Turnips are a cool-season crop, generally best planted during the rainy season. [iStockphoto]

Turnips are root vegetables belonging to the Brassicaceae family, which also includes broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale. They are grown primarily for their bulbous roots, although their leaves, known as turnip greens, are also edible and highly nutritious. They are a good source of Vitamin C, fiber, and also contain some key minerals such as potassium and calcium. Turnip greens are particularly rich in vitamins A, C, and K, and are an excellent source of calcium, according to healthline.com.

Farming turnips in Kenya can be a productive venture, especially given the country’s varying altitudes and climates that can accommodate different agricultural needs throughout the year. Caleb Gakure, a small scale farmer in Laikipya gives a step-by-step guide on how to grow turnips.

Select the right variety

Choose turnip varieties that are well-suited to the climate and soil of the area where you plan to farm. Some varieties might perform better in cooler highlands, whereas others might be suitable for warmer areas. Common varieties include Purple Top White Globe, Golden Ball, and Tokyo Cross.

Choose the right time

Turnips are a cool-season crop, generally best planted during the rainy season. They can be grown in both long rains (March to May) and short rains (October to December). This timing helps ensure that the plants have enough water and cool weather to thrive.

Prepare the soil

Turnips grow best in well-drained, fertile soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. Prepare the land by clearing it of weeds and rocks, and work the soil to a fine tilth. Sow turnip seeds directly into the ground, placing them about half  inch deep in the soil. Space the seeds approximately one to two inches apart in rows that are 12 to 18 inches apart. After sowing, cover the seeds lightly with soil and water gently. 


When seedlings are about two inches tall, thin them to about four to six inches apart. This gives each plant enough space to grow and develop a healthy root. The thinned seedlings can be used as greens.


Apply a balanced fertiliser, such as NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium), according to soil test recommendations. 

Regular weeding is necessary to prevent competition for nutrients and water. Shallow cultivation is recommended to avoid damaging the turnip roots.

Pest and disease control

Watch out for pests like aphids, flea beetles, and root maggots. Use appropriate insecticides or practice integrated pest management (IPM) strategies to control them. Crop rotation and proper sanitation can help prevent disease outbreaks.


Turnips can be harvested when their roots reach a suitable size (usually two to three inches in diameter). The leaves can also be harvested for greens as the root develops. The entire growing period for turnips is typically six to 10 weeks after planting.


Depending on supply Gakure sells the produce from Sh90 per kilo. Turnips can be sold fresh in local markets, supplied to hotels and restaurants, or even processed into value-added products.