Rutabaga makes a great addition to a variety of dishes. Even more amazing is how easy Rutabaga is to add to your home vegetable garden and even easier yet, to grow them from seed. Here I have outlined some tips to increase your chances of “Rutabaga from seed” success.
Long before you put that first seed into the soil you need to get the area prepped. Rutabaga needs a good supply of potassium and phosphorous. If you are mixing in a good amount of compost and/or leaf mold throughout the year your soil should be ok.
Your soil’s pH level should be in the 6.5 to 7.0 range for optimal results. If you follow a steady flow of composting and leaf mold as stated above, your soil should be fine. Invest in a $3 test kit just to be sure and make adjustments as needed per the instructions on the test kit.
Rutabaga seeds germinate best when the soil temperature is above eighty degrees Fahrenheit, however, once the seed has germinated, the rutabaga itself grows best in cooler temperatures. It’s best to heat the soil up prior to putting your seeds into the ground using a clear plastic tarp. Once you get the soil warm enough, plant your seeds (I’ll talk more on this in a moment), and remove the tarp. Your soil should be good to go.
Once your soil is ready you can go ahead and plant your seeds in the ground. Rutabaga does not transplant well so it is not recommended that you start them indoors. Plant the seed no more than one half inch deep and space out your rutabagas at least eight inches. They could germinate as soon as five days under optimal conditions, but seven to ten is more likely.
Now that your seeds are in the ground you need to care for them to make sure you have a successful harvest. Rutabagas require a moderate watering. If your soil is moist then no need to water, just make sure the soil does not dry out. Your rutabagas will tolerate shade, but they grow best with full sun.
When you start seeing the top of the rutabaga push through your top soil it is ready to be harvested. Simply use a trowel to dig the rutabaga out of its spot. Cut about two inches from the top of the root and store in a cool dry location or your fridge. Rutabaga will store well for months.
If you practice companion planting keep in mind that rutabagas do not do well when planted next to potatoes, but partner up best with the onion family and peas. Rutabagas do well in a rotation that follow onions and scallions.
About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the owner of Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC, the exclusive home of the Seeds of the Month Club, which has appeared on NBC, ABC and MSN Money as a great way for consumers to save money.