Before we start, I must just say that this section isn’t actually written by Baldrick as he can’t actually write. He has however drawn in pictures what he would like to say, and so I have translated his poor excuses for pictures into some sort of understandable form of wordage.
So, what’s this all about? Well, let me tell you it’s everything you wanted to know about gardening. When I say gardening, I do of course mean turnip gardening, as there’s no other sort according to Baldrick. He grows them for everything from footware to laundry baskets (only big turnips will make these). He’s even been known to cook with them. And when I say cook, I mean put in a pot and boiled in pond water.
The first bit:
A turnip is a lovely vegetable that can be used for almost any purpose apart from transport, as the wheels don’t stay on long enough. It can be used as a boat. A turnip grows in the ground and it does not grow on trees. A turnip has two parts, the top part and the bottom part. The bottom part grows in the ground and is very hard and the top bit is very leafy and this is called the leaves, they can used to make nice clothes.
The next bit:
If you want to grow your own turnips you will need the following:
- Turnip seeds
- Ground (preferably soil as concrete doesn’t work the seeds wash away)
- Time (if you don’t have any time plant fully grown turnips)
Plant the seeds half a finger deep, sprinkling the small seeds thinly to an inch apart in the rows. If you are planting a turnip farm, put the rows one foot (size 12) apart. If planting a small patch, use double rows to conserve space in your home garden. Plant the seeds early in the spring and again in the autumn.
While turnips will grow in poor soils, they will grow better in richer garden soils and be less likely to take on a woody texture that tastes very woody. Work the soil (get it to do the shopping and clean the windows) and add compost (cat dung is good). Make sure to remove any large rocks, stones and neighbours. If you followed these instructions correctly, your turnips should start to sprout in about a week. After two weeks, move the seedlings to four to five inches apart. Provide ample water (not Baldrick’s) as the most common cause of woody stems is dry soil and Baldrick’s water. If you are growing turnips just for the leaves (why would you) for use in salads, soups and clothing, provide plenty of fertiliser (dog dung) and a high nitrogen mix (if in doubt fart into a bag. It works for Baldrick). If you are growing them for the roots, avoid a high nitrogen fertiliser that will deter root development. Actually it will kill your turnips.
Harvesting your turnips:
Harvest the turnip leaves for salads as soon as they reach a size large enough to eat or wear. Four to six inches is ideal. After cutting the leaves new ones will grow. You can usually harvest the leaves up to several times.
If you are growing turnips for the roots, begin to pull them up when they get to around golf ball size. Once they reach tennis ball size, the root will become tough and woody. As with most root crops, it is better to pull them while still young and tender. If you are planning on using the turnips for other purposes other than food, leave them to grow really big.
Some people leave their autumn crop in the ground and pick a few as needed well into the winter months. If the root and plant is still growing, they can become too large (which is good if you want to grow a turnip house).
Insects and pests:
When growing turnips do be aware of insects and pests. They include slugs and snails, aphids, beetles and root maggots. Because they grow and are harvested quickly, turnips, large infestations are not often a problem in the home gardens. By the time you spot a problem it is time to harvest. You can however harvest the slugs if you plan to sell them as Charlie Chaplin impersonation kits.
The final bit:
If you have grown your own turnips then why not eat them. Young turnip roots can be eaten raw (as God intended) put in salads or pickled, and the young leaves may be cooked and served. The roots are also cooked and served whole or mashed and are used in stews.
Submit your gardening tips:
If you have any gardening tips that you’d like to give to Baldrick, please post them as a reply below. Remember to write your tip in easy to understand language otherwise he’ll probably balls it up.