Friday, 24 June 2011

My turnips have gone to seed

On return from holiday, I found my turnips had gone to seed (also known as bolting).

This is when a vegetable plant transfers its energies from producing its vegetable to producing flowers and seeds.  It usually happens because the plant is under stress, for example, the conditions are too dry.

Another factor that can cause this to happen is growing vegetables in containers when really they would really like to be grown in much more soil and not restricted to the confines of a container.  With container growing another factor could be that they are not getting quite as much water as they would like.  This is a particular issue for the container grower as they will only get as much water as you or the rain gives them - if they were grown in open ground they could send their roots down further in search of water and nutrients.

My turnips are being grown in a pot (about 10 inches deep).  I don't think they like the confines of the pot as the turnips we are growing at the Bramford Community Garden are golf ball sized and not bolting at all.

They can't have been too stressed last week from lack of water as we had so much rain.  In any case I have beautiful yellow turnip flowers and no turnip roots.  So what do I do with them?  Can I still eat them?

When this occurred, it reminded me of when my radishes flowered last year.

At first I was disappointed as the roots I had grown them for were woody and dry.  Then they grew these beautiful white flowers, which I left as they looked beautiful.  Once they had finished flowering they produced seed pods.  I harvested these and added them to our salads.  We ate them like mange tout and they were wonderful and gave a good crunch to the salad.

Turnips look very much like big, white radishes.  Both turnips and radishes are brassicas, which is what reminded me of my last year's experiences with radishes.  Maybe these are good lessons learnt to bring to my bolted turnips.

Now I am in a quandry.  I feel I must experiment with the culinary delights that these flowers may present.   But do I eat them as flowers  (like broccoli) or do I let them form seeds?


  1. so disapointed turnip all flower no base

    1. I've grown turnips in containers and now this year directly in the ground and in containers I had absolutely no luck, but directly in the ground I've got some good roots forming. I haven't pulled them up yet but they seem to be a bit smaller than a ping pong ball. Alot more satisfying than growing when I grew in containers. So I guess that's the answer - they like the open ground.