All this staying at home, I’m starting to be obsessive about parsnips!
Last year was a first try having put it off for years as the impression I had was it is all a bit hit and miss if you will get anything, they take ages to germinate. This has been confirmed to me by our plot neighbour who I have watched each year sow parsnips but I have never seen them appear. I was cautious last year and so started them off in loo rolls undercover and then planting out. I was impressed that each one germinate. Months later when I dug them up for harvest it was clear to see this had been a “false economy” as a lot came out rather deformed as if shocked when they were planted out
This year I had planned to direct sow, but then the ‘end of the world’ came about and things changed somewhat. Instead of the allotment, I started using the garden and one of the first things I sowed was parsnips. I did a mixture of direct sow (as planned) but also loo roll sowing undercover (not wanting to take chances in uncertain times). I then realised that instead of the new unopened packet I had used last year’s seed (Gladiator) by accident and I could hear all the people saying “don’t use last year’s seed as they will not germinate. It seemed my plan on surviving on parsnips and nothing else throughout the cold and bare winter would not be possible.
The ones in the loo rolls undercover started to show one morning and by the end of the day they had all popped up. I had sowed double in each roll (just in case) and each of them had appeared, so I pulled out the weakest looking one out of each roll.
It then started raining, a lot, after days of warmth and sun. I started to spot little two leafed things inbetween the radish that I had included to be a line marker while the parsnips would be smaller. Suddenly loads of parsnip seedlings showing inbetween the radish. I now have “parsnip overload”.
Interesting to note that even though the seedlings in the loo rolls are tiny, their roots reach the bottom already, all long and straight – which shows why transplanting them is a risk as any that have roots this long may end up a funny shape. It means by the weekend (if not sooner) I really need to plant these out, but where do I plant them?!
The veg plot at home is fast filling, once I have put out french beans (this weekend or next), more peas, chard etc.. there will not much space left. Especially now as I will make a row for these extra parsnips.
Maybe this is all the room we need. When “all this stuff blows over” which I’m sure it will in 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 years time(?) then I will keep the veg plot at home but only for “pretty veg”. None of the long term sprouts, cabbage, celeriac that take an age to grow. Sure, they can look pretty in their own way, especially when young, but by the winter time it is all a bit more industrial. These plants will be on the allotment. The smaller, quicker plants such as lettuce, radish, carrots will have a place in the garden. These are quicker (sometimes), prettier (more ‘cottage garden maybe’), and need to picked and used/eaten straight away (certainly).
Think of the sprouts, cabbage, celeriac as the Pat Butcher of the veg world, you wouldn’t want her lurking in your garden on a late winter night…