Gardening > Grow Your Own... Swede

Grow Your Own... Swede

A member of the brassica family, once used as winter cattle fodder, swede does not enjoy a great culinary reputation. It is, however, a useful vegetable that stores well and if cooked properly can be quite delicious. One of the great advantages of swede is that it can be left in the soil over winter and dug up as needed.

Swede likes a non-acid, firm, well-drained soil which should be dug over in the autumn before sowing. Choose a sunny position and before sowing the swede seeds firm the soil well and then rake over the top surface.

Sow the seeds in drills about 18 inches apart. The seeds should be put it half an inch deep and sown very thinly.

As soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle thin them to 12 inches apart.

Hoe carefully around the swedes to keep the weeds down and water if the water is dry. A mulch around the plants can help to keep the soil moist.

Harvest from early autumn onwards or from when the swedes are large enough to use. Swede can be left in the soil throughout the winter and lifted as needed. Some gardeners prefer to lift the whole crop after the first frost and store the swedes in boxes of moist peat.

Problems with Swede

Soft Rot

Symptoms: The leaves of the swede shrivel. The swede rots from the stalk down into the heart of the vegetable. 
Action: Destroy any affected swedes.
Prevention: Make sure the site is well-drained and do not damage swede roots when hoeing. Do not over-manure. Rotate crops.

Turnip Mosaic Virus

Symptoms: Dark green raised spots on leaves.
Action: Destrot affected plants.
Prevention: This disease can be carried by greenfly, so treat any infestation quickly.

Cabbage White Caterpillars

Symptoms: Swede leaves are eaten away or “skeletonised”. The swedes are distorted and inedible.
Action: Remove caterpillars immediately.
Prevention: Use fine netting to prevent butterflies laying eggs on leaves.