Turnips produce useful, edible roots in as little as 60 days. Turnip roots and greens are nutritious and tasty. The roots are eaten raw, pickled, braised, or pureed. Use them alone, in soups, stews, and casseroles. The leaves of the turnip plant, turnip greens, make a good potherb and are an integral part of Southern African-American cuisine, Turnips are a brassica, same as kale, collards, cabbage, and broccoli. Turnip leaves are smaller and more tender than collards. Their slightly bitter flavor is delicious.
The greens of the turnip are harvested and eaten all year. In the United States, stewed turnips are eaten as a root vegetable in the autumn and winter. Sprouted seeds can be eaten in salads or sandwiches.
Turnips are very hardy and can be planted early in spring or late in summer. They do not stand well in the ground, so pull for storage. Use a loose, not too acid soil (add lime if too acid), and mulching always benefits turnips. Best flavor when they grow fast, so good soil with a lot of organic matter and adequate water are essential.
Do not allow the roots to grow too large or they will become woody, stringy, and bitter. Pull or use them before the first frost. If storing, top them and store in a cool place.
There is evidence that the turnip was domesticated before the 15th century BC; it was grown in India at this time for its oil-bearing seeds. In Nordic countries turnips provided the staple crop before their replacement by the potato in the 18th century.