When to Plant Fall Turnips: A Gardener’s Guide



When to Plant Fall Turnips

Plant fall turnips in late summer or early fall, about 6-8 weeks before the first expected frost. Choose a time when soil temperatures are consistently below 75°F for optimal germination.

As the cool weather of late summer approaches, garden enthusiasts know it’s time to plant fall crops. Turnips, a versatile root vegetable, thrive when the heat of summer begins to wane. They prefer the shorter days and milder temperatures, which help to develop their sweet, earthy flavor.

Seasonal Timing for Turnip Planting

Seasonal Timing for Turnip Planting

Understanding when to plant fall turnips can turn your garden into a bountiful space. Timing is critical. Planting turnips at the right moment ensures a successful harvest. As fall approaches, gardeners should prepare to sow turnip seeds.

Optimal Soil Temperatures

Turnips thrive in cooler soil. The ideal soil temperature for planting is between 40°F and 75°F (4°C and 24°C). This range promotes quick germination and robust growth.

  • Below 40°F (4°C) – seeds may not germinate
  • Above 75°F (24°C) – reduced germination rates

Use a soil thermometer to check your garden’s temperature before planting.

Regional Climate Considerations

Different regions require unique attention. Climate plays a major role in determining when to plant. Here are key pointers for various climates:

RegionPlanting Timeframe
Northern ClimatesLate summer, for fall harvest
Southern ClimatesEarly fall, as the intense summer heat wanes

Coastal areas may have a longer planting window due to milder temperatures.

Check with local extension services for the best planting dates.

Choosing the Right Date

Knowing when to plant fall turnips is vital for a bountiful harvest. Choosing the right date for planting allows turnips to develop fully before harsher weather hits. Fall turnips thrive in cool temperatures, making timing critical.

Counting Back from First Frost

First frost dates signal an end to the growing season for many vegetables, including turnips. To choose your planting date:

  1. Find your local first frost date.
  2. Count back 40 to 50 days.
  3. Mark this date on your calendar for planting.

This timeframe allows turnips to mature in cool weather and avoids the damaging frost.

Using A Gardening Calendar

Gardening calendars are tools to help schedule planting. They consider:

  • Local climate
  • Seasonal changes
  • Plant growth cycles

Choose a calendar specific to your region. It will suggest the best planting window for fall turnips. Follow it closely for optimal results.

Learn more: Turnips vs Radish on the Menu

Preparing the Soil for Fall Turnips

Fall turnips need rich, well-drained soil to thrive. As summer winds down, getting your garden bed ready is essential. Turnips are hearty root vegetables that can withstand frost but soil preparation is key for a successful harvest.

Soil Composition and Nutrients

Turnips prefer soil that is loose and rich in organic matter. This helps them develop robust roots. A soil test is crucial. It tells you what your soil has and what it needs.

Amend your soil based on the test:

  • Add compost to boost fertility.
  • Ensure a pH between 6.0 and 7.5.
  • Balance nitrogen levels using organic fertilizers.

Tillage and Soil Aeration

Tillage breaks up compact soil and allows roots to grow deeply. It’s important to plow or till your garden bed before planting:

  1. Remove weeds and any debris.
  2. Till the soil to about 12 inches deep.
  3. Allow the soil to settle for several days.

Aerating the soil ensures good drainage and air flow. Turnips can rot if waterlogged, so well-aerated soil is crucial.

Caring for Turnip Seedlings

Growing turnips in the fall can enrich your garden with tasty roots and vitamin-rich greens. Once you’ve planted your turnip seeds, caring for the delicate seedlings is crucial for a bountiful harvest. Proper watering, protection from pests, and disease management are key.

Watering Needs

Consistent moisture keeps turnip seedlings healthy. Aim for an inch of water per week, either from rainfall or supplemental watering. Use a drip irrigation system or a soaker hose for the best results—it keeps leaves dry and prevents disease. In drier weather, check the soil more often. A simple touch test can tell if your seedlings need water. The soil should feel moist an inch below the surface.

Protecting From Pests and Disease

Turnips attract a few common pests, such as aphids and flea beetles. Protect seedlings with floating row covers to keep insects at bay. Check regularly for signs of pests, like holes in the leaves or wilting. Disease prevention starts with crop rotation and good airflow. Space your seedlings properly and choose a sunny spot to help fend off fungal diseases. If you encounter pests or diseases, organic pesticides or fungicides may be necessary.

  • Floating row covers: for pest protection
  • Crop rotation: to prevent disease
  • Sunny location: ensures good growth and disease prevention

Harvesting Your Turnips

As the crisp air and vibrant foliage herald the peak of fall, thoughts turn to the reward of the vegetable garden—the harvest. Among root vegetables, turnips stand out for their adaptability and swift growth. Knowing the right time to pull these earthy jewels from the soil is crucial to enjoy their peak flavors and textures.

Signs of Maturity

Timing is everything in the vegetable patch, and turnips are no exception. Observe these signs to determine if your turnips are ripe for the picking:

  • Size matters: A mature turnip typically spans 2 to 3 inches in diameter.
  • Leaf clues: Look for a brilliant green hue in the leaves sticking out of the ground.
  • Firmness: Gently squeeze your turnip. It should feel firm and robust in your hand.
  • Color: The part of the turnip above the soil should have a vibrant purple or white color.

Storing Turnips Post-harvest

Once harvested, turnips can last for an extended period if stored properly. Follow these steps to ensure your turnips remain fresh and tasty:

  1. Remove the tops to prevent moisture loss.
  2. Clean the bulbs but do not wash them.
  3. Store in a cool, dark place preferably in a mesh bag.
  4. Place in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator for short-term storage.

Ideal storage conditions can keep turnips fresh for several weeks. You can also blanch and freeze turnips for long-term preservation.

Storage MethodDuration
Pantry or cellar1-2 weeks
Refrigerator crisper2-4 weeks
Freezer (blanched)Up to 10 months


As autumn approaches, timing is everything for planting turnips. Opt for the sweet spot, often weeks before the first frost hits, to ensure a bountiful harvest. Remember, good soil prep and care are crucial. So, embrace the crisp fall air, get your hands dirty, and savor the rewards of your fall turnip garden.

See all in at Farm Pioneer for knowledge based for Turnips.