Turnip greens really deserve more love.
I consider myself a master at growing greens year-round (you can check out my book here) and turnip greens ranks in the top 5 best greens to grow year-round.
Turnip leaves are great to grow + eat because:
- They grow faster and larger than many other greens including spinach, lettuce, mustard greens
- Are cold tolerant enough for the winter garden
- Can handle hot temperatures more than many other greens
- Even if the bugs got to the turnip root, you can eat the tops!
Before you start saying ‘turnip greens are too prickly’ you might want to know that some varieties have smooth leaves & if you cook turnip greens, they lose that texture.
How to grow turnips for greens
Turnips are super easy to grow, the roots can pose a challenge with root maggots, but the greens tend to be plentiful. If you only want to grow turnips for the leaves, then you can space them closer together. If you want to grow turnips and then just eat the tops, you can grow them according to packet spacing (some turnips are baby roots, others large).
Hinona Kabu make great thin turnips with non prickly turnip greens
Below you can see the smaller root of a purple top turnip that was spaced closer than the seed packet suggests for greens
Turnips are a cool season crop, but they have better staying power in the garden than many other greens
The roots of turnips tend to get very spicy in the summer versus a fall planting. We love growing turnip greens into the winter months, even with frosts and snow!
Below you can see a harvest of turnips from our unheated greenhouse with -15C temps
You can harvest baby greens which will be more tender than the full-sized ones.
Baby turnip greens are ready in 30-45 days, the larger greens are ready in 60 days. In general, the baby white turnips tend to have nicer leaves then large turnips like purple top.
Great turnip varieties for greens:
- Seven Top
Because the larger older greens tend to be thicker and often more prickly I recommend cooking them.
How to eat and cook turnip greens
You can cook turnip greens the way you would any green. Sauteed with garlic, into omelettes, added into a veggie lasagna, or stir fried. I’d recommend finely chopping the greens and only using raw greens that came from baby turnips or the smoother leaved turnip varieties. I’ve also made turnip green chips using this kale chip recipe, we couldn’t even tell the difference!
What is your fav way to eat turnip leaves?
My name is Isis Loran, creator of the Family Food Garden. I’ve been gardening for over 10 years now and push the limits of our zone 5 climates. I love growing heirlooms & experimenting with hundreds of varieties, season extending, crunchy homesteading and permaculture.