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Turnips are cool-season vegetables that belong to the same family as collard greens. While collards are grown for their dark leafy greens, turnips are grown for two purposes – its fleshy roots and leaves. You can prepare turnip leaves or turnip greens the same way as spinach or collards, which make them excellent crops to grow in a home garden. If you want to enjoy a variety of healthy greens for every meal, then growing turnip greens in aquaponics gardens is a wonderful idea.
In this article, you will learn about turnips and turnip greens, their nutritional benefits, the different varieties, and the growing requirements to make them thrive in your aquaponics garden.
Why Grow Turnip Greens in Aquaponics Gardens
Having large, dark green leaves, many people easily confuse turnip greens for collard greens. While both are associated with Southern cuisine, you can tell them apart by several key differences. For instance, turnip greens have leaves that are lighter green in color, while collards tend to be darker. Also, the leaf texture in both differs, in which turnip greens’ are less coarse and thinner compared to those of its closest relative.
Being a cool-season crop, it can grow well in spring and fall. One great aspect in growing turnip greens is that they germinate rather quickly and typically you can harvest these nutritious greens within a month of planting. By the second month, you can start harvesting the fleshy roots, which are excellent substitutes for tomatoes.
Turnip greens can be eaten cooked or raw, so include them in your salads or even use them in sandwiches and wraps. Turnip greens are also great as a side dish to ham, pork chops, and fried chicken.
Health Benefits of Eating Turnip Greens
Turnip greens, belonging to the mustard family, are excellent sources of vitamins K and A, as well as minerals such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. That said, turnip greens are great for bone health, cancer prevention, and for its anti-inflammatory properties.
In this study on turnip greens, it is found that high concentrations of vitamins and minerals are found in the leaves rather than the roots. Ninety-six percent of turnip greens’ vitamin A content and eighty-four percent of the plant’s B vitamins are stored in the leaf blades. To give you an idea of how healthy turnip greens are, here is what a cup (55 grams) of raw turnip leaves contains:
- 18 calories
- 3.92 grams of carbohydrates
- 0.82 grams of protein
- 0.17 gram of fat
- 1.8 grams of fiber
As mentioned, turnips can be grown for their roots and leaves. When considering growing turnip greens in aquaponics gardens, it’s worth noting that turnip varieties developed for root production can produce decent greens. However, some varieties developed specifically for the leaves may not yield good roots.
Some turnip varieties mature and are ready for harvest earlier than others. The Shogoin, which is a standard variety, is one of the fastest-growing; you can harvest the greens as early as 30 days. They are known for their mild flavor, which is why they can be an excellent choice for salad lovers.
The Tokyo Cross is another variety mostly grown for its leaves. It also grows rather fast, with greens ready for harvest in 35 days. This variety is known to be virus and disease resistant. Seven Top, on the other hand, is virtually rootless, so they are considered the perfect variety when growing only greens.
If you’re unsure which variety to pick for your aquaponics garden, note that any variety will do just fine if you are growing the crop mainly for its leaves.
Requirements for Growing Turnip Greens in Aquaponics Gardens
Place your turnips in a sunny location and make sure they receive at least 6-8 hours of sun daily. They can also tolerate partial shade, especially if you’re growing them for greens.
Grow your turnip greens in media beds filled with hydroton.
Maintain air and water temperatures between 40 deg F and 75 deg F for this cool-season crop.
Ensure a pH range of 6.0 to 6.5 to help turnip greens thrive.
Fish Type to Consider
Since they thrive in cool temperatures, turnip greens are best paired with fish types such as tilapia and rainbow trout.
Quick Tips For Growing Aquaponics Turnip Greens
- Yellowing or withering of turnip leaves is a normal occurrence.
- Encourage the plant to produce more leaves by removing the older leaves every week.
- Growing turnip greens in hot weather produces bitter leaves.