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When to plant: Mid to late summer is the best time to plant, as the cool weather and a bit of frost result in very flavorful vegetables; otherwise, plant in early spring.
Days to maturity: 30 to 70
Sun requirement: Full sun; can take light shade
Water requirement: Keep soil well watered after planting until seedlings emerge, then water regularly so soil does not dry out throughout the growing season.
Favorites: Gilfeather, Golden Ball, Hakurai, Just Right, Market Express, Navet des Verts Marteau, Purple Top White Globe, Royal Crown, Royal Globe, Scarlett Queen, Snowball, Tokyo Cross, Tokyo Market, White Knight, White Lady. For greens only, try All Top, Shogoin or Topper.
Planting and care: Amend the soil well and rotate the growing location from season to season. Try to avoid planting where you’ve grown crops from the same family, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and rutabaga.
Sow seeds a half inch deep (slightly shallower in spring). Thin to about 4 to 6 inches apart (can be closer if you’re growing the greens). For a continuous crop, keep sowing every 10 days to two weeks until you know they won’t mature before the temperatures run too high (70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit) or the ground freezes.
If you want, fertilize about a month after sowing. Weed carefully, as roots are shallow. Pests are few, though some to watch out for include root maggots (you may need to use row covers if these are a problem), aphids, flea beetles, grubs and wireworms. Clubfoot might be a problem too. If you have a healthy garden, these problems should be minimal.
Harvest: Don’t wait to harvest. Turnips get woody if they grow too old, and they will become bitter if the outside temperature is more than 75 degrees. The roots should be about 2 inches wide or slightly bigger. Pull or dig them up. To store, remove the tops and keep what's left in a spot that’s damp and cool. You can also keep turnips in the ground by covering the crop with a foot of straw or hay, but you will need to harvest before the ground freezes.
Harvesting the greens can begin even earlier. Start by pinching off a few leaves from each plant at the base. You can also cut all the leaves off about an inch above the ground; the leaves will grow back. Stop harvesting when the leaves become bitter.