Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Forking Parsnips

 Parsnips are one of those trusty crops you can rely on to bring a bit of winter cheer.  Provided you get them to germinate and don't lose the seedlings among weeds they look after themselves.  Come the first frosts you can start to dig them up and see what you have got...    Well not this year:

Carrots and Forked Parsnips

On the left carrots, on the right parsnips. It is noticeable that the white carrot has surpassed its brother parsnips, and that the parsnips are all forked.

To go back to spring, I tried a bit of an experiment this year growing the parsnips in root trainers (or more precisely toilet rolls).  As soon as the roots showed any sign of outgrowing their container I transplanted them out into a prepared bed.  My method of preparation was to make a tailor made conical hole for each plant with a stick (I didn't have a crowbar handy) and fill it with a mixture of soil, sand and compost. I avoided animal manure as this is known to cause forking.  I had it on good authority that this is how show parsnips are grown.  My results are rubbish, and worse, no good for the table.  Next year its back to the tried and trusted method:  Sow outdoor in March. Thin out and weed, but absolutely no transplanting.  You live and learn.  Now what are we going to do about our homegrown parsnips for Christmas Dinner tradition?

Just to show you the difference, here's a:

Link to Parsnip from 2011

and a

Link to Parsnip in 2010


  1. An unforked parsnip is certainly a luxury in our soil.

  2. Hmmm, that's a fairly conclusive result: transplanting of parsnips is to be avoided, I think! Growing parsnips for showing must be pretty difficult.

  3. Lots of plotters on Facebook reckon growing in pots etc and transplanting works fine. I've tried like you and the result was a complete disaster just like yours. Before digging good looking parsnip but only a set of fibrous roots underneath- useless for the kitchen. Those grown by "Beechgrove Garden" in massive pots and used for show works but it's a lot of effort to get just a few parsnips. I'm going to stick to direct sowing in a shallow trench filled with compost.

  4. Can't help thinking that in a rather perverse way I'd be slightly relieved to discover the same - parsnips are the one veggie I really can't stand and a winter without them would be a relief! (They do make a nice cake though…)

  5. Definitely go back to your traditional methods Mal. You aren't the only one without parsnips though as I had none germinate this year. :-(