Tag Archive | Growing parsnips in kitchen rolls

Planting Potatoes, Peas And More….

Last weekend the weather was very strange and Linda Darby left a comment on my blog to say they had even had snow in Derbyshire.  Snow isn’t unheard of in April, but it is unusual.

Here in Leicester we had hail stones.  Unfortunately at the time myself and Mr Thrift were mulching around my mother-in-laws roses with greenwaste compost, so we had to stop what we were doing and wait for it to pass:

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Incidentally as there were lots of annual weed seeds germinating in the beds, I laid sheets of newspaper between the roses and put the mulch on top…..this will kill the small annual weed seedlings without having to pull them all up, so it saved alot of time:

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This week I went for the monthly dog walk in Bradgate park with our trainer Steven Havers.  Unfortunately this is the last walk in Bradgate Park as the walk is being relocated to Switherland Woods next month.

The Bradgate Park Trust reported this week they have now brought in a new sets of rules regarding dogs in the park, because people have been acting irresponsibly in Bradgate Park recently.  On their website it says…..

“Incidents have included parents filming children chasing the deer, dogs chasing the deer, fights between dogs, dogs bothering people, mountain bikers riding off permitted paths, as well as dogs killing wild birds.  In addition dog poo bags have been left hanging in trees and vandalism recently occurred over night in areas where the Trust’s rangers have been improving habitats and facilities”

Reading this made me extremely sad and I am amazed that people think that it is acceptable to treat the park and it’s wildlife in this way!

The ranger that took us around the park this week together with the dog trainer, told us that the number of deer calves is significantly reduced due to this, which is terrible.

Deer in the distance lying down

Deer in the distance lying down

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Castle Gardens:

 As I have said previously there are lots of places on our doorstep that we walk past frequently without even noticing how beautiful they are, or how they change in the different seasons.

This week I visited Castle Gardens, which is just five minutes from the clock tower in the city centre and I was amazed at how beautiful it was….again Leicester City Council should be very proud of their parks department:

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Everyone that walked past me seemed to be in a rush missing the beauty I was seeing.  Some walked along talking on the phone and others were listening to music through their headphones….I think this was such a shame as they were missing the wonderful birdsong that I could hear.

I honestly believe that when people sit at the ‘pearly gates’ they won’t be wishing that they had worked more, rushed more or spent more money on material things…..I think they will be wishing they had slowed down more and enjoyed the things that life can offer for free.

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Leisure  – By William Henry Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

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This Week In My Garden:

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This week I have been planting my potatoes.  I have planted my usual ‘Marfona’ which are white second earlies and ‘Desiree’ which are a red late main crop.

Over the years I have tried lots of different ways of planting potatoes, but I have found that speading manure / compost over the bed in winter and then digging a trench and using a bulb planter when planting the potatoes works the best for me.  This way I can plant them deep and I only usually have to earth them up once.

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Amazingly, as I was digging my trenches I still found lots of rubble (though I dug the beds well last year) and I even found a big blue brick!

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This week my parsnips germinated.  As soon as the seed leaves appeared above the compost in the kitchen rolls, I moved them outside into my mini greehouse for a few days.

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I then made holes in the ground that were deep enough for the kitchen rolls.  I did this by banging an old piece of guttering pipe into the ground and then planted the kitchen roll into it, making sure there were no gaps between the soil.

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I then watered them to settle the soil around the tubes making sure there wasn’t any of the cardboard tubes showing above the soil (as this acts like a wick and dries the compost out in the kitchen roll).

Then I put mini-cloches made out of ‘pop’ bottles over them to give a bit of protection from the weather and slugs (I use old sticks inserted into the bottles to stop them from blowing away):

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This week I have also been planting my climbing peas.  They are a variety called ‘Peashooter’ which I have been growing for quite a few years now.

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As with all my crops, I  raked in some blood fish and bone a couple of weeks before.

I put up some pea and bean netting using canes and planted the peas.  Last year I grew my peas facing east to west, however the peas at the back didn’t do so well due to the shade from the peas in front, so this year I am growing them facing south to north in the hope they will do better:

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I have given the peas a bit of protection from the weather and birds using old panes of glass that I brought back from my allotment when I gave it up.

You can also see in the photo below that I put weed suppressant in between the peas so it helps to cut down the weeding, where it is awkward to hoe:

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I have continues to deadhead my daffodils this week and nearly all of them have finished flowering for another year, which is sad as they are my favourite flowers….however there is so much more to look forward to in the garden now the weather is warming up.

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We have eaten our first ‘cut and come again’ salads in my greenhouse and today I have noticed that my first radish of the year are ready to eat:

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And the ‘lollo rossa’ lettuce which is growing under glass outside is ready for me to pick the odd few leaves to add to our salads.

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Also the chives I brought back from my allotment in January 2015 are doing brilliantly sitting along my main path and I am picking them to add to every salad we have:

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Also the rhubarb I transplanted from my allotment in Jauary 2015 is also doing well.  I will be picking it sparingly this year so each plant builds up it’s roots system ready for normal harvesting from next year.

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It’s taken me over a year to get used to my small kitchen garden instead of my four allotments.  Finally I am beginning to enjoy working in it, instead of constantly thinking about what I would have been doing at my allotment.

I have had moments during this month where I can honestly say it has been sheer bliss working in my garden, whilst Judy (my dog) has basked quietly in the sun.  One big advantage is I can nip out when I have five minuites to spare and finish a job, deadhead, weed etc. and if I want I can stay out until the sun goes down and the moon shines….. and once again I have felt happy to be alive in my garden, which is how I used to feel at my allotment!

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Thank you for reading my blog today.  I will be back next Friday as usual.

Have a great week!

Easy Ways To Grow, Use And Freeze Parsnips

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’.

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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!

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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.

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 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….

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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.

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This way I now have straight parsnips nearly every time.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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    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.

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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.

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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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  •  And if I have any left I may treat myself to a parsnip cake.  You can find this recipe here .

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….That’s if I get time in between everything else I need to do this week!

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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?

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back at my usual time on Friday.

 

Codling Moths And Growing Parsnips

    Last week, I refilled my pheromone trap with a new sticky paper and a ‘lure’, in the hope that it will attract the male codling moths to it.

My pheromone trap

My pheromone trap

After mating, female Codling moths will lay single eggs on fruit and leaves in June and July.  The eggs hatch 10-14 days later and the larvae burrow into the fruit to feed.  They stay there for approximately a month.  After this time they crawl down the trunk and cocoon under loose bark or even tree ties, etc.  The majority will emerge the following spring, however the earliest ones may emerge from their cocoon as adults in August or September and start the cycle again before winter.

Codling moths cause damage to the apple when the larvae tunnel into it and the apple often falls off the tree early.  There is a wonderful picture of a damaged apple on the RHS website here.

Natural pheromones lure male moths into a sticky trap, so they are unable to mate with the female moth.  The trap will only attract the codling moth, so it is not a danger to other wildlife, though small birds have been known to be attracted to the moths and become wedged inside the traps, so if you use one then please check it regularly.

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Pheromone traps are supposed to be used as an early sign of codling moth, to indicate how big a problem you have.  This is a photograph of the sticky card that I removed from last years’ pheromone trap on my apple tree:

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There does seem to be a lot of moths, but my apples didn’t seem to suffer too badly last year.  So I am happy that the traps are killing the moths that I need to, and I don’t think I will need to do anymore than hang another trap.  I will keep checking this year’s trap regularly.

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Other ways to help avoid the codling moth:

Pick up windfall apples and remove fallen leaves asap, just in case they contain the cocoons.

Try and attract birds to your plot as they are great at finding and eating the cocoons (Blue tits especially).

Replace tree ties in autumn in case they contain cocoons.

Don’t kill earwigs as they love to eat codling moth eggs.

In July, cut a 50cm strip of corrugated cardboard and wrap it around your tree trunk approximately 45cm from the ground so the corrugations are vertical.  In autumn when the codling moths are nicely cocooned in the cardboard, remove the cardboard and burn it.  This method is best used on smooth tree trunks.

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Hopefully we will all have a better crop of apples to harvest this year, than we did last year.

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Freshly pressed apple juice

Freshly pressed apple juice which I freeze, ready to pop in my daughters lunch boxes.

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Parsnips

I thought I would update you on how my parsnips are doing.  I have tried various different methods of growing parsnips over the years, but the one method that seems to work the best is to start the parsnips in kitchen rolls.  You can read how I do this here.

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I think that I get a better rate of germination this way and to prove this to you, you can see from the picture below that I have had a 100% germination rate this year.

On the 6th April, I sowed the parsnip seeds in kitchen rolls and put them on my windowsill.  As soon as the seeds germinated I moved them into my cold frame.

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I find that toilet rolls are not long enough for parsnip roots, as the root is quite long by the time you actually see the little seed leaves emerge.  If the bottom of root touches anything hard e.g. the seed tray at the bottom of the cardboard tubes, it will cause the root to ‘fork’, so you won’t have straight roots.

I thought I would show you an example of a parsnip seedling that I took out of the compost, the day its seed leaves emerged:

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The root is 10cm long already and an average toilet roll is approximately 11cm, so if you use toilet rolls, very soon the root will hit the bottom of the seed tray which will cause it to ‘fork’, which means your parsnip will not be straight.

A couple of weeks ago I planted my seedlings out, just under three weeks after sowing my seeds.  You can see from the photograph below, how long the root is.  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 arount of room for the root to grow down.

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    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 root won’t hit any stones or lumps in the soil.

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I make sure that none of the cardboard tube is above the surface, or this will act like a wick and dry your compost out.

I think the hard work is worth it when you harvest lovely straight parsnips.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back on Friday at approximately 4pm