Saturday 13 December 2014

Swede "Ruby"

This time last year, my garden was mostly bare and devoid of veg, and I vowed to try harder to have more Winter veg in the future. This year, as well as my usual PSB, I have more Brussels Sprouts than ever (six plants), plenty of Parsnips, Leeks, and some Cabbages (though most of the latter have already finished). I also have some Swedes. [Note: in some parts of the world, these things are called Rutabagas, Swede Turnips, or simply Turnips / "Neeps".]

As far as I know, this is the first time I have tried growing Swedes. If I have grown them before it would have been a very long time ago (way before I started my blog), and it must have been unsuccessful, otherwise I would almost certainly have remembered it!

Swedes are cheap to buy in the shops, and occupy the ground for quite a long time so they have a low VSR (Value for Space Rating), and I wouldn't normally consider growing them, but this time I was determined to have my own "proper" Winter veg, and for me this has to include Swede! My Swede seeds (variety: Ruby") were sown on 10th May, and planted out into a raised bed as little seedlings on 7th June. I only had room for four of them. Here they are, protected by a forest of little sticks.

I was meticulous with watering during the Summer, and the Swedes seemed to grow reasonably well. After the Leeks growing alongside them suffered some damage at the hands (noses / paws, probably) of the foxes, I covered the whole bed with netting.

The netting didn't stop the slugs though, and despite the liberal application of slug-pellets, the Swedes suffered a fair bit of damage:

I think the damage to their leaves may have inhibited their growth, because from about late September onwards, the Swedes grew painfully slowly. I waited patiently (and in vain) for them to swell up. One of the four was very peculiar and despite developing two "crowns" it has not produced any meaningful root:

Finally, this week I decided that it was time to harvest the first of the Swedes. Even though it still didn't look very big, I had concluded that it had stopped growing. Leaving it in the ground any longer would probably only lead to it going woody, so up it came:

I wouldn't say it was a fine specimen, by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm reasonably pleased with it, since it is my first attempt. Honour has been satisfied!

After I had trimmed off the elongated stalk I was left with 600g of useable veg (though of course that is before peeling it).

This Swede is due to be eaten tomorrow, so I'll wait and see what it's like to eat before I decide whether to try again next year.

P.S. Yesterday a couple of people said they thought that what I had described as slug damage on my Perpetual Spinach might actually have been caused by birds, so just to be on the safe side I have erected a defence mechanism around them, using flexible plastic Clematis Netting. It won't deter the small birds, but I reckon it will keep the pigeons off - and they are the most destructive type of bird:


  1. Must remember to plant swedes next year. If the damage is birds my money would be on wood pigeons. Watch that they don't try perching on the sticks and reaching down

  2. You're doing well with winter veg this year. I must follow suit and try harder next year.

  3. I keep thinking of growing it too, but then I see how long it takes and turnips are so much quicker. Though I'm thinking of a turnip that is really a cross between a turnip and a rutabaga and takes a bit longer than the typical turnip. I still am debating seeds with myself right now.

  4. Sue in the comment above has a good point. Your spinach protection may be more fox proof than bird proof. A piece of horticultural fleece (or very fine mesh) over the top of the clematis trellis would bring on the growth of the spinach and keep off the birds of all sizes.


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