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Helpful Tip from the Garden Geeks: The trick to growing large, tender turnips and rutabagas etc?
Plant the seed in late July to mid August in a well limed soil that is thoroughly aerated. Don't use too much nitrogen, but PLENTY of potash.
If you have trouble with turnips not balling up, this is probably due to lack of potash. Put on some wood ashes, or muriate of potash at the rate of 2lbs per 100sq. ft. Also check to be sure the lime content is satisfactory. If turnips are woody or corky, there is too much nitrogen or weather has been too hot. Always plant late enough that they will have cool nights.