This weekend I dug up my remaining parsnips at my allotment, as it is time to prepare the soil ready for my next crop. The parsnips were a variety called ‘Gladiator’.
I must say I have been really pleased with this parsnip crop, as hardly any of them ‘forked’ in the ground and some of them were really quite large. One of them in the above photo was sixteen inches long!
This coming week I will be sowing more parsnip seeds ready for next winter. I will be sowing a variety called ‘Hollow crown’, which I have also grown before. The reason for my choice of variety is….they were cheap.
I have tried various different methods of sowing parsnip seed, each with only limited success….
- I tried filling trenches with compost and then sowing the seed.
- I tried filling holes in the ground with compost and dropping seeds into them.
- I have sown the parsnip seeds on wet tissue paper and the minute they germinated I used tweezers to carefully place the seeds where they were to grow outside.
The few parsnips that actually germinated would always ‘fork’…. until a few years ago I started to sow my seeds into kitchen roll tubes….
The photograph above shows the kitchen roll tubes that I used last year to grow the parsnips that I have just dug up.
I filled the kitchen roll tubes with compost and sowed three seeds in each. I then tied some string around the tubes (just to stop them from falling over) and then kept the tubes on my windowsill in the warm. As soon as the seeds germinated, I moved them outside into my coldframe and then a week later I planted the whole tube into the ground before the parsnip root showed at the bottom of the tube.
This way I now have straight parsnips nearly every time.
I have been asked in the past if this works with toilet rolls but it doesn’t. The parsnip root is quite long by the time you actually see the little seed leaves emerge above the compost and unfortunately if the bottom of parsnip root touches anything hard (e.g. the seed tray at the bottom of the cardboard tube), it will cause the root to ‘fork’, so you won’t have straight roots. However, as the kitchen roll is longer, the tap root has a longer distance to grow before it hits the bottom.
Below is a photograph of a parsnip seedling that I took out of the compost in a kitchen roll, on the first day its seed leaves emerged:
The root is 10cm long already and an average toilet roll is approximately 11cm, so if you use toilet rolls, very quickly the root will hit the bottom of the seed tray which will cause it to ‘fork’, so your parsnip will not be straight.
Last year I planted my seedlings out, just under three weeks after sowing the seeds. You can see from the photograph below, how long the roots were when I planted them out. The shorter tube (which I didn’t plant as I wanted to use it as a comparison), shows where the root reaches down to in the cardboard tube and the longer tube is there to show the length of an average kitchen roll tube, so you can compare the two together. So you can see there is still a small amount of room for the root to grow down.
I must admit it is hard work planting the tubes out as you need deep holes, but the compost in the tubes helps to stop the parsnip from ‘forking’ as the roots won’t hit any stones or lumps in the soil while they grow.
When I plant them I make sure that none of the cardboard tube is above the surface, or this will act like a wick and dry the compost out.
I think the hard work is worth it when you harvest lovely straight parsnips.
What will I do with so many parsnips?
- Some of the parsnips I have already chopped up and frozen on trays (unblanched) and then I bagged them up ready for roasting straight from frozen (I don’t bother to defrost them first). By freezing them on trays first, the parsnips don’t stick together in the freezer bags and it’s easy to take out a few at a time and I love the covenience of having them ready to cook from my freezer.
- I will definately be using some of the parsnips to make parsnip crisps again, as my family loved them last time I made them. You can find the recipe here.
- I will definately also be making another big batch of spicy parsnip soup to freeze in portions ready to reheat and take to my allotment for lunch, as it’s one of my favourite soups. You can find the recipe here too.
- And if I have any left I may treat myself to a parsnip cake. You can find this recipe here .
….That’s if I get time in between everything else I need to do this week!
Just one last thing to make you laugh…this is the colour of my hand after I had been peeling and chopping all the parsnips to freeze yesterday and this was after I had washed it! I wonder how long the parsnip stain will last?
Thank you for reading my blog today.
I will be back at my usual time on Friday.