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It's good I like turnips

I’m sure I’ll never get over the thrill of knowing that supper came home in a wheelbarrow rather than a grocery bag. I harvested the remaining turnips today, because they’d stopped growing, and the risk of a hard freeze is increasing. It seems strange that the garden is still producing turnips, mustard, and kale during the second week of December. I really don’t have a reference for whether this is abnormally late for these crops in this area. Fall gardens are frost-hardy. And if it is unusually late for the garden, then that’s the upside of climate change — a longer growing season.

The soil was nice and wet when I pulled the turnips. Most of the turnips came up with a clump of soil, and in almost every clump of soil was a nice, fat earthworm or two. The organic soil amendments I’ve dumped on the garden are really paying off. I spread the dirty turnips in the grass and hosed them down to wash them, then spread them out to dry in the wind and sun. Now they’re in the basement. There was about three-quarters of a bushel of turnips left from a turnip patch of about 175 square feet. I’ve been eating, and giving away, turnips since October. I’ve prepared them every way I can think of — steamed and sliced, with butter; curried; roasted; creamed in yogurt. One turnip dish that is good enough for company is turnips au gratin.

I don’t know why turnips are almost universally scorned. For the garden, they’re an easy fall staple, and they’ll keep well into the winter. No doubt many a peasant has been kept alive by turnips in hard times. I’ve actually been served turnips once in a fancy restaurant — Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse in Berkeley. As I said to the waiter, it takes confidence to serve turnips.

Spread out to dry

In a bushel basket

The turnip tops made a wheelbarrow load for the compost.


This cabbage is still going, but I doubt that it will have time to make a head before a freeze gets it.

One Comment

  1. dcs1964 wrote:

    I LOVE TURNIPS! And parsnips and carrots, too.

    The photos make me sad that I’m still caught up in the rat race. Had two media law exams to give today, 100 students and all of their nervous fretting and last-minute questions. Now, the grading.

    Mark and I were talking about how to do a road trip up there together in January. Logistics are tricky, since he’s in Charlotte. But let’s aim to do that as soon as the holiday insanity is over.

    Secret ingredient for greens: A few whole cloves of garlic in the pot, not served with the greens but just to add an extra je ne sais quoi.


    Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

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