How to Grow Rutabaga
Instructions for Growing Rutabaga
in Your Vegetable Garden
A rutabaga is a root vegetable that is similar to a turnip. The easiest way to differentiate between the two, is to look for the multiple leaf scars at the top of the rutabaga root. In addition to the root, use the young tender leafy tops in salads or as a nutritious cooked “green.”
Under optimal growing conditions, rutabaga offers: dietary fiber, Vitamin A, B6, C, Potassium, Thiamin, Folate, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus.
You'll have better results growing rutabaga in cool gardening climates or seasons, but there are varieties will tolerate other climates.
Place your rutabaga garden in either partial shade or full sunshine.
Growing Rutabaga is best in well-drained garden soil, rich with organic matter (compost/well-rotted manure). The more friable (loose and crumbly) the soil, the better root growth you'll have for this vegetable.
Consider testing your garden soil's pH level. A pH level between 6.0-7.5 is best for growing rutabaga.
Gardening Tip for Growing Rutabaga - If possible, plant in an area of your garden that was well fertilized last season and used by another vegetable type (EXCEPT: avoid the area where you planted members of the cabbage family last season. ie. cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts).
Plant rutabaga seed shallowly in the garden soil at only ¼” deep in rows that are spaced 10” apart. Cover seeds with garden soil or compost, and water well. You should see the seedlings appear within in two weeks. Once the seedlings show a second set of leaves, thin them to 5” apart, to allow them room to grow without having to fight each other for nourishment.
For a more managable (and longer) season, plant small crops every 3 weeks. This extends your rutabaga growing season, allowing your garden to offer a steady supply of this fresh tasty vegetable!
Note: Unlike some other root crops, do not hill soil around the exposed rutabaga root.
When growing rutabaga, keep the soil moist (especially during hot weather). This crop does not grow well if the soil dries out (the root will become woody, tough and the flavor unpleasant).
A few weeks before planting, prepare the garden bed by mixing in a light dressing of fertilizer (Many have good success with poultry manure).
One month after planting, apply another dose of fertilizer to the soil and water it in.
Rutabagas are not generally prone to plant diseases. However, many insects find them tasty (including: aphids, caterpillars and grubs).
In most areas, it takes from 3 to 4 months for your rutabaga crop to reach harvestable size. In warmer areas, the growing season will be shorter though.
Harvest by pulling the entire plant from the ground.
Gardening Tip for Growing Rutabaga - If you wait too long into the crop’s cycle to harvest, the root will be rough and woody.
Roots to be stored for winter should be harvested after frost, but before the ground starts to freeze. Store in your cellar, in layers of sand.
Note: the advice and information contained herein is based upon our experience and study. As with any advice, please apply at your own discretion.