How to Grow Rutabaga | Guide to Growing Rutabaga

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How to Grow Rutabaga | Guide to Growing Rutabaga  



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Easy-to-grow softball-sized root crop is a favorite for fall and winter soups and dishes, and can also be used raw in salads. Rutabagas are often confused with turnips, but are sweeter flavored.


Seeds or Seedlings

4 to 7 days, 45F to 85F

3 years

Well Drained, Low Fertility

Full Sun, Part Shade

2" apart

6" apart

52 to 75

Growing Guide
Performs well on wide range of soils. Unlike most brassicas, does not require rich soils. High organic matter and/or nitrogen levels may cause poorly shaped roots. Loosen soil deeply or grow in raised beds to encourage good root development. Sensitive to boron deficiency.

Biennial grown as an annual.

Often a waxy blue-green

Plant seed 2 inches apart and ½ inch deep in rows 18 to 24 inches apart in early to mid-summer, about 3 months before expected harvest for most varieties. Thin to 6-inch spacings. Frost improves quality and flavor.

For early crops, sow seed as soon as you can work the soil in spring. Do not wait until fall to harvest as roots will become woody and fibrous.

Larger seeds germinate faster and may be ready for harvest as much as 5 to 6 weeks sooner than smaller seed.

To help reduce disease, do not plant rutabagas or other cole crops in the same location more than once every three or four years.

Use floating row covers to protect crop from early pests.

Sustained mean temperatures above 80 F can cause excessively fast growth and root cracking.


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Harvesting Guide

These tasty and hardy cool-season vegetables epitomize fall root crops. Harvest rutabagas from three to four months after sowing seeds, while turnips can be harvested from one to two months after sowing seeds.

Harvest turnip leaves for greens before the roots are ready.
Cut the outer leaves, then refrigerate, unwashed, and use as soon as you can. Leave some greens on top to keep root alive.

Loosen the soil around turnip roots when they reach 2 to 3 inches wide. Pull roots from the soil and twist off the tops, leaving about 1/2 inch of stem.

Use a garden fork to dig up rutabaga roots once they reach 3 inches wide.

Serve cooked turnips and rutabagas as side dishes.

Store turnips in a cool damp place, unwashed, for up to three months. Rutabagas will keep in a cool, damp location for up to four months and can also be frozen.

Being a biennial plant, rutabagas don't set seeds until the second year. Several plants can be left unharvested, allowing them to go to seed the next year. An alternative method is to dig the roots and store them through the winter, replanting them in the spring to harvest the seeds after blooming.

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