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...


  1. Hahaha - LOVE the drawings!

  2. I always struggle digging up parnsips, I think partly due to my eagerness to get them in the roasting tray. If you can't wait for the frosts a couple of days in the fridge should sweeten them up.

  3. I am striving to ignore mine until the frosts. I've got about fifteen tons of chard to get through until then. Once the forsts come I shall be into the parsnips, swede and cavalo nero or whatever it's called.

  4. (Last comment lost)

    The way to dig parsnips is to excavate a hole NEXT to the root. Ease the root SIDEWAYS. Then rotate to free the lower portion of the root and THEN pull.

    Love the drawings. Recognise the syndrome. Happens year after year!

  5. Fabulous story... and I hope the parsnip was good.

  6. Perfect drawing of a twisted parsnip.

    Happy Christmas.