You read that right! This is a turnip-rutabaga! With the shape of a rutabaga and the white color of a turnip, this root is a rare cross between the two closely related species. Root and greens are tender and sweet- becoming sweeter after exposure to frost.
'Gilfeather' turnip rutabaga is the state vegetable of Vermont and has a rich history. Farmer John Gilfeather began bringing these sweet roots to market in Vermont in the early 1900s. Gilfeather farm is still on Gilfeather road in Wardsboro, Vermont where the current owners still grow 'Gilfeather' each year. Because the crop was so lucrative for John, he never revealed the crops origin. The Friends of the Wardsboro Library believe that he crossed the two species himself- an interspecific hybrid. Read more about the 'Gilfeather' turnip rutabaga here.
How to grow it:
Full to part shade
Sow up to 5 weeks before last spring frost through midsummer. Plant 1/2" deep, thinning to 7" apart. Water well for high quality.
Seed specs: Packet size 2 g, 225 min.
Slow Food ARK OF TASTE Variety:
For it's rich history and cultural significance, this pea has been chosen to board the Slow Food Ark of Taste. The Slow Food Ark of Taste is where "culinary heritage meets biodiversity." Varieties placed on the "ark" are those whose rich history and cultural significance is well documented, yet whose existence is threatened simply by the lack of people growing and perpetuating it. Varieties of crops, like species of plants and animals, can (and do) go extinct from lack of habitat and unfavorable conditions. These varieties deserve preservation not just because they each have a great story, but because the futures of our evolving food crops depend on a rich well of genetic diversity with which they can continually adapt, and be adapted by plant breeders, to thrive in changing conditions. In the case of our food crops, the unfavorable conditions leading to a decrease in diversity are many, but one we can immediately address is the decrease in the number of people growing these crops and saving these seeds.
A small kitchen garden really can change the world!