Purple Top Heirloom Turnip
Planting Depth: shallow-1/4″ below the soil’s surface
Plant Spacing: 1 – 2 inches at sowing, thinned to 4 – 6 inches
Row Spacing: 12 – 18 inches
Days to Germinate: 7 – 10
Days to Maturity: 52-57
A ripe Purple Top Heirloom Turnip is as beautiful as it is delicious. If you think that you don’t enjoy turnips, then I beg you to try one from your garden or local farmer’s market. A fresh, homegrown turnip bears little resemblance to the giant specimens found in the grocery store. While the grocery store version can lean heavily toward the pungent, a fresh turnip is the perfect marriage of earthiness and sweetness.
Turnips can be eaten raw, roasted, mashed, or substituted for potatoes in your favorite recipe. The Purple Top’s skin is a creamy off white color with purple shoulders. The interior is a beautiful bright white with a smooth, crisp texture throughout.
The turnip has been cultivated for centuries. Thomas Jefferson grew more than a dozen varieties in his terrace garden. They graced the dinner table and also served as feedstuffs for cattle and sheep raised at Monticello. In Ireland, it was tradition to display a hollowed out turnip with a flame burning inside. This practice became the inspiration for present day pumpkin Jack O’Lanterns.
Turnips can be succession planted to be enjoyed throughout the growing season. If planted every two weeks, the resulting harvest will provide a continuous supply of turnips and greens. The greens are edible and nutritious and can be enjoyed along with the root when harvested. In fact, a few leaves can be cut from each bulb during the growing season and enjoyed before the root crop is ready for harvesting. If stored properly, turnips can be kept in a cool, dry place for up to four months.
Turnips are good garden companions for peas and cabbage. They are believed to help deter aphids in the vegetable garden. Planting turnips near crops susceptible to aphid damage can be beneficial in the organic vegetable garden.
Here at 1840 Farm, we eagerly await the turnip harvest each spring. We quarter the roots and roast them in a 425 degree oven with olive oil and sea salt until they are tender and sweet. As soon as the hot pan is removed from the oven, we add a pat of butter and some of our own maple syrup. In minutes, the turnips are lightly coated in a beautiful amber glaze. The end result is earthy and sweet and serves as a perfect reminder that getting our hands dirty means putting delicious, fresh food on our table.
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