This inadequacy has recently been compounded by my mum. Not only has she learned to text, she now knows how to send picture messages. Cue a number of photos showing large parsnips from her garden winging their way to me (including the ones below).
Growing in Florist Buckets
I am not having that, so this year I’m trying a couple of different methods in my quest for ‘snip success.
Firstly, I’ve planted seeds in four florist buckets. I prepared the soil a couple of weeks ago, filling the buckets with a mix of multi-purpose compost, a little of my own stuff, and some sand. Apparently parsnips like sand.
The Saturday before last I sowed White Gem parsnips seeds into four buckets. No sign of germination yet, but it is early (I’m telling myself this anyway).
I think my mum’s parsnips are much better than mine because she has grown hers in crumbly raised-bed soil, rather than the stony stuff that I have to deal with down the plot. Parsnips are not keen on stones, which could be another reason for my appalling recent record.
I’ve always concentrated on growing them directly into the ground, so it will be interesting to see how they get on in containers.
Chitting, Like the Chiropodist
During a conversation with mum, I also hit on another growing technique, courtesy of ‘the woman that does my feet’. Now, I’m not that well versed with mum’s feet, but I think she’s got bunions. Or maybe corns. Either way, I think she’s talking about the local chiropodist.
According to mum, during her last visit, the local chiropodist told her she chits her parsnip seeds to ensure good germination. This involves sprinkling the seeds on to a damp piece of kitchen roll laid inside a plastic tub, covering with cling film, and popping them into the airing cupboard. At the first sign of germination, the chiropodist whisks the seed away and plants it in multi-purpose compost.
Planting in Toilet Rolls
However, the Bloke Who Walks The Dog That Looks Just Like Benny (our much-missed family pet) told mum that it would be better at this stage to put the newly-germinated seeds into used toilet roll centres, cut into three, and filled with multi-purpose compost. The seedlings grow on, before being planted – rolls n’all – into the ground, where the cardboard will then biodegrade and get out of the growing parsnip’s way.
Heeding this advice, I’ve been collecting my used toilet rolls (plus a few from work – picked up a few strange looks coming out the gents with them in my pocket) and as soon as I get seed germination I’ll be transferring some into these, and some others directly into my remaining florist buckets.
I love mum’s little network of veg growers. Hopefully, their advice will come good, and I’ll get decent parsnips for the first time in my allotment life.
I’ve been using last year’s seeds, but I also bought a new packet last week, as I’m told I should buy fresh seeds every year. I’m not sure why this is, but perhaps I’ll get mum to ask the woman that does her feet next time she has her bunions done.