Roots and leaves of turnips ( Brassica rapa ) are easy to grow in almost any part of the country, both in spring and fall in many areas, as highly nutritious vegetables. The plants are easy to grow and mature fast enough to be harvested within two months of planting.
Turnips grow best in full sun, in moist, well-drained fertile soil, and when they are thinned out and eaten small as they grow, leaving more room for others to develop larger roots. Turnips thrive in cold weather and become sweeter in frosts; roots become rock hard and bitter in hot weather, and hard freezing can kill plants.
Turnips are harvested as leafy greens, as a mix of small turnip and green roots, and as greens, or as larger ripe roots for storage. Collecting two or three older leaves from the plants at a time and keeping the greens in plastic bags in the refrigerator, or pulling out or digging the plants entirely and cutting the leaves before storing the roots.
Unlike the smooth leaves of turnips, turnip leaves have tiny hairs that easily pick up dirt, small insects, and even pesticides; they will need a good wash both immediately after harvest and before cooking, with two or three water changes between cooking phases.
How to store turnips
Gardeners in areas where severe frost is not common can simply leave them in the ground, covered with hay or other mulch to keep the sun and rain out of them. However, keep in mind that deer love to browse turnips, so harvest first where deer are common.
Once the turnips are harvested, twist or cut the tips immediately to prevent them from pulling moisture away from the roots. Rinse the greens in cold water, shake off excess moisture, and store for up to four to five days in plastic food-safe bags in the refrigerator.
Knowing how to store turnip roots depends on their size and maturity. The small roots can be refrigerated for two to three weeks. Large, mature roots can be sorted to remove cut or imperfect ones, then store a few at a time in the refrigerator for up to about three weeks. Spread the ones to keep longer in a single layer in a box with a damp newspaper or sawdust to keep them moist. Place the box in a cool, dark, unheated garage, basement, or root cellar, and check frequently to remove any that are losing quality.
Freeze the turnip roots by washing, peeling, and cutting them into half-inch cubes, then blanch them in boiling water for two minutes. Quickly cool in cold water and immediately freeze in freezer bags. They should be fine for 8 to 10 months.
Finally, the question of how to store turnips is for people who grow too much at once; The best way to have crunchy, green turnips and veggies the longest is to sow fresh seeds every two to three weeks during the growing season to keep the new ones coming fresh.