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.
There’s a season for everything here at 1840 Farm. Soon, it will be my favorite season of all: tomato season. I’ll walk out to the garden every morning to survey the ripe fruit and return to the farmhouse with pounds of delicious heirloom tomatoes to share with my family. Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.
I am happy to report that there are tomatoes on the vine out in the heirloom garden. Unfortunately, there are weeks of waiting ahead before they will be ready to enjoy. Until then, we’re harvesting lettuce by the pound, along with turnips, peas, and raspberries.
No, it’s not quite tomato season yet, but right now I’m enjoying lily season. Every morning, I seem to be greeted by a new, glorious bloom in the perennial beds. The blooms are strikingly beautiful and come in a paintbox full of colors.
The lilies are such a welcome sight in the perennial gardens here at 1840 Farm. Alas, the blooms do not last very long, so I try to capture them with my camera when they are in bloom. During lily season, I wade carefully through the blooming perennials to capture each color of lily. While looking at them through my camera lens, I am always amazed at their beauty.
I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do. Lily season is in midstream here and should continue for a few more weeks. I’ll be capturing each variety as they come into bloom and sharing them here and on Facebook. Then I’ll be counting the days until my beloved heirloom tomato season arrives and I can share photos of my favorite heirloom varieties.
Planting Depth: shallow-1/4″ below the soil’s surface
Plant Spacing: 2 inches
Row Spacing: 8-12 inches
Days to Germinate: 3 – 7
Days to Maturity: 21-27
A ripe Cherry Belle radish is a thing of beauty. It is medium in size with a round, bulbous shape. The skin is a beautiful bright garnet red with brilliant white flesh underneath. A delightful, crisp texture is accompanied by its earthy, fresh flavor. This variety resists the tendency to develop a woody texture as the season progresses. It’s no wonder that the Cherry Belle Heirloom Radish was the All-America Selection winner in 1949.
The Cherry Belle radish hails from Holland. Radishes 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 radishes throughout the growing season.
Radishes prefer the cooler conditions of spring and fall to summer’s intense heat. When sowing in the summer, consider planting radishes in the shade of larger, established plants. They can be grown as companions with dill, beets, carrots, and beans. Radishes are believed to help deter squash bugs and boring pests in the vegetable garden.
Here at 1840 Farm, we eagerly await radish season each spring. Radishes are the first vegetable crop harvested from our garden and announce the happy arrival of the growing season. They also enable us to enjoy eating a spring menu favorite: sliced radish tartine.
It’s the sixth week of our Ultimate Composting experiment here at 1840 Farm. Last week, I transferred the original romaine heart and celery from their water bath to soilless potting mix. They made it through the week with their roots and new growth intact.
In my last post, I mentioned that I would be planting them in the raised beds in two weeks. Well, I jumped the gun a little and planted them over the weekend. I couldn’t help myself. I was transplanting heirloom tomato seedlings in the hoophouse when I noticed the empty spot where I intended to plant them next week.
As a gardener, I almost can’t stand an empty space begging to be planted. So, I added them to the greens bed in the hoophouse. I planted them, gave them a drink of water from the rain barrel and went back to planting Livingston heirloom tomato varieties.
I’m hoping that the romaine lettuce and celery will take root and spend the summer growing in our garden and providing my family with fresh food. I’ve been watering them lightly and watching them closely. I am happy to say that they are still looking good two days later.
The other specimens are still in the window of our farmhouse kitchen. They seem to be growing roots and leaves at a steady rate. At this point, they are not falling prey to the mold that ended this experiment for a few of our earlier participants.
I promised to share how I had altered the growing container to prevent mold growth. I’d like to say that it was a highly scientific modification. I could try to make it sound more impressive than it is. Or, I could just tell you that I took a utility knife and carefully cut the top 2/3 off of a yogurt container bound for the recycling bin.
While this modification isn’t fancy, it seems to be working quite well. The bottom of the yogurt container is large enough to hold a day’s water supply but short enough to allow air to circulate around the crown of the romaine heart.
This week, I’ll be monitoring the specimens in the hoophouse and kitchen window. I’ll share their progress with you next week. Stay tuned!
We’re five weeks into our Ultimate Composting experiment here at 1840 Farm. We’ve hit a milestone in this project: it’s time to remove the first two specimens from water and plant them in soilless planting mix.
As you can see, the roots have really taken off over the last two weeks. Both the celery and romaine heart have established healthy roots and now I need to see if they are hardy enough to draw nutrients from a more solid substrate. If they can make it another two weeks in the kitchen window, I’ll be ready to add them to the raised beds in the vegetable garden.
Yesterday, I removed the two stubs from their water tray and planted them in small recycled yogurt containers. I used seed starting mix as their planting medium. This will provide a very airy, soft material and encourage vigorous root growth.
Seed starting mix tends to dry out quickly, but I’m planning to use that to my advantage. I don’t want the roots and crown of these plants to be too wet over the next two weeks. I think that they might be more likely to develop mold if they sit in wet pots on a daily basis.
I also want to transition these plants from their water bath where liquid water was available 24 hours a day to a more natural gardening environment where water will be added during my daily chores. These plants need to learn that water is available on a regular basis, but not constantly.
I am eager to see how these two specimens respond to their new pots. While it’s too soon to tell, they are looking great this morning. So far, so good.
Next week, I’ll be removing them from their pots to check on the root growth. I’ve also been using a modified container to discourage mold when starting new specimens. One week later, the plants are sprouting leaves and roots without showing any sign of mold. If that continues over the next week, I’ll be sharing the simple way I changed their container to combat the mold problem. Stay tuned!
It has been nearly a month since I started my ultimate composting experiment. The celery is still growing stalks and roots in my kitchen window. Several romaine hearts have joined in and one has roots to rival the celery stump that started it all.
So far, I’ve found that the romaine grows at a much faster rate than the celery. The romaine leaves are much larger and its roots seem to be more vigorous. To test this theory, I started a new celery and romaine heart on the same day. A week later, it seems that the romaine is clearly in the lead.
I’m learning as I go, making a few mistakes along the way while making changes on the fly. For instance, one of the romaine hearts was growing well and developing roots but began to mold. While the interior continued to grow, the exterior was wearing a fuzzy coat of blue-green mold.
The moldy romaine heart went into the compost pile. I modified it’s growing container slightly to attempt to combat the mold problem. All I needed was a specimen to test the new container.
I didn’t have to wait very long. I served salad for dinner last night and added two new romaine hearts to the windowsill. Now I’ll observe and see if the new container improves the outcome. I’ll share the results with you next week. This experiment may never end!
To make sure that you don’t miss any of our original content or favorite recipes, DIY projects, and homesteading advice from around the web, subscribe to The 1840 Farm Community Newsletter. Visit our subscription form to become the newest member of The 1840 Farm Community.