Turnip roots are high in Vitamin C. With the greens, their high content of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients are a great promoter of overall health. Turnips and turnip greens help create more bone mass by slowing osteoclastic (break down) processes and increasing osteoblastic (building) processes. Turnips and their greens are loaded with vitamins A, C and E, which reinforce immune system, maintain healthy membranes and connective tissue (for example, blood vessels and joints), protect important cells (eyes and vascular system) from free radical damage and reduce inflammation. Turnips also give dietary fiber that helps maintain healthy digestion and regulates cholesterol levels. Along with the free radical fighters, fiber promotes overall health and efficient functioning of the colon. Turnips and their greens also support heart health. The antioxidants (vitamins C, A and E) directly protect the structure and function of blood vessels and minimize the buildup of plaque on vessel walls. Vitamins B6 and folate also prevent damage to vessel walls by minimizing the potentially harmful chemical homocysteine. This vegetable also supports healthy metabolism, lung health and brain function.
Vitamin and Mineral Content
Vitamins – K, A, C, B9 (Folate), B6 (Pyridoxine), E, B2 (Riboflavin), B1 (Thiamin), B5 (Pantothenic Acid) and B3 (Niacin)
Minerals – Manganese, Calcium, Copper, Potassium, Magnesium, Iron and Phosphorus
Helps reduce symptoms or onset of osteoporosis, macular degeneration, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, anemia, diabetes, female liver cancer and cancers of the prostate, stomach, colon, lung, pancreas and bladder.
How to Grow
One of the easier root veggies to grow. You can sow turnips indoors in early winter or outdoors in mid-spring to mid-summer. Turnips prefer well-amended, fertile soil with good drainage and a pH above 6.5. If sowing indoors, you can multi-sow them by planting six seeds per tray cell or pocket made in the container. Cover seeds with a small layer of soil and/or sand. Place them in a greenhouse or under a fluorescent light in an area where the temperature is mid-60’s or higher. Plant the seedlings 12 inches apart under a covering (cloche) in early spring. If sowing outdoors, create shallow drills about a foot apart and plant seeds along each drill. Cover them with a thin layer of soil and keep them well watered. After seedlings reach a couple inches tall, thin them out to 6-8 inches apart in their rows. Especially during the early stages, keep the plots weed free by hand pulling or hoeing. Mulching between the plants with some well-aged compost or other organic matter provides insulation, retains moisture, deters weeds and may give some sustenance. Harvest the first turnips when they are the size of ping pong balls. Harvest the others no larger than baseball size. For outdoor crops, they are plump and ready near mid-fall. Twist off shoots on top and store unused ones in moist sand or peat at moderate temperatures.
Turnips are rather pest free. Flea beetles bother them. These little creatures eat small holes in the leaves of seedlings, which can delay harvest or even kill them. As with fleas, they leap in the air when something gets close. Use this defense against them by using a small, flat piece of wood or plastic with a sticky layer of honey or grease on it. Run the piece of wood an inch above the beetles, and watch them jump up and get stuck.
Turnips grow best in temperatures of 50-75˚F. (Any higher and the roots get woody and bitter.) Before harvesting, loosen up the soil first with a garden fork. The smaller roots are the most tender; pull them up before they get too big. Discard damaged roots, as they may spread infection to the undamaged roots in storage.