A Busy Easter Holiday, Mincing And Sowing Parsnips

Hi all, I hope you had a lovely, restful Easter.

My pots of bulbs, courtesy of 'Spalding Bulbs'

My pots of spring bulbs, courtesy of ‘Spalding Bulbs’

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I had fun with my two new gadgets over Easter:

First was the meat mincer (with a sausage making attachment) that I told you about here.  I was disappointed to find that there were no instructions in the box, but I did manage to easily work out how to mince the beef that I had bought, thanks to the pictures on the box.  I am yet to make sausages.

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I wanted to work out if it was cheaper to mince my own beef, rather than buy the ready minced beef.  I spoke to the butcher at Morrisons (as we don’t have a local butcher) and I’ve got to say he was extremely helpful.  He told me that brisket is usually the cheapest cut of meat that can be used for mincing and it is fine to use, however he pointed out that ‘topside’ of beef was actually half price and worked out cheaper  per kg, than the brisket.  So I paid £10.69 for a lovely joint of beef.

The beef was beautiful.  It only had the smallest bit of fat on, which I cut off before I chopped it into chunks.  I then put it through the mincer.

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I must say though, my arm did ache by the end of it, but I managed to get eight bags of mince beef, all weighing 250 grams, which I froze.

I worked out that it would have been cheaper to buy the prepacked ‘value’ minced beef, but it was certainly cheaper than buying prepacked ‘lean minced beef’ and I had the benefit of knowing what is actually in the mince beef we are eating.

I was very pleased with the meat mincer I bought and I will definitely be mincing my own beef from now on.  I will now be looking out for bargain beef joints.

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My 2nd ‘gadget’ is something I have been wanting for a while….a bread slicer.  I have never been very good at slicing my nice homemade bread, which sometime spoils the overall look of it.

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Normally these slicers retail at nearly £90 (which I certainly could never justify), but we were killing time one day a couple of weeks ago and found Debenhams had a half price sale and had reduced it to £40.  They only had one left, which was in an extremely bashed box and my wonderful husband managed to haggle them down to just £35.

This was such a bargain and I am really pleased with it.  It cuts my bread beautifully and I have also sliced ham with it and it cuts it as perfectly as the ready cut ham, that you buy from the supermarket.

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Over Easter I had another jam making session.  This time I made rhubarb jam (my favourite), with rhubarb I still had in the freezer from last year.

I also made some crab apple jelly and crab apple ice cream syrup, from a bag of crab apples that I had frozen last year.  You can find the recipes here and here.

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I also finally opened my Wilkinsons ‘Starter Wine Kit’ that I had purchased in the New Year sales for £10.  Unfortunately some of the items were missing from the box and we didn’t have the receipt.  However, Wilkinson’s were fantastic and changed it anyway for a more expensive kit and gave us the remaining items from the old kit as a goodwill gesture, which we thought was fabulous customer service.

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I have never made wine before, so it is all new to me, which is why I chose a starter kit.  Hopefully when I have sussed it out, I can use some of the grapes from the vines I planted at my allotment last year, when they are established and fruiting well.

So it is now bubbling away nicely.

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I’ve also been ‘pricking’ out my seedlings and they are sitting nice and snugly in my heated greenhouse.  I try to stop the temperature falling below 10c, but unfortunately it has been dropping to approximately 8c on the cold nights we have been having.

My peas that I sowed on the 22nd March in guttering, are doing well now too, they will soon be ready to plant out:

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The peas have a bit of protection in my coldframe.

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The lettuces I sowed on the 17th March are doing nicely and I will be planting these in my polytunnel this week:

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I also sowed my parsnips on Saturday:

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I have always had such a problem with my parsnips ‘forking’ when I sow them direct, or not germinating.  I have dug trenches and filled with compost, I have filled holes with compost and sown into them, but nothing seemed to work until I came up with the idea of sowing the seeds in kitchen roll tubes.

I fill the tube with compost and sow three seeds in each and keep the tubes on my windowsill.  As soon as the seeds germinate, I move them outside into my coldframe and then a few days later I plant the whole tube into the ground.

This way I get straight parsnips nearly every time.

I have been asked in the past if this works with toilet rolls, but it doesn’t.  The reason for this, is the tap root on a parsnip is very long and grows down a long way before the seedling shows above the compost.  Therefore the tap root hits the bottom of the toilet roll tube, which causes it to ‘fork’.  However, as the kitchen roll is longer, the tap root has a longer distance to grow before it hits the bottom.

My parsnips

My parsnips

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Finally, over Easter, I decided to plant my onion sets into seed trays to start them off, as the weather showed no sign of changing.  This will give me a little bit of breathing space before I need to plant them in the allotment.  At least they will have developed some roots and this will help to stop the birds from pulling them up.

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So all in all, it has been a busy, but enjoyable Easter.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back again on Friday, at approximately 4pm.

I hope you have a good week.

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18 thoughts on “A Busy Easter Holiday, Mincing And Sowing Parsnips

  1. Like you I have been busy over the last few days trying to catch up with seed sowing – I don’t have heat in my greenhouse so I hope the temps. don’t drop too low and everything germinates successfully. I planted my parsnip seed in bottomless buckets which I sunk into the ground, it is the first time I have tried it this way, will have to wait and see how successful it is.

  2. Have never grown parsnips in tubes but have had forking problems, thanks so much for the tip.Your seeds are coming along really well.
    Sue

  3. From London where the sky is pale grey and the streets are wet.. My garlic and onions planted in October made it through the winter but none of the Broad Beans are alive or if they are, they’re playing hide & seek!
    I do hope they are right and that this Spring IS soon going to spring upwards in temperature as I have multiple trays and pots all over the sittingroom, lots of bare rooted fruit & rose bushes are sprouting like lunatics in buckets and the replacement beans are waving at the neighbours.
    This time 3 years ago I was picking Asparagus, it is still fast asleep, not a spear to be seen.
    Gardening is not for faint-hearted or easily disappointed people, that is for sure.

  4. Hi, I see your seedlings have a progress. My onions grow well in a small greenhouse as yours! Our spring isn’t too warm as well. Interesting wine set! I made my own wine from chokeberry, adding sugar and one or two grape berries on one 3 l bottle. I liked it.

  5. I love a ‘good’ gadget.. and well done on mincing all that meat.
    Here’s a recipe that my wonderful butcher gave me, try putting in a little bit of Belly of Pork in with the beef, it adds richness.
    The other thing is put a few cloves of garlic into a little water, they will root and sprout, if you snip a couple of the shoots and cut them very finely and mix them in with the meat… it is truly delicious.
    Bread slicer! Be very careful of your fingers! It is seed planting time (well almost), and we don’t want fingers to be out of action!

  6. I’ve also used kitchen roll middles for my parsnips this year as all of last year’s were perfect for the first couple of inches before deforming – obviously I’d made the toilet roll mistake. Hopefully they’ll turn out better this year.

    • Kitchen rolls will solve the problem. As soon as I see they have germinated, I get them into the ground before the tap root reaches the bottom of the tube. It is a bit of hard work digging the hole deep enough for the tube, but it is really worth the extra effort. Let me know how you get on.

  7. I’m so glad you got to use your miner and have fun with it. The mince looks awesome! And you table was unscathed, too, lol!!
    I wanted to get a bread slicer, but due to a stock shortage they changed my order (with permission) to a more expensive yet less useful set of elecrtic scales. I look upon both your bread slicer AND the results with envy, my friend.
    The jams look delightful! That is one thing I didn’t really make much of this year was jam! I love your lables! I usually just jot down the name and date on a slip of paper and sticky tape mine on, lol!
    OOoooooohhh! Wine making!! I was looking at this a while ago now, but decided it was too expensive to buy the kit, and too dodgy to make my own. I look forward to your results with eager interest!
    And your parsnips! Oh! Your parsnips! So lovely!

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