As you can see from the photo, these turnips are not nearly so large as the ones Anna was talking about. They are the same variety, just smaller. As you may imagine, there is a reason for the difference in size.
While I have no idea how the larger ones were grown, I can point out a few reasons why these, which grew in my garden, are so small. First of all, I must say that the soil needs amended with compost and/or manure to offset the heavy clay in this part of my garden. Add to this, the fact that they were planted much later than I would ordinarily recommend (late September instead of mid August), and you start to see the picture. They were also planted very thick in the row, and never thinned. By very thick, I mean there may have been 1/4 inch or less between them, with the intention of thinning them to 4 - 6 inches apart when they were up and growing. I didn't get around to pulling dirt up around them either.
Had they been planted a bit earlier, in richer soil, thinned properly and dirt pulled up around them, this picture may have been a bit different. Honestly, when the first hard freeze hit and killed everything else in the garden, I wrote the whole thing off as a lost cause and went about other business. My mistake! As you can see, they made turnips in spite of the extreme lack of attention. I can also point out that even through the recent cold weather, the tops are still great for greens and the turnip below is as solid and tasty as I have seen.
Now to my real point for writing this post. I truly believe turnips are getting a bad rap. In reality, they are not only nutritious and delicious but quite easy to grow. As an example, if they will make even such small turnips in such poor soil, and with no care whatsoever, think what they will do with even a little work. And to top it off, they are a great food source for farm animals. Not many things in the garden can boast such qualities and still stay in the garden until we are ready to use them.
Next time you are thinking of planting a versatile, easy care fall crop in the garden, keep the lowly turnip in mind. You won't regret it.