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The Ins and Outs of Growing Rutabaga

Growing Rutabaga

Information on Growing Rutabaga:

Rutabaga is a is a root vegetable that is a cross between a cabbage and a turnip. The rutabaga is also known by its scientific name Brassica napobrassica. Rutabaga is a root vegetable that is edible and can be taken in by humans when prepared in a variety of ways. The roots and the tops of the vegetables also can make great feed for livestock that help produce meat which humans can also consume.

Many people would love to grow rutabagas in their garden as a source of food. After purchasing your rutabaga seeds it's vital to know how to grow them in order to get the best produce. Below is the information that you will need to know to grow quality rutabagas in your very own garden:

Seed Sowing Depth:

Rutabagas are best grown about 2-3" below the surface of the soil. The seeds will naturally fall about another 1/2" depth about 2-3 months after they are planted. Seeds are recommended to be planted about 3 to 4" apart in the soil to allow adequate room for the vegetable to grow. In total, rutabagas will need about 6" of space to grow.

When to Sow: 

Rutabagas are planted about 3 to 3.5 months before the first frost of the season systematically occurs. Most rutabagas will systematically take about 100 days to grow from seedlings to full maturity. Prepare your soil as you would for any other vegetable by raking and sowing it thoroughly before planting your seeds.

Sowing Indoors/Outdoors:

Rutabagas do best when grown outdoors due to the space they take up and the fact that they thrive in cooler-to-cold environments. These are hearty root vegetables that can withstand temperatures that are outside overnight until the first frost of the season hits. 

Plant Height & Width: 

The average rutabaga will end up being about 13 inches long in total and will weigh in at about 1.5 pounds in weight.  

Crop/Bulb Size: 

The average rutabaga is a bulbed, root vegetable that will end up being 13 inches long and will weigh about 1.5 pounds on average making the rutabaga quite a voluminous vegetable.

Growth Habits:

The rutabaga does well thoroughly dampened but not waterlogged soil during the late-summer and earlier fall months when the weather is moderately cooler than the dead heat of the summer. The soil should be well raked and aerated before the rutabaga crop is planted. Ideally, rutabagas do best reaching their full maturity to be ready for harvest within a few days before the "average" first frost of the season arrives. 

Planting later in the season has also been proven to help improve the taste of the vegetables that are harvested as the cold helps enhance the flavor of the rutabaga. 

Crop Colors & Varieties: 

Most of the rutabagas that are grown in your garden are of the heirloom variety which means that they are the type with the purple-colored top and usually will have more of a white-colored flesh throughout the rest of the vegetable. This is the type of rutabaga sometimes is a light golden or yellowish color to the main part of the vegetable as well. The tops of the rutabaga are about an inch long and are thick, bushy, leafy tops surrounding the deep purple mantle located at the top of the small part of the vegetable that grows above the ground and at the ground's surface.

General Info on Rutabagas & Their Uses:

Rutabagas are generally used as a form of food. Rutabagas are root vegetables which are safe to be consumed by humans, including all varieties or rutabagas that could be grown in your garden. Rutubaga can be served in a variety of ways including mashed like potatoes or roasted and sauteed as part of a root vegetable side-dish for a meal. They can make great snacks just cut up and eaten raw as well. Just be sure to wash them well before they are consumed. 

A subspecies of rutabagas called rapeseed can also be harvested and make excellent fodder and feed for livestock. The livestock is often turned into meat to be consumed by humans. Rapeseed can also be pulverized made into an oil 

Rapeseed can also be pulverized made into an oil that can be used to cook with. It's a much more nutritiously sound oil than it's counterpart of vegetable oil. Many people on "health food" kicks prefer to use rapeseed oil to help make their diet healthier and to reap the extra benefits of rapeseed oil over what is provided by vegetable oil.

Pests & Disease:

While rutabaga is very hearty root-based vegetables, it's important to note that letting them overripen in the ground, even by a few days can cause them to go rotten. Rutabagas will portray being rotten by having a stiff, almost woody feeling and texture to them. If overwatered the similar effect will happen and the rutabaga will rot before it even grows. It's worth noting that many rutabagas need more water than most vegetables due to their size, however, waterlogging the vegetables can cause them to go rotten rather quickly before they even mature into the stage where they are ready to harvest. 

Rarely seeds can fail to emerge from the soil causing the rutabaga to never even grow. This is usually due to bad soil or not being planted deeply enough in the soil. Plant your seeds deep enough to ensure adequate coverage and nutrition so your rutabaga grows to full maturity. 

Harlequin bugs (also known as stink bugs) can cause the rutabaga to rot. It will be portrayed by splotchy, wilted leaves, and dead vegetation. Other bugs that can affect rutabagas include cabbage maggots which burrow in the vegetable causing it to die and aphids which are tiny little ovular insects that get under the leafs of the rutabaga and eat the stems alive and killing the vegetables below. 

Clubroot, where the roots tangle together, is also possible if the vegetables are not planted far enough apart to allow proper growth to full maturity. Plant your rutabagas far enough apart to ensure this is not an issue.

Harvesting & Storage of Rutabagas:

Harvest your rutabagas a few days before the first frost to ensure that they are not killed by the frost. Average maturation will be at about 90-100 days after planting. 

Once rutabagas have been harvested wash them thoroughly to remove any dirt before storing.

Slice the rutabagas in half (including the stem) and then slice them again in round semi-circles before storing to ensure they are storable for long as possible.

Rutabagas store best if the skin is removed from the fleshy part of the vegetable before storing. 

Edible Uses & Flavors:

Rutabagas of all varieties are safe for human consumption. They make a great mix as part of a stew or hearty soup. They can also be used to mix with root vegetables as a hearty side dish to a meal. They are great for slicing and snacking on raw as well.

Rutabagas generally have a more bitter flavor when eaten raw. Cooking them makes them taste sweeter and therefore more palatable to many people who dislike bitter-tasting foods. Cooked rutabagas are often considered to look like a golden-cooked potato, yet often are more satisfying, hearty, and filling. 

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