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Swede

UK Garden Centre - Information about Swede

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The introduction of disease-resistant varieties has made this winter vegetable even easier to grow. All you have to do is sprinkle some seeds in late spring or early summer, thin a few weeks later and then lift the large, globular roots as you need them from autumn until spring – few other crops are quite so straightforward. Swedes are closely related to turnips (the name is an abbreviation of ‘Swedish turnip’) but the flesh is generally yellow and the flavour both milder and sweeter. There are other differences – the plants are hardier, the yields are greater and the growing period is longer.

Seed facts
Expected germination time: 6-10 days
Approximate number per ounce: 8000
Expected yield from a 10ft row: 30lb (15kg)
Life expectancy of stored seed: 3 years
Approximate time between sowing and lifting: 20-24 weeks
Ease of cultivation: Easy

Soil facts
· Swedes are brassicas and like other members of the family need a firm, non-acid soil which has reasonable drainage.
· Pick a sunny spot and dig in autumn. Lime if necessary. In spring apply Growmore fertilizer and sprinkle Bromophos if cabbage root fly is known to be a problem. Prepare the seed bed about a week later, treading down and raking the surface.

Seed Sowing
Dig rows ½ in (1cm) deep and sow seed very thinly then cover with soil. Rows should be 15in (37cm) apart.

Calendar
Sowing time: Mid May to Mid July; can begin at the end of April.
Lifting time: Usually November to February; can extend from mid September to the end of March.

Looking after the crop
· Thin out the crop as soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle. Do this in stages until the plants are 9in (23cm) apart.
· Keep the soil hoed and remember to water in dry weather – failure to do so will result in smaller and woodier roots. Rain following a dry spell can cause roots to split.
· Spray with Crop Saver at the first signs of flea beetle damage.

Harvesting
· Begin lifting as soon as the roots are large enough to use. This will be from early autumn onwards, and there is no need to wait until they reach their maximum size. You can leave them in the soil and lift with a fork as required until spring, but it may be more convenient to lift and store them indoors in December for later use.
· The storage technique is to twist off the leaves and place the roots between layers of dry peat or sand in a stout box. Store in a cool shed.

Varieties
Marian: This is the Swede to buy. It has all the plus points – high yields, good flavour and texture with the bonus of resistance to club root and mildew.
Chignecto: Another variety which is resistant to club root. Many textbooks praise it, but very few catalogues list it.
Purple Top: The old favourite – reliable and widely grown. It can be used for eating fresh from the garden or for storage.
Mancunian Brown Top: Slower growing than Purple Top, but its storage properties are unexcelled.
Western Perfection: Just the opposite to Mancunian Brown Top – the reputation of this variety is based on its quick-growing nature. Roots will be ready for lifting in September.
Acme: Another purple- topped variety which is quick growing like Western Perfection.

Troubles
See Turnip.


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