Page 24 - ALG Issue 2 20202
P. 24

Turnips, Swedes and Kohlrabi
 The turnip used to be one of the staple vegetables in the British diet and has
a sweet and slightly peppery taste that improves after a light frost. The young turnip tops can be sautéed and eaten too. Swedes are thought to be a cross between a turnip and a wild cabbage and are also known as rutabaga. Their flesh is more delicate than that of a carrot, less sweet than parsnip, but not as sharp as a turnip. Kohlrabi is not a root vegetable but a stem that swells to a turnip shape above the ground and may have developed from the marrow cabbage, a wild form of cabbage
which frequently grows on the English Channel coast and other European coastal regions. The taste of kohlrabi
is similar to broccoli stems or cabbage heart, but sweeter. Kohlrabi can also be eaten raw as a crudité.
During the 18th century, Charles, Viscount Townshend, or Turnip Townshend as he became known, championed the use of the turnip in a four-field system of crop rotation along with wheat, turnips, barley, and clover.
Kohlrabi is not
a root vegetable but a stem that swells to a turnip shape above the ground
         This system increased food production and soil fertility, and the turnip, which could be stored over the winter, provided enough animal food so that farmers could keep their animals alive over winter. The improved availability
of milk and meat and other foods supported an expanding population and provided workers for the developing Industrial Revolution.
Turnips are grown from seed. The main sowing season is during March and April. The seed is sown thinly in drills 12mm/1⁄2 ins deep with 30cms/12ins between the rows. The seeds of the later, hardier turnip cultivars are sown during July up until the end of August. When the first true leaves are produced, thin the seedlings to 8cms/3ins apart; the second and final thinning about
two or three weeks later leaving 15- 22cms/6-9 ins between plants. Water along the rows of seedlings the day before and immediately after thinning them out. Always water turnips well, especially during dry spells, including liquid seaweed in the watering can and hoe regularly.
Turnips can be harvested regularly all through the summer, pulling them for use as soon as they are the size of a golf ball. The late summer turnips must be out of the soil by mid-October. Lift them using a garden fork, shaking some of the soil off the roots, and remove the foliage by twisting the leaves. Store the turnips roots in boxes filled with sand or old potting compost.
  24 Allotment and Leisure Gardener

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