What is a rutabaga
Botanical name: Brassica napus var. Napobrassica
Rutabaga plants have a lot to offer the home gardener. They are easy to grow and harvest, extend the growing season well into autumn, and store well in the ground or in a root cellar. They're delicious, nutritious, and versatile in the kitchen. And they make good cattle.
The beets are closely related to beets and are also known as Sweden, yellow beet, table beet and deficiency root, among other things. Rutabagas are part of the genus of plants that also includes broccoli, cabbage, and mustard.
The Rutabaga plants themselves consist of three main parts: a green leaf top, a round, bulbous root, and a long taproot with fine hairs. The greens, especially when young and tender, can be cut and cooked to make a nutritious side dish or an ingredient in soups and stews.
The long, straight taproot, like the green tips, is cut off when harvesting a rutabaga, and the remaining tuber is about the size of a small grapefruit. The pulp of this part of the plant is usually gold or yellow and contains a lot of vitamin C and fiber, as well as sugar, protein and traces of other vitamins and minerals. Rutabaga is prepared for eating by boiling and mashing it - often with potatoes - or by frying it with other root vegetables.
It is best to plant rutabaga seeds in the middle of summer when the spring harvest is through and the soil is around 80 ° F. Germination occurs in about 14 days and the emerging greens are dark blue-green. These seedlings are thinned every few weeks to give the developing tubers enough room to grow; Dilutions can be used as sprouts in fresh dishes.
To reach their full size, rutabaga seeds must be mixed in with lots of organic matter in loose, fertile soil. This means that the roots are not kinked or stunted. Humidity should be consistent throughout the growing season rather than letting the soil get too wet all at once. The plants need full sunshine, except in the hottest climates where they can benefit from light afternoon shade.
Gardeners should carefully weed the growing rutabaga plants several times during the season. A layer of loose straw mulch can prevent weeds that could compete for nutrition. Too little potash in the soil can mean that the tubers are poor quality or that no bulbs are formed.
Rutabaga plants can be attacked by the same pests that damage other cabbage or beet plants.
When rutabagas are ripe, the "shoulders" of the plants turn purple - if they are of the "Purple Top" variety - and they bulge out of the ground. The optimal size for harvesting is for these bulbs to be three to six inches in diameter. Plants can be left completely in the ground through multiple frosts, but must be pulled up before the ground freezes completely (around 20 ° F).
Keep them in a cool, damp, dark place.
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