As I was growing up, the kids in my family were REQUIRED to eat at least a couple of bites of rutabagas at Thanksgiving. It was a holiday tradition for my mother, who grew up in a small town in Minnesota with her German parents. Rutabagas & turnips were not a big deal where I grew up in California, and most of my friends had never heard of them but Mom managed to find them and cook them for us.  Since Mom made us eat them, it became kind of a family joke, and all visitors at our table were required to try them, too. I have learned to like them and I’ve continued that tradition myself.

Lucky me, as with all root vegetables, rutabagas grow quite well at our high altitude. Growing them here is easy, and I have added turnips occasionally to my garden.

I have decided I much prefer the rutabagas, and only grow them at this time. They are best when eaten fresh. The longer they are stored the more pungent they become. They really are quite delicious when cooked soft then drenched with a garlic cream sauce & parmesan cheese. 

I tried growing turnips, and they grow well, but I do not like them as well as the rutabagas. I think the ruties are sweeter. I’d heard of eating “turnip greens”, so I tried them once. Just the one time. That was plenty. 

I generally give my rutabagas a head start by starting them indoors in soil blocks, but I also seed them directly in the garden and they do quite well either way. They do not require much care, just water them and harvest them when ready.

I have also grown rutabagas in the greenhouse, where they grew fine. In the greenhouse they did attract aphids, and they took much longer to grow. I felt they weren’t worth the space they used and I have not planted them in the greenhouse as a habit.

I typically store rutabagas in the refrigerator and eat them within 1-2 months. Rutabagas can be stored in a good root cellar, I’m told for longer. When I stored them in our “cold closet” I left them in a tub of wood shavings and forgot about them too long. They withered up. Perhaps if I’d kept the shavings sprayed with water and had eaten them sooner they would have stored better. I will try again next year.

Laurentian (95 Days)
Nadmorska (90 Days) As advertised, I believe these were a bit sweeter.