Swede & Turnip

May / Jun
Sep / Oct, Nov / Dec

Why Grow It

Swedes (or yellow turnips) grow well in Ireland. They are not particularly fussy about the soil they grow in, though they will fare better if the soil is manured.

White turnips are a quick growing crop – in contrast with the swede turnip, which is a long season crop.

Turnips can be sown from March until August. The early sown crop is susceptible to bolting and they are more commonly sown in July and August for an autumn crop. Sow direct, thinly at 1cm deep in rows 25cm apart.

  • Swedes and turnips will grow in most reasonably fertile soil, but best results will be obtained from soil that has had compost and general fertiliser added a week or two before.
  • Swedes can be sown direct or in modules for later transplanting. If sowing direct, sow in late May or June, very thinly 1- 2cm deep in rows 40cm apart. If sowing in modules sow 1 seed per module in May.
  • Turnips usually grow better when sown direct, but they can also be sown in module trays. Sow one or two seeds per module 2cm deep. Transplant using same spacing as swede.
  • If you have sown direct, thin plants to 25cm apart when they begin to grow.
  • If sown in modules, transplant in June, spacing plants 25cm apart in rows of 40cm.
  • Keep plants free of weeds and water regularly during dry weather.
  • Swedes take up to five months to mature (turnips take just 6-8 weeks).
  • Harvest when 10-15cm diameter, by simply pulling the root from the ground by the stem.
  • Swedes mature in the autumn – they can be left in the ground for the early part of the winter, but storage after December is better in a shed.
  • Turnips will not store as well as swedes, hence why it’s not a good idea to sow too many of them.
  • Harvest by simply pulling the root from the ground by the stem.
  • Gowrie (Swede)
  • Milan Purple Top (Turnip)
  • Tokyo Cross (Turnip)
  • Cabbage root fly and flea-beetle can attack the crop – they can both be controlled by covering with insect net.
  • Swedes can suffer badly from a deficiency of the mineral boron, giving the problem of “brown heart” – severe cases of this lead to an unpleasant slimy brown centre. If you have this problem, then add a fertiliser that contains boron.
  • Store swedes in a cool shed in a box of sand or create a swede clamp (a pyramid of swedes on a bed of straw, covered with another layer of straw and soil).
  • You could also do an earlier sowing of swedes in April for summer eating, but we tend to use quicker growing turnips for this instead (and honestly, swedes are not exactly what you want to be eating in summer anyway).