The humble swede, (also known as the Swedish turnip), probably doesn’t justify a place in a small garden, and some would say it is always best grown in a field anyway, but if you have room then this extremely hardy veg grows well in cool moist climates like ours here in Devon, and is the perfect winter crop.
Last year, we trialled 14 different varieties of swede at RHS Garden Rosemoor, as part of the on-going trials programme which the RHS conducts on a wide variety of plants, with a view to awarding the coveted title of AGM (Award of Garden Merit).
At the beginning of June two rows of each variety were sown, with 16 inches (40cm) between rows and 8 inches (20cm) spacing within the row. Three seeds were sown at each station, which was singled down to the strongest seedling once they had germinated. The whole trial was covered with fine mesh after sowing to protect from cabbage root fly. If you have noticed in recent years, fields covered in rows of white sheeting, then they are probably swedes, similarly protected, due to the withdrawing of the chemical used to control cabbage root fly.
The judging criteria included taste, disease resistance, yield, earliness, uniformity, size, shape, skin and flesh colour and storage qualities. In late October, we recorded observations whilst going through the crop and removing rotten and dying swedes. ‘Best of all’ probably fared worst of all, as there were very few of this variety left in the ground. Several varieties were variable in size, including ‘Invitaion’, ‘Tweed’ and ‘Tyne’, but overall they produced a good healthy crop. Others such as ‘Brora’, ‘Helenor’, ‘Virtue’, and ‘Marian’ produced, good consistent crops.
Two varieties were given an AGM; ‘Gowrie’ and ‘Virtue’. AGMs were confirmed for ‘Brora’ and ‘Magres’.
You can see the preliminary findings (prior to the publication of the full trial report) here.
Further details of RHS swede trials( including this latest one) can be found here.
Find out more about all our plant trials .