Saturday, March 11, 2017

1887 - The Seven-top Turnip, #3 of Root's Bee Plants

traditional green down south, the Seven Top Turnip was, and is, appreciated by many people as a sign of spring and a good meal.

The following description is from A. I. Root's 1887 seed catalog's bee plant section:

Seven-Top Turnip. 

This plant, although not equal to the spider plant and Simpson honey plant, is entitled to a place next to them, because it bears its crop of honey in the spring, between fruit blossoms and clover. It should be sown in Aug. and Sept. It bears no root like the ordinary turnip, but only foliage that is used for greens. 

Price of seed. 10c per oz., or 50c. per lb. If wanted by mail, 18 c. per lb. extra.

From A. I. Root himself the following praise for the Seven Top Turnip.

TURNIP. The turnip, mustard, cabbage, rape, etc., are all members of one family, and, if I am correct, all bear honey, when circumstances are favorable. The great enemy of most of these in our locality (especially of the rape), is the little black cabbage flea. The turnip escapes this pest, by being sown in the fall, and were it not that it comes in bloom at almost the same time when the fruit trees do, I should consider it one of the most promising honey plants.

In the summer of 1877, Mr. A. W. Kaye, of Pewee Valley, Ky., sent me. some seed of what is called the "Seven-Top Turnip," saying that his bees had gathered more pollen from it, in the spring, than from anything else.  I sowed the seed about the 1st of Oct., on ground where early potatoes had been harvested.  In Dec, they showed a luxuriance of beautiful green foliage, and in May, following, a sea of yellow blossoms, making the prettiest "posy bed," I believe, that I ever saw in my life, and the music of the bees humming among the branches was just "entrancing," to one who has an ear for such music. I never saw so many bees on any patch of blossoms of its size in my life, as could be seen on them from daylight until dark.

Friend K. recommended the plant particularly for pollen, but, besides this, I am inclined to think it will give more honey to the acre than anything that has heretofore come under my notice. We have much trouble here in raising rape and mustard, with the small turnip beetle or flea, but this turnip patch has never been touched; whether it is on account of sowing so late in the fall or because the flea does not fancy it, I am unable to say. The plants seem very hardy, and the foliage is most luxuriant, much more so than either the rape or Chinese mustard, which latter plant it much resembles, only having larger blossoms. As our patch was sown after the first of Oct., and the crop could easily be cleared from our land by the middle of June, a crop of honey could be secured without interfering with the use of the land for other purposes.

Friend K. also recommends the foliage for "greens," and says that he sows it in his garden for spring and winter use. We tried a mess of greens from our patch, in Dec, and found them excellent. Our seed was sown very thickly, in drills about one foot apart. This turnip bears only tops, and has no enlargement of the root.
If I could get a ten-acre lot covered with such bloom during the month of August, I should not hesitate an instant to hand over the money for the necessary expenses. If we cannot get the blossoms in August, we can certainly have an abundant supply between fruit bloom and clover.

Turnip flowers

In 1909, Gleanings had this to say about the Seven Top, their enthusiasm not having flagged in two decades.
...If you have had no experience in the way of green manuring, just try a little plot in your garden first; and while I am about it there is still another plant—one that will stand thewinter more surely than any thing else I know of unless it is rye—the seven-top turnip that we have advertised in our seed catalog for so many years. 
This plant does not make a turnip at all. It is grown simply for the top for feed, and for turning under, for bees and for seed.
We see by the Columbia State (South Carolina) that our old friend J. D. Fooshe, of Coronaca, S. C, has, during the past season, sold 9000 lbs. of this seven-top-turnip seed. Some of the older readers of Gleanings will remember friend Fooshe as one of the pioneers in queen-breeding. He has furnished The A. I. Root Co. queens for more than thirty years, and we have never had a complaint of them, and we do not know that he has ever complained of us. 
I wish he would tell us about now much honey he got from his seven-top turnip in growing that 9000 lbs. of seed, and any thing else he may have to suggest from his long experience in growing seven-top turnip.

I have nothing to do with these companies. I just thought you might want to see what they have to say and have to offer.  Many more on Google...

Annie's Heirloom Seeds
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  • Seven Top (Foliage Turnip, Southern Prize) Turnip Greens 3 g ... › Vegetables › Turnips
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    Turnips. Brassica rapa. Please refer to our Turnip Growing Guide for cultural information. Packet: 3g (approximately 1350 seeds) sows 68' ...