Kings of the Allotment Crop (AGGIL 19)
I have always grown Guernsey Half Long parsnips... partly out of nostalgia, and partly because they've always done well for us. For the first time, this year they didn't want to germinate. The first sowing did absolutely nothing, and the second sowing chose to do similar. As I'd sent some seeds off to Liz Zorab of Byther Farm so that she could have a go at them, and also shared some with the fabulous Vivi, after my second sowing I'd none left for a third sowing. A quick search online showed none in stock, which wasn't a huge surprise as it was well into the sowing season! However, there was no way we could be without parsnips so I decided I'd use the Tender & True seeds that had come free with a Kitchen Garden magazine.
Nine months from sowing, I've just pulled the first parsnip, which we're going to have for supper this evening (Christmas Day). You always wonder what lies beneath, and I have to say I'm really happy with what came out. It's grown true and strong and long and I hope is going to be tender as well and fully live up to its name. We've another full few rows of these parsnips so I hope that they'll all come out as good. Fingers crossed!!
I do love the Guernsey Half Long variety; they have big, broad shoulders and don't grow too long though you still get a really good amount of parsnip per seed. I've saved seed from one that we grew, did not harvest last year and left to go to seed... a flourish of flowery umbells followed by fennel-like seeds. If you're thinking of growing parsnips this year do remember that the seed does not stay vibrant for too long. It's said that it's best to get fresh seed each year, so if you do have seeds from last year or even the year before give them a go though be prepared to re-sow with fresh seed as germination may be poor.
I think I'll also be sowing some other parsnip varieties too this growing year. I've a Finnish one from Old Gardener Guy, and will definitely be giving those a go, and if I get some free seed of these Tender & True again I'll also sow them once more.
We sow our carrots and parsnips sparsely in a raised bed which is 3 decking boards deep, and do not thin them and do not cover them. As the carrot root fly flies only up to a certain height we generally get away without too much damage to our root veg. It's been the same this year and in the move to our new plot we'll be shifting the carrot bed from our lower plot up to our new one.
One thing that always surprises me is that parsnips in many countries are considered food just for livestock. They're certainly considered more than this in our house, and I think in many others. The wonderful starchy sweetness of parsnips makes them an essential with any decent roast, and therefore one of the true Kings of the Allotment Crop.
A Guernsey Gardener in London, Day 19
25/12/2019 09:42:54 pm
You are such a beautiful writer .felt like I was in the garden with you .do you weed your root crops
26/12/2019 04:12:38 pm
Thank you Brian. I'm glad you were engaged. And as well as your comments and support, thank you for your Christmas card and decoration too. Much appreciated. ?
26/12/2019 02:59:48 am
I hope this new variety of Parsnip lived up to your expectations Paul, star of the show indeed..
26/12/2019 04:15:40 pm
It certainly did Stephen, very much so. It steamed well and was nice and sweet without being sweet, if you know what I mean. It worked well in today's Bubble 'n' Squeak too, with a lovely fried allotment-gifted egg. ?
26/1/2020 05:54:04 pm
We’re not big parsnip eaters in the US (at least not in the south). I do make beef and Guinness at lot which calls for parsnips. I’d always left them out because ew parsnips but I added them once and knew “ah, that’s what’s been missing”! Still, I won’t be growing them but so glad your crop with the new seeds turned out ok.
27/1/2020 07:41:24 am
Sandra. The fondnesd for parsnips does seem to be quite British and Irish oriented. Much of Europe and others see them as cattle fodder, and a french friend of ours ate them at our home for years before knowing what they were. It's intriguing how some nations view a vegetable as a prince and others a pauper. ?
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