Rutabaga And Turnips – Brassica Napus In Your Garden

This is a Public Turnip Announcement.

There are Rutabagas and there are Turnips. And  maybe you think they are the same thing and maybe you insist that they are different.

Iím not here to tell you how you should use these words. I just want to make sure youíre equipped to save their seed.

Because there are two very different vegetables out there that get called Turnip.

On one hand is a big dense yellow fleshed vegetable that many folks would never consider eating raw. These also get called Rutabaga.

On the other hand is a smaller white fleshed vegetable that is delicious raw. The outside skin comes in all different colours – completely red, completely white, white with a purple top.

Flavour and taste is quite different between these vegetables.

But there is another difference. 

  • Turnips (those white fleshed roots) are Brassica rapa.
  • Rutabaga are Brassica napus.

They arenít the same species!!! They can be flowering side by side and they wonít cross pollinate!!!

The only other Brassica napus you should be aware of are the Russian and Siberian Kales. They will cross with your rutabaga. So make sure to grow them for seed in alternate years.

Rutabaga is such a reliable storage vegetable that it is easy to get through the winter in your cold room and then plant in the field in the spring. Do you really need that much seed? I canít imagine you do. But itís easy to grow!!!

Brassica napus is an easy fit for #seedsavingformarketgrowers

The PROS of Napus seed:

  • Easily goes to flower and then to seed
  • Easy to thresh pods – when they are dry, they easily shatter
  • Easy to screen and winnow
  • There are great open pollinated varieties
  • Napus Kale: Many harvests – you can pick and pick and pick these greens and still harvest the seed

The CONS of Napus seed:

  • Biennial – you need to get these plants to year 2. However, these are the hardiest Brassicas and the easiest to overwinter.
  • Crosser – only let 1 Napus flower in a 1000ft radius. But there are so few Napus to worry about!


5lbs to 15lbs from a 100ft bed


4 to 6 years

More about Rutabaga

Guided Spring Rutabaga Meditation

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