When you think of microgreens, you may not imagine that a bulky root vegetable would be an option – yet here we are! Turnips make excellent microgreens! They’re lesser known for no good reason because turnip seeds are some of the fastest sprouting vegetables around. You can grow a crop of turnip greens in just a week.
Turnip cotyledons, harvested long before the fleshy root forms, are plump and crunchy. Their flavor is all over the place; some gardeners describe it as a non-spicy radish, while others argue that it’s a cabbage or kale flavor. Either way, we can agree that turnip microgreens taste like typical brassica plants.
It isn’t just the speed and savor that makes turnip microgreens perfect for beginners – they also take fewer supplies. A grow light is usually required in order to grow quality microgreens. Without it, the greens take longer to grow, have bent stems, and grow unevenly. While turnip microgreens also benefit from artificial light, they’re one of the few microgreens that will grow fairly well under regular sunlight. If you’re new to microgreen growing and hesitant to splurge on a growlight, turnips are the perfect way to test the waters. Once you’re hooked on growing microgreens, you can invest in the equipment needed to grow other types.
Like all microgreens, turnip greens have an amazing nutritional value. They contain around ten times the amount of nutrients in mature turnips. Among those are high levels of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, phosphorus, potassium, and beta-carotene. These vitamins and minerals offer health benefits including increased mood, better sleep, regulated blood sugar levels, and even a reduced risk of cancer.
So, by growing turnip microgreens, you’ll be improving your health, kitchen game, and gardening skills. For the rest of this article, we’ll fill in the cracks on just how to grow these simply great greens.
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|Ideal Harvest:||7-12 days|
Growing Turnip Microgreens
If you’re new to growing microgreens, you’ll need some very specific supplies. Micro greens aren’t sprouted in the garden like regular turnips – they need their own indoor setup.
Here’s what you’ll need in order to grow turnip microgreens:
- Seeds: any variety of turnip seeds (we like the high-quality seeds from True Leaf Market)
- Growing medium: we prefer Espoma’s seed starting soil mix or our coconut coir
- Light: a T5 grow light is recommended but not required to grow turnip microgreens
- Container: two growing trays
- Spice shaker (optional)
- A small weight (under 5 pounds)
- Kitchen shears
- Misting bottle
We’re huge fans of the microgreens seed that True Leaf Market sells. Our favorites for turnips are listed below:
- Sugukina Turnip Microgreens Seeds
- Nozawana Turnip Microgreens Seeds
- Namenia Turnip Microgreens Seeds
- Purple Top White Globe Turnip Microgreens Seeds
- Tennouji Kabura Turnip Microgreens Seeds
You can use any variety of turnip for your microgreens. They don’t have to be labeled for micro growing, although buying in bulk for microgreen growing is likely best. Perhaps the most common variety is Purple Top White Globe turnips. Whichever you choose, make sure the vegetable seed hasn’t been coated with pesticides or other chemicals. We highly recommend only buying seeds from a reputable seller.
For most microgreens, you’ll need two growing trays per harvest. One must have good drainage holes and the other should be solid. Choose shallow trays that are at least 10×10 in size and can fit inside each other.
Lucky for us, turnip seeds don’t need to be soaked. The reddish-brown, round seeds germinate easily enough that we can skip this step and move on to planting.
Turnip seeds have a good germination rate if they’re set up right. We’ll start by grabbing the tray with drainage holes and our soil mix. Fill the tray close to the brim and smooth out the soil. Next, to make planting microgreens easier, fill your spice shaker with turnip seeds. Shake out the seeds onto the entire soil surface, like sprinkles on a cake. Lightly tamp down the turnip seeds into the soil and give them another watering.
Instead of covering the turnip microgreens seeds with soil, place the second growing tray directly on top of them. The tray should fit snug enough that it blocks out all light. To keep it in place, put your small weight on top. This weight will also serve to encourage the micro greens to grow strong stems and roots.
Once planted, keep the turnip seed in this “blackout period” while germination occurs. You should only lift the lid to check that the seeds and soil have enough moisture. In 2-3 days, when the roots start to settle, each sprout will work together to collectively push up the weighted cover tray. This is your signal to transition the turnip seed out of germination mode and into their (micro) growing phase!
When you planted your turnips, they were tiny seeds. Now, when you remove the cover tray, you’ll be greeted by pale, slightly smushed turnip seedlings. Not to worry though! These baby microgreens will straighten out and turn green as you continue your growing process.
If you choose to use a grow light, position it about a foot above your growing tray and turn it on for 10-12 hours a day. Otherwise, place your microgreens tray where it’ll get as much direct sunlight as possible. If each leaf doesn’t turn green in a day or two, expose them to more light.
As they grow, your turnip microgreens will sprout two green, lobed cotyledons. They’ll have white stems that often get a purplish-pink tint in the light. You may also notice fuzzy white root hairs that sometimes look like mold.
To avoid actual mold in your microgreens garden, always water from the bottom of the tray. Too much moisture on top benefits bacteria growth, especially considering how closely each leaf is spaced. The bottom-watering method requires that you reuse your solid cover tray from earlier.
Fill the solid tray with an inch or two of water and set the growing tray inside it. The soil mix will lap up moisture through the drainage holes, thus watering the turnip root hairs. Be sure to remove the watering tray after 10-15 minutes so the soil and microgreens crop don’t get too moist.
In just 7-12 days since planting, your turnip microgreens will be ready to harvest. By then, each sprout will be 2-3 inches tall and sport beautifully unfolded cotyledons. You’ll have a few days to harvest, but you should do so before the greens produce true leaves. As a microgreen plant grows into a full turnip plant, its flavoring will change dramatically (not to mention it’ll run out of space!).
Before you jump into harvest time, stop watering your turnip microgreens at least 12 hours prior. The drier they are when harvested, the longer these greens will stay fresh. In the meantime, acquire some kitchen shears or a sharp knife and clean it well.
Grab a bunch of microgreens in one hand and cut the stems with the other. You can harvest the plants all at once or as needed. When you’ve harvested the whole crop, toss the spent plant roots and soil into your compost bin. Turnip sprouts, like most microgreen plants, won’t regrow after harvesting.
As mentioned, microgreen sprouts stay the freshest when they’re dry. Hold off on washing your micro turnip crop until you’re just about to use them. Add these tasty, nutritious plants to any dish that needs a health boost (salads, sandwiches, casseroles, etc.). Microgreens are best used raw as a garnish.
If you don’t use up the whole crop at once, wrap the leftovers in a paper towel and seal them in tupperware or a ziplock bag. Stash the plants in the fridge, where they’ll stay fresh for about a week. You may need to change out the paper towel if it gets too moist.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do you grow turnip microgreens?
A: To state it as simply as possible, you’ll plant the turnip seed, keep it in the dark for a few days, provide direct sunlight, bottom-water the soil, and then harvest the crops.
Q: Can you eat turnip microgreens?
A: Yes! Not only are these micro plants delicious, but they also have lots of health benefits. Like microgreens in most cases, micro turnips have a high nutritional value, including benefits from Vitamin A, Vitamin C, phosphorus, potassium, fiber, and other vitamins and minerals.
Q: What seeds should not be used in microgreens?
A: Avoid any plant that doesn’t have edible leaves when mature. This includes most plants from the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes, eggplants, and potatoes. However, there are plenty of great choices from the brassica plant family and herbs like basil sprouts.
Q: What are the most sought after microgreens?
A: Arugula, amaranth, and red-veined sorrel plants are among the most in-demand from microgreen growers. If you’re just starting your microgreen garden, we recommend radish, spinach, or turnip microgreens.