Sunday, 11 November 2012

The King of the Autumn Vegetable Garden

I’ve been waiting for this moment.  The ground is crisp, the air icy and the heavy-knits, scarves and gloves are out of the wardrobe – it’s Parsnip pulling time!

Over the past couple of weeks the temperature outdoors has dropped significantly. The wood burner has been blazing away during the nights, taking the chill from my old Victorian home, and I’ve really been hankering for some hearty root vegetables.  I always associate Autumn/Winter with Parsnips and my mind has been solely focussed on this sweet, yet warming, golden root.

Although we’ve had a few minor frosts and hail storms I wanted to wait for something a bit more substantial before the first parsnip was dug up.  That day had come and gone and so yesterday I headed to the plot with my faithful metal bucket to see what bounteous offerings were to be had.  I collected around a dozen small onions that had been drying and headed on to the parsnip patch.  Like a small child on Christmas morning I was more than eager to see what hid below the earth.  
I took extra care this year to space my rows well and thin the crop when young, in an attempt to grow thick and uniformly straight roots.  I’d chosen the cultivar ‘Gladiator’ from Seed Parade as they offered good canker resistance and I went about sowing them thinly in my slightly enriched clay soil.  With my gloves on and an old wooden-handled fork I lifted the first – it was huge.  I was hoping that the rest would follow suit but unfortunately they didn’t quite live up to expectations but a good haul was had anyway. I’ll leave the other parsnips to chill further and lift them as and when they’re needed.

Adding to the parsnips, I dug another row of ‘Sarpo Mira’ potatoes, which have been totally outstanding, offering harvests over the past few months.  Soup is most certainly on the cards, with a few recipes in mind and let us not forget the holy grail of parsnip dishes – the roast parsnip.  The food of dreams and the king of the Autumn vegetable garden.

In competition news, the winner of the Draper tool set is Emma Cella (@handbag2000 on twitter).  Congratulations!  To claim your prize please email: ryan@ryansgarden.co.uk.

2 comments:

  1. Now I'm wishing that I'd bothered to grow some parsnips! I'm the only one in my family that likes them so it seems a lot of work for the occasional parsnip ... but there's a tasty recipe for Parsnip Tarte Tatin in this month's Waitrose kitchen mag. One for the christmas dinner table I think!

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