How to Grow Turnips – A Beginner’s Guide

turnips plant growing in garden
Turnips, which are known botanically as  Brassica Rapa, are a type of vegetable that can easily be grown at home. Continue reading to learn the basics of growing turnips as well as common mistakes to avoid along the way.

Best Time to Plant Turnips

This will depend largely on your local climate, but as a rule of thumb, begin to plant the turnip seeds 2 to 3 weeks before the average last spring frost date. This is the best time to ensure that the seedlings survive the weather.

To check when turnips are most likely to thrive in your area, see the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. If you live outside the US, do a quick search for ‘plant hardiness zone + [city]’.

How to Plant Turnips the Right Way

There are a number of things to consider that will help you avoid some of the common mistakes of growing turnips in your home garden.

Often overlooked, your soil can have a huge impact on how well your turnips grow. Generally, your soil should be moderately deep loam, fertile and slightly acid soil. Soil PH levels should be around 6 to 7.5.

roughly 3′ apart in rows.  6″ apart in rows. The seeds should be sowed at a depth of about  .5″. For each plant, be sure to sow at least a few seeds to ensure that at least one of them will germinate.

Begin thinning your turnip seedlings thin to one plant every 6″ when seedlings are 2.5″-3″ tall.

How Much Sunlight is Needed to Grow Turnips

The amount of sunlight is another key to a successful harvest. Too much sunlight will dry out your turnips. Not enough sunlight will stunt your its growth or even kill it.

Ideally, your turnips should be getting full sun, which means as much sunlight as you can possibly give it, or at least 6 hours or more.

How Much to Water Turnips

As you’ve figured by now, a lot can have an impact on how well your turnips do, and the amount of water is no different.

Ideally, the soil should be damp to touch; not soggy or bone dry. If the leaves on your turnips begin to change colors or start to look droopy, you need to adjust how much water you’re giving it.

Unfortunately, if you give it too much or too little water, you can kill it, so it’s best to just keep an eye on it and water as needed.

How Long Does it Take Turnips to Germinate and Grow?

Now the fun part begins and you get to watch your turnips grow.

It takes approximately 7-10 days to germinate, and a total of 55 days from seed to harvest.

When to Harvest Turnips

The best time to harvest your turnips is when the leaves reach 4-6 inches in height.

Turnips can grow up to about 2 to 3 inches in diameter.

What Can Turnips Be Used For?

Food Use: Great when eaten fresh or roasted.

Flavor Profile: Tender with a smooth, old fashioned flavor.

Can Turnips Grow in Pots and Containers?

Yes, you will ideally need a 12″+ containerfor each plant. This can help control weeds and keep your plant from growing out of control.

It also gives you the flexibility to move your turnips around if you need to adjust sunlight or bring it indoors to avoid harsh weather conditions.

Are Turnips Safe for Bees?

Yes, turnips are safe for bees.

According to, bees pollinate human food crops that make up about 90% of the world’s nutrition.

Given their importance in our ecosystem and food supply, I feel it is important to note that growing turnips is bee-friendly.

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