Sunday 13 December 2015

Parsimonious Parsnips

A couple of days ago I pulled up the first of my long-awaited Parsnips. I almost wish I hadn't bothered! As I had feared, they were not very good.

As you can see, they had put down long roots, but they hadn't filled out at all, they were just skinny.

Worse than this, many of them were badly affected by canker. This disease produces brown patches on the skin, which in severe cases can penetrate into the flesh of the vegetable. Most of the ones I harvested had a lot of brown patches, particularly on the top 3 or 4 inches.

One or two of the Parsnips (seen below in the foreground) were not too bad, but overall this is a disappointing result.

To be honest, I had been expecting it though, because this year the Parsnips never developed much foliage, which is unusual. It is the foliage that harnesses solar energy via photosynthesis and stores it in the roots, so if there aren't many leaves the roots will be small. Why this has occurred I don't know. I grew two different varieties ("Hollow Crown" and "Duchess"), but they are both poor.

Look at this contrast. Exhibit A: Parsnip foliage in 2014:

Exhibit B: Parsnip foliage in 2015.

I have been racking my brains to try to remember whether I put any of the contaminated compost into the raised bed where these have been growing. Regular readers will know that I have been plagued with issues resulting from weedkiller contamination in commercial compost, and I am thinking that I may have at some stage put some of the bad compost into the bed where the Parsnips are.

Just look at this frightful specimen:

That's not normal, is it? All those weird knobbly protrusions give me the definite impression of chemical contamination. Very reminiscent of the distorted leaves and misshapen fruit I got on the tomatoes, especially last year.

"End on a high note" they say, so I'll end my post by showing you the best specimen I can muster at present, though I have to say it is not one of which I have much reason to be proud...

P.S. I rescued enough Parsnips to make a viable meal for us, and once peeled they were fine. Just not very big!


  1. That's too bad - I'm glad you were at least able to enjoy your efforts at the dinner table, even if it was only for one meal. I can certainly empathize as my carrots were quite small this year as well, even after sitting in the bed for almost 2x the length of time indicated on some of the seed packets. I'm blaming it on my irregular watering so we will see if my results improve next year when I install drip irrigation in all the beds.

  2. That's such a shame but you've still done better than me, I haven't got any parsnips at all to harvest this year.

  3. What a disappointment that must have been as you pulled those roots. There's always some challenge in the garden, my worst this year was my truly pathetic rust infected midget garlic. Sometimes I claim that I will quite gardening when I have a perfect year - which means I'll never quit!

  4. Parsnip canker became such a problem on my allotment, that I now only grow modern F1 canker resistant varieties, although they only resist and don't completely prevent canker. This year, it took two sowings of two different varieties to get any parsnips to germinate and growth has been so slow (the foliage died back early here too) that they are still only carrot-sized, but the flavour is good so it's quality rather than quantity!


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