The turnip is one of those vegetables that you either love – or despise with a passion.This emotion possibly stirred in your childhood years depending how your mother cooked them and has carried throughout the ages defining your views on whether you would ever eat them again.
It seems a shame really that so many people dislike this vegetable, for the humble turnip has a wonderful flavour. Provided that it’s cooked well, and not boiled until the structure of the vegetable has broken down beyond recognition, the turnip offers something a little different to the palate.
But, it’s not all in the cooking. Turnips get their gorgeous flavours from how they’re grown as well. While they can be grow year-round the best flavoured turnips are those that are grown through the end of summer and harvested in autumn. They produce a much sweeter vegetable.
Growing a turnip is not that difficult and requires only some well-drained, fertilised soil and regular watering. Once the crown of the turnip begins to show then you know they’re ready to harvest. But, if you want to propagate turnips for the next season then you need to sacrifice a few of these veggies so that seeds can develop.
They need to be harvested at the same time as the rest of your turnip produce but then stored over the winter. Once spring returns, plant them back into your veggie patch and allow the foliage to grow. Fruit will begin to set within a few weeks and can be harvested once the seed pods dry.
Turnip seeds can then be planted out almost immediately ready for another autumn crop to develop.
One word of caution: don’t mix your turnip varieties if your trying to reap the seeds. Cross-pollination will occur if this has happened and your turnips may fail or produce results that you weren’t expecting.
When starting your first batch of turnips opt for these varieties: Purple top, Serrin top or the Japanese habu. The crosses and hybrids may not produce the same results.