Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Tag Archive: parsnip

Germinating Parsnip Seed – Pastinaca sativa


I found this method of germinating parsnip seed online on the Gardeners World site and decided to have a go. Not with all my seed but just twenty as a test. I bought the seed from Seekay in a bag of 250 seeds. They are a variety called Guernsey. Complete disaster. No sign of seeds or seedlings.

Mixing the parsnip seed in the bag of seed compost

Part-fill a plastic bag with moist seed compost and empty your seed packet onto the surface. There is no point in successional sowing as you don’t need to harvest them all in one go. What’s more, parsnip seed stays viable for only one year, so saving seed could lead to wasting it. Mix the seed and compost together so the seed is evenly distributed in the bag. Tie the top of the bag together and place in a dark, warm spot such as your airing cupboard. Leave for around four days. After around four days, remove the bag from the airing cupboard and check on your seeds. They should have germinated, and small seedlings will be poking out of the compost.Make a shallow trench in well-prepared soil with stones removed. Remove the seedlings from the bag and place them 10cm apart in the trench. Cover with a thin layer of soil and water with a watering can with a fine rose attached. The seedlings should continue to grow in their new growing positions.

Parsnips are ancient vegetables that have been cultivated in Europe for over 500 years with the French recording named varieties as far back as 1393.  Guernsey dates back to pre 1826 and, even though the name suggests otherwise originated in France. It has been cultivated in Guernsey for generations where it is considered by farmers to be the most nutritious root known, superior even to the carrot and the potato. 
The roots of this heritage variety are shorter than many of today’s long hybrids, they are often called Guernsey Half Long because of this. The stumpy roots have broad shoulders and attractive smooth white skin and even without the vigour of an F1 hybrid the flavour doubly compensates. They are easy to grow once germinated they need little maintenance and can be left in the soil until ready to use. Plant in early spring, and harvest from autumn to the following spring. The parsnip tops are large and need a good 30cm room in each direction. The more room you give them the larger they will grow. Guernsey is a firm favourite with many. it is considered to be one of the very best roasting varieties, this reliable, sweet root vegetable is making a come back, with crop numbers  increasing all over the country. Info Seedaholic.com.

Well that’s twenty of my new Parsnip seeds completely wasted as there is no sign of anything in the bag. I am so glad I didn’t put them all in. Attempt two was the damp kitchen towel in a plastic box method. Two weeks on and no sign of chitting. Looks like no parsnips this year. Either my methods are rubbish or the seeds are. Either way it is getting too late to sow now.

Seeds of Hope

Eleven packets of seed arrived today and they look very healthy so I am optimistic about growing some productive plants. I have used a company that is new to me. It is called Seekay and is trading on Amazon. Cost and delivery has been good. Seeds arrived packed well and in individual sealed polythene packets. I will report on success and failure but will allow for grower error.

Tomato Ildie – I grew this tomato back in the day. It is mentioned on the old blog posts. I used up the last of my old seeds last year so have bought new for the coming season. I received 20 seeds at a cost of 65p. Sweetcorn F1 Wagtail – This is a new variety for me. It is listed as super sweet and at 99p for 32 seeds the price is sweet too. Climbing French Bean Blue Lake – 90 seeds for 65p. When I was able to go back to the allotment at the end of last season I was given a bag full of this prolific bean by our plot neighbour. I was very impressed and determined to grow them myself this year. Imagine my surprise when reading back over old blog posts to see that I had actually grown these before. This demonstrates to me how ones mind can be completely taken over when it is coping with a personal tragedy. New priorities move in and dominate our thinking. Parsnip Guernsey – 100 seeds for 55p. Another new variety to me. The Guernsey variety was the most popular parsnip of the 19th century. Introduced prior to the 1850’s, this variety is medium-long, and has thick shoulders and smooth white skin. The flesh gets even sweeter after a good frost in autumn. It’s not as long as the Hollow Crown and has a sweet and delicate flavour.  Information from Baker Creek.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ready for Season 2011 – Sean 40 Today

We have started to think about the new season. I know it is too early yet to sow seeds and I am determined to be patient. First thing on the agenda is to get the seed potatoes and start them chitting in egg boxes on the window ledge. I am sticking to earlies only again this year and planting them all in bags. My favourites from last season were Vivaldi, grown from potatoes bought from Sainsburys and Sharps Express, bought as seed potatoes from Focus. I am just growing those again this season. The second task is to get the parsnip seeds in in February if we have a fine dry day.

I intend to have another go at onions from seed as I have good seed left. Last years were not too good and got neck rot and went soggy before we could harvest them. I am not sure what I did wrong but will have another go.  I have Onion Ishikura, Ailsa Craig and a Sweet Spanish Onion. My instructions say sow very thinly in February under cloches or March to April out in the open. Ishikuri are salad onions and are meant to be harvested as spring onions, when they are about six inches high and pencil thick.  Ailsa Craig and the Spanish Onion are mild cooking onions which stay in the ground longer and are harvested when they have formed a large bulb. I have just read that the Ailsa Craig are known as Winter Onions and so should have been sown in the winter ready to grow on and harvest the following Autumn.Because of Christmas, very bad weather and flu I haven’t been to the allotments for a few weeks so I am looking forward to my first visit of the year. I am sure there will be lots of tidying up to do but hopefully a few nice surprises too.

Happy Birthday Sean. 40 today!!!!!!!!!

June is Busting Out All Over

These are the parsnips that I chitted at home. They were a devil to transplant but look worth the effort now. The curds are forming in our first caulis of the season.

The flower bed is quite overcrowded and has been left more or less to its own devices but is doing its job in attracting the beneficial insects to the plot.