Rutabaga, or swede, as the British call it, is a 4"-6" long root vegetable with a sweet, mellow flavor. Mash just like potatoes, add chunks to soups and stews, or bake in savory or sweet casseroles. Even the tops are edible and make tasty sautéed greens. Rutabagas develop the best flavor when harvested during cool weather, making an ideal fall crop in most places. A great storage crop.
• Botanical Name: Brassica napus (Napobrassica group)
• Days to Maturity: 80–120 days
• Family: Brassicaceae
• Native: Unknown
• Hardiness: Frost-tolerant biennial
• Plant Dimensions: Leafy tops grow 16"–20" tall
• Variety Information: Best harvested at 4"–6" diameter; root is yellowish with purple shoulders.
• When to Sow Outside: RECOMMENDED. Cold Climates: 4 to 6 weeks before your average last frost date, as soon as soil can be worked for early summer harvest, or 3 to 4 months before your first fall frost date for fall harvest. Mild Climates: Sow in fall for late winter for spring harvest. Optimal soil temperature for germination is 60°–80°F
• When to Start Inside: Not recommended; root crops do not transplant well.
• Days to Emerge: 7–14 days
• Seed Depth: ¼"
• Seed Spacing: A group of 3 seeds every 6"
• Row Spacing: 18"–24"
• Thinning: When 4" tall, thin to 1 every 6"
• Harvesting: Harvest in early summer before consistently high temperatures start or in fall after a few light frosts. Do not allow roots to freeze. The foliage may also be harvested for greens. Harvest only about 25% of the plant's leaves at a time so as not to affect the plant's ability to produce large roots.