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September 6, 2012

Turnip-rrific!

Thanks to the recent rains from Isaac the turnips are doing terrific! They are turnip-rrific! Turnip-tastic!

  These turnips are growing like weeds!
You'll remember I started an all out turnip planting project back around July 25th. Those seeds have really taken off and after dragging my feet to thin them... wow! Its really paid off!

See these little small fries? This is the row I did not thin. What a difference!

Shortly after the turnips sprouted I went out and used the hoe to thin them to about 6 inches apart. To me this felt like a terrible waste! All those seeds! But as you recall that one package of seeds for $1 is still going strong. After that initial thinning I went out and really thinned them again with great care - so that there were not a couple of them bunched together. After feeding about 3 bucketfuls of the thinnings to the hennies... well... I didn't feel to bad about thinning them at all and it didn't feel like a waste - it felt like a turnip-rrific success!

The next stage of my turnips-as-fodder project will be to start trimming some of the tops to feed to the hennies, the goats, and the pigz. If I had reasonable-not-ridiculous goats I could easily graze them in the turnip patch.  But you know how Nibbles is... and that just wouldn't work.

Now to be sure you don't just want to go whole hog on feeding new forage to goaties - as with any new food you need to introduce turnips and their greens gradually. Not only do you want to avoid bloat or stomach upset.. apparently turnip greens may make their milk taste funny. Which would not be very funny if you were making a spectacular cheese. My goats have never given me "off flavored" milk so I don't have any experience with this.  But apparently its a thing and I believe the folks who've experienced it.

So many uses for turnip greens, lovely and delicious!

The turnips will regrow their greens a couple of times before our frost date so I'm really going to take advantage of this for as long as I can. Then as we get closer to a hard frost I'll take up the turnips and build myself a nice clamp. What's a clamp? Its a big pile of turnips on the ground, on a site prepared to allow for drainage, and covered with a bunch of straw. How great is that?

Then I'll be able to feed the whole turnips to the pigz over the late fall and into winter. And since I like turnips too we'll be having some of them for supper for sure. Not bad for $1 in seeds and my time.

 There's turnips under these greens - already! At Day 43, not bad at all.

There are some great resources out there about growing turnips as fodder. This wonderful overview gives a little of the history of these fabulous root veggies and provides some facts and stats about protein rates and such. Be sure to check out the feeding rates and some of the things to watch out for - especially about not feeding after turnips start to flower. There is also a great fact sheet here that gives a bit more detail. The only thing I disagreed with on these resources was that they make planting and soil prep seem more complicated than it really is. My bad soil - wet, badly drained, and clay-ish - grows turnips really well. Of course, proper bed prep just adds to the success.

You can also read a very practical overview in the spectacular John Seymour book, The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Life It. If you are interested in this kind of small farming this book is a must read. Actually just go and buy it because its a tremendous resource and has a lot of practical advice.

This morning I've got more weeding and more thinning on my agenda. What's everyone up to? Have you gotten all your turnips planted, thinned, and weeded?

Happy Thursday everyone!