DCGP’s 2019 Vegetable of the Year: Rutabaga

DCGP’s 2019 Vegetable of the Year: Rutabaga


Dig into Duluth Community Garden Program’s
2019 Vegetable of the Year: the Rutabaga! The Duluth Community Garden Program started
the one vegetable, one community initiative in 2011 to rally the community around growing
and eating a featured vegetable each year. Vegetables that are selected: one, grow well
in Duluth’s climate; two, store well given our limited growing season; three, educate
the public; four, expand knowledge about lesser known vegetables; and five, increase food
access and healthy eating. It’s a great way to educate our community about the different
types of vegetables, grow them, harvest them, and eat together. The rutabaga is a root vegetable
in the brassica family cultivated for its fleshy roots and edible leaves. The rutabaga
originated in Sweden. Other vegetables in the plant family include: bok choy, brown
mustard, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, and turnip. Rutabaga
is a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. Rutabagas are a great source of vitamin C
for keeping you healthy. One rutabaga contains as much vitamin C as two oranges. Rutabagas
contain lots of calcium for strong bones. In fact, one rutabaga contains as much calcium
as 3/4 cup of milk! Rutabagas are rich in beta keratine, which the body converts into
vitamin A for good vision and strong bones. When you roast rutabaga with a little oil
or butter it brings out the natural sugars. This one tastes kinda sweet. It has a little
bit of sweetness to it? Mhmmm tastes like sweet potato. Oh I like it! I like the cooked one better! Tell me again? It tastes like sweet potato? Let me taste this one! Do you sometimes roast sweet potatoes? Yeah. This one sort of tastes like cabbage. This one tastes like
cabbage and the cooked one tastes like sweet potato! It does! It tastes like sweet potato
but a little bit more roasted. Growing information: First, fill the peat pot with soil half way
full. Second step, make one hole 3/8 of an inch (the length of a fingernail) one side
of the pot and another hole the same depth on the other side of the pot. Third step,
put one seed in each hole. Fourth step, gently cover the holes. Fifth step, lightly sprinkle
with water. Sixth step, place the pots under grow lights or a southern facing windowsill
with lots of light. Seventh step, peat pots dry out quickly. You will want to keep the
soil moist but not over saturated with water. Sprinkle lightly with water or mist with a
spray bottle once a day until the seed starts to sprout. Eighth step, you planted two seeds
to ensure one sprout. If both seeds start to sprout, pinch off the top of one of the
plants. This will make sure you have enough room in the small peat pot for one plant to
mature. As the seedlings grows, you can add a little more soil until just the leaves are
emerging from the soil. Ninth step, lightly water the seedling once every other day as
the soil needs. Again, the soil should be moist but not over saturated with water. Rutabaga
seeds are tiny, just wee little pellets. After starting your rutabaga seeds within 3-4 days
of planting you should have little sprouts. Keep the plant inside until the end of May
or early June. You can then transplant them directly into a large pot outside, raised bed, or directly
into the ground. It’s best not to take the plant out of the peat pot. Simply dig a hole
deep and wide enough to fully bury the peat pot (about 3 inches deep by 3 inches wide)
so that only the leaves are peaking out when covered up with soil. The peat pot will naturally
break down and decompose as the plant continues to grow. This helps keeps the roots intact
as rutabagas are sensitive to transplanting. When transplanting your plant will most likely
be larger than what is shown on the video but this provides a good visual demo of digging
a hole and burying the peat pot into the ground. Rutabaga is a slow growing, cool weather crop
that takes about 90-100 days until harvest. It is best to harvest the bulbs when they
are 4-5 inches in diameter. Large bulbs tend to get tough. Rutabagas are sweetened by a
little frost. To harvest rutabaga, carefully dig and loosen the soil around the bulb and
pull out the bulb. To store, trim the greens one inch from the top and brush off excess
soil. Rutabaga keeps up to 4 weeks in the fridge but avoid getting them very wet until
you are ready to clean and use as this can lead to mildew and rotting.