Rutabaga, American Purple Top

  Rutabaga, American Purple Top

Organic. Heirloom. Rutabagas were the standard root crop in Europe before the potato arrived on the scene in the 16th century.  American Purple Top Rutabaga has been around since the 1920s.  It produces huge yellow roots 4-6" in diameter that are globe shaped with purple shoulders.  The flesh is yellow, sweet and finely grained.  It turns orange when cooked.  Rutabagas like cool weather and grow best in well-worked, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Add aged compost to planting beds in advance of sowing. Remove soil lumps and rocks which could cause roots to split or become malformed. Add aged compost to planting beds before planting and as a side dressing at midseason. Rutabagas prefer a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.5. This variety is now the standard market variety in the United States. The skin is a buff to light yellow color with purple tops. The flesh is firm and fine grained. It was introduced sometime before 1920 as an improved strain of 'Purple Top Yellow'. 

Planting Rutabaga, American Purple Top

While starting seeds of the Rutabaga, American Purple Top is not necessarily difficult; the right conditions will make the process successful. Sow Rutabaga, American Purple Top seeds directly in the ground in the spring when the threat of frost has passed or start in containers several weeks before transplanting into soil. Keep the ground moist but not wet for the first couple of weeks. Pick a sunny, well-drained spot for planting for the best performance. Prefers a well-drained fertile soil in a sunny position. 

Height: 12-24”

Spacing between Rows—12-18”   Days to harvest—90 Days

Spacing: -2-4" inches Depth: 1/4  inch Germination: 10-15 days

Starting from Seed Indoors

Generally, the time to start your seeds is about 2- 3 weeks before the last expected spring frost date in your area, planting the seedlings outdoors about 2 weeks after that date. Another way to figure is to plan on setting out sturdy seedlings in the garden when night temperatures stay in the mid-50 degree range both day and night. Count back and sow seeds 2 to 3 weeks before that date normally arrives. Place a few seeds (5 to 6) into each pot and push them into the soil with your finger. Cover the seeds to a depth of approximately 1/4 inches of the potting mix. Mist each  pot with water until the soil appears moist. Place the pots in an area which will provide both light (which is required for germination) and heat, preferably about 65 to 70 degrees F and at least 8 hours of light each day. Check on the seeds every day and keep the seeds damp but not drenched by misting with your plant mister. You should see sprouting in about 10 to 15 days. Once your seedlings have reached about 2 to 3 inches in height, choose an area in your garden to transfer them. You can also use containers like barrels or clay pots. Dig holes twice the width and depth of each of your pots. Fill up each hole with water then let it drain off. Place a pot in the hole center and level so that your seedling is at the same level as the surrounding soil. Push dirt in carefully all the way to fill the hole back up. Water each seedling carefully so as not to soak the leaves or stem.

Direct-seeding into the Garden

Turn over the area you've selected to a depth of approximately 2 inches. Rake the area until it's level and smooth. Water the area until the soil is damp but not saturated. Scatter the seeds in the area. Gently rake the area to distribute the seeds further and protect them from birds. Or, press the seeds into the soil and cover with no more than 1/4 inches of soil. You can also place 2 to 3 seeds every 3 to 4 inches in rows approximately 2-4 inches apart, and cover seeds with 1/4 inches of soil. Place planting stakes around the area so you will know where to water. Check on your seeds about once a day. Make sure to mist the soil whenever it appears dry. Germination for Rutabaga, American Purple Top plants is approximately 10 to 15 days, depending on the warmth of the soil.  Many gardeners plant these in rows with slight hills.

Germination Problems

Growing plants from seeds successfully depends on a lot of factors and this makes it impossible to guarantee success on every batch of seeds planted.  Factors include, soil composition, PH, temperature, moisture levels, seed depth, soil density, seed viability, seed storage and many others.  We tested the germination of all our seeds and this seed variety is around 80%, but your results may vary based on exactly how you plant and all the environmental factors.  Good luck.