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Garden Tales: The Turnip

Updated on January 28, 2010

diced turnip

Bob Ewing photo
Bob Ewing photo

stir fry

Bob Ewing photo
Bob Ewing photo

Turnips Get no respect

  No respect that is what a turnip gets. Go to a farmers’ market and watch people grab up the heritage tomatoes and strawberries and other berries especially the organic ones. But see the turnips just sitting there waiting for someone to take them home and allow them to become the delicious side dish or main course they were meant to be.

Turnips are inexpensive and some farmers make very little selling them. But people are willing to pay high prices for that heritage cherry tomato or the organic berries.

I love tomatoes and berries but a meal they do not make.

The turnip, which has been around for many, many years is versatile, not that difficult to grow and very tasty.

Turnips are good in stir fires, soups and stews, mashed or used as home fries or French fries instead of potatoes.


Growing Turnips:

Sow turnip seeds in the early spring,  1/2 inch deep; sprinkle the small seeds thinly to an inch apart in the rows and separate the rows 1 foot apart.  You can use double rows to conserve space in your home garden.

Early spring is the time to sow the seed and you may even be able to do so again in the fall. Turnips can be grown in summer but they do prefer cool weather.


Turnips can survive poor soil but if the soil is rich the end result will be much more enjoyable. Add compost and work it into the soil.

Turnips take about a week to sprout and be ready after two weeks, to thin seedlings to four to five inches apart.

The most common cause of woody stems is dry soil so water regularly. The turnip is a root crop and you will not necessarily get any insight from the plant’s leaves about watering so water when in doubt.


Turnip Fries:




1 medium turnip

1 tsp olive oil



1-      peel turnip

2-      slice as you would potatoes for French fries

3-      oil baking sheet

4-      preheat oven to 350 F

5-      place turnip on sheet

6-      put in oven

7-      cook 20 minutes or until fry can be picked up with fork.

Serve, with sea salt, black pepper, ketchup or hot sauce.


This is just none of many ways to enjoy turnips. They make an excellent side dish mashed with a ham. You mash them just as you do potatoes.

Give a turnip a break and bring one home for dinner.


Submit a Comment

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    The turnip iin its humility has much to teach. You are most welcome Dottie and thank you for visiting and your kind words.

  • Dottie1 profile image

    Dottie1 9 years ago from MA, USA

    I am one who definitely had no respect for the turnip until I tried your crockpot "Basic Chicken Stew" recipe which included turnip that I found here:

    I learned so much about the turnip today so I thank you Bob for writing this delicious Garden Tale :)