Organic Pest & Disease Control

19 Affordable Turnip Companion Plants

What can I plant with turnips? Cold weather crops like broccoli and cabbage can be planted next to turnips. Herbs like parsley, mint and thyme are also good choices in mid-summer. Depending on what type of pests or diseases you struggle with, read this post to find possible solutions.

Some gardeners say that you can plant turnips as a trap crop meaning that the turnips are planted to be sacrificed so that other vegetables aren’t as affected. Turnips are a great alternative to potatoes in meals because they have less starch and they store well. I grow turnips to support a healthier diet.

Turnips have a shorter growing time than other vegetables so they are great for succession planting. Depending on when you want to start growing your turnips, this blog post will make it easy for you to figure out the best companion plants to put in the ground this year.

Table of Contents

Turnip Companion Plants for Early Spring Planting

Most garden books recommend that you sow your turnip seeds directly in the soil 3 weeks before the last frost date and that the soil should be at least 40°F. Keep in mind that turnips grow underneath the ground so if you are in a colder region like me in Zone 6, you want to make sure your soil is easy to squeeze into a loose ball in your hand and the spot you choose is in a sunny location. Make sure to pull out any rocks you find because rocks can alter the shape of the turnips.

According to my seed packet, it says that turnips germinate 7-14 days but I find that it takes a little longer when I sow the seeds early spring due to the colder temperatures.

There are pests like aphids and diseases that can affect how good or bad this year’s harvest will be. Companion planting can increase your chances of success especially if you embrace organic gardening. If you are planning on sowing your seeds this spring, read about what to plant with your turnips.

Infographic of 9 plants that grow well with turnips

Does broccoli grow well with turnips?

Broccoli is a heavy feeder meaning that it needs a lot of nutrients to produce a crop. Turnips are lighter feeders so they won’t compete as much with broccoli for nutrients which is good for the broccoli.

The turnips have a danger of being a trap crop meaning they will get the brunt of the pests. If you need to plant them together, remember to diversify your plantings with other companion plants that can deter specific pests that are attacking your turnips.

Does cabbage grow well with turnips?

Similar to broccoli, this is a one sided relationship where turnips light feeding requirements make it possible to grow together. Again, you’ll want to take note of pests or diseases in your environment to figure out companion plants that will also protect your turnips.

How well does celery grow with turnips?

Just like broccoli and cabbage, celery likes the similar growing conditions. It’s also a heavy feeder so the same advice would apply.

How do chives help turnips?

Chives can repel aphids so it’s a nice turnip companion plant. I always plant chives around my lettuce for early spring planting. The only reason I don’t plant them in my main garden is because I rotate my crops every year. Chives are a perennial in my Zone 6 garden, so I would have to dig them up. If you have chives in planters, you can place your planters around your turnip plants during their growing time.

Garlic repels aphids

This has also been my experience when growing garlic but for only for a short distance. I’ve had aphids attack my turnip seed pods within six feet of my garlic. So if you tend to have aphid infestations in your garden, planting garlic right next to your turnips will be more effective than having a crop planted in between.

Can I grow Kale with turnips?

Kale belongs to the Brassicas family along with broccoli and cabbage. It’s also needs a lot of Nitrogen to thrive which doesn’t compete with turnips. Check out the broccoli paragraph to apply the same principals.

Mint’s strong scent turns some pests off

Not everyone loves the refreshing scent of mint especially flea beetles which is a pest that can harm turnips. Mint can spread through your garden like wild fire to places you may not want them in as a companion plant. If you want to leverage their fragrance but keep them under control, consider planting them in a container and place it in a spot close to your turnips. This also allows you to move your container when you rotate your turnips from year to year.

How do onions help turnips?

When you compost onion skins, it adds Potassium and Calcium into the soil. Turnips love Potassium so this is beneficial to them. Onions can also grow along side turnips.

Radishes scare away pests

Planting radishes near turnips helps keep away cucumber beetles, squash bugs, squash vine borers and aphids. However, they can attract cabbage maggots. Mint, marigold and thyme can be incorporated to deter cabbage maggots.

Turnip Companion Plants for Mid-Summer Planting

Many gardening books recommend planting turnip seeds approximately 2 months before the first frost date in your zone. I find that when sow my seeds mid-summer, they germinate a lot faster with the heat. If this is the second round of turnip seeds your are planting for the year, you may benefit from planting them in a different spot in your garden.

Tip: Don’t let our turnip beds dry out in the summer because your turnips won’t taste as sweet. They don’t need manure. Using compost to amend the soil so it isn’t compact along with adding wood ash.

Top 10 Turnip Companion Plants for mid-summer planting.
Infographic of 10 plants that grow well with turnips in mid-summer.

Calendula attracts Hover flies

Often mistaken for marigolds, Calendula is a also great companion plant to turnips because it attracts an efficient predator of aphids. The Hover fly is attracted to the blooms and devours aphids so sow turnip seeds close to your Calendula so the Hover fly can find aphids quickly before they become a problem.

Catmint repels flea beetles

Catmint is a nice perennial to have in your garden but has a tendency to spread quickly. If you prefer to use catmint instead of mint to deter flea beetles, you can also plant it in a planter or find a way to contain it. A planter will give you the flexibility to move it around as you rotate where you plant your turnips.

Parsley and Hungarian Parsley help deter worms

Parsley is easy to find in garden centers. Hungarian parsley can be purchased by seed. Both have flowers that will attract predators that eat cabbage worms and cut worms. I enjoy growing Hungarian Parsley because it’s a biennial in my Zone 6 garden which saves me time and money.

Lavender deters bunnies

Not everyone loves the scent of lavender. I know, hard to believe, right? Both wild and domestic rabbits love tender turnip greens. This is especially important to consider if you want to saute your turnip greens along with harvesting the root vegetable.

You could plant your turnips in a raised bed high off the ground or put a fence around. If that isn’t an option, consider planting lavender or growing one in a planter then placing it next to your turnips.

Do marigolds keep bugs away?

Marigolds can be a turn off for some insects that can harm your other vegetable plants like squash bugs. The benefit of marigolds are more about the beneficial insects they attract to your garden like ladybugs and lacewings that love eating aphids. Cabbage aphids like to chomp on turnip greens and in my own garden I had black aphids attacking my turnip seed heads.

Are nasturtiums good companion plants?

Nasturtium is an all around fantastic plant from being edible to attracting pollinators and to growing well with other vegetable plants in full sun. Many other posts will say it’s fine to plant Nasturtium with turnips but I prefer to draw pests as far as possible. Whenever I plant my Nasturtium plants away from my main garden, the aphids are drawn to them and far away from my other plants. Even if you don’t eat Nasturtium, it’s worth growing as a trap crop.

Do peas grow well with turnips?

Whether it’s sugar peas or snap peas, they are a nice neighbor to turnips because they like similar growing conditions. One outstanding thing I love about growing peas is the growing time is fast. This makes them ideal for succession planting and getting the most of yield for a smaller space.

Green beans help improve the soil but not for turnips

Also called pole beans, these plants add Nitrogen back into the soil which is great for other plants. Turnips prefer Potassium and Phosphorus so if you are growing green beans consider adding bone meal or wood ashes to the area where you’re planting turnips. We have so much wood from fallen trees and branches so it’s easier to use wood ashes.

It sounds counter-intuitive but I have had success with growing green beans next to my turnips as you can see in this photo.

From the left I have snow peas, green beans in the middle and my turnips to the far right.

Rosemary’s scent helps repel pests

When rosemary is planted next to vegetables in the Brassicas family which includes turnips, it’s mint like scent is a turn off for cabbage moths and caterpillars. Because it’s so strong, the cabbage moths don’t smell the turnips or broccoli that is growing next to it.

Thyme repels the cabbage White fly

Thyme’s flavor and scent makes it a “go to” herb to use in the kitchen but white flies don’t like it. When your thyme blooms in the spring, it attracts the Hover fly which feasts on aphids. People think of ladybugs as an aphid hunter but the speed of Hover flies makes it an efficient predator of aphids.

Vetch can get a little hairy in the garden and not an ideal choice

Hairy Vetch can become pretty invasive and once established, it’s a lot of work to weed out. I suppose you can let it grow nearby where it won’t choke out your turnip plants or use it as a cover crop. I see Vetch listed online as a companion plant for turnips and it’s invasive nature is one big reason I wouldn’t choose it.

Vetch can attract predatory insects to feed on pests that could bother your turnips but it adds Nitrogen to your soil. Remember turnips prefer Phosphorus and Potassium so you’ll want to amend it to make it ideal for growing turnips.

For those reasons, I think there are better choices than Hairy Vetch as a turnip companion plant.

  • Tip: Rodents digging in the ground can disrupt young turnips since they grow underground. If voles or other underground rodents are common in your garden, consider planting your turnips in a raised bed or put fencing that grows underground around the perimeter of the garden.

Summary

There are a lot of choices of growing companion plants in early spring and mid-summer. If you’re a new gardener, this can become very overwhelming.

When planning your garden and planting turnips for the first time, think about what types of pests and diseases have attacked other plants in your garden. Read the post to find which plants are most effective for the challenges you have in your yard.

Hand draw your plans or use Microsoft Word to create a visual plan. Make sure companion plants that don’t get along aren’t next to each other. For example, peas and garlic are good companion plants but they don’t like being next to each other.

Once you have your plan and see how well it works, it will make it easy to repeat the process in the future.