For those who can get a bit muddled telling the difference between turnips, swedes and parsnips, gardening friend Christine said parsnips are shaped like carrots, swedes are bulbous and yellow-fleshed, and turnips are bulbous and usually white-fleshed with purple crowns.
Turnips are healthy beyond measure containing generous amounts of fibre, folate, niacin, vitamin C and calcium. These brassicas have a mild, slightly peppery flavour and they’re cooked as you would potatoes, usually steamed, mashed, baked or slow cooked. If left to mature, turnips develop a stronger flavour and can become stringy. The foliage can also be eaten when young and tender.
Turnips have a moderate growth rate and are best grown over the cooler months. Sow seeds direct or in punnets of quality seed raising mix during January/February. Make sure planting beds have lots of organic matter added, such as compost. Applications of worm juice, comfrey tea and seaweed extract throughout the growing season will produce hardy plants and enviable crops. Check for readiness by moving soil away from the surface and observing the circumference of the root – 4-8cm is a good size.
In the garden this week
- To help alleviate heat and wind related stress, apply seaweed extract and other plant tonics such as comfrey tea. Products containing potassium help strengthen plant cell walls and overall resilience.
- Time to plant seedlings from the brassica family such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. February is also a suitable time for sowing beetroot, carrot and lettuce seeds; soak beetroot seed overnight before planting and keep carrot and lettuce seeds moist by laying damp cardboard on top and keeping weighted down until germination occurs. Alternatively, you could use sheets of glass or plastic. For other summer planting ideas, Canberra Organic Growers Society have useful seasonal growing guides for the region; cogs.asn.au
Upcoming open gardens
Both of the following gardens are open 10am-4pm Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 March. Visit opengardenscanberra.org.au to find out more.
Canberra Organic Growers Society – Kambah Garden
The Kambah Community Garden has been operated by the Canberra Organic Growers Society since 2001. It is set in a beautiful park landscape with a view of Mount Taylor. There are currently 27 gardeners allocated individual plots, which they put to productive use growing food for themselves and their families. Food is grown all year round using sustainable organic gardening practices that build and continuously improve the quality of the soil and the environment. An emphasis is on collaboration within the garden with all plot holders sharing communal vegetable and herb garden cultivation, composting and general maintenance.
Where: O’Halloran Circuit and Springbett Street, Kambah
Entry: By gold coin donation, proceeds to Oz Harvest. Refreshments will be available as well as a seedling stall.
Open: 2-3 March 10am-4pm
In Joan’s well-established garden, the emphasis is on green, and as a consequence trees and shrubs intermingle with the understorey. There are maples, crepe myrtles, crab apples, laurels, to name but a few, with salvia, roses, irises and more adding colour. Come and meander through this restful garden.
Where: 51 Dash Crescent, Kambah
Entry: Free to Open Gardens Canberra members; $8 non-members; u18s free if accompanied by an adult.
Open: 2-3 March 10am-4pm