Dandelion and Petrowsky turnip fresh from the garden

There is always something to harvest in the garden,as long as the ground isn’t frozen. This time it’s the dandelion and turnips. They made a lovely salad, with a little salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar.

DSCN7536The fresh December salad

When I was younger I could hardly eat dandelion, and only leaves in early spring. My taste have changed, and I am less fond of sweets, and more fond of the bitterness. This summer I discovered that green dandelion leaves picked in mid-July has a nice bitter and nutty flavour. Here in December dandelions taste almost sweet and nutty. The sweet taste has a different and more satisfying character than traditional sugar sweet. The bitter taste satisfies, as can be experienced if you eat traditional dark chocolate (please note that the big companies are starting to make dark chocolate that does not seem to get one to stop eating naturally. Good for their bank account – bad for customers’ BMI)
The root has a similar wonderful flavour. I peel it and slice it thinly.

Dandelion is the ultimate easiest grown vegetable I can think of.
No sowing, it is self sown (weedy).
No weeding, remember, it’s a weed.
No watering, It’s weedy and hard to kill.
Only work involved is reaching to the ground for the harvest.

Turnip Brassica rapa Petrowsky Gulia

The turnips are among the last of the ones I sowed after harvesting the garlics. The most typical, I moved to a bed where they next summer will flower and set seeds. The other large turnips we have eaten during the autumn. Left are the smaller ones, which still grows in the mild December weather we have at the moment.

If we want a spicy taste, we eat them raw with the skin on. For a mild turnip, we draw the skin off with a knife. One of the secrets of turnips 🙂

Petrowsky Gulia is an old Danish strain of an Eastern European cultivar, as I have written about in a previous post:


Turnip (Brassica rapa) Petrowsky “Gulia”
Breeders name: Vangede (P 1948)

NordGen, former Nordisk Genbank, the Nordic countries common gene bank, send seeds to us ordinary people. It’s a bit demanding to find the wanted variety in their database SESTO, but not impossible, and worthwhile. Try clicking on “Cultivars” gives you the full list. Or search by the Latin species name clicking on “Taxons”.

I fell in love with Petrowsky “Gulia”, as it is a Danish breeding line of the tasty turnip Petrowsky. It was created by Ohlsens Enke, and approved in trials 1948 in Vangede, just outside Copenhagen. It was marketed first time in the same year.

In my old J.E.Ohlsens Enke seed catalogue from 1954 I find this turnip:

Petrowsky Vangede P. 1948.

The seeds I received was harvested in 1983, NordGen got them in 1989.
Now I hope to succeed with these old seeds. Fortunately they have been in professional care in the time passed since harvest.

When I gooled “Petrowsky”, I noticed the spelling “Petrowski” gave much more results. I found, that Petrowski was an important crop in Alaska around 1921. (Botanical Abstracts, 1921)

I also found, that Sperli in Germany seems to believe, that Petrowski and Teltower is two names for the same variety – how would that fit with descriptions of the Teltower having a unique taste? I’m sure this in future will mix up the two cultivars. Best thing we can do is to keep good records of what we grow and the source. This can be an quick and unintended way to get rid of old varieties. Thanks to the gene banks, who try to get accurate informations when they invent seeds.

Do I learn more about Petrowski, I intend to add it here, although it isn’t good practice in a blog.

Seeds of turnip (Brassica rapa)

Early december I visited Irkutsk in eastern Siberia. As you may expect, I have brought some seeds back home. I was happily surprised to find an easy accessible and an rich variety of garden seeds in the shops. The turnip seeds I purchased are the former famous ‘Petrovskaja’ and the variety ‘Djetskaja Metja’ (childrens dream), looking to me like ‘Goldball’.

Seeds of pepper (Capsicum annuum)

I hope it’s the earliest varieties I brought home. I’m excited to learn if they are early enough to grow in open ground in my garden. Could it be that just one or two of the peppers or eggplants will be earlier than I seen in other varieties?
Two of the peppers are “housepeppers”, used in Siberia to grow on the window sill. One of those are a F1 hybrid, needing a dehybridizing to be stabilised, if I’m to grow it on in future generations.

Seeds of eggplant (Solanum melongena)

In the shop I didn’t find time to spell my way through all the kyrillic letters. Therefore I had a great laugh, as I later read “Blek Bjuti” on an eggplant seed batch, as I realised it is the wellknown “Black Beauty”. Luckily I also have a white variety, “Vkus Gribov”, translating in to “Taste of Mushroom”. With this name it can hardly be anything but an original russian variety, or at least from one of the neighboring slavic countries.

Ljungdalen turnip Brassica rapa

Earlier posts on turnip

The turnips for seed are now in bloom. It is the swedish heirloom Ljungdalen. One selected turnip didn’t survive the winter, but 15 are blooming. Swedish seedsavers SESAM recommend minimum 5 plants and preferably 20 or more. Ideally I should have a few more plants in bloom, but its allright. If I make a bacth more, before the original seeds get too old, I can quickly have more than 20 plants in all in my genepool. Then I just have to remember mixing the two seed batches, and variety in the genepool is secured.
This variety have two distinct colors of the roots. As I weighted the number of each color according to what I had seen in my garden, to conserve the balance of the two colors, I at the same time ensured a certain plurality in the genes. I believe 15 will be a sufficient number in this case. But I would never go below the minimum of five plants, even if I had more distinct features to balance with.

Did I only have room for 5 plants, I would grow seeds every year, and then in a jar put 50 seeds every year. Over 10 years 500 seeds would have passed the jar and mixed up on the way. A jar of a well mixed genepool. For the first years I would grow out from the original batch, not starting to take seeds from the jar, until more than 20 plant are parenting the jar. Turnip seeds can be expected to last for 10 years.

Why a minimum of five plants?
Most Brassicas, including turnip, are self incompatible. They have a genetic barrier to ensure outbreeding. A single plant can’t pollinate itself or any other plant with the same version of the genetic barrier. Having let’s say two plants in bloom, there’s a high risk the both have the same version, and there will be produced no seeds on either plant. With three plants the risk is much smaller, but still significant. Only with five plants or more is the risk so small that we can ignore it.
In outbreeders we also want the genes to mix well in every generation. It allows a good adaptability in years to come, f.ex. different genes for disease resistance will all be secured for future generations if “the cards are shuffled”.

There’s a lot of tips and tricks to overcome seedsaving in small private gardens 🙂

Ljungdalen. The breeding selection sorted by size.

A few nice turnips was rejected, because of attacks from a smallish slug. They might be especially tasty for slugs, and they are not likely to get through the winter.

Sometimes I have left the turnip Svedjeroe unprotected in open ground. But these Ljungdalen turnips are intended for breeding, so most of them should make it through the winter. I’ve planted them a bit deeper, the neck in the surface of the soil. Then I’ve covered with dry bean tops and covered with a tarp in a steel cage. Now I hope it’s suitable protection. I might have to open the tent in mild periods.

Turnips “dressed up in the winter fashion”

Two hours later came the first snow.
Turnips was covered in last moment.


Turnip ‘Ljungdalen’ is a swedish heirloom.

The genetic variation is immediately seen in the two different colors, yellow and deep purple. In no other turnip have I seen such a deep purple color, and it covers the turnip also in ground. The purple varies a bit in intensity, but are all deep purple. On other varieties I have only noticed purple color above ground.

The were sown out after the garlic harvest, and are now sweet and juicy. I recommend peeling the skin off, otherwise it can be very strong in a brassica manner – there will probably be someone out there who love turnip for just that, but not me 🙂

They take som frost, so they are still in the ground. Eventually I will have to protect them. Also I must remember to reserve all the best for seed breeding – each and every time I go out to harvest!

Turnips follow after garlic

In my crop rotation turnip follow garlic. After garlic there is a lot of nitrogen to draw back to the surface. All kinds of brassicas can do the job, since they have very fast and deep growing roots.
As I’m fond of the juici sweetness of turnips, that’s my first choice. I find the turnips sown after the garlic more sweet and juicy than the springsown.

I also grow a other brassicas after the garlic, this year kale and winter radish.

The turnips in the picture are Ljungdalen, a swedish heirloom. I grow other varieties, including Orange Jelly (thanks to Patrick www.patnsteph.net/weblog ). I hope to harvest seeds from Lungdalen next year.