Growing Hakurei Turnips
Botanical Names: Brassica rapa
Hakurei hybrid Japanese turnips (Brassica rapa) are one of the easiest and prettiest vegetables to grow, taking only a few weeks from sowing seed to harvesting their sweet tasting white roots and tender greens. They are loaded with vitamins and nutrients, including high levels of iron, calcium and thiamine. The young roots and leaves can be eaten raw, while older parts are boiled, roasted, mashed or combined with other vegetables in stews.
Hakurei Hybrid Turnips
Hakurei is an early-producing hybrid white rooted variety with very uniform, slightly flattened roots with snow white skin and crisp, juicy flesh that is legendary for its mild, delightful flavor, so sweet it is often eaten even by children and people who are unable to tolerate any bitterness at all. It is sometimes compared with apples for its tender, sweet flavor. Larger roots can be sliced and used with guacamole dips.
While none can compare with Hakurei, another sweet, mild white-rooted turnip is the early-producing Tokyo Cross, honored as an All-America Selection for its production, disease resistance, and mild flavor. Others include the early-producing Market Express, the somewhat flattened late producing White Knight, the very mild Just Right, and Shogoin, one of the most popular of all for its tender, mild white roots and heavy production of sweet greens.
How to Grow Hakurei Turnips
Hakurei hybrid turnips grow best in cool weather, though they are less likely to get tough or bitter even when it gets hot. Still, they are best planted in late spring when soils stay above the mid-40s, and again in the fall where seasons are long enough before a hard freeze. To keep plenty of fresh new turnips growing as long as possible, and to avoid having too many turnips and greens to eat at one time, plant short new rows every two or three weeks.
Turnips grow best in sun and moist, fertile soil. Sow seed lightly, raking them so they are buried only a quarter inch or so deep. Water to get the seeds started; if the soil is warm enough they will sprout within a week or two.
You can harvest the small roots and leafy greens as soon as plants get six inches or more high, and when you thin crowded plants so older ones will develop bigger roots, enjoy them in salads and soups.
Store tender greens for two or three days in sealed bags in the refrigerator; they quickly lose texture and flavor after even one day. Small roots can be kept for two or three weeks in the refrigerator, but larger roots should be kept in a cool, moist dark area until they begin to shrivel.