In contrast to the conventional turnip, the swede is almost round and has a relatively firm and, depending on the variety, reddish or green to yellowish skin. The pulp is whitish to yellowish. The bitter-sweet taste of this vegetable is reminiscent of cabbage. You can counteract their susceptibility to diseases and pests, for example, with the right crop rotation.

Preparing in pots

Rutabaga can be sown directly from the end of May at the earliest or grown in pots or seed boxes. To start the plants, put 4 seeds in each pot about 1-2 cm deep and cover them with soil. Then the substrate is moistened.

Once the first four to five leaves have formed, you can separate them. The young seedlings can then be planted in their final location in June/July. Only healthy and strong plants should be used for this purpose.

When planting, you should ensure a planting distance of at least 40 cm on all sides, so that the swede has enough space to develop. It is also important that the plants are not planted too deep, this could affect their development, so that the tubers remain misshapen and relatively small.

Direct sowing

It can be sown directly outdoors in June/July. Before doing so, it makes sense to prepare the soil accordingly by working compost into the soil. The swede usually does not tolerate later fertilization very well.

Then sow with a distance of 40-50 cm between the individual seeds. Of course, they can also be spread over the affected area. If the seedlings were sown too densely, they can be isolated again as soon as they are big enough. Water well after sowing. At temperatures between 15 and 18 degrees, the seeds germinate after about 6-10 days.

location and soil

  • Sunny to semi-shady locations are ideal for the swede.
  • Almost any normal garden soil is suitable for cultivation.
  • This should have a pH of at least 6.8.
  • It should also be moist and contain sufficient nitrogen.
  • During the growth phase, it makes sense to chop once or twice around the beets.
  • If necessary, lightly mound the beets.

Compliance with crop rotation

Swedes should not be grown at the same location every year, ie the crop rotation should be strictly observed. A renewed cultivation at the same location should take place after 3-4 years at the earliest.

We recommend post-cultivation after new potatoes, beans or peas. Mixed cultures with cucumber, savory, winter endive, dill, borage, stalk and ribbed chard, cherry and tomato or celery are also advantageous. Mixed cultures with kohlrabi, cabbage, onions, garlic, chives or rhubarb are not recommended.

watering and fertilizing

It should be poured or watered immediately after planting and then regularly and abundantly until the plants are well established. From then on it only needs to be watered if it hasn’t rained for a long time.

The swede has an increased boron requirement. Consequently, foliar fertilization with boron should be carried out in rows. Row closure is the point at which the leaves touch or overlap in adjacent rows of planted beets.


Clubroot is a fungal disease that can primarily affect crops such as rapeseed, radishes or various types of cabbage, but also turnips. The triggering fungus lives in the soil, where it can survive for up to 20 years. This disease can be prevented by regularly rotating crops. However, you should also not grow or sow other cruciferous plants there for a period of 5-7 years. Since this fungus thrives particularly well on acidic and compacted soil, it is advisable to regularly loosen it deeply and make it more permeable by adding compost.

In addition, the pH should always be kept between 6 and 7, for example by adding lime. Controlling clubroot is not possible, but fertilizing with calcium cyanamide should significantly reduce the number of fungal spores.

Cabbage Blacks
Cabbage Blacks is also a fungal disease. It occurs mainly in humid weather in summer and autumn. It can be recognized by the 15 mm large, grey-brown, rounded spots on the leaves, from which the leaf tissue sometimes falls out.
As with clubroot, you can also prevent cabbage blackness through a wide crop rotation. Affected leaves should be removed immediately and best disposed of with household waste.

Leaf spot disease
Signs of an infestation with leaf spot disease, which is caused by fungi, are brown spots on both leaves and stems. In the further course, the spots merge with each other and can also be partially perforated.

In order to prevent an infestation, one should pay attention to the correct fertilization, as well as to a sufficient distance between the individual plants. Nutrient and light deficiencies can also promote this disease.

Control with biological means is not possible. If the infestation is already advanced, you must destroy the affected plants. Leaf spot disease can only be controlled with chemical agents, namely with broad-spectrum fungicides.

Glassiness can be recognized by an initially watery and slightly brownish tissue inside the beet, which later turns a darker brown and rotting occurs. This is due to a boron deficiency. The plant needs boron to develop beets. A boron deficiency is often caused by drought and calcification in connection with a high pH value in the soil. Foliar fertilization with boron can be helpful here. However, if brown tissue can already be seen inside the swede, this can usually no longer be saved.


Cabbage white
The first indication of a possible infestation are the white butterflies, i.e. the cabbage white. However, the greatest damage is not caused by the cabbage white itself, but by its caterpillars. If the infestation is still small, the caterpillars can be read off and destroyed. If the infestation is already advanced, you can fight it with biological pesticides from the garden trade, such as ‘Raupenfrei’ from Neudorf. Swedes can be protected from the typical cabbage pests by covering them with appropriate protective nets or fleece.

beetles Flea beetles are beetles that can be up to 4 mm in size and can be particularly damaging to young plants. Since this pest feels particularly comfortable in dry and warm soil, it makes sense to water more often. Regular raking also loosens the soil and can drive away the beetles. A mixed culture with the appropriate plants can prevent infestation, as can observing crop rotation and spraying the soil with plant manure, for example nettles, horsetail or comfrey.

Cabbage fly
An infestation with this pest can be recognized above all by the feeding passages on the tuber or beet, in which the cream-colored larvae are located. Gray discoloration of the leaves and external signs of sudden wilting can also indicate an infestation.

Zur Vorbeugung bietet sich eine Mischkultur u.a. mit Tomaten an, sowie das Abdecken mit engmaschigen Kulturschutznetzen. Diese Netze sollten bereits direkt nach der Aussaat bzw. Pflanzung ausgebracht werden und im besten Falle bis zur Ernte dort verbleiben.
Natürlich spielt auch hier bei der Vorbeugung die Fruchtfolge eine wichtige Rolle. Betroffene Pflanzen sollten vernichtet werden. Zu den zahlreichen natürlichen Feinden dieses Schädlings gehören Marienkäfer, Schwebfliegen, Raubwanzen sowie Florfliegenlarven.


Steckrüben sind ein Wintergemüse, d.h., sie sind bis zu einem gewissen Grad winterhart, und zwar bis maximal -10 Grad. Zudem wirkt sich leichter Frost dahin gehend auf die Steckrübe aus, dass ihr Geschmack dadurch etwas süßer wird. Längere Nachtfröste übersteht das Gemüse jedoch nicht.

The rutabaga is ready for harvest as early as the end of September, and the rutabaga will continue to grow until around the end of October. It usually makes more sense to wait until November to harvest these vegetables, especially if you plan to store them, because that is when they are fully mature. However, you should not harvest later than November, as the beets become woody due to the fact that they are then exposed to sub-zero temperatures for longer and longer. The optimal fruit has a rounded shape and weighs about 1.5 kg.

To harvest the vegetables, you simply pull the beets out of the ground, you can use a digging fork in particularly heavy soil. Then just twist the leaves off. The freshly harvested turnips can be stored for several months in a cool, dark cellar or in a so-called pit.


While the swede was considered a poor man’s food, especially in the post-war years, during the so-called ‘turnip winters’, today it is sometimes even offered in gourmet kitchens. Thanks to its high water content, it is not only low in calories, but also has many important vital and mineral substances.


  • Green-headed yellow Wilhelmsburger – The ‘Wilhelmsburger’ variety is the best-known turnip variety. The beets are completely orange-yellow, have tender flesh and a green head. The taste is intensely sweet and spicy. This variety is relatively resistant to powdery mildew.
  • Rutabaga Magress blue-headed – The Rutabaga Magress blue-headed is a mildew-resistant, round rutabaga with purplish-violet heads, which is suitable both as a table turnip and as a fodder turnip.
  • Rutabaga Best of All – This variety produces medium-sized, round turnips with a purple skin and mild yellow flesh. It is very good and can be stored for a very long time.
  • Rutabaga Tyne F1 – This red-headed F1 hybrid of swede has light-colored, extremely tender flesh and is particularly tasty. It is also characterized by an even and fast growth as well as a good storability.

The swede is a tasty winter vegetable that can be used for numerous tasty dishes but can also be eaten raw, for example in raw vegetable salads. It is a relatively robust and easy-care culture, which can, however, be plagued by various pests and diseases. In order to prevent this, you should pay particular attention to the crop rotation and, if possible, cultivate in cheap mixed cultures. If you then regularly remove weeds, nothing should stand in the way of a good harvest.

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