If you want to add something special to your vegetable garden, try growing rutabaga for a change. Known to be high in nutrition and incredibly easy to grow, this root vegetable will be easy to maintain. I have a crop at the moment that I love to sell at the local farmer’s market. It is always a big hit with my regular customers.
Rutabaga is often confused with the humble turnip because it resembles it a lot. But that is where the similarity stops. Rutabaga has a purple top, is sweeter in comparison and has larger roots as well as succulent flesh that is yellow and purple in colour. Get a good crop growing and you will have all of the rutabagas you need for soups, a mash and salads.
Rutabaga is a cold-weather crop and it is harvested in late autumn and early winter after growing for three to four months in the soil. Here are a few planting tips that can help you grow your own stash:
- Use well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter to grow this vegetable. If your garden soil is not as fertile as you would like, add organic compost to planting beds before sowing the seeds. If the soil where you want to plant your rutabagas is acidic, mix some wood ash in it to reduce levels. Make sure to remove rocks and lumps of soil from the planting site. These will make the roots split otherwise and ruin your plants. The soil should have a pH between six and seven to ensure a healthy crop, especially if you plan to sell them. (https://extension.umn.edu/vegetables/growing-turnips-and-rutabagas).
- Sow the rutabaga seeds you have in your garden when the weather is nice and cool. This is ideally four to six days before the late frost during spring. It should be sown when you expect a harvest when temperatures are above 75°F. In hot weather, the roots will not grow much and will be stringy.
- Sow the seeds half an inch deep into the soil and make sure each one is about an inch apart from the next. You have to ensure the roots have plenty of space to grow and thrive. Some companion plants that you can grow with each plant include turnips, beets and carrots.
- Water the seeds regularly but just enough to prevent the soil from drying out. Otherwise, the roots will get too tough and you will have a hard time pulling out the vegetables.
- If you see pests such as aphids on your rutabagas, just use water to spray them away. However, to prevent root maggots from getting into the roots, apply some diatomaceous earth around the seedling stems in your garden (https://www.planetnatural.com/pest-problem-solver/garden-pests/root-maggot-control/).
- When the roots of the rutabagas start to plump up, trim the outer leaves. This will encourage growth.
- Harvest your rutabagas when they are three to five inches thick and are about 12 inches tall. This should be apparent 60 to 90 days after your sow the seeds for the first time. You can wait longer, but just make sure you take each rutabaga plant out before the temperature dips below 24°F. If you leave them in the ground too long, they will turn woody and inedible.
You can try out these tips when you want to plant American purple top rutabagas in your garden. The plants are beautiful to behold as they start to mature and the vegetables have a unique purple shade, which adds pops of colour to the garden.
Q: Are rutabagas easy to grow?
A: Yes, rutabagas can be grown easily and do not require much maintenance to remain healthy. Just make sure that you don’t water each plant too much.
Q: Can you cultivate rutabaga from cuttings?
A: Yes. Rutabagas are biennials so if you plant cuttings, you will eventually get big, bushy plants and a flower stalk so you can get more vegetables.
Q: Do rutabagas need full sun?
A: Planting rutabagas in a spot that gets a lot of sunlight is a good idea since it is a root vegetable.
Q: Where are rutabagas grown in the US?
A: This vegetable is grown in abundance in North American states.
Q: How long does it take rutabagas to mature?
A: The vegetable can reach full maturity in 60 to 90 days. This can vary according to the region you are planting in and the soil you are using for planting.
Q: Is rutabaga a vegetable or a starch?
A: It is a root vegetable that belongs to the Brassica genus of plants. It is also known as a cruciferous vegetable.
Planting rutabagas is not difficult as long as you don’t overdo it and add too much organic matter or pull out the vegetables before they mature. Patience is key here because you will have to wait a couple of months before you can harvest a rich bounty. Just make sure that you:
- Water the seeds frequently and don’t allow the soil to dry out.
- Keep pests at bay.
- Harvest the vegetables when they get nice and plump after a few months,
If you have more questions about planting this vegetable, just mention it in the comments below and I will answer them.