Turnip seeds are low maintenance, disease-resistant plants that can be used to add variety to your garden. They tolerate dry soils and can be found in many places growing wild, but should be planted in rich fertile soil where they will thrive. In milder climates, leave the seeds dry in the sun for a few days, and then water deeply when the soil is dry. In hot, dry climates, lay the seeds directly on the soil, cover with stones or a baggy cloth, and water until dry.
In northern areas, lay three inches of well-drained soil in the garden so that turnip seeds germinate well. In southern states with warm, dry summers, plant turnip seeds after the plants bloom, just as you would any summer crop. In milder climates, plant the seeds just before the last frost in the fall, well before soil temperatures begin to warm.
When you decide to plant turnip seeds, you must make sure they germinate in an acid soil that will help them stay alive through the winter months. pH levels of 5.5 or better are desirable. Once the seedlings have been established in their containers, you will need to seeding and monitoring them as they grow. The majority of seedlings are fairly fast growing, but it does take time for the roots to reach the desired width and length. Do not worry if the seedlings take a longer period of time; there is ample time to harvest when the soil is warm and the seedlings are large enough.
Planting and Sowing Although a single seedling will usually produce three sets of blooms, you will still need to cover at least seven turnips seeds to produce four sets of blooms. It is best to plant the seeds about two to three inches deeper than they are in the ground. The depth should be packed lightly. The space between each layer of soil should be covered by a small handful of dirt. Another layer of dirt should be planted above the dirt layer to act as a contrast to the lighter soil. This makes a rich growing environment for the seven turnip seeds you are planting.
After the plants start growing in the spring, they will need to be divided to allow them to grow into leaves. Remove the turnips from their containers and place them on a large piece of land. They will need good, open air and plenty of sunlight to encourage new growth. The leaves on the lower half of the turnips will grow into true leaves while the upper leaflet will grow into a green carpet of leaves and branches that will provide support for the growing turnip roots.
Once the roots on the upper leaflet are strong, remove them carefully from the plant in the lower half of the turnip seeds. Planting a seed in the wrong place can result in a harvest that is low quality or even dead. With a little observation, you will find the best spot for your turnip planting and when the time comes to harvest you will have healthy, strong plants ready to be picked off.
Harvesting can be tricky but not impossible if you watch closely. In order to harvest your turnips, the best time is during the second week of growth. Harvesting right after the first set of leaves appear will result in very small turnip leaves. Harvesting before the second week will result in the majority of the seeds being exposed to light which stunts growth. Harvesting at the middle of the second week will give the best results with larger seeds and healthy leaves. The best time to pick your turnip flowers depends on the growth pattern of each variety.
When sowing new seeds, it is important to get them into moist soil. Keep in mind that any seedlings should be watered daily. If you are using plastic seedlings, it is best to use a watering can or hose to get them established. Before planting, it is a good idea to check the soil and see if it is ready for planting. If not, it is important to prepare the soil properly to ensure the success of your planting.