Sunday, 3 October 2010

Denuded Parsnips

It's just a little bit early perhaps (as we haven't had any frost yet, and I know frost improves the sweetness) but I've been eyeing up the parsnip bed for a number of weeks now, so I thought it was time to give one a go. Gently scraping away the earth around the tip of the roots, I spied one that looked enormous. So thought I'd lift it. It's been very wet lately, so in my minds eye, I pictured myself gently tugging, and up it'd come.

Oh bugger.

Just like a lizard will lose it's tail to escape predators, my parsnips have an inbuilt defence to greedy people like me, I discovered that it will shed it's greenery.

Scratch my head a bit, and out comes the fork.
Gently as I can, I fork all around the parsnip, loosening it's grip on the soil. Then I start to apply upward pressure, slowly does it....

Oh bugger.

Hear an onimous wet crunchy cracking sound, and know I've broken the root.

So finally I resort to digging it out by hand.

I manage to get out the top half.  What's left behind looks split and damaged by my efforts to fork it out, and is left behind, as if I try to dig it out I'll disturb it's neighbours.

It's huuuuuuge! If I'd got the whole thing out I reckon it would've been a 2-footer. Can't help thinking it looks a bit like a coy denuded squid. It looks nothing like the parsnips our allotment neighbour produces - he spends days rotivating and sifting his root beds, till the soil is a fine tilth. We just chucked the seeds in to our stoney flinty soil and hoped for the best.

Right now, I just wish computers had smellovision so you could get a whiff of the strong sweet perfumed smell of freshly dug-up parsnip.

And I know I need to do some research & come up with a better method for lifting the rest over the next few months...