Swede (Brassica napus) is a delicious and nutritious vegetable that can be grown at home. Grow them yourself for organic produce with better flavour than shop-bought. Sown in spring, they’ll be ready to harvest for warming and hearty meals in the depths of winter.
The part of the vegetable usually eaten is the round root (actually an adapted stem). While not particularly tasty, the leaves, known as ‘greens’ can also be eaten. Swedes are delicious mashed with cream or glazed and roasted as an alternative to cooked ham. They are easy to grow as long as you ensure they do not dry out, are grown in a sunny position, and protected from pests. The best way to grow swedes is by sowing them direct in the ground from mid-spring, once the soil is warm.
Is swede a turnip?
A swede is not a turnip, but instead is believed to be a cross between a turnip and type of wild cabbage. The term ‘Swede’ is short for ‘Swedish turnip’, thought to have been created in Sweden in the 17th century. Americans call swedes rutabaga, from the Swedish word ‘rotabbagge’ meaning baggy root. A turnip is generally smaller than a swede with white flesh. Swedes also have a sweeter and stronger nutty flavour and cope better with frost. This makes them useful crops to harvest late in the year once other vegetables have finished.
How to grow swedes
Sow seeds from late spring or early summer depending on how warm it is where you live. The soil will need to be warm enough to help the seeds germinate, with all risk of frost passed. You may want to add compost or well-rotted manure a few months before, or a general fertiliser. If it’s too late to sow seeds, or you do not have the space, you can also buy small plug plants to put into the ground or pots. These are on
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