The secret of a vegetable much scorned in history is one worthy of revealing in terms of it being synonymous with the word viable, and that plant food is none other than the humble Turnip.

Prior to 1730 this might not have held much sway, other than that the Turnip belongs to the family of the radish! But with the arrival of the Agricultural Revolution in England at the end of the C17th, and a man named Jethro Tull (1674 – 1714) who invented the seed drill, the Turnip gave new meaning both to the famous radish, as well as to the viability of seeding the land, and the longevity therefore of livestock in British farming.

The Turnip is an ancient root crop high in Vitamin C and A as well as K and Calcium. It was grown in India long before God entered our world through Christ his only son, but mainly for its production of oil-bearing seeds. By the time the Romans had established their empire it had proved its worth as a staple crop, and in such abundance that it had also become useful as a weapon, to be thrown at unpopular people! Indeed later on the nickname of ‘Turnip’ was awarded to the ‘unpopular’ new King of England, and he was the first Hanoverian George I, who had earned this honour through his reputation for being obtuse. But in reality George was better for Britain than many of his predecessors, bringing in a new golden age with his crowning, largely founded on the viability of the Turnip no less.

The seed drill that was introduced in 1700 by Jethro Tull economically sowed the seeds of this new world, which would be planted into neat long rows for the first time, instead of being scattered to the winds of chance by the labourers hand. Tull’s device would then cover the newly sown seeds lightly with a layer of soil, leaving them ready to grow and change the face of farming, as this viable crop would now sustain the lives of future generations in way that had not previously been thought possible, as the turnip had other advantages too; it could sustain livestock throughout the winter months that had formerly been destroyed owing to the inevitability of starvation during this most bitter of seasons. During the C18th the Turnip was therefore grown in abundance, along with the economy that grew alongside it, and thus the population of Britain expanded creating eventually a worldwide empire fuelled by its success. As such the Turnip could therefore perhaps be considered as worthy of celebrating, and must surely be acknowledged as a euphemism for the word viable itself.DSC_3820



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