One of the best tips for turnip planting is to plant at least two crops per year. The first crop of turnips, planted early in spring, will yield a summer harvest. A second round of turnip planting in late summer yields a late fall crop. Turnips can also be planted for their tender greens, which develop in spring and summer. This root vegetable is usually planted from seed.
Turnips grow fast from seed, requiring just two months to mature for harvest. For an early summer harvest, the first set of turnip seeds should be planted in spring, as soon as the ground thaws. In fall, the seeds should be planted 60 days before the first common frost date.
Tender turnip greens can be a crop of their own. Beginning in spring, the seeds should be sown at 10-day intervals. Once the seedlings grow 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) tall, they can be harvested. Planting the seeds at intervals provides a continuous harvest of turnip greens throughout the growing season.
The first step in turnip planting is to prepare the garden bed. Sticks, weeds, and sod should be cleared from the area. Compost or seasoned manure can be dug into the top 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) of the soil to improve the texture and nutrient levels in the turnip planting bed.
One of the best tips when preparing a garden bed for spring turnip planting is to wait until the ground thaws and begins to dry out. The soil should be damp and crumbly, but not sticky and muddy. Preparing the garden bed when the soil is wet and muddy breaks down the soils structure.
Seed depth is an important part of turnip planting. When the seeds are planted too deep, the developing seedlings suffocate under the heavy soil layer. For turnip seeds, a depth of 1/2 an inch (about 1.2 cm) deep is typically ideal.
Developing turnip seeds and seedlings requires consistent moisture, particularly during germination and early growth. The soil should be watered when the top feels dry to the touch. In wet spring and fall weather, additional watering may not be necessary.
Once the seedlings grow to about 4 inches (about 10 cm) tall, they should be thinned to a spacing of 4 to 6 inches (about 10 to 15 cm) apart. When thinning turnip seedlings, a good tip is to use the thinned seedlings as fresh greens. Harvesting is done with a shovel or garden fork. The roots are lifted from the soil and cleaned for eating or storage.