Rutabaga (Swedes)

Health Power

Rutabaga is a great source of vitamin C, folate, fiber, potassium and manganese. See Radishes for the many benefits associated with the antioxidant vitamin C. Folate and vitamin B6 help protect blood vessel walls by converting homocysteine into an inert compound. This keeps homocysteine from reaching high levels where it damages blood vessel walls. Folate is also important for pregnant women to support healthy fetal nerve development. Fiber facilitates smooth digestion and slows down the absorption of sugar and cholesterol, helping to reduce and regulate elevated levels of both. Potassium assists in the proper functioning of muscle and nerve fibers. It can also replace some sodium in the blood and bring down elevated blood pressure. Magnesium is an important cofactor for enzymes involved in detoxification, most notably superoxide dismutase. We need this antioxidant constantly to reduce oxygen free radicals that result from normal respiration in cell mitochondria. If left unchecked, oxygen free radicals can damage cell membranes, mutate DNA and denature proteins. We need magnesium for bone growth and maintenance.

Vitamin and Mineral Content

Vitamins – C, B1 (Thiamin), B6 (Pyridoxine), B9 (Folate) and B3 (Niacin)
Minerals – Potassium, Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Calcium and Iron

Disease Prevention

Regularly eating rutabaga may help reduce the symptoms or onset of atherosclerosis, heart disease, osteoporosis, diabetes, constipation, diverticulitis and colorectal cancer.

How to Grow

Swedes, another name for rutabaga, are a member of the cabbage family and one of the easiest veggies to grow. Several varieties to choose from, some of which resist club root and mildew. Choose a resistant cultivar if those problems occur in your area. Swedes also need well-drained soil and a pH above 6.5 to minimize club root. Add lime if necessary. Work some planting mix into soil. Sow the seeds thinly in shallow drills from late spring to early summer. This will help prevent mildew. Space the rows 1 foot apart. Later, thin seedlings to leave the dominant ones 1.5 feet apart. Keep the area weed free. Water when necessary, but do not over water. Mulch overtop with organic matter like aged compost or manure. Harvest after the first frost in fall, remove tops and store in a shady, cool, dry place. Destroy any appearing damaged or diseased.

Insect Control

Rutabagas are susceptible to flea beetles, which are fun to remove, because they jump when approached. Attach a sticky layer (honey or grease) to one side of a small piece of cardboard and run it a couple inches above the seedlings. Watch the flea beetles jump and get stuck. For other pest problems, consult a trusted local nursery for identification and treatment.

Tips

They store longer in a container covered lightly with moist peat. If buying in a store, choose heavy, firm rutabagas with smooth, undamaged or unwrinkled skin.

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