Turnip greens are extremely easy to grow, especially in fall. As nights get longer and cooler, turnip greens become crisper and sweeter. Best of all, a new flush of tender leaves will grow after each picking, with plants remaining productive at least until the firsthard freeze, and sometimes beyond.
They also grow in spring, but plant them early. Lengthening days trigger turnip plants to produce flowers and seeds instead of new leaves. Also, a few days of hot sun can make the greens taste strong and bitter in regions where spring gets hot quickly.
Our pots of turnip greens are thickly sown expressly for greens, although if given the space, plants would also produce turnip roots. We sow them with the greens in mind, but if you harvest your plants by pulling and thinning, you may find some turnip roots in the garden, too, albeit not of prize quality.
Soil, Planting, and Care
When it comes to planting, we prefer to plant a couple of turnip greens in a single container to get a solid amount of greens. Normally, one of the turnip roots grows perfectly. Now, you have to decide either you want to pull the turnip along with green and leave it there to provide you more greens.
If you have well-drained soil, there should be no issues while growing the turnip greens. The best time to plant is 3 to 4 weeks before the last frost date. If you want to plant in the fall, plant it during the September or October. In some parts of the world, they can be planted throughout the winter and fall.
Turnip greens have a similar pattern of growing to kale, collards, and other greens. The best part of these greens is that they are not very choosy when it comes to soil. They grow well in different types of soil pH, even in poor sandy soil. Turnip greens are not going to disappoint you, except the soil is very poor. But, still it is recommended that you should add compost and organic fertilizer to improve the soil. Better soil, better results!
Ideally, there should be a difference of 6 inches among two plants. If you are planting several plants in a single pot, don’t try to separate them. They don’t mind sharing their space with others.
After the well-drained soil, the most important requirement is water. Water the plants as soon as needed to ensure the perfect growth. Make sure that you pull the weeds as soon as you see them. If you want to improve the growth rate, sprinkle them with bonnie herb, vegetable plant food, fish emulsion, and liquid kelp.
It is natural for older turnip leaves to turn yellow and wither. Removing older leaves every week or so encourages the plants to grow more greens.
Watch greens for occasional aphids or mites, which can be controlled with insecticidal soap spray. Small flower beetles or other chewing insects will sometimes make harmless holes in the leaves, but aphids and mites can ruin your harvest.
Harvest and Storage-Growing Turnip Greens
Full-size turnip leaves can reach a foot long and six inches wide. The leaves will cook down a surprising amount, so it takes a several large handfuls of leaves to make a potful or “mess of greens.”
The ideal time to begin eating turnip greens is when nighttime temperatures are in the 40s or cooler to bring out the sweetness in the greens. Greens that grow in hot weather can taste strong and bitter, especially to people who haven’t honed a taste for them. Turnip greens are a little more pungent than collards. You can pick leaves one at a time, or use a sharp knife to gather big handfuls. Plants that are cut back about 2 inches above the top of the root will grow a new set of tender leaves in only 2 to 3 weeks.
Be sure to wash greens thoroughly to remove any soil. The easiest way is to put the leaves in a very large bowl or clean bucket of water and swirl it around so that any soil falls to the bottom. Repeat until the leaves are clean. If you grow a bumper crop, keep a big galvanized tub expressly for this purpose. It is best to cut greens just before you cook them, but they will keep in a plastic bag in the fridge for a few days. Extras can be steamed and frozen. Any sizable turnip roots that form can be cooked along with the greens.