• Lori Adams discusses everything she’s learned about growing turnips in her latest Daily Sitka Sentinel garden column

(Lori Adams, who owns Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden and is a frequent vendor at the Sitka Farmers Market, will be writing a regular garden column in the Daily Sitka Sentinel this summer. The Sentinel is allowing us to reprint the columns on this site after they first appear in the newspaper. This column appeared on Page 4 of the Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2012, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel.)

GARDENING IN SITKA

By Lori Adams

EVERYTHING I’VE LEARNED ABOUT GROWING TURNIPS

I have been growing turnips the last couple of years for the greens, but have never had any luck growing them for the bulbs.

This year I was able to actually harvest some large bulbs and they were really delicious. They taste like a cross between a kohlrabi and a radish. It turns out that they are relatively easy to grow, so from now on I am going to make more room in my garden for turnips.

To prep the bed for growing turnips be sure not over-fertilize with nitrogen. Turnips are a root crop and root crops like loose soil amended with organic material, sand, bonemeal and plenty of lime (seashell sand) to keep them from being bitter. Plant the seeds directly outside in the soil with about 4-inch spacing.

If you want a lot of tops you can plant the seeds closer, and then when they are big enough to eat you can simply thin the crop by pulling every other plant completely out of the ground. After planting the seeds be sure to cover the entire area with row cover. All of the local pests seem to like turnips and it is not uncommon to pull one and find it riddled with holes and bite marks. Row cover and crop rotation can really help minimize pest damage.

At harvest time most of the turnips bulbs will be pushing their tops up out of the soil, so you will be able to see how big they are. Pull them when they still tender — about 3 inches in diameter. If they get too large they can become quite woody and fibrous. You can eat them raw or cooked and it is not necessary to peel them. The greens are ready to eat at any time and you can pull the entire plants or clip off the leaves leaving the roots to grow more leaves for a later harvest.

One of the reasons I am enthused about growing more turnips next year is because they are ready to harvest so early in the season, when there are mostly just greens to eat and no poundage crops. I had always considered them a fall crop, so I was surprised to have them mature so early. It might even be possible to sow multiple plantings each season.

Although it sounds so easy to grow turnips it took a lot of years for me to be successful at it. I think the biggest mistakes I made in the past were planting them too close together and adding too much nitrogen. If there is one thing I’ve learned about gardening in Sitka it’s to never give up. Keep trying and eventually you will probably succeed.

Brought to you by Down-To-Earth U-Pick Garden

2103 Sawmill Creek Road

Open June-August / Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

747-6108 or 738-2241

http://downtoearthupick.blogspot.com/

• Sitka Local Foods Network contracting for 2010 St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm lead gardener

Darby Osborne, Doug Osborne, Kerry MacLane and Maybelle Filler pick radishes at St. Peter's Fellowship Farm before the first Sitka Farmers Market in 2008

Darby Osborne, Doug Osborne, Kerry MacLane and Maybelle Filler pick radishes at St. Peter's Fellowship Farm before the first Sitka Farmers Market in 2008

The Sitka Local Foods Network is contracting for a lead gardener to help manage our activities at the St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm community garden this summer. St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm (SPFF) is growing, and we’re adding new garden beds so we can grow more crops. The vegetables grown at SPFF are sold at the Sitka Farmers Market to help support the efforts of the Sitka Local Foods Network, with some crops also going to local church and charity groups. Here is the lead gardener contract description.

St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm 2010 Lead Gardener Contract Description

Work Experience: 2-3 years of varied vegetable gardening experience, preferably with at least one year in Southeast Alaska. This includes planning, cultivating, harvesting, composting and preparing vegetables for sale or preservation, as well as putting the garden to rest for the season.

Contract Requirements:

  • Develop a garden plan that includes succession planting in conjunction with the SPFF tri-coordinators (board members Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Doug Osborne and Maybelle Filler)
  • Conduct soil testing and amend the soil to improve soil quality using available resources (i.e., seaweed, bone meal, etc) in conjunction with the SPFF tri-coordinators and volunteer work parties
  • Cultivate plant starts using seeds provided by the SLFN and make recommendations for SPFF seed start kits to be distributed at the Let’s Grow Sitka event on March 14, 2010
  • Use organic gardening practices
  • Host 3 initial planting parties (from 2-4:30 p.m. on three Saturdays, May 15, May 22 and May 29) i.e., coordinate with the SPFF tri-coordinators to plan and direct work
  • Direct 75 percent of the garden work parties, i.e., these are tentatively scheduled for Wednesdays 4:30-6 p.m. and Saturdays 2-3:30 p.m. (on non-Sitka Farmers Market Saturdays) during the months of June, July and August, plus the first half of September, but can be negotiated.
  • Plan and oversee the harvest of the garden for the first five 2010 Sitka Farmers Markets (harvest usually takes place early on market-day mornings, July 17, July 31, August 14, August 28 and September 4)
  • Develop a method for quantifying the amount of vegetables harvested from SPFF and implement it
  • Maintain the composting and watering systems
  • Direct any questions or concerns to the SPFF tri-coordinators

Compensation: A total of $1,500 paid in three installments (May 15, July 15 and September 15) plus 5 percent of the SPFF harvest – this compensation schedule is open for negotiation.

If interested in the SPFF lead gardener contract, e-mail a resume that includes two local references that can speak to your gardening ability and a letter of interest by February 20th to 3akharts@acsalaska.net. Direct questions to Lisa Sadleir-Hart at 747-5985 or Doug Osborne at 747-3752.

• Mike Wise of Raven’s Peek Roasters/Sailor’s Choice Coffee wins Table of the Day Award from fifth Sitka Farmers Market

Mike Wise, center, of Raven's Peek Roasters and Sailor's Choice Coffee receives the Table of the Day Award from Kerry MacLane, left, and Linda Wilson, right, during the fifth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2009 summer on Sept. 12.

Mike Wise, center, of Raven's Peek Roasters and Sailor's Choice Coffee receives the Table of the Day Award from Kerry MacLane, left, and Linda Wilson, right, during the fifth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2009 summer on Sept. 12.

Mike Wise of Raven’s Peek Roasters and Sailor’s Choice Coffee won the “Table of the Day Award” for the fifth and final Sitka Farmers Market of the 2009 summer on Sept. 12. Mike and his wife, Dr. Marilyn Coruzzi, have had a table at all five markets in 2009 and all three markets in 2008.

The Sitka Local Foods Network selected the table — which featured a variety of locally ground coffee and locally roasted nuts — to receive the $25 cash prize, an Alaska Farmers Market Association tote bag and a certificate of appreciation. A similar prize package was awarded to a deserving vendor at each of the five Sitka Farmers Markets this summer.

This was the last Sitka Farmers Market of the 2009 summer, but the Sitka Local Foods Network will be around all year with other events. The next Sitka Local Foods Network event is the 15th annual Running of the Boots at 11 a.m. (register at 10 a.m.) on Saturday, Sept., 26, at the Crescent Harbor shelter. Proceeds from the Running of the Boots support Sitka Local Foods Network projects. Click this link for more information.

Also, a new photo gallery from the fifth Sitka Farmers Market on Sept. 12 has been posted on Shutterfly (an online photo-sharing site). Click this link to check out the photos.

Black cod on the grill from the Alaska Longline Fisherman's Association

Black cod on the grill from the Alaska Longline Fisherman's Association

Keith Greba and his art

Keith Greba and his art

Lisa Bykonen and her knitted hats

Lisa Bykonen and her knitted hats

Natalie Sattler, left, holds parsnips, while Lisa Sadleir-Hart, center, and Doug Osborne, right, hold turnips for sale at the Sitka Local Foods Network booth

Natalie Sattler, left, holds parsnips, while Lisa Sadleir-Hart, center, and Doug Osborne, right, hold turnips for sale at the Sitka Local Foods Network booth