There’s a whiff of autumn frost in the air. The radiators have been switched on, donkey jackets have been spotted on the allotment, and Rich has been mumbling something about ‘Damarts’. Which spells trouble for much of the remaining summer crops. But while we’ll soon be mourning the passing of some veg it wall also signify the rise of one of our plot’s forgotten stalwarts… the parsnip.
How to grow parsnips from seed
It seems ages ago (late February) that we sowed our first row of parsnips – the first seeds to make their way directly from packet to plot. We added a bit of sand to the soil to help the roots dive down deep and covered with fleece for some early season warmth and protection. All the seeds germinated and, once established, grew quickly. And, bar thinning out and occasional weeding, they’ve required no extra attention since.
A second row was sown a few months later in case the carrot root fly* got the first lot. But, despite their neighbouring carrots succumbing to the pest, all the ‘snips have survived. A couple of roots have been dug over the past few months to check their progress, but we’re waiting for some proper frosts before we start digging in earnest. A few nights in nature’s freezer improves their sweetness, you see.
We’ll then use our bumper harvest in roast dinners, curries and a potent parsnip wine to see us through the winter.
Seeds sown: Parsnip ‘tender and true’, Johnsons seeds
*It could be that they survived the root fly precisely because the carrots got attacked instead… parsnips may well be their second choice.
Note: There’s no point in hanging on to your left over parsnip seeds after sowing – they’re highly unlikely to germinate the following year