Welcome to the world of gardening in New Zealand! If you’re looking to add a versatile and nutritious vegetable to your garden, turnips are an excellent choice. These cool-season root crops thrive in the temperate climate of New Zealand, making them a popular choice for home gardeners. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, knowing the optimal time to plant turnips is crucial for a successful harvest. In this article, we will explore the ideal planting time for turnips in New Zealand, taking into consideration the country’s diverse climate zones and providing valuable tips to ensure your turnip crop flourishes. So, grab your gardening tools and let’s dive into the world of turnip cultivation in New Zealand!
Best varieties of Turnips to grow in New Zealand
In New Zealand, there are several varieties of turnips that grow well in our conditions. Here are a few popular options:
- Purple Top Milan: This is a traditional heirloom variety with a purple top and creamy white bottom. It has a mild flavor and is suitable for both cooking and raw consumption. Purple Top Milan turnips are known for their fast growth and can be harvested in around 50-60 days.
- Tokyo Cross: Tokyo Cross turnips are a hybrid variety that produces smooth, round roots with a white skin and flesh. They have a sweet and mild flavor, making them great for salads or stir-fries. Tokyo Cross turnips mature in approximately 40-50 days.
- Laurentian: Laurentian turnips are known for their large size and excellent flavor. They have a yellowish skin and white flesh. This variety is ideal for cooking, roasting, or making soups and stews. Laurentian turnips take around 60-70 days to mature.
- Golden Ball: As the name suggests, Golden Ball turnips have a golden-yellow skin and flesh. They have a sweet and slightly spicy flavor. This variety is versatile and can be used in various culinary preparations. Golden Ball turnips are ready to harvest in about 50-60 days.
- Purple Globe: Purple Globe turnips have a round shape and deep purple skin. The flesh is white with purple streaks. They have a slightly stronger flavor compared to other varieties, making them suitable for cooking. Purple Globe turnips typically mature in 55-65 days.
When choosing turnip varieties, consider factors such as taste preference, intended use, and maturity time. It’s also a good idea to check with local nurseries or seed suppliers for specific varieties that are well-suited to your region in New Zealand.
When to plant Turnips in New Zealand
The best time to plant turnips in New Zealand is during the cooler months, typically from late summer to early autumn (February to April). Turnips prefer cooler temperatures and can tolerate light frosts, making them ideal for planting in the transitional seasons. Planting in late summer allows the turnips to mature before the colder winter months, while planting in early autumn ensures a longer growing period before the arrival of winter. It’s important to note that turnips can also be planted in spring, but they may be more prone to bolting (going to seed) as temperatures rise.
When to harvest Turnips in New Zealand
Turnips can be harvested in New Zealand throughout the year, but the ideal time depends on the variety and your specific location within the country. Generally, turnips are ready to harvest when the roots have reached a desirable size, usually around 6-8 weeks after sowing the seeds.
For summer turnip varieties, such as “Tokyo Cross” or “Purple Top Milan,” it is best to sow the seeds in early spring and harvest them in late spring or early summer before the hot weather sets in. These turnips tend to bolt and become woody if left in the ground for too long during warm weather.
For winter turnip varieties, such as “Purple Top White Globe” or “Golden Ball,” sow the seeds in late summer or early autumn. These turnips can be left in the ground until late autumn or even winter, as they are more cold-tolerant and develop a sweeter flavor after exposure to frost.
To determine if turnips are ready for harvest, gently dig around the base of the plant and check the size of the roots. They should be firm and reach a desirable size, usually around 5-10 centimeters in diameter, depending on the variety. Harvest them by gently pulling or digging them out of the ground, being careful not to damage the roots.
Remember to regularly water and fertilize turnips during their growth period to ensure healthy and tasty roots.
When growing turnips in New Zealand, there are several important considerations to keep in mind:
- Climate: Turnips prefer cool weather and can tolerate light frosts. They grow best in regions with mild temperatures, such as the South Island and parts of the North Island. In warmer areas, it is advisable to grow turnips during the cooler months or in shaded areas to prevent bolting.
- Soil: Turnips thrive in well-draining soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5. Before planting, prepare the soil by adding organic matter like compost or well-rotted manure to improve its fertility and drainage. Avoid heavy clay soils, as they can hinder root development.
- Sunlight: Turnips require full sun to grow and develop properly. Ensure they receive at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily for optimal growth.
- Watering: Turnips need consistent moisture throughout their growing period. Keep the soil evenly moist, but not waterlogged, as excessive water can lead to rotting. Mulching around the plants can help retain moisture and suppress weed growth.
- Planting: Sow turnip seeds directly into the garden bed, as they do not transplant well. Plant the seeds at a depth of 1-2 centimeters and space them about 10-15 centimeters apart. Thin the seedlings to a final spacing of 20-30 centimeters to allow enough room for the roots to develop.
- Fertilization: Turnips are heavy feeders and benefit from regular fertilization. Prior to planting, incorporate a balanced fertilizer into the soil. Additionally, side-dress the plants with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer once they have established and again when they start forming bulbs.
- Pest and Disease Management: Turnips are generally resistant to pests and diseases. However, keep an eye out for common issues such as aphids, flea beetles, and clubroot. Regularly inspect the plants and take appropriate measures, such as using organic insecticides or practicing crop rotation, to prevent infestations.
- Harvesting: Turnips are ready for harvest when the roots reach a desirable size, usually around 6-8 weeks after sowing. Lift the turnips gently from the soil, taking care not to damage the roots. The greens can also be harvested and used in cooking or salads.
By considering these factors, you can successfully grow turnips in New Zealand and enjoy a bountiful harvest.