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Garden in the City: The Great Turnip Massacre

By Patty Wetli | September 24, 2013 8:17am
 You tell me, which is the turnip?
You tell me, which is the turnip?
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DNAinfo/Patty Wetli

LINCOLN SQUARE — That sound you hear is the high-pitched scream of dozens of innocent seedlings being savagely slaughtered by an idiot gardener who couldn't tell the difference between a weed and a turnip.

Charged with murder, I had no choice but to plead guilty with a capital "G."

In my defense, it's not like I set out to kill a bunch of turnips. I went over to my plot last Friday with the sole intention of harvesting some carrots and chard and checking on the progress of my seeds.

Less than a week after planting, I was surprised to see peas and beans already poking their heads through the soil. So were a fair number of weeds, encouraged, I presumed, by the recent rains.

I plucked a few blades of what looked like budding grass and then noticed that some clover had also sprouted.

I've been battling clover all summer in my flower beds, where it's managed to spread prolifically in areas that have otherwise eluded my green thumb. I might as well just cry "uncle" and call the stuff ground cover.

But clover was a newcomer to my vegetable plot — a fact I again attributed to the recent rains, which, I reasoned, had provided enough dampness for all manner of vegetation to thrive.

And yes, Your Honor, it did strike me as odd that the clover appeared to be confined to a handful of newly-seeded squares where I was attempting to grow either turnips or spinach — I couldn't remember which I had planted where.

And yes, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I did notice that the "clover" was growing in neat little rows, spread an inch or so apart. I admit, I found that curious, but clover has proven itself quite clever.

I yanked one clump and was reaching to uproot another cluster when my brain finally processed the above data. Perhaps not clover? Possibly turnips?

Not clover. Turnips.

It's a weak excuse, I know — ignorance and stupidity — but it's all I've got.