Swede is a very easy vegetable to grow and ideal for the gardener just starting off. It crops over a very large time and are often left in the soil throughout winter. The swede is a sweeter and milder flavoured crop than some other crops like parsnip or turnip. They naturally originate from the country of their naming. We also know them as rutabagas.
Do not confuse with turnips but they do have several advantages over this particular vegetable. For a start, they crop late in the season and the vegetable is capable of withstanding hard frosts.
Where to grow swedes:
Swedes prefer a medium soil which contains lots of nutrients although they will be happy growing in most soil types. They are unfortunately prone to club root so make sure the soil is not too acidic. Acid soils encourage club root. The ideal pH for swedes is somewhere between 7.0 and 7.4. If the soil is short of nutrients then add some well-rotted manure a month or so prior to sowing seed. If manure is not available then add a long lasting fertiliser such as bone meal or similar.
Swedes don’t like being waterlogged. If your soil is not free draining then either dig in some well-rotted compost or grow them on a ridge so that the water drains away.
When to grow:
The best time to sow swede in most areas is mid-May to mid-June but if your area is warm delay sowing to mid-July.
Seeded or transplanted swede should be spaced 6 inches between plants in the row with rows 1 foot apart.
Make a hole with a dibber or suitable stick (A piece of an old broom handle is ideal). Place the seedling plug in the hole and firm gently around the roots, water well. They should be planted slightly deeper than they grew in the seed bed.
The seedlings will take about 10 days to emerge. Thin the seedlings out to about 25cm (10in) apart. Keep them well-watered and well-weeded and you should have no problems.
If you harvest your swedes, store them in a dry, dark and cool area of the garden, in a wooden crate or some similar device that rats and mice cannot access. Only harvest during dry weather or the swedes will rot. Also remove leaves and root tails to discourage rot if storing. Indoor storage can be as easy as placing in a hessian sack or layering them in a box filled with sand. Again, the area should be cool, dark and dry. Swedes will keep for up to 6 months if stored correctly.
Pests and diseases:
Aphids Curled leaves and twisted stems with lots of green black or bluish insects on the leaves and stems.
Club Root Disease The leaves will droop and the roots will be distorted.
Flea Beetle These normally go for the young seedlings of the will leave round holes.
Gall Weevil White maggots appear from the top part of the roots
Downy Mildew Grey patches of mildew will appear with the leaves wilting
Slugs and Snails The leaves will have holes in them and you may well notice the typical slimy trail of these pests
Wireworms Small tunnels through the roots.
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Plant Seeds For Swede
Swede cv. Gowrie is a purple skinned variety that offers excellent disease resistance. It’s good colour and flesh texture make this ideal for culinary uses. Gowrie is Powdery Mildew and Club Root resistant. Purchase seeds of variety Gowrie from here.
Swede cv. Invitation is a nice root to grow, full of vitamins and minerals. Purchase seeds of the variety Invitation here.