Turnips are tasty root vegetables that are easy and fast to grow. If you’ve planted turnips you may be wondering when is the best time to harvest them. The answer really depends on how you want to use the turnips. If you’re confused about when to harvest, don’t worry. This helpful guide will show you exactly when to harvest turnips for different goals so you’ll know exactly what to do.
How long Does It Take for Turnips to grow?
Turnips are relatively quick vegetables to grow. In the right conditions, most varieties are ready for harvest in as little as six to ten weeks. Some quick-growing varieties can even be ready to harvest in just four weeks.
The actual time it takes for turnip plants to grow varies depending on the specific variety you’re using and the growing conditions in your garden. Larger varieties take longer to grow than smaller varieties, and seeds that are planted in ideal growing conditions will be ready to harvest sooner than seeds that are planted in less ideal conditions.
Turnips like cool weather and moist soil. They’re a good choice for early spring or fall gardens before the weather gets too hot. Once the weather heats up, turnips won’t grow as well.
Turnips do best in full sun and neutral to slightly acidic soil with a pH of around six to six and a half.
Does Harvesting Turnip Greens Affect Growth?
Harvesting turnip greens will slow down the growth of the root because the plant uses the leaves to photosynthesize and create energy to grow. When you take away the leaves, it will take longer to get enough energy to grow the root.
It’s perfectly fine to harvest turnip greens and let the root continue to grow, just keep in mind that it will take longer for the root to develop than if you didn’t harvest the greens separately. If your goal is to harvest turnip roots sooner, you may want to wait to harvest the greens until the root is ready.
When to Harvest Turnips
The best time for harvesting turnips varies depending on your goals. What type of flavor and texture you like for the roots and whether or not you want to use the greens will determine when you should harvest your turnips.
When growing in fall, turnips can handle light frost but they need to be harvested before the ground freezes. If turnips are in the ground during a hard freeze the roots could crack. If they’re still left there after the ground thaws, they could rot.
If the ground does not freeze where you live, it’s possible to leave turnips in the ground until you’re ready to use them. They will be dormant in the winter and not continue to grow. This leaves them exposed to pests so consider the risks before deciding when to harvest turnips. If you do leave them in the ground, make sure to harvest them before spring or they’ll start to grow again and become tough and woody.
When to Harvest Turnips for the Best Flavor
When it comes to when to harvest turnips for the sweetest flavor and a soft, tender texture, harvest them when the roots are about two inches wide or slightly less. The flavor is milder and sweeter when turnips are small.
If you’ve picked the greens first, wait until the turnips are three inches in diameter before harvesting.
When it comes to harvesting turnips for a heartier, more earthy flavor, wait a little longer to harvest turnips. With more time, the texture becomes firmer and the flavor more intense.
When to Harvest Turnips for their Greens
You can begin harvesting turnip greens when the leaves are four to six inches tall. Trim the greens from the root leaving about an inch of greens left on the plant. For the best flavor, harvest turnip greens early. They become tough and bitter when left to grow for too long.
If you thin turnip seedlings after planting, you can also save the tiny greens and eat them.
The best time to harvest turnip greens is in the morning. They are best when fresh so pick them the same day you plan to use them whenever possible.
Can I Harvest Turnip Greens more than once?
Many turnip varieties continue to grow after picking the greens so you can get another harvest of greens in the same season. If you’re primarily interested in turnip greens rather than roots, you can harvest greens again and again.
If you want to harvest the roots after getting a crop of greens, only take the greens once because the root needs adequate leaves to photosynthesize and develop the root to full size.
How to Store Turnip Roots
After deciding on when to harvest turnips, you’ll need to store them. Separate the turnip root from the greens by twisting or cutting the stems off of the root top. Brush off any dirt from the plant and cut off excess roots at the bottom of the turnip. Place the turnips in a single layer in a box for storage. Putting straw in the box with the turnips can help keep the roots dry.
Turnip roots should be stored in a cool, dry place such as a root cellar or refrigerator. If they stay dry, they’ll keep well for several months this way. Moisture can cause mold and rot so make sure to keep the turnips dry.
Turnip roots can also be dried or blanched and frozen for longer storage.
How to Store Turnip Greens
If your turnip greens are ready to harvest and you don’t want to use them right away, they can be kept in the fridge for four to five days. Wrap the greens in a paper towel then place them in a plastic bag. Store the bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge.
If you’d like to save turnip greens for a longer period, they can be blanched and placed in the freezer in an airtight container for up to a year.
Wrapping Up When to Harvest Turnips
With these tips for when to harvest turnips, you’ll be ready to enjoy these versatile vegetables as soon as they’re ripe. For more harvesting tips, check out When to Harvest Acorn Squash. To learn more about food storage and preservation, check out the Survival Food Section on the blog.