Just planted about 300 turnip seeds in a 2’x4′ area of one of my raised beds. No, I can’t raise anywhere close to 300 turnips in that tiny space!
The photo shows the smoothed bed where I scattered the Gold Ball turnip seeds. On top of them, I scattered about 30 Little Marvel pea seeds. The turnip seeds need light cover but the peas need an inch or two in depth, so I pushed each pea seed in with my finger, as you can see above. Next, I lightly ran my gloved hand across the bed, filling the holes and covering the turnip seeds. I expect rain today to water them in. Turnips like peas as companion plants.
Back to those 300 seeds… my first wave of food from this 2’x4′ bed will be turnip sprouts, a nutritional powerhouse for late winter greens. As the seeds sprout, I will carefully thin them for microgreens.
I can get a lot of turnip microgreens in a 2’x4′ area and as much as I like home grown turnips roots, greens are the main event nutritionally speaking. Again, I thin the microgreens out, carefully leaving about 3 inches between the young turnips.
One more round of delicious turnip greens, with delightful small golden turnip roots. I thin carefully, leaving about 6 inches for each turnip root to grow to maturity.
Out of 300 turnip seeds, I will grow maybe 16 full size Gold Ball turnips. I will, however, reap a much larger amount of nutrition than could be taken from planting about 16 seeds.
In the end, I will leave two turnip bulbs to overwinter in place. Turnips are biennials, and set seed the second year. Once the tops die back for winter, I will mulch thickly to protect them from both unseasonable warm spells as well as deep cold.
If all goes well, my Gold Ball turnips will flower and set seed next year. As the seed matures and gets rattly in their pods, I will cut them and store in paper bags. I have a large package of small brown lunch bags for seed saving. Once the tiny seeds are separated, I use small envelopes. Mark plainly the seed, date, and all relevant information.
I should have harvested all or most of my Gold Ball turnips by the first week of June, just in time for the indeterminate tomato plants to take over and start climbing the trellises.
I dearly love turnips, probably because I grew up on the cool, rainy Oregon Coast where root vegetables are easy and tomato plants are hard. But home grown turnips hardly resemble the long stored, woody turnips often found in stores. Turnip greens are the same; and delicate microgreens will make you yearn for them in the winter, as I do, and grow them under lights. I will not eat the big floppy fibrous greens sold in the market economy.
Turnips and their greens are superb nutrition for few calories. They are full of potassium, essential for life, and most Americans are low in potassium. In addition, they have folic acid, manganese, niacin, riboflavin, and vitamins A, C, and E.
Turnips are effective medicinal plants, substantially reducing risk for such varied diseases as cancer, bone health, eye health, body odor, immune system, atherosclerosis, and prostate problems. Gold Ball turnips add an additional measure of betacarotene. Turnips are a superfood.
I will share turnip greens with my chickens, and the girls love their snacks so much they run around like crazy over turnip greens, moaning in delight. It is pretty funny to watch them. Turnip greens help them lay strong shelled eggs, with good bio-available calcium.
I will plant a different turnip variety by August for a second round, and for winter keepers. Gold Ball turnips will surely be eaten by June.