Benefits of Gilfeather Turnips
First cultivated in Vermont by farmer John Gilfeather in the 1900s, gilfeather turnips are a unique type of root vegetable.
It is unique since it crosses rutabaga and a turnip. With its health benefits, eating it fresh as a salad is recommended.
Because it is rich in health benefits is the main reason gilfeather turnips became the Vermont state vegetable. So, here are its various benefits:
- Good source of antioxidants
- Good for digestion
- Help lose weight
- Help maintain heart health
- Prevent osteoporosis
- Healthy eyes
- Increase immune system
- High in Vitamin A, Vitamin K, calcium, and potassium
Characteristics of Gilfeather Turnips
Even though it is a hybrid vegetable, half-turnip, and half-rutabaga, gilfeather turnips have unique characteristics.
- It is mostly round or oval, almost similar to the size of a handball.
- It has a sweet taste with a soft bite sensation.
- Unlike regular turnips or rutabaga, gilfeather turnips are softer and sweeter.
- It has a hard-skinned texture, creamy in color, but delicious and nutritious.
- When growing gilfeather turnips, they are mostly rooted out under the snow that will last all winter long.
- Growing close to springtime or at the end of summer is best.
Growing Gilfeather Turnips— Cultivation and Harvesting
The main requirement for growing gilfeather turnips is done in a cold environment. Moreover, to cultivate this type of turnip, it is recommended that it is grown in very well-cultivated soil.
Likewise, there is a need for an efficient drainage system to avoid puddles or water holes. So, to grow it well, it must be in the soil where soil organic matter is abundant.
This may include biomass from plants and animal remains nutritious for crops.
For effective cultivation, adding composted soil before sowing is also recommended. This will reduce the chance of lumps or rocks forming in the soil.
The sowing process should be extra careful so the soil doesn’t dry out. You will need to water and moisten the soil regularly. Thus, gilfeather turnips grow better, ripen and accumulate more vitamins in full sun.
As for when to start harvesting in terms of growing gilfeather turnips, it should be done when the winter season ends. Mainly, early spring should be a good time to harvest.
So, when gilfeather turnips are cultivated in late summer, harvesting is done in the fall or winter.
FYI, you will need the seeds to be able to cultivate and harvest them. After about three or four months, the harvest will be ready. In exactly 85 days, gilfeather turnips are most ripe.
About three months after cultivation, the harvest will begin. An indication of maturity will be a light color on the top of the root crop above the ground.
All harvested gilfeather turnips must be pulled out before they freeze, or the roots may crack and rot in the soil. These turnips last very well in cold storage, so pull out the entire plant in late fall.
Tips for Growing Gilfeather Turnips
Gilfeather turnips grow in light-textured soil free of gravel and stones. This will ensure the roots from becoming deformed. So, here are some useful tips for growing gilfeather turnips:
- Plant the turnip in fertile and well-drained soil. (Add a light mixture of organic fertilizer unless sufficient nutrients remain in the soil from the previous crop).
- Manage the soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.0.
- The best soil temperature for growing gilfeather turnips is 60°F.
- Plant the seeds about ¼ inch deep.
- Set the seeds in rows about 12 to 18 inches apart.
- Mix in a ½-inch layer of compost.
- Growing gilfeather turnips in full sun for best results.
- Try to avoid partial shade.
- Avoid growing gilfeather turnips in one garden with potato plants.
How to Store Gilfeather Turnips
Regarding storing, gilfeather turnips are considered easy and require low preservation. If you have a cellar, it would be the best option.
They can be stored in the cellar for the longest time, no longer than five months. If you don’t have a warehouse or a cellar, store it in large, perforated, or punctured plastic bags in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
However, for the best nutritional quality, do not consume it later than 12 months after storing it in the freezer. Also, never wash the turnips when they are not in use. Thus, moisture and humidity will increase spoilage and molding.
How to Cook Gilfeather Turnips
Gilfeather turnips are sweeter than regular turnips or rutabaga, with a creamy consistency when cooked. When raw, gilfeather turnips are also more yellow in color and oval in shape.
They can be as small as a fist or a little bit bigger. It all depends on the soil fertility in which they are grown and when harvested.
Gilfeather turnips can be prepared in a variety of ways. Mainly, have it mashed or roasted. The roots are usually consumed as a veggie meal. Hence, the leaves are also edible and can be eaten fresh in salads.