Real Men Sow

Happy Christmas and Better Luck Next Time with Parsnips (Again)

I really struggle with parsnips, and despite promising signs, this year has been no exception.

I popped down to the plot earlier to harvest some ‘snips for Chrimbo dinner, and with my new florist bucket strategy firmly on the mind, I was excited about what I’d find.

Parsnips in Florist Buckets
Growing parsnips in florist buckets was an idea I nicked from the GYO forums. My soil is stony, so the parsnips always grow wide, stubby and contorted. I’ve never found a way around this, until now.

The theory behind the buckets was that I could control the soil, so hopefully if I made it stone free, the parsnips would grow longish and straight. I filled the bottom third of each bucket with topsoil, the middle section with compost, and finished off with multi-purpose compost.

I wasn’t expecting giants – roots can only grow so big in a florist bucket – but I was slightly disappointed with my crop, especially as they seemed to be doing well on the surface. I’d scraped away around the root a few times, and the parsnips were strong and wide, leaving me with high hopes. I thought I’d nailed them this time…

Okay, But Not Great
However, I only got 756g of ‘snips from the five buckets. Although the tops appeared fairly big, the roots have thinned out quite quickly.

I’m not completely disheartened though. They have grown down dead straight, so in my glass full eyes that’s progress when compared to the open planted mutants I normally get.

Consequently, I’ll be persevering with this method next year in my continued battle with the particular parsnip. I reckon I might go for a bigger container in an attempt to get fatter roots. I’m a man who likes his parsnips chunky.

And I can’t be too downbeat, as there are enough for Christmas dinner – just not anything else!

Merry Christmas one and all, and may your 2012 dreams be as sweet as my little baby parsnips.

Tagged , ,

Related Posts

Sign up to receive a RMS weekly bite size summary, featuring all posts from the previous seven days, hints and tips and other interesting snippets from the world of veg growing.


  1. HelenDecember 24, 2011 at 7:49 pmReply

    I have harvested my first parsnips for Christmas. The top, like yours are Ok, but they do taper down very quickly. However, I was so thrilled they germinated in the first place I would have been happy with anything. I hadnt improved the soil where they were sown so although it isnt bad next year they should do better in an improved part of the plot. What about raised beds which presumably wouldnt dry out as quickly as the buckets?

    • Jono

      JonoDecember 24, 2011 at 7:53 pmReplyAuthor

      Hi Helen.

      You’re right about the germination. I really struggle with germinating them some years. I normally have some success planting them in little toilet roll modules. A few of the ones I grew this year were transplanted whole into the buckets, rolls n’ all.

      I’m thinking of trying a little raised bed too. Try and clear it completely of stones and see what happens.

      That, and paying my little step brother in law 5p for every stone he can pick out of the soil!

  2. GordonDecember 24, 2011 at 9:28 pmReply

    I’ve grown ‘snips for first time this year and was pleasantly surprised with the results. We hav sandy well draing soil so that probably helps. Good luck next year – I’m defnitely going to do more in 2012!

  3. Jono

    JonoDecember 27, 2011 at 12:52 pmReplyAuthor

    Hi Gordon,

    Thanks for your comment. Jealous of your soil growing conditions!

    I’ll be trying again for sure. I love parsnips, and they’re one of those veg that just won’t let me give in. I *must* nail these!

    Happy New Year.

  4. Naomi/OutofmyshedDecember 31, 2011 at 10:45 amReply

    Hi Jono,Just read a post by Nomegrown about the ease of growing parsnips! Feel inspired, but like you, I don’t have light sandy, stone-free soil. Think I’ll follow your example and try growing in large growbags that we use in our community veg growing scheme. Would love to have home grown parsnips for next Christmas too.
    Thanks for all your great posts this year. Really enjoy reading you blog and very best wishes for fab veg growing in 2012!

  5. DaveDecember 31, 2011 at 1:22 pmReply

    I hate to boast but I harvested some whoppers this year. I’ve found parsnips always do well in a clay soil cultivated with a ‘no-dig’ technique. I don’t really improve the land I grow parsnips on either as I think they will make large roots if they are allowed to go down searching for nutrients.

    On a side(ish)note have you ever tested your soil to see what type of soil you have? It’s dead useful way to see what may thrive and what may struggle, here’s a link that might help

  6. Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » Some Allotment Thoughts on 2012January 1, 2012 at 7:02 pmReply

    [...] Happy Christmas and Better Luck Next Time with Parsnips (Again) [...]

  7. Jono

    JonoJanuary 1, 2012 at 7:06 pmReplyAuthor

    Hi Naomi – thanks for your kind comments, much appreciated. Have very much enjoyed the great ideas on your blog and am looking forward to more in 2012.

    Dave – thanks a lot for that, I’ll check it out. Have never tested the soil, always under the impression it was difficult and costly for some reason.

    Might also take your advice an stick some in an un-manured patch. Can’t hurt to see what happens, eh?

  8. Real Men Sow » Blog Archive » How Much Money Can Growing Your Own Save Me? December UpdateJanuary 3, 2012 at 7:11 pmReply

    [...] I also pulled the remainder of my parsnip crop. I harvested 756g in total, worth £2.27. I was slightly disappointed as this crop, but persevere with parsnips I shall. [...]

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.

About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

Buy My Book on Amazon!


Sign Here for Updates!

Sign up to receive a regular RMS bite size summary, featuring all recent posts, hints and tips and other interesting snippets from the world of veg growing.

Allotment Cakes for the Weekend

  • Allotment Cakes for the Weekend #14 – Courgette, Lime and Coconut Cake
  • Allotment Cakes for the Weekend #13 – Jamie Oliver’s Squash Muffins
  • An Allotment Cake for the Weekend #12 – Lemon Curd & Blueberry Loaf Cake
  • An Allotment Cake For the Weekend #11 – Apple and Cinnamon Flapjacks
  • An Allotment Cake For the Weekend #10 – Fresh Ginger and Apple Cake
  • Good Food Magazine Marrow and Pecan Cake
  • A Rhubarbey Roundup, and Whatever Happened to Allotment Cakes for the Weekend?
  • (Not) An Allotment Cake for the Weekend #7 Rhubarb Crumble Ice Cream

Saving £500 a year!

During 2011, I kept a diary of how much money I save from growing my own fruit and vegetables. After totalling all my outgoings, I saved approximately £500 over the year. I made a spreadsheet to calculate these savings - it’s nothing too complicated, as I’m no Excel guru, but hopefully someone else will find it as useful (and strangely fun) as me. For more info, visit my Money Saving Experiment page by clicking here.


As Featured In…