seedlings have developed a couple of true leaves, they are ready to be transplanted outdoors. Harden off the seedlings by gradually exposing them to outdoor conditions over a week. Transplant them into well-prepared soil, following the recommended spacing guidelines.

Recommended Plant Spacing For Turnip Greens

Proper plant spacing is essential to allow enough room for turnip greens to grow without overcrowding. It also helps to prevent diseases and encourages good airflow between the plants. The recommended plant spacing depends on the type of turnip green variety you are planting:

  1. Standard Turnip Greens: For standard turnip greens, leave a spacing of 6-8 inches between each plant. This spacing allows the plants to develop enough foliage without competing for space and nutrients.

  2. Baby Turnip Greens: If you prefer growing baby turnip greens, which are harvested when the plants are still small and tender, you can plant them closer together. Leave a spacing of 2-4 inches between each plant to encourage compact growth and tender leaves.

When transplanting turnip green seedlings, make sure to space them accordingly. Dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball and place the seedling, ensuring the base of the stem sits at ground level. Gently pat the soil around the seedling, and water thoroughly.

Guidelines For Watering Turnip Greens

Turnip greens need consistent soil moisture to grow healthy and produce tender leaves. Proper watering practices are crucial to ensure the plants receive enough moisture without becoming waterlogged. Here are some guidelines for watering turnip greens:

  1. Watering frequency: Water turnip greens regularly, especially during periods of dry weather or when the soil feels dry to the touch. Aim to keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy. Avoid letting the soil completely dry out between watering, as this can lead to bitter-tasting leaves.

  2. Watering depth: To promote deep root growth, water the turnip greens deeply each time, allowing the water to penetrate the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches. Shallow watering may result in shallow root development, making the plants more susceptible to heat stress and drought.

  3. Watering method: Use a soaker hose, drip irrigation system, or watering can with a fine nozzle to water turnip greens. These methods deliver the water directly to the soil, minimizing the risk of disease and allowing the foliage to stay dry.

  4. Morning watering: It’s best to water turnip greens in the early morning. This gives the plants ample time to dry out before evening, reducing the risk of fungal diseases. Watering in the afternoon or evening can leave the foliage wet overnight, which can promote diseases like powdery mildew.

Monitoring the moisture level of the soil is crucial. Insert your finger into the soil about an inch deep to check for moisture. If it feels dry, it’s time to water. Be mindful of rainfall and adjust your watering accordingly.

Managing Weeds In Turnip Greens

Weeds can compete with turnip greens for nutrients, sunlight, and space, and they need to be managed effectively to ensure healthy growth of the greens. Here are some tips for managing weeds in turnip greens:

  1. Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw, wood chips, or shredded leaves, around the turnip green plants. Mulch helps to suppress weeds by blocking sunlight and conserving soil moisture. Additionally, it adds organic matter to the soil as it breaks down.

  2. Hand weeding: Regularly inspect your turnip greens for any emerging weeds and remove them by hand. Be gentle when weeding to avoid disturbing the shallow root system of the young turnip greens. It’s best to weed after a rain or watering session when the soil is moist.

  3. Cultivation: Use a garden hoe or cultivator to lightly cultivate the soil around the turnip greens, being careful not to damage the plants. Cultivating disrupts the growth of weeds and can help to bring buried weed seeds to the surface where they can dry out and die.

  4. Use of herbicides: If the weed problem is severe, chemical herbicides may be used as a last resort. However, take caution when using herbicides near turnip greens, as they can be sensitive to certain herbicides. Always read and follow the instructions on the herbicide label carefully.

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Weeds should be managed continuously throughout the growing season to prevent them from overtaking the turnip greens. Regular maintenance and weed management practices will ensure that your turnip greens thrive without being hampered by weed competition.

Planting turnip greens can be a rewarding endeavor, whether you are a seasoned gardener or just starting out. By following the steps of sowing turnip green seeds, ensuring the recommended plant spacing, providing proper watering, and managing weeds effectively, you can enjoy a successful harvest of delicious and nutritious turnip greens. With a little care and attention, you can have a thriving turnip green patch in your own backyard. Happy planting!

Choosing The Right Varieties

Turnip greens are a nutritious and delicious leafy vegetable packed with essential vitamins and minerals. They are a popular choice for home gardeners due to their fast growth and versatility in culinary preparations.

Before planting turnip greens, it is essential to choose the right variety that suits your taste preferences and growing conditions. There are several varieties available, but some popular choices include:

  1. Purple Top White Globe: This variety produces large, round roots and tender leaves. It is ideal for both fresh consumption and cooking.

  2. Seven Top: If you are primarily interested in harvesting greens, this variety is an excellent choice. It produces abundant, nutrient-rich leaves but smaller roots.

  3. Tokyo Cross Hybrid: This variety is known for its quick maturity and mild flavor. It is perfect for those who want a fast-growing option.

You can find these varieties in seed catalogs, gardening stores, or online suppliers. Make sure to select disease-resistant varieties to ensure a healthy crop.

Preparing The Soil

Turnip greens thrive in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Before planting, prepare your garden bed by following these steps:

  1. Choose a sunny location: Turnip greens prefer full sun but can tolerate partial shade. Select a spot that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily.

  2. Clear the area: Remove any weeds, rocks, or debris from the planting area. These can hinder growth and lead to pest and disease problems.

  3. Loosen the soil: Use a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 8-10 inches. This improves drainage and allows the roots to penetrate easily.

  4. Add organic matter: Incorporate well-rotted compost or aged manure into the soil. This adds nutrients, improves soil texture, and enhances water retention.

  5. Test the soil pH: Turnip greens prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 6.5. Use a soil test kit to determine the pH level of your garden soil. If the pH is too high, you can lower it by adding sulfur or peat moss.

Planting Turnip Greens

Once the soil is prepared, it’s time to plant your turnip greens:

  1. Sow the seeds: Turnip greens can be grown from seeds or transplants. If using seeds, sow them directly into the prepared garden bed. Create furrows about ½ inch deep, spaced 12-18 inches apart. Plant the seeds about 1 inch apart in the furrows.

  2. Cover the seeds: Gently cover the seeds with soil, ensuring that they are no deeper than ½ inch. Lightly tamp down the soil to provide good seed-to-soil contact.

  3. Water the seeds: Thoroughly water the planted area using a gentle spray or a watering can with a fine rose attachment. Keep the soil consistently moist until germination occurs.

  4. Thin the seedlings: Once the seedlings emerge, thin them to ensure proper spacing. Space the turnip greens about 4-6 inches apart to allow enough room for growth.

How To Fertilize Turnip Greens

Proper fertilization is crucial for healthy plant growth and a bountiful harvest. Follow these guidelines for fertilizing turnip greens:

  1. Soil test: Before applying any fertilizer, test your soil to determine its nutrient content. This will help you identify any deficiencies and adjust the fertilization accordingly.

  2. Nitrogen-rich fertilizer: Turnip greens benefit from a balanced fertilizer with a higher nitrogen content (N). Apply a general-purpose fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10 or 20-20-20. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the appropriate dosage.

  3. Side-dress application: Once the turnip greens have reached a height of 2-3 inches, apply the fertilizer by side-dressing along the rows. Create a shallow trench about 4-6 inches away from the plants and sprinkle the fertilizer evenly.

  4. Water after fertilizing: After applying the fertilizer, water the plants thoroughly to help the nutrients penetrate into the root zone.

  5. Additional applications: If your soil lacks essential nutrients, you may need to make additional fertilizer applications throughout the growing season. Consider using organic fertilizers like compost or well-rotted manure to provide a slow-release source of nutrients.

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Monitoring Turnip Greens For Pests And Diseases

Keeping a close eye on your turnip greens helps to identify and address any pest or disease issues promptly. Common pests and diseases that can affect turnip greens include:

  1. Flea beetles: These tiny insects can cause small holes in the leaves. Use floating row covers to protect your plants or apply an insecticidal soap according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

  2. Aphids: Aphids can distort the leaves and excrete sticky honeydew, attracting ants. Hose off aphids with a strong jet of water or use insecticidal soap if infestation persists.

  3. Cabbage loopers: These green caterpillars chew on the leaves, causing significant damage. Remove them by hand or use biological control methods like Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) to eliminate them.

  4. Clubroot: Clubroot is a fungal infection that causes stunted growth and swollen, distorted roots. Practice crop rotation, and sanitize tools to prevent the spread of the disease. There are no chemical treatments for clubroot, so prevention is key.

  5. Downy mildew: Downy mildew appears as yellow patches on the leaves, usually during humid weather. To prevent infection, provide adequate air circulation and avoid overhead watering.

Regularly inspect your plants for signs of pest or disease presence, and act promptly with suitable control measures to prevent further damage.

Tips For Harvesting Turnip Greens

Harvesting turnip greens at the right time ensures optimal flavor, tenderness, and nutrient content. Here are some tips to help you harvest your greens:

  1. Baby greens: If you prefer delicate and tender leaves, you can start harvesting turnip greens when they are only a few inches tall. Snip off the outer leaves close to the base, allowing the inner leaves to continue growing.

  2. Mature greens: For larger and mature leaves, wait until the plants reach a height of 8-12 inches. Harvest the outer leaves, leaving the inner rosette untouched for continuous growth.

  3. Harvest method: Use a pair of clean gardening shears or a sharp knife to cut the leaves at the base, just above the soil level. Avoid tearing the leaves, as this can lead to bruising and encourage disease.

  4. Staggered harvesting: To prolong the harvest period, harvest the outer leaves first and allow the inner leaves to grow. This will give you a continuous supply of fresh turnip greens over an extended period.

  5. Don’t wait too long: Turnip greens become tougher and more bitter as they mature. Harvest them before the leaves become too fibrous for a better eating experience.

Gourmet Cooking Ideas For Turnip Greens

Once you have harvested your turnip greens, it’s time to get creative in the kitchen. Here are some gourmet cooking ideas to make the most of this leafy vegetable:

  1. Sauteed turnip greens: Heat olive oil in a pan and add minced garlic. Sauté the turnip greens until wilted, then season with salt, pepper, and a splash of lemon juice.

  2. Turnip green pesto: Substitute traditional basil with turnip greens to make a unique and flavorful pesto. Blend turnip greens, garlic, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts, and olive oil until smooth. Serve over pasta or as a spread.

  3. Turnip green and potato soup: Sauté diced onions, carrots, and celery in a stockpot. Add cubed potatoes, chicken or vegetable broth, and chopped turnip greens. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, then blend for a creamy soup.

  4. Turnip green frittata: Sauté diced onions and turnip greens in an ovenproof skillet. Beat eggs with milk, pour over the greens, and add grated cheese. Cook until set, then finish under the broiler until golden brown.

  5. Turnip green salad: Use young and tender turnip greens as a base for a refreshing salad. Add cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, sliced radishes, and a tangy vinaigrette dressing for a healthy and satisfying meal.

Experiment with different recipes and cooking methods to discover your favorite ways to enjoy turnip greens.


Growing turnip greens in your own garden allows you to savor the freshness and taste of this versatile leafy green. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can successfully plant and care for turnip greens. Remember to choose the right variety, prepare the soil properly, monitor for pests and diseases, and harvest at the right time. With a little effort, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of nutritious turnip greens right from your backyard.


What Is The Best Time To Plant Turnip Greens?

Turnip greens are a cool-season crop and should be planted in early spring or early fall when the temperatures are between 50-65 degrees Fahrenheit.

How Do I Prepare The Soil For Planting Turnip Greens?

Turnip greens prefer well-drained soil with a pH level of 6.0-7.0. It is important to remove any rocks, weeds, and debris from the soil before planting. Adding organic matter, such as compost, can also improve the soil quality for turnip greens.

Do Turnip Greens Need A Lot Of Sunlight?

Turnip greens require at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. If planting in the summer, they may benefit from some shade to prevent them from bolting and becoming bitter.

How Deep Should Turnip Greens Be Planted?

Turnip greens should be planted at a depth of 1/4-1/2 inch. Make sure to sow the seeds evenly and thin them to 3-4 inches apart once they have germinated.

How Often Should Turnip Greens Be Watered?

Turnip greens should be watered regularly, but not excessively. The soil should be kept consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Aim to give them about 1 inch of water per week, either through rainfall or irrigation.