Friday, 2 July 2010

Growing Swedes

  • Height up to 30cm/12"  - spread up to 23cm/9"
  • Swede is one of the easiest vegetables to grow and is well-suited to the novice gardener. 
  • They also crop over a very long time. This is because they can be left in the soil throughout the winter.
  • Swede is often confused with turnips but they have several advantages over the turnip. Firstly, they crop much later in the season and swede is well capable of withstanding very hard frosts. In addition, the swede is sweeter and milder.
  • As the name implies, swede originated from Sweden and they are related to the turnip.
  • Swedes are grown in most cases purely for the tasty edible roots but it's also possible to leave the root in the ground and eat the green leaves which will appear in the spring. Just cook them as you would for spring greens.  
  • There are three types of swede and they are known as green tops, bronze tops and purple tops. Purple tops produce the largest crops and are the most commonly available.
  • Swedes prefer a medium soil which contains lots of nutrients although they will be happy growing in most soil types. 
  • They are unfortunately prone to club root so make sure the soil is not too acidic. 
  • Acid soils encourage club root. The ideal pH for swedes is somewhere between 7.0 and 7.4. 
  • If the soil is short of nutrients then add some well-rotted manure a month or so prior to sowing seed. 
  • If manure is not available then add a long lasting fertiliser such as bonemeal or similar.
  • Swedes don't like being waterlogged. If your soil is not free draining then either dig in some well-rotted compost or grow them on a ridge so that the water drains away.
  • The best time to sow swede in most areas is mid May to mid June (temperature 17C/63F) but if your area is warm postpone sowing to mid July.
  • Mark out a drill about 3cm (¾in) deep and sow the seed thinly. 
  • If you are sowing more than one row then the rows should be 60cm (24in) apart.
  • Time between sowing and harvesting is 20-24 weeks, but they can be left in the soil much longer.
  • The seedlings will take about 10 days to emerge. 
  • Thin the seedlings out to about 25cm (10in) apart. 
  • Keep them well-watered and well-weeded and you should have no problems

  • Your swedes will be large enough for harvesting in early autumn. 
  • But if you leave them in the ground until the odd frost or two has got to them then they will taste much sweeter.
  • Can be left in the ground over winter for use in Spring or can be bulk stored by twisting off the leaves, placing the globes between layers of peat or sand in a box and kept in a cool shed or garage.

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