Swedes are not to be confused with turnips although they are related, and as the name implies, swedes originated from Sweden.

Turnips tend to be used more as a quick maturing summer crop, whereas, Swedes crop much later in the season, and crop over a very long time.

In addition, the swede is sweeter and milder than Turnip.

Purple Top Swedes

They are very hardy, and can be left in the soil throughout the winter, thus making them a useful winter vegetable.

Plus they are quite easy to grow making them well-suited to novice and experienced gardeners alike.

There are three types of swede, these are; green tops, bronze tops and purple tops.

Purple tops produce the largest crops and are the most commonly available.

Swedes are of the brassica family and as such need similar soil conditions.

That is they will grow in most types of soil providing it is fertile, free draining and has a pH of around 7.0 to 7.5.

The soil should be well prepared with the addition of well-rotted manure at least a month or so before sowing.

Add a top dressing of Superphosphate and bone-meal at a rate of 100gms (4oz) per sq m at sowing time.

Swedes tend to suffer from time to time with pests and diseases indigenous to the brassica family.

Pests & Disease:

Club Root: The leaves will droop and the roots will be distorted.

Aphids: Seen as curled leaves and twisted stems.

Downy Mildew: Seen as grey patches and wilting leaves.

Flea Beetle: These normally leave round holes in young seedlings.

Gall Weevil: White maggots appear in the root system.

Slugs and Snails: The leaves will have holes in them and generally look quite tattered.

Wireworms: Small holes / tunnels through the roots.

Flea Beetle Damage


Week 22:

Sow seeds in 12mm (½") deep drills drawn 600mm (24") apart.

Sowings can be made any time between now and Week 30

Seeds may take up to two weeks to germinate.

When the seedling are approximately 75-100mm (3"-4") tall thin them out to around 200-250mm (8"-10") apart.

Emerging seedlings


Give young plants a thorough soaking once a week during prolonged dry weather.

Otherwise, just keep them well watered and weed free.


Subject to the sowing date, the roots will be large enough for harvesting in early autumn.

However,leaving them in the ground until they have been subjected some frost periods will make them taste much sweeter.

Swedes store well, store them in layers in boxes filled with dryish sand in a cool dark area.

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