Growing turnips in pots or containers + Tips to plant and grow turnips

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Turnips scientifically called Brassica Rapa is a root vegetable (How to Start a Vegetable Garden). It is a bulbous vegetable that grows in the form of roots. Both the roots and the leaves of the turnip plant are edible. Turnips are rich in nutrients and are also low in calories. Here we will see how to plant and grow turnips, as well as growing turnips in pots or containers. Check out the detailed blog post, if you want to know how to grow turnip greens in a container.

growing turnips in pots
growing turnips in pots

They are white fleshy roots. It mainly has a diameter of 5-20 centimeters. Some parts of the turnip, say about 1-6 centimeters, can be seen above the ground. This projected part is pink, purple, reddish, or greenish in color. It changes its color due to the exposure of the sun. This top colored part of the turnip grows out from the stem tissues and is fused with the turnip roots.

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These are quick-growing vegetables that are easy to grow and care for. It is grown in many varieties. The smaller varieties of turnips are grown for human consumption, whereas the larger varieties of turnips can be grown for feeding the livestock.

Turnip is a versatile plant since it is grown in temperate regions around the world. It can be grown in urban gardens easily. Pots and containers can be used to grow turnip plants easily. You can grow this fully nutritious vegetable in small spaces at the comfort of your own home garden and savor both the white roots and green leaves of the plant. So let’s get started with the process.

Check out the below gardening tips:

Growing turnips in pots or containers

Now let us see the detailed steps on growing turnips in pots or container, the detailed steps on how to grow turnip greens in a container.

Temperature requirement

Turnip plants require a cool temperature for growth. The minimum temperature requirement for turnips is 5 degrees celsius i.e 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Whereas the maximum temperature is 32 degrees Celsius or 90 degrees Fahrenheit. 

However, for germination of seeds, the temperature requirement for US states is 13-30 degrees celsius i.e 55-85 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature rises or falls from this range the germination may be slow.

It requires a cool and moist temperature to grow well. You can start planting turnip seeds in spring when the temperature is 5 degrees and the weather is beginning to warm up. If you continue planting the seeds in succession till late spring then you can get the harvest in early summers. Similarly, you can then plant the seeds again in late summers or early fall (i.e autumn) and get your harvest in early winters. 

The turnip plants usually take 45-60 days to harvest but it depends a lot on the variety of turnip seeds that you are choosing to grow. Different types of turnips have different harvesting times but they all need cool temperatures to be planted in.

Sunlight

Turnip plants need at least 4-5 hours of direct sunlight. If the plants are not in a sunny position, they can grow in shade as well. However, they will not grow to their full potential in the deficit of direct sunlight. They need good sunlight to grow to their best. Therefore it is recommended to place your turnip pot in the place in your garden that has full coverage of sunlight for 5 hours of the day.

If you want to grow your turnips for their foliage they can do well in partial shade too. So according to your reason for growing turnips, you can choose sunlight and shade.

Container Type 

Since turnips are root vegetables they need some space for growing. Try using a container with some depth in it for allowing your plant to grow well. The pot should be a well-drained spot. For that ensure that pot has 2 drainage holes in it otherwise it can cause your roots to rot. Ideally, it is recommended to use a pot having a depth of at least 12 inches that can hold a gallon of soil for proper growth of the root plant.

However, the pot size you choose will also depend upon the number of turnips you want to grow. If you are growing the turnip plant for the leaves only a 6-7 inches pot would be enough as well.

Turnip plants do not get transplanted in another container in a single lifecycle. Therefore it is required to ensure that you use an ideal pot in the first place itself for enabling the plant to complete at least one lifecycle. You can choose the material of your choice for your container.

Few suggestions can be ceramic, terracotta, plastic, clay. You can also use old paint buckets, old wine barrels, old wooden crates, window boxes, and woven geo bags as containers for your turnip plant. 

Since the plant needs a cool soil you can either use a light color container in the first place or you can also paint the container you are using with a light color paint to make it reflect heat rays from the sun and allow the soil to stay cool inside to enable healthy growth.

Preparation of container before adding soil

growing turnips in pots or growing turnip greens in containers is easy provided you have to check out the soil.

In order to prevent the soil from dripping along with water from the pot because of watering the plant, you can cover the drainage hole with some light material. You can use a coffee filter for that, or two-three layers of newspaper, or a mesh or even tiny pebble or gravels for covering the hole. 

Soil

The soil used for turnip plants should be well-drained soil with a proper mixture of sand and garden soil. Loamy soil is good for turnip plants. Add compost, vermiculture, peat moss, etc to the soil to make it richer in nutrients and to enhance its quality.

The soil should have a pH level of about 6.5 ideally. You can also enhance the quality of the fertilizer by adding a slow-release fertilizer at the time of putting the soil in your container. You can easy get the best type of soil on the web or in your local nursery.

growing turnip greens in pots
growing turnip greens in pots, how to plant and grow turnips

Propagation through seeds

Now Let’s start with the preparation of seeds to plant your turnip. You can buy turnip seeds from any local store or online. Buy a good quality seed for best results. Soak the seeds in a glass of water for the night. Then add soil to your container. The soil should be filled in till 1 inch of the rim of the container. 

Take the seeds now and plant them ½ inches deep in the soil. You can plant the seeds 2-3 inches apart to allow the turnips to have space for growth. If you want to grow the turnip plant for its foliage just sprinkle the seeds. Now cover the container with ½ inches of soil. Add water to the soil and put the container in the sunny spot of your garden.

This is how we can also growing turnips in pots from seeds.

Water requirement

While growing turnips it is important to water them properly and keep the soil moist. During the first 3-4 weeks of the plantation, it is important to keep watering regularly. Keep a check on the soil by gently touching the top part of soil up to 2 inches to see if it is moist or not. The drainage holes will let the excess water drip down from the container allowing the soil to stay moist and excess water to move out. The turnip needs good watering to soak the plant well. Never let the soil fully dry out. It may cause the leaves to turn to a bitter taste.  As an indication, if the leaves seem to wilt a little, they need water. 

If you live in dry parts of America you may require to keep a check on the soil on a daily basis because the warm weather may make the water dry out in the container. So watering may be required to be done every day. Although the plant doesn’t need much care, regular watering is very important for continued growth and development of the turnip roots.

However, don’t overwater the plant because it may cause your turnip roots to rot due to waterlogging. Proper watering will help growing turnips in pots or in containers.

Thinning, spacing and distancing of plant

When your plant has developed some roots after a few weeks, you can do thinning so that your plants get enough space to grow as per their requirement. In case you were growing turnips for their leaves you can avoid this step.

Pruning 

When the plants grow for about 4 inches tall you can prune the tender leaves of the plant and those leaves can be used as homegrown salads. In case you are growing turnips for their leaves you should prune the leaves more often as it will enhance their growth.

Fertilizers

Turnip plants demand good feed to maintain their growth. In addition to using a good quality of soil, proper feeding is important for both the roots and leaves. Use a slow-release fertilizer initially while potting. These heavy feeds will grow well if compost is added for every 15 days.

You can also use good quality organic fertilizers or general-purpose liquid fertilizer for feeding. If it is not available then you can even use a water-soluble fertilizer. If turnips are grown for the roots you should use potassium-rich fertilizer. However if grown specifically for leaves you can use nitrogen-rich fertilizers.

Fertilizers are really important to plant and grow turnips greens indoors.

Pesticides and Mulching

Pests may damage your crop so it is important to keep them away. Pests like aphids, flea beetles, spider mates may damage the plant. To avoid this you can use water spray. You can use water-soluble nitrogen-rich fertilizer to spray on the leaves to prevent flea beetles. They cause the leaves to turn brown and make small holes on them.

The plants may be affected by weeds. Mulching can be used to prevent that situation. When the plants have grown about 12 centimeters tall, apply mulch and it will keep the soil from drying and prevent weeds as well.

An issue that the plant may face is clubroot. It is due to improper drainage. Ensure the container has proper drainage and the soil stays properly drained to avoid clubroot. Limes can be used to make the soil more alkaline.

Another issue faced by turnips is powdery mildew. It is a white powder that gets deposited on the leaves and makes them dry and shrivels. It can be prevented if you maintain proper moisture in the soil.

Harvesting

For harvesting of turnips, it is recommended to harvest them when they are still tender and young. Use good gardening tools for harvesting your turnip. Tender and young Turnip roots are good in taste. You can harvest the turnips when they get 3 inches in diameter or when they get 4-6 inches in height. It is advised to do an early harvest. The taste of the root is good on an early harvest.

Late harvesting of turnip roots may make them bitter and woody, therefore, recommended to harvest early on. For an early harvest, you can harvest turnip leaves in march- April and turnip roots in may-September. Ideally, on average it takes 30-65 days for turnips to harvest but it depends upon the variety of seed you are using.

Nutrients and Consumption ways

Turnip plants have edible roots as well as edible leaves. The elongated bulbous roots have good taste and can be used for consumption in the form of salads, as cooked vegetables or even turnips are used to make pickles. The leaves are also good at adding in pasta or so, and even used in salads.

Turnips are very rich in nutrients.  They are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and also vitamin B. they are rich in other nutrients also like Ca, P and Fe.

Storage

Turnip roots can be stored in the refrigerator. They can do well for a week or so if stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They can also be stored underground. They can be wrapped in leaves and stored as well.

Types of Turnips

There are many varieties of turnips ranging from 1 to 5 inches in diameter. You can choose among them to be the best-suited one for your garden. You can buy the seeds from both your local market or online. Now let’s see the types of turnips.

  1. Purple Top White Globe

These turnips are white in color but they have a purple top. They are round in shape. Purple Top White Globe can grow up to 3 inches in diameter in 45-65 days, hence can be mature for being harvested during that time. These turnips are spicy in flavor and can be used in braises and stews to taste the best. They can be stored in some cool and moist places and are very popular in the Southern U.S. 

  1. Tokyo Cross

Tokyo Cross turnips are an all American selection award-winning variety of turnips. These varieties of turnips get ready for harvesting quite very early. They take 30-35 days only to get ready for harvesting. They grow up to 3-6 inches in diameter. The flesh is a white globe with smooth skin and is mild, sweet, and crispy. 

  1. White knight

White Knight Turnips are late producers and are white globe-shaped turnips. They have a flattened oblong shape with white skin and flesh and are spicy in favor. 

  1. Scarlet queen

These turnips are bright red scarlet in color. However, they have pure white flesh. This variety is a little flat in shape. It usually takes them 40-45 days to harvest. They have a sweet and crispy taste. They are great to give a bright scarlet color to your salads. Scarlet queen can be paired with a wide variety of veggies. Some people also consider them the best type of turnips and are also highly resistant to disease.

  1. Market express

They are baby turnips and are pure white flesh. These turnips take a short period to harvest. Market express takes about 38 days to harvest. They have a mild flavor and are popularly grown in native American regions.

  1. Hakurei

Similar to the market express variety these turnips are also baby turnips. They are also pure white in color and have a hairless green top. Hakurei grows up to 2-3 inches in diameter. Also, this variety harvests in short periods of about 35-40 days. They are sweet in flavor and restaurants mostly use this variety.

  1. Alltop and seven top

This variety is mostly grown for its large green foliage that is very rich in nutrients. They grow up to 18-22 inches in height. Alltop can be harvested in 30-45 days. It is recommended to harvest these turnips when they are young and tender for their best taste and flavor. 

  1. Golden ball

Golden Ball is also known as orange jelly turnip or Robertson’s golden ball. This variety has roots with yellow skin and flesh and can be harvested in 45-65 days. They have a sweet taste with a hint of almond taste.

  1. Gill feather

These turnips are somewhat egg-shaped and take 70-75 days to harvest from the sowing of seeds. They are cream in color and the flesh in the inside is white in color and have a taste similar to that of potato.

FAQs

1. What is the best time to plant turnips?

Turnips are cool weather bulbous plants. They grow well in cool and moist climatic conditions. You can grow turnips in early spring when the temperature is low. Also after being harvested in summers then you can begin the next cycle during late summers of fall when the weather starts cooling down and then you can harvest them by winters again.

2. Can turnips grow in containers?

Yes, turnips can be grown in containers as well as directly in your garden. Turnips are root plants. Therefore they require some space in the soil to grow. You can definitely use the container of your choice to grow turnips. However, the size of the container will depend upon the number of turnips that you want to grow.

Turnips vary in size but range from 2-5 inches in diameter. So choose your container size according to the variety of your preferences. The depth of the container can be 12 inches deep precisely. 

3. How long does it take to grow turnips?

The harvesting period of turnips depends upon the variety of turnips you want to grow. There are a wide range of turnips and the harvesting period can be different for each one of them. But ideally, on average it takes 30-60 days to harvest turnips that also depends on which region of the U.S you belong to. 

4. How often should you water turnips?

Turnips need moist soil to grow in. They should be watered regularly for good taste especially during the first 3-4 weeks. If the soil gets dry they can turn woody and bitter. You need to check the moistness of the soil by touching the soil whether it needs to be watered or not.

Use containers with 2 drainage holes so that the excess water percolates from the pot to avoid overwatering of the plant to prevent the roots from rotting down.

Final Thoughts

So these are the tips that you can use to grow turnips in your own garden. Turnips are very easy to grow and the best part is that both the roots and the foliage of the plant can be used for consumption in a variety of ways. You can pair turnips with many veggies, add the leaves in your pasta, or savor in the form of soups and salads. Growing turnips is super easy and they also don’t need a lot of care and attention.

You just need to select the type of turnip that you would want to harvest. Then follow the instruction as given above and ensure a healthy turnip plantation in your own home garden. You need to use good quality soil, to begin with, and the choice of your container. Adding two drainage holes in the container can ensure that the excess water percolates out of the container preventing waterlogging. 

Keep the plant in good sunlight and make sure you meet the water requirements of the plant since turnips grow in the full potential when provided with good sunlight or 4-6 hours a day and regular watering. Since the turnips are heavy-feeders use good quality fertilizers and compost to ensure that they grow well. You can get all the supplies easily available in local markets or online. So now you can grow your turnips in your garden (growing turnip greens in containers) by just following all the instructions as mentioned above.

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I hope this detailed guide will help you to grow and care turnips greens and:

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  • growing turnip greens in pots
  • growing turnip greens indoors
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  • growing turnips in containers
  • growing turnip greens in containers
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  • how to grow turnip greens in a container

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