Root and Leaf Vegetable
|Height||:||20 inches (40 cm)|
|Flowering||:||summer (from the second year)|
Before potatoes arrived in Europe, turnip was for many years considered to be the vegetable of the poor. Today, it is a fashionable vegetable. It is widely used in England, and in Scotland it is regarded as the national vegetable.
The turnip root is formed by the thickening of the primary root of the seedling together with the base of the young stem immediately above it. The leaves, forming a rosette-like bunch at the top of the root, are grass-green and bear rough hairs. In the second season the bud in the center of the rosette forms a strong, erect, branched stem bearing somewhat like those of the swede. Their color varies according to the species: early ones are generally white or violet around the high part of the tuber; others are yellow, grayish, orange-yellow or even black. Stem and branches end in clusters of small, bright yellow flowers, which are succeeded by smooth, elongated, short-beaked pods containing brown pungent seeds.
Turnip is a vary undemanding vegetable to cultivate. It is sown directly onto the field during the whole season from March to September. The first tiny turnips are so mild and tender that they can be quickly harvested and eaten raw. They can also be harvested once they have fully developed, and are then ready to be cooked.
Turnip is very low in calories, but it contains a lot of water, fiber, essential oils, sugar and minerals salts. It is not very nutritious, but it is used for its diuretic and tranquilizing properties. It is also of use in weight loss diets.