Question about planting rutabagas

neptune24March 24, 2012

About a month ago, I ordered from a certain nursery, and then less than an hour later, I decided to cancel. The nursery sent me an e-mail back and said my order was canceled. Anyway, a couple weeks ago, I got my "order." LOL. I told them about the mistake, and they said to just keep it and not worry about it.

Included in this shipment was a packet of rutabaga seeds. I've read that the best time to plant rutabagas in warm climates is July or August. Is that true? If so, then I assume it would be foolish to try to sow the rutabaga seeds now? Thanks for any info.

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They're really easy to grow. I planted mine last year on July 15. They germinated 4 days later. In October or November, I was able to harvest them with big bulbs. I had to thin one early because it was too close to the others. I'd say they need 6-8" at least between each one.

I still have 3 or 4 sitting in the soil trying to figure out what to do with them.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 2:05AM
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You're in a warmer climate than I am, but I plant rutabagas in early spring (which is NOW, even though it feels like summer this year) and enjoy the greens as soon as they're big enough to eat. The greens are not good in the heat of summer, so I harvest some and leave some in the ground to use the greens when the weather turns cool again in the fall. Usually the bulbs from these early planted ones get too big and woody by fall, so these ones are for the delicious greens only.

I plant them again in early to mid July (I'm in zone 5 because of altitude, not because of being north, and I think in the south the sun is too low in August to get anything like a root crop to grow well--in my experience anyway). These bulb up by fall, and they are best harvested after at least two hard frosts. Some of them I put mulch over and use them in mid winter. If I also cover them with agribon, I'll have greens to eat all winter too. (If I don't cover them, someone else eats the delicious greens!) Harvest before they start to grow again in the spring.

So I say plant now, plant later, and enjoy!

My favorite rutabaga recipe: peel, chop, steam about 2 lbs. Can add one small potato if you want. Mash with 2T butter, 2T milk or cream, 1T maple syrup, salt and pepper, freshly ground nutmeg.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 5:36AM
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I disagree that rutabaga leaves taste good. I have given them fair taste tests and they are not in the same league with collards and kale.

Anyways, don't plant until July, even if you must start the seeds indoors because it's too hot to get them up. Then you will have rutabagas in Oct and Nov. If you plant now, you're basically setting up to feed the harlequin bugs rather than yourself.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 6:54AM
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Belgianpup(Wa/Zone 7b)

Rutabagas (or Swedes) are a cool-weather crop. If you plant them in spring, they will probably just bolt (go directly to flower) instead of making the tasty root.

So go with sowing in July or August (make a couple of plantings to see which one turns out best for your local climate).

Some people leave them in the ground, but you're probably better off harvesting them, remove their tops and store them in a cool, dry place.


    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 2:34PM
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Thanks for the helpful responses, stuffradio, elisa, planatus, and Sue.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 2:16AM
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dancinglemons(7B VA)

I am of course not the OP but this info is VERY helpful. Thanks folks :-))


    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 4:34AM
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t-bird(Chicago 5/6)

I'm planting rutabagas for the first time this year also - my reading suggests the roots taste best after a freeze or two...

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 4:46PM
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gardenman101(Z6 Spingfield, Ma)

Well at least now I know why my rutabagas never amounted to much, ive been planting them in the springtime along with my turnips. Now I know to wait til July, thank you for the post and the responses.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2012 at 5:17PM
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