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How to Grow Rutabaga Plant

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Rutabaga is not commonly grown in home gardens in the U.S. These members of the mustard family, are quite popular in Europe and Canada. Similar to Turnips, Rutabagas are an easy to grow root crop. They are nutritious, versatile and taste good raw, with dips or cooked.

Rutabagas and Turnips root crops. Both are uncommon in the home vegetable garden. Turnips are quick to grow, and can produce two or more crops in a season. Growing Rutabagas require 90-100 days. You will only get a fall crop.

Both the roots and leaves are edible. Try some rutabaga leaves in your garden salad. Or, add them to soups.

Seed Germination: 7 - 10 days.

Days to Maturity: Plants need 90-100 days to harvest.

Did you know? In Ireland, Turnips and Rutabagas were hollowed out and a small ember put in them to ward off demons and devils. They were the first Jack O"Lanterns.

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Varieties of Rutabagas:

  • Rutabaga ranges from a round root to a slightly oblong variety.

  • American Purple Top is the most common variety.

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Sowing Rutabaga Seeds:

Sow Rutabaga seeds directly into the garden, 1/2 inch deep. Space plants six to eight inches apart, in rows 1 1/2 to two feet apart. Plant seeds in double rows to conserve space in your home garden.

Time the sowing of seeds for a fall harvest. This can vary significantly, depending upon the length of the season in your area. Time the harvest between the last couple weeks before frost to about a month after the first frost. Being hardy plants, they survive frosts. Even after hard freezes, the rutabaga roots are fine to harvest.

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Growing Rutabaga Plants:

Grow Rutabaga in full sun.

Rutabaga plants grow best in rich garden soils. They tolerate poor soils. Mix in compost and manure prior to planting. As you work the soil, remove any large rocks and stones that can impede rot growth.

Rutabagas sprout in about a week to ten days. A couple of weeks after they have sprouted, thin seedlings to six to eight inches apart.

Fertilize two to three times a season, with a general purpose fertilizer.

Keep the plants well weeded.

Dry soil can result in woody roots. Provide ample water throughout the growing season.. As with other root crops, the action is below the soil. You want to encourage steady growth of the roots. As a rule of thumb "when in doubt, water".

Also See:

Plant Problems

Soil Temperatures - Ideal germination temperature by vegetable

Ideal Soil pH - by vegetable

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Begin to harvest Rutabagas when they get tennis ball size. Younger roots are more tender, than older roots.

You can leave Rutabaga in the ground, for winter storage. Cover the crop with mulch, so the roots do not freeze. Pick roots, as needed well into the winter months.

You can also harvest them and store indoors. Cut or twist off the leaves. Brush off the dirt. Store them in a cool, dry place. Many people will store them in dry sand or peat, to help retain moisture and freshness.

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Insects and Pests:

Rutabagas can be visited by a variety of insects and pests. The insect world knows that this vegetable is tasty and nutritious. Insect pests include slugs and snails, aphids, beetles, cutworms and root maggots.

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Disease of Rutabaga:

Occasional mildews and a white blister disease can affect the crop. However, it is infrequent.

Plant Problems - Diagnosis, causes and cures for many common plant problems.

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Plant Hardiness:

Turnips and Rutabagas are cool weather crops. They withstand light freezes. Rutabagas are the hardier of the two, and can be harvested well after the first killing frost.

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Try Garden Rutabaga Recipes:

Recipes: May we suggest:

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