How to Grow a Turnip from Seeds

What You'll Need
Turnip seeds
Compost (rotted manure works well on turnips)
High-nitrogen fertilizer (if growing strictly for the turnip greens)
Sand (if your soil has a high percentage of clay)

It is easy to grow your own vegetables from turnip seeds, as most turnip varieties can be harvested 35 to 60 days after planting. If you live in the north, plant turnips in early spring or late summer. In the south, you can plant anytime for good results. You can eat both the roots and greens of your turnip plants. Follow these steps to plant and grow a successful crop.

Step 1 - Prepare the Bed

Turnips should be grown in full sun to partial shade. Work up the top several inches of soil with a hoe and rake. Work in organic compost such as rotted manure. If your natural soil has a lot of clay, work in some sand as well. Check the pH level of your soil; turnips grow best in soil with a pH level of 6.5. If you grow in soil with a pH level less than 6.0, the acidity in the soil can encourage clubroot, a common disease that infects turnip roots.

Step 2 - Plant Turnip Seeds

Turnips are a cool-weather plant, and they will grow better if harvested before the temperature reaches 75 degrees F. A good time to plant is in early spring or late summer or autumn. When  planting in the spring, plant about 2 weeks before the average last frost If planting in the fall, make sure your turnips will be ready for harvest before the first frost. Sow seeds 1/2 inch under the surface, spacing 1 to 2 inches apart. If planting more than one row, space rows 12 to 24 inches apart. For quicker germination, water immediately after planting.

Step 3 - Thin Turnip Seedlings

Turnips should begin sprouting within a week. Once your seedlings are about 3 inches high (about 2 weeks after planting), thin out seedlings to 4 to 6 inches apart. If growing only for the greens, thin out to 2 to 3 inches apart, since your roots won't need as much room.

Step 4 - Water and Feed Turnip Plants

Water your turnips weekly or often enough to keep soil moist, never allowing to dry out. Without enough water, turnips will grow slowly, producing woody turnips with an overly strong flavor. Weed your garden regularly; applying mulch in between rows will help keep out weeds. If growing for the greens, apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer for best results. For roots, use an organic fertilizer or low-nitrogen fertilizer for best results. 

Step 5 - Harvest Turnip Plants

Harvest turnip greens when they are about 4 to 6 inches high. Cut off and new leaves will grow back quickly. One plant can produce leaves several times. Harvest turnip roots when they are about 3 inches in diameter. If you wait much longer, you may end up with a tough, not-so-tasty turnip.

Turnips roots and greens are great in salads or cooked and served with butter and herbs. Enjoy!