Saturday, May 25, 2019

Early Harvest: Salad Turnips!

I'm a big vegetable fan, and one of my recent favorites is the salad turnip. I first tried them at a farmer's market a few years ago. Just one taste and I was hooked. They are difficult to find in local markets, but I found seeds for them in Johnny's seed catalog, where they are also referred to as Hakurei turnips. They are a Japanese hybrid, developed in the 1950s when Japan was recovering from WWII.

Here's what World Farmer's Organization has to say about them:
Their surprisingly delicate, almost fruity flavor and crunchy texture accounts for their popularity. 

No kidding!  They are so tasty!  If you like radishes, you will probably like them. And, they are an easy crop to grow.  I grow mine in 1/2 barrels. This year I planted them on April 8th and began harvesting them this week. Aside from watering, they need to be thinned so each plant has 2" of growing space. And that's about it! Grow them in a sunny spot and pull them when they grow to the size of a golf ball. You can easily see their size when you peek under the leaves.

I didn't use all my seeds last year so I kept them over the winter in a cool dry spot (my wine cooler) and they all germinated this year. So for the cost of one packet of seeds, I grew these little gems in two consecutive springs!

Here is a previous crop.

Once pulled and washed, they will keep in your refrigerator for quite a while. Mine never last too long since I like them so much, but I grew a big crop a few years back and they were around for over a month. The last ones were as good as the first.

After I harvest turnips, it's time to put in a tomato plant or some herbs or flowers. But already my chives, irises and peonies are blooming, and I feel like my garden is a success.  As the summer heats up, I tend to wilt and my garden goes native.  Early is my best bet!

Oh... and... this little plant volunteered under my kitchen window and I moved it to the garden.  I know it's a robust little thing because I dropped it between the two places and it lost all the soil around its roots, but it survives.  What do you think it is?  Cucumber?  Melon?  It would be amusing to have a watermelon volunteer from a seed one of my grandkids spit into the soil.  Right???

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