How To Plant Turnip [ Full Guide ]

Turnips are a nutritious and versatile root vegetable that can be easily grown in a home garden. They are known for their crisp, white flesh and earthy flavor, making them a popular choice for soups, stews, salads, and roasting. In addition to their culinary uses, turnips are also a great source of essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the detailed steps on how to plant turnips successfully, from choosing the right variety to preparing the soil and timing the planting season.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Turnip

  1. Choose the right variety: Select a suitable variety of turnip based on your preferences and local growing conditions.
  2. Select the correct location: Pick a well-drained, sunny spot with fertile soil for planting turnips.
  3. Prepare the soil: Ensure the soil is rich in organic matter and properly tilled to provide an ideal environment for turnip growth.
  4. Timing the planting: Plant turnip seeds in early spring for a spring harvest or in late summer for a fall harvest.
  5. Planting the seeds: Sow the turnip seeds at the right depth and spacing, and keep the soil consistently moist.
  6. Caring for turnips: Provide adequate water, control pests and weeds, and monitor the growth of the turnip plants.
  7. Harvesting turnips: Harvest turnips when they reach a suitable size, typically around 2-3 inches in diameter.

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

Choosing The Right Variety Of Turnip

When it comes to selecting the right variety of turnip to plant, there are several factors to consider, including your preferences for taste, size, and the local climate. Some common turnip varieties include:

Purple Top White Globe

This is a classic turnip variety with a smooth, round shape and a deep purple color on the top portion of the root. The flesh is white and has a mild, sweet flavor. Purple Top White Globe turnips are well-suited for both fresh consumption and storage.

Tokyo Cross

These turnips are known for their rapid growth and tenderness, making them an excellent choice for gardeners seeking a quick harvest. They have a mild, delicate flavor and are typically harvested at a smaller size.

Golden Ball

As the name suggests, these turnips have a golden-yellow skin and a sweet, buttery flavor. They are less pungent than other varieties, making them a popular choice for raw consumption, roasting, or pickling.

Seven Top

Unlike other turnip varieties, Seven Top is grown primarily for its nutritious, flavorful greens rather than the root itself. The greens can be harvested for salads, sautéing, or adding to soups and stews.

When selecting a variety, consider the taste, texture, and size of the turnip that you prefer. Additionally, consider the local climate, as some varieties may be better suited for cooler or warmer growing conditions.

Selecting The Correct Location For Planting

Turnips thrive in well-drained, fertile soil and require a sunny location to grow to their full potential. When selecting a spot for planting turnips, consider the following factors:


Choose a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Adequate sunlight is essential for the growth and development of turnip plants and will contribute to a bountiful harvest.

Soil Drainage

Ensure that the selected area has good soil drainage to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot and other diseases. If your soil has poor drainage, consider building raised beds or incorporating organic matter to improve the soil structure.

Soil Ph

Turnips prefer a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.0. Conduct a soil test to determine the pH of your soil and make any necessary adjustments by adding lime to raise the pH or elemental sulfur to lower it.

Fertile Soil

Choose a location with fertile soil that is rich in organic matter. Incorporating compost or well-rotted manure into the soil can provide essential nutrients and improve soil structure, creating an ideal environment for turnip growth.

Preparing The Soil For Turnip Planting

Preparing the soil is a crucial step in ensuring the success of your turnip crop. Properly conditioned soil provides the essential nutrients and optimal growing conditions necessary for healthy turnip plants. Follow these steps to prepare the soil for turnip planting:

Clear The Area

Start by clearing the planting area of any debris, rocks, and weeds. This will create a clean, uniform surface for planting and will reduce competition for resources among the turnip plants.

Till The Soil

Use a garden tiller or a hand tool, such as a shovel or a garden fork, to till the soil to a depth of at least 6-8 inches. This process helps loosen the soil, improve aeration, and create a loose, friable surface for planting turnips.

Incorporate Organic Matter

Mix in well-rotted compost, aged manure, or other organic materials to improve the soil’s fertility and structure. Organic matter enhances moisture retention, encourages beneficial microbial activity, and provides a slow release of nutrients to the turnip plants.

Smooth The Surface

After incorporating organic matter, smooth the surface of the soil using a rake to create a level bed for planting. This will ensure even germination and growth of the turnip seeds.

Timing The Planting Season

Turnips are a cool-weather crop that can be grown in both spring and fall. The timing of planting is crucial, as it can affect the growth, development, and overall yield of turnips. Consider the following guidelines for timing the planting season based on your location and climate:

Spring Planting

In regions with a cold winter, you can start planting turnip seeds as soon as the soil can be worked in early spring. Aim to plant the seeds 2-4 weeks before the last expected frost date. This will give the turnips ample time to mature before the onset of hot weather, which can cause them to become woody and bitter.

Fall Planting

In milder climates with mild winters, you can opt for a fall planting of turnips. Sow the seeds in late summer, typically 6-8 weeks before the first expected frost date. This allows the turnips to mature in the cooler, mild temperatures of the fall season, resulting in sweeter and more tender roots.

Succession Planting

Consider utilizing succession planting techniques to extend the turnip harvest throughout the growing season. By sowing seeds at regular intervals, such as every 2-3 weeks, you can ensure a continuous supply of fresh turnips for an extended period.

By aligning the planting schedule with the local climate and seasonal fluctuations, you can optimize the growth and quality of the turnip crop.

Planting The Seeds

Once the soil is prepared, and the timing is right, it’s time to plant the turnip seeds. Follow these steps to ensure proper sowing and establishment of turnip plants:

Seed Spacing And Depth

Sow turnip seeds at a depth of approximately ¼ to ½ inch in well-prepared soil. Space the seeds 1-2 inches apart in rows, allowing sufficient room for the turnip plants to develop and expand.

Seedling Thinning

After the turnip seedlings emerge and develop their first true leaves, thin them to ensure proper spacing. Thin the seedlings to a final spacing of 3-4 inches apart to allow the plants ample room to grow and develop robust roots.

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After sowing the seeds, water the soil gently but thoroughly to ensure even moisture. Maintain consistent soil moisture throughout the germination and early growth stages to facilitate strong, healthy seedling establishment.


Applying a layer of organic mulch, such as straw or compost, around the newly planted turnip seeds can help conserve moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weed growth. This contributes to an optimal growing environment for the turnip plants.

Caring For Turnips

Proper care and maintenance are essential for promoting the healthy growth and development of turnip plants. Follow these guidelines to ensure that your turnip crop thrives throughout the growing season:


Turnips require consistent moisture to develop plump, succulent roots. Keep the soil evenly moist, particularly during dry periods. Avoid overwatering, as waterlogged soil can lead to rot and other diseases.


If soil tests indicate a deficiency of essential nutrients, consider applying a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Avoid excessive nitrogen, as it can lead to an abundance of foliage at the expense of root development.

Pest And Disease Control

Monitor the turnip plants regularly for signs of pests such as flea beetles, aphids, and cabbage loopers. Employ organic pest control methods, such as handpicking, insecticidal soaps, and companion planting with pest-repelling herbs and flowers.

Weed Management

Keep the area around the turnip plants free of weeds to reduce competition for nutrients, water, and sunlight. Gently hand-pull weeds or use mulch to suppress weed growth, being careful not to disturb the shallow roots of the turnip plants.


As the turnip plants grow, continue thinning them to maintain adequate spacing. This ensures that each plant has enough room to develop a robust root and minimizes overcrowding, which can lead to smaller, misshapen turnips.

Harvesting Turnips

The timing of harvesting turnips is crucial to ensure that they are at their peak flavor and texture. Follow these guidelines for harvesting turnips at the right stage of maturity:


Harvest turnips when they reach a suitable size, typically around 2-3 inches in diameter. Young turnips are tender, sweet, and flavorful, whereas larger turnips may become woody and less palatable.

Root Appearance

Gently brush away the soil around the top of the turnip root to assess its size and maturity. Look for smooth, firm roots with a vibrant color and minimal blemishes for optimal quality.


Inspect the greens of the turnip plant, as they can also be harvested for culinary use. Tender, young greens can be used fresh in salads or cooked as a nutritious side dish.

Harvesting Techniques

Carefully loosen the soil around the turnip root with a garden fork or trowel, being mindful not to damage the root. Lift the turnip from the soil, trim the tops, and gently brush off any excess soil.


Upon harvest, remove the tops from the turnips to prevent moisture loss and store them in a cool, humid environment. A root cellar, refrigerator, or other cool storage area can help maintain the freshness and quality of harvested turnips.

By following proper harvesting techniques, you can enjoy a bountiful supply of fresh turnips for culinary enjoyment and storage.

Growing turnips can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, whether you’re a seasoned gardener or are just starting out. By selecting the right variety, choosing an ideal location, preparing the soil, timing the planting season, and providing proper care, you can cultivate a thriving turnip crop with delicious, nutritious roots and greens. Whether enjoyed raw, cooked, or preserved, homegrown turnips bring a delightful taste of the garden to your table. With the comprehensive knowledge and techniques provided in this guide, you can confidently embark on your turnip planting journey and savor the satisfaction of a successful harvest.

Spacing And Depth For Planting Turnip Seeds

Turnips are a nutritious root vegetable that belongs to the Brassicaceae family. They are easy to grow and can be enjoyed in a variety of culinary dishes. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner, planting turnips in your garden can be a rewarding experience.

When it comes to planting turnip seeds, it is important to ensure that they are spaced properly to allow for optimal growth. Turnips require enough space to develop their roots and leaves fully. Here’s how you can properly space and plant turnip seeds:

  1. Choose a location: Turnips prefer a sunny spot in your garden but can tolerate partial shade. The soil should be well-draining and fertile. Amend the soil with organic matter, such as compost, to improve its fertility and structure.

  2. Prepare the soil: Remove any weeds and loosen the soil to a depth of 8 to 12 inches. This will provide enough room for the turnip roots to grow. Break up any large clumps of soil and remove rocks or debris.

  3. Determine the spacing: Turnip seeds should be planted about 1/2 inch deep and spaced about 2 inches apart. Leave about 12 to 18 inches between rows to allow for easy access and airflow.

  4. Plant the seeds: Create shallow furrows using a garden trowel or your fingers. Place the turnip seeds in the furrows, spaced according to the recommended spacing. Gently cover the seeds with soil and pat it down to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.

  5. Water the seeds: After planting the turnip seeds, give them a thorough watering. This will help the seeds settle in the soil and initiate germination. Keep the soil consistently moist during the germination process, which typically takes 7 to 14 days.

Watering Techniques For Turnip Plants

Proper watering is essential for the healthy growth of turnip plants. Adequate moisture promotes root development and prevents the turnips from becoming woody or bitter. Here are some watering techniques to follow when growing turnips:

  1. Water consistently: Turnips require about 1 inch of water per week, either from rainfall or irrigation. It is important to maintain consistent soil moisture to ensure proper growth. Check the soil moisture regularly by inserting your finger into the soil. If it feels dry up to the first knuckle, it’s time to water.

  2. Deep watering: When watering turnips, it is better to water deeply and less frequently rather than shallowly and frequently. Deep watering encourages the roots to reach deeper into the soil and provides better drought resistance. Soak the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches with each watering.

  3. Water in the morning: It is best to water turnip plants in the morning. This gives the leaves ample time to dry before evening, reducing the risk of fungal diseases. Watering in the early morning also ensures that the plants have access to water throughout the day when they need it the most.

  4. Use a drip irrigation system: Consider using a drip irrigation system to water your turnip plants. Drip irrigation delivers water directly to the roots, minimizing water loss due to evaporation and reducing the risk of foliar diseases. Place the drippers around the base of the plants and adjust the flow rate accordingly.

Fertilizing Turnip Plants

Turnips require a steady supply of nutrients to produce healthy foliage and flavorful roots. Fertilizing your turnip plants will help ensure optimal growth and yield. Here are some tips for fertilizing turnip plants:

  1. Soil testing: Before fertilizing, it is important to test your soil to determine its nutrient content and pH level. This will help you determine what nutrients your turnip plants may need. Soil test kits are readily available at garden centers and provide valuable information for proper fertilization.

  2. Organic matter: Incorporate organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, into the soil before planting. This will improve the soil’s fertility and structure, providing a nutrient-rich environment for the turnip plants.

  3. Balanced fertilizer: Apply a balanced fertilizer with equal amounts of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). Look for a fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 10-10-10 or 14-14-14. Apply the fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions, usually about 2 to 3 weeks after planting.

  4. Side-dressing: As the turnip plants grow, you can provide additional nutrients by side-dressing with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, such as blood meal or fish emulsion. Apply the side-dressing fertilizer around the base of the plants, keeping it about 6 inches away from the stems. Water the plants after applying the fertilizer to help it dissolve and reach the roots.

  5. Avoid over-fertilization: While it is important to provide nutrients to the turnip plants, over-fertilization can lead to excessive foliage growth and poor root development. Follow the recommended application rates and avoid applying more fertilizer than necessary.

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Mulching Strategies For Turnip Beds

Mulching is a beneficial practice that helps conserve soil moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Applying a layer of organic mulch around your turnip plants can greatly benefit their growth. Here are some mulching strategies for turnip beds:

  1. Choose the right mulch: Organic mulches, such as straw, shredded leaves, or grass clippings, work best for turnip beds. They break down over time, adding organic matter to the soil and improving its fertility. Avoid using synthetic or inorganic mulches, as they can hinder water and air movement.

  2. Mulch after planting: Once you have planted your turnip seeds or transplants, apply a layer of mulch around the plants. Make sure the mulch is about 2 to 3 inches deep, covering the soil surface but keeping it away from the plant stems. This will help retain moisture and suppress weeds.

  3. Replenish the mulch: As the organic mulch breaks down, it will need to be replenished periodically. Check the mulch layer every few weeks and add more as needed to maintain the desired thickness. Mulching also provides insulation during extreme temperatures, protecting the turnip plants’ roots.

  4. Mulch alternatives: If organic mulch is not readily available, you can use black plastic mulch. This type of mulch helps warm the soil, absorbs and retains heat, and suppresses weed growth. Secure the plastic mulch with stakes or weights and cut holes to plant the turnip seeds or transplants.

Controlling Pests And Diseases In Turnip Plants

Like any other plant, turnips are susceptible to pests and diseases. It is important to monitor your turnip plants regularly for signs of damage or infection and take appropriate measures to control and prevent further damage. Here are some common pests and diseases that affect turnip plants and how to manage them:

  1. Flea beetles: These tiny, jumping insects feed on turnip leaves, leaving behind small holes. To control flea beetles, apply a layer of floating row cover or insect netting over the plants as soon as they are planted. This will act as a physical barrier, preventing the beetles from reaching the plants. You can also use insecticides labeled for flea beetle control, following the instructions on the package.

  2. Cabbage worms: Cabbage worms are the larvae of the cabbage white butterfly. They feed on turnip leaves, causing irregular chew marks. To manage cabbage worms, inspect your turnip plants regularly and handpick any worms you find. Applying Bacillus thuringiensis (BT), a biological insecticide, can also be effective in controlling cabbage worms.

  3. Downy mildew: Downy mildew is a fungal disease that causes yellowish patches on turnip leaves, eventually turning them brown and causing them to wilt. To prevent downy mildew, ensure adequate spacing between plants to allow for air circulation. Water the plants early in the day to allow the leaves to dry before evening. If downy mildew is present, apply a fungicide labeled for its control as per the instructions.

  4. Root-knot nematodes: These microscopic worms attack turnip roots, causing galls and stunted growth. To manage root-knot nematodes, practice crop rotation by avoiding planting turnips and other susceptible plants in the same location for at least three years. Solarizing the soil by covering it with clear plastic in the hot sun for several weeks can also help kill nematodes.

  5. Clubroot: Clubroot is a soil-borne disease caused by a fungus that leads to swollen, deformed turnip roots. To prevent clubroot, ensure proper soil drainage by amending with organic matter and avoiding over-watering. Practice crop rotation and avoid planting turnips in the same area for several years. If clubroot is present, remove and destroy infected plants to prevent further spread.

Planting turnips can be a delightful addition to any garden. By following the proper spacing and planting techniques, providing adequate water and nutrients, mulching, and controlling pests and diseases, you can grow healthy and flavorful turnips. Remember to regularly monitor your turnip plants and take prompt action if any issues arise. With a little care and attention, you will soon be enjoying the bountiful harvest of your own homegrown turnips. Happy gardening!

Harvesting Turnips At The Right Time

Turnips are a versatile and nutritious root vegetable that can be enjoyed in various culinary dishes. Planting turnips is a relatively straightforward process that can be done by both beginner and experienced gardeners.

Harvesting turnips at the right time is crucial for enjoying their full flavor and texture. The ideal time to harvest turnips depends on the variety you are growing and your personal preference. Here are some tips to help you determine when to harvest your turnips:

  1. Size: Turnips are typically ready to harvest when they reach a diameter of 2-3 inches. However, if you prefer smaller, tender turnips, you can harvest them when they are just 1-2 inches in diameter. Keep in mind that larger turnips may have a stronger flavor and tougher texture.

  2. Texture: Gently brush away some soil from the top of the turnip to check its skin texture. The skin should be smooth and firm, indicating that the turnip is mature and ready for harvest. If the skin feels soft or spongy, the turnip needs more time to grow.

  3. Leaf condition: The condition of the turnip leaves can also provide insight into the readiness of the root. If the leaves start to wilt or turn yellow, it is a sign that the turnip is mature and should be harvested soon. However, make sure not to wait too long as over-mature turnips can become woody and bitter.

To harvest turnips, carefully loosen the soil around the base of the plant with a garden fork or trowel. Gently lift the turnip from the ground, taking care not to damage the roots. Remove any excess soil clinging to the root and trim off the leaves, leaving about an inch of stems attached. The leaves can be used in cooking or added to compost.

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Storing And Preserving Harvested Turnips

After harvesting, it is essential to store turnips properly to maintain their freshness and flavor. Here are some tips to help you store and preserve your harvested turnips:

  1. Cleaning: Start by cleaning the harvested turnips to remove any dirt or debris. Gently wash them under cool running water, being careful not to bruise or damage the skin. Allow the turnips to air dry or pat them dry with a clean towel before storing.

  2. Storage conditions: Turnips can be stored in a cool and dark place, such as a root cellar or a refrigerator. The ideal temperature for storing turnips is around 32-40°F (0-4°C). Make sure to store them away from ethylene-producing fruits, such as apples, as ethylene can cause the turnips to deteriorate quickly.

  3. Storage containers: Turnips can be stored in various containers, such as perforated plastic bags, plastic containers with lids, or breathable mesh bags. These containers will help maintain the humidity levels around the turnips while allowing air circulation. Avoid storing turnips in plastic bags without any perforations, as they can lead to excess moisture and spoilage.

  4. Long-term storage: If you plan to store turnips for an extended period, consider preserving them through methods like canning, pickling, or freezing. Canning and pickling require some processing steps, but they can extend the shelf life of turnips for several months. Freezing turnips involves blanching them briefly in boiling water, then cooling and packaging them in airtight containers or freezer bags.

By following these storage and preservation methods, you can enjoy the fresh taste of turnips long after the harvest.

Companion Planting With Turnips

Companion planting is the practice of strategically placing plants together to benefit each other’s growth and repel pests. When it comes to turnips, there are several companion plants that can enhance their growth and protect them from common pests. Here are some companion planting options for turnips:

  1. Radishes: Radishes are excellent companion plants for turnips as they help deter pests like flea beetles and root maggots. Plant radishes alongside turnips, and their pungent scent will confuse and repel these pests. Additionally, radishes grow quickly and can be harvested before they overcrowd the turnips.

  2. Lettuce: Lettuce is a compatible companion for turnips as it provides shade and helps prevent the soil from drying out. Plant lettuce between rows of turnips to maximize space utilization and create a microclimate that benefits both crops.

  3. Beans: Legumes like beans and peas have a symbiotic relationship with turnips. They help fix nitrogen in the soil, which is beneficial for turnip growth. Planting beans near turnips can enrich the soil and improve nutrient availability.

  4. Alliums: Plants from the allium family, such as onions and garlic, can deter pests like aphids and root maggots. Interplanting turnips with alliums can provide natural pest protection while also adding flavor to your harvest.

It is important to note that turnips should not be planted near other members of the Brassica family, such as cabbage, broccoli, or cauliflower. These plants are prone to similar pests and diseases, and planting them together can increase the risk of infestation.

Troubleshooting Common Turnip Planting Problems

While turnip planting is relatively straightforward, it is not entirely free of challenges. Here are some common problems that may arise during turnip cultivation and how to troubleshoot them:

  1. Poor germination: If your turnip seeds are not germinating properly, there could be several causes. Ensure that you are planting the seeds at the correct depth, typically around ½ inch deep. Also, make sure the soil remains consistently moist but not waterlogged. If germination issues persist, consider starting seeds indoors and transplanting them once they have established.

  2. Pests: Turnips are prone to pests such as flea beetles, root maggots, and aphids. To prevent pest damage, consider using row covers or netting to protect young plants. Intercropping with companion plants like radishes and alliums can also help deter pests. If infestations occur, you can try organic pest control methods, such as using insecticidal soap or neem oil.

  3. Disease: Turnips can be susceptible to diseases like powdery mildew and clubroot. To prevent powdery mildew, ensure proper air circulation by spacing plants appropriately and avoiding overhead watering. Clubroot can be prevented by practicing crop rotation and improving soil drainage. If diseases persist, consider using disease-resistant varieties or consulting a local extension service for guidance.

  4. Poor root development: If your turnip roots are not developing properly, several factors could be at play. Inadequate soil fertility, improper watering, or overcrowding can all affect root development. Ensure that the soil is well-drained, loose, and rich in organic matter. Regularly monitor moisture levels and provide consistent watering, keeping the soil evenly moist. Thin out crowded seedlings to allow sufficient space for root growth.


Planting turnips can be a rewarding experience, whether you are a seasoned gardener or a beginner. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can successfully plant turnips, harvest them at the right time, store them properly, and even enhance their growth through companion planting. Remember to troubleshoot common problems that may arise, and don’t be afraid to experiment with different turnip varieties and cultivation techniques. Soon enough, you’ll be savoring the delicious taste of homegrown turnips in your favorite dishes.


What Type Of Soil Is Best For Planting Turnips?

Turnips thrive in well-draining, loose soil with a neutral pH level. Avoid heavy or compacted soil, as it can hinder root growth and make it difficult for turnips to mature properly.

When Is The Best Time To Plant Turnips?

Turnips can be planted in early spring or late summer for a fall harvest. It is important to avoid planting in the heat of summer, as turnips prefer cooler temperatures for optimal growth.

How Deep Should I Plant Turnip Seeds?

Turnip seeds should be sown about 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in the soil. Too deep of planting can result in stunted growth, while too shallow can lead to dried out seeds.

How Far Apart Should I Space Turnip Seeds When Planting?

Space seeds about 2-4 inches apart in rows that are 12-18 inches apart. This will provide enough room for turnips to grow and develop into full-sized roots.

How Often Should I Water Turnips After Planting?

Turnips require consistent moisture in order to grow and develop properly. Water regularly, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged. In hot, dry weather, it may be necessary to water more frequently.