Swede is abbreviation of Swedish Turnip. These hardy root vegetables are extremely easy to grow in the garden and are well suited to the novice gardener.

Growing swede:

Swedes grow well in our cool, moist climate. They are a long-term crop, taking around 6 months to grow and you should ensure that the soil is kept moist and weed-free during that time. Seeds should be direct sown into your garden in May or June and when they come up, seedlings should be thinned to a spacing of around 23cm apart. After sowing the seeds, seedlings should appear in around ten days.

Swedes grow best in full sun and prefer a moisture retentive, nutrient rich soil. A mulch will keep water in the soil and an organic biodegradable mulch can also add nutrients over time. If the plants get too much nitrogen or too much shade, they tend to produce too much leaf at the expense of the root.

Swedes can suffer from club root. If this happens, improve drainage, make the soil more alkaline and do not grow any swedes or brassicas that can also suffer from this problem in the affected soil. Some varieties of swede of which you can purchase the seeds are club-root resistant so try these if you do seem to have this problem.

In hot, dry weather, powdery mildew can become a problem. If this occurs you can try to keep the soil moist and cool and spray affected plants with fish oils or other organic controls.

Try to keep soil evenly moist throughout the long growth period. Swedes that dry out can suffer from cracks and cork-like growth. If the roots dry out too much this can also lead to a bitter taste.

Swedes can be harvested from September onwards. Though it is said that they taste better and a little sweeter after they have experienced the first frost. They are very hardy and it is perfectly fine to leave the plants in the ground until Christmas. Cover plants with straw or leaves for insulation before the onset of cold weather, then just dig up when needed.

Swedes store well and can be kept in a cold dark place between layers of sand or alternatively cooked and frozen for later use. Out of the freezer, swedes will keep for up to six months if they are stored correctly.

Why grow swede in the garden?

Swedes can be used in a number of different recipes in the kitchen and are a delicious and nutritious addition to the winter diet. In addition to the root, the greens can also be eaten.

Swedes can be used as a trap crop for broccoli and other brassicas. There is also evidence to suggest that the inter-planting of various types of turnips with peas could be beneficial.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Brassica napobrassica