Monday, 27 September 2010

Carrots and parsnips.

Over the weekend I harvested another batch of carrots. This time we had the Button family coming over for dinner, so it had to be enough to feed 5 mouths (Lara eats just about as much as an adult these days!).

Carrots for 5

In retrospect, I'm amazed how many carrots I have harvested this year. It makes a pleasant change to harvest useable carrots. In the past, my crop has consistently been destroyed by the carrot fly, so this year I have tried some fly-resistant varieties -- Flyaway and Resistafly. (See my blogpost on Roots in August). There has been a little fly damage, but not enough to constitute a major issue.

The results have actually been pretty good. Not a huge crop I grant you, but then I only sowed one 2.4-metre row (half of each variety), and the carrots have almost all been OK. I would think that we have had about 12 servings so far from this small row, with maybe 4 more to come. This seems to me like a decent return on the space - especially since carrots don't really require much looking-after.

At the same time as harvesting the carrots, I also pulled up the first parsnips of the season, something I had been looking forward to doing with eager anticipation. The variety I have grown this year is "Cobham Improved Marrow". What a funny name for a parsnip! Still, I grew this one a couple of years ago and was pleased with it, so this year I gave it another try. First impressions are favourable. The three roots I pulled are of a decent size and reasonably clean.

The first of the parsnips

Isn't it funny that you have no idea what they are going to be like until you yank them out of the ground? Even the diameter of the visible crown is not necessarily a good guide -- the roots are sometimes wide at the shoulder, but very short. I have found that the parsnips I grow are often" "variable", i.e. they grow in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. The pictures you see on seed packets are completely staged, I'm sure. They only show you the perfect ones! Most of the ones I have grown over the years have had a certain amount of surface blemishing -- it looks like rust, but I think it is actually the sign of a disease called canker. It's not really a problem because the damage is usually only skin-deep and gets removed when you prepare the roots for cooking; it just means that I definitely wouldn't win any prizes at a veg show!

Two of the parsnips pictured above were consumed as accompaniments to some roast lamb, and very nice they were too. When it comes to taste, shop-bought ones just cannot compete. In fact, for me one of the chief joys of growing my own veg is that since you can eat your produce within hours (sometimes minutes) of harvesting it, you get it at its very best, and the flavours are certainly an awful lot stronger. I look forward to eating more of these beauties...


  1. These look great! I have trouble growing any root crops here because the soil just isn't good enough yet, still too much clay but I am working on it. I have seen parsnips in pictures, I have never eaten one.

  2. What! You've never eaten a parsnip? Ever? you don't know what you're missing. They are beautifully sweet. Best served roasted, I think -- maybe with a spoonful of honey drizzled over them to caramelize a bit.

  3. They do sound good and I always thought that I would like them. Just not something you see in the stores here and I doubt that my ground would ever grow any decent ones.


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