Tag Archive | How to grow straight parsnips

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