Planting Guide and Seed Saving Notes for Rutabaga

Rutabaga (Brassica napus)

Much sweeter than a turnip, and starchier than a carrot, the rutabaga is excellent for mashing, roasting, or adding into soups or stews. Sometimes called a Swedish Turnip or simply a Swede, this root grows well and tastes sweeter in colder weather.

Nutrients: vitamin C, potassium, manganese.  

How To Grow Rutabaga From Seed

Bed Preparation

Rutabaga is a frost-tolerant root crop that prefers full sun, but will tolerate partial shade. Plant in loose, well-drained soil. Rutabagas are tolerant of low fertility soils. High organic matter and/or nitrogen can cause malformed roots.

Planting

Rutabaga is a cool season vegetable that tastes best when exposed to frost just before harvest. Direct seed outdoors in mid-summer for a fall harvest. Plant seeds 1/2" deep, 1" apart, in rows 12" apart. Optimal soil temperature for germination is 45-85°F. Seeds will sprout in 5-17 days. Thin to 3-6" for mature plants.

Use row covers when plants are young to prevent pest damage from flea beetles and cabbage root maggot.

Harvest

Leaves can be lightly harvested when large enough to eat. Roots are ready for harvest in approximately 90 days or when 4-5" in diameter.

Seed Saving

Rutabaga is an insect pollinated biennial that doesn't flower and set seed until the following season. Leave ½ mile between what you are growing and any other Brassica napus to prevent crossing. This includes Russian kales among others. After flowers have turned to seed, leave the seeds to mature and dry on the plant as long as possible before gathering. Once plant material is so dry it crumbles at your touch, separate seeds and winnow away chaff before storing.