Greetings, fellow gardeners! Andrew here, your resident Wisconsin gardening expert. I’m thrilled to share my insights on an age-old growing technique that can take your turnip cultivation to the next level – companion planting!
As an avid gardener who has spent over twenty years getting my hands dirty transforming backyard veggie patches, I’ve seen firsthand the power of strategic plant pairings. Companion planting optimizes garden real estate and creates symbiotic relationships between plants that unlock their full potential.
Today, we’ll explore smart companion picks for turnips that control pests, increase yields, and keep your crop thriving from seed to harvest. I’ll also share timing and spacing strategies and tantalizing harvest recipes. Let’s get growing!
A Quick Turnip Primer
Before jumping into companion pairings, let’s review turnip basics for newcomers. These hearty root vegetables thrive in cool weather and loose, fertile soil. Their broad green leaves poke up from the dirt to soak in sunlight while white, purple, or golden taproots swell underground.
Turnips require full sun, consistent moisture, and adequate space to spread foliage and expand roots. Lean, well-draining soil amended with nutrient-rich compost suits them best. They also need help fending off pests like root maggots and slugs that relentlessly attack their vulnerable roots.
This is where companion planting is helpful! Selecting beneficial plant allies to grow alongside turnips builds a healthier garden ecosystem and naturally deters pests. Plus, who doesn’t love a visually stunning and productive vegetable patch?
Companion Planting 101
While a relatively simple technique, companion planting does require some specialized knowledge. For centuries, specific plant pairings have been used for mutual benefit, while others compete to the detriment of both. Making the right match can encourage faster growth, increase yields, and enhance nutrition and flavor.
The science behind companion relationships boils down to how plants influence soil conditions, attract beneficial insects, repel pests, or shade vulnerable crops. Strategically designed beds with compatible growth times and nutrient needs also maximize garden space.
Let’s explore my top companion plant picks that will have your turnips thriving!
Best Companion Plants for Turnips
No veggie patch is complete without ornamental flower power bursting from the seams! Two of my favorite floral companions for turnips are:
Marigolds: These vibrant orange and yellow blooms deter nematodes, aphids, and beetles, which munch on turnips. Their pungent scent camouflages turnip roots while attracting ladybugs and other beneficial insects. Plant them liberally around the garden’s edge and between rows.
Nasturtiums are another edible, ornamental wonder! Their irresistible scent lures sap-sucking aphids away from turnip leaves. Their trailing vines provide protective ground cover and a punch of color while requiring little care.
Turn over a new leaf and add aromatic herbs to your turnip’s defense crew. I highly recommend:
Mint: Mint repels aphids, ants, flies, and moths that damage turnips. Its intense fragrance also makes it a good choice for scented gardens. Interplant it between rows or use mint leaves as nutritious mulch. The Thin Leaf and Spearmint varieties work well.
Chamomile: This soothing herb enhances the intense flavor of essential oils in turnip roots. Its flowers make a calming ground cover and attractive border. German chamomile is my variety of choice.
While flowers and herbs play essential supporting roles, vegetables make ideal frontline turnip companions by improving soil fertility.
Peas: Plant fast-growing shelling peas 2-3 weeks before turnips. As a legume, peas infuse the soil with nitrogen, which fuels turnip growth and builds leafy greens.
Radishes: Quick to mature, radishes will be ready to harvest just as turnip taproots expand. Their long roots aerate the soil and bring nutrients from deeper soil layers. Choose a Cherry Belle variety.
Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty details of planning and maintaining your companion planted turnip patch!
Success Starts with Smart Planning
Like any endeavor, success lies in the upfront details. To ensure your turnip companions thrive, follow this master garden plan:
When: Start turnip seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before your region’s average last spring frost. Two weeks later, move them outside. One week after transplanting turnip seedlings, sow companion seeds. This timing and gradual hardening-off process prevent shock.
Where: Pick a sunny, flat spot with nutrient-rich, loose soil. Section your garden bed into 1-foot-wide rows with at least 16 inches between rows. This allows sunlight and air to permeate while preventing overcrowding.
How: Sow turnip seeds 1⁄2 inch deep, 2 inches apart in rows. Firm the soil after planting and water it regularly with a light spray to prevent washing away seeds. Once sprouted, thin turnips are 4 inches apart.
Now, you have the foundational game plan to mix and mingle compatible plant allies with your turnips. I encourage you to experiment with different combinations and track what works! Part of the joy of gardening is fine-tuning your green thumb from season to season.
Let me know if you have any other questions. I’m always happy to dig into the details with fellow dirt lovers. But for now, it’s time to head out to my patch to bottle up a fresh batch of turnip green pesto made with last season’s bountiful companion planted crop. Happy growing!