The turnip, with its distinctive flavour, of is an old favourite and has been cultivated for many centuries. They are rich in vitamins and minerals. It is a member of the brassica family, similar to swede (to which it is a parent plant), but smaller at about 6-8 cm diameter when ready. There is some variety in skin colour: white, golden, or white and purple. The flesh is usually white or pale yellow and very crisp. In the UK at the turn of the 18th Century turnips played an important part in the agricultural revolution when Charles ‘Turnip’ Townshend advocated the Norfolk four-course system. The rotation of wheat, clover, barley and turnips was identified as being beneficial for crop production and the principle of rotation is fundamental to organic growing today.
White Globe (Sometimes called Purple Top White Globe) is a round, white turnip with a splash of purple at the top. The flesh is pure-white and extremely tender.
How to grow: Plant in the brassica section of your rotation. Sow seeds successionally from February until April and then again from July and August in shallow drills with rows 30cm apart. Early crops can be started in modules. Put a pinch of seed in each module and plant them out at a distance of 15cm in early spring under cloches if necessary. Turnips are fast growing and need plenty of water to make sure they do not go woody and run to seed. They grow as a bunch and can be harvested from golf ball size. We suggest not letting them grow too much as their texture becomes drier and more fibrous the bigger they get. Pests and diseases: Turnips are easy and fast-growing so tend not be affected by pests and diseases. Flea beetle, which can affect the leaves, do not harm the crop. How to cook: Pull the roots and twist off the leaves. Rinse and cut the small root off. Turnip skin is thin so it can be cooked whole or peel thinly if preferred. Turnips can be cut into strips or chunks and boiled, they can be mashed with butter and seasoning, or added to pies and stews. They can also be roasted in their skins.
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