11 tips for grow­ing parsnips

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Plants With A Purpose - . seeds ip Parsn A parsnip flower.

• Parsnips have a very long grow­ing sea­son, oc­cu­py­ing ground for nearly a year, so think care­fully about where to plant them. Choose a sunny site well away from trees.

• Parsnips yield well in av­er­age con­di­tions but pre­fer a fri­able, welldrained and deeply-dug soil, es­pe­cially for long va­ri­eties which can grow up to 30cm. A well-ma­nured soil for a pre­vi­ous crop works well - fresh ma­nure causes forked roots. A dust­ing of wood ashes (potash) is ben­e­fi­cial.

• Sow from Septem­ber to March in the North Is­land and Oc­to­ber to De­cem­ber in the South, and use fresh seed as it loses viability quickly. Sow thinly 1-2 cm deep and 1cm apart in rows 30cm apart.

• Ger­mi­na­tion can take 21-28 days and is im­proved if rows are kept moist for the ger­mi­na­tion pe­riod.

• Thin plants to 3-5cm ini­tially, then to 10-15cm or more for larger va­ri­eties. Use thin­nings for soups, stews and stir-fries.

• The tops re­sem­ble a large, broad-leaved pars­ley plant and once es­tab­lished they grow vig­or­ously to 30-60cm high, need­ing lit­tle at­ten­tion apart from an oc­ca­sional hoe­ing be­tween rows. Mulching can help con­trol weeds and con­serve mois­ture.

• Parsnips can be at­tacked by car­rot fly, which feeds on the outer layer of the roots. The car­rot fly is at­tracted by the smell of bruised tis­sue so dam­age can be min­imised by sow­ing thinly, pro­vid­ing good grow­ing con­di­tions, and weed­ing care­fully.

• Parsnips are ideal for south­ern gar­dens as they are one of the few veg­eta­bles which ben­e­fit from frost. Cold weather causes starches to con­vert to sug­ars giv­ing a richer, sweeter flavour.

• The roots can be left in the ground all win­ter and dug as needed, an ad­van­tage as stored roots can shrivel and de­velop a woody core. Once dug, the tops should be trimmed close to the core to pre­vent loss of mois­ture. In warmer ar­eas you should lift them as they ma­ture.

• Pulling long parsnips can re­sult in a hand­ful of top and no root. The best way to is to dig a trench, be­gin­ning at the end of the row, and pull the roots to­wards you.

• Choose a strong parsnip plant for next sea­son’s seed. Parsnip is a bi­en­nial, so it flow­ers in its sec­ond sea­son. The yel­low flow­ers are born in um­bels up to 10cm across at the ends of long stems. As the seed ma­tures it turns pale brown - this is the time to har­vest. Cut seed heads and fin­ish ripen­ing in a pa­per bag in a dry place.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.