Tag Archives: parsnips

Santa Claus is coming!

This week has had a slight Christmas feel to it and as Little Sis’ has been nagging me for another blog to read I thought I would write about her favourite thing – brussels sprouts for Christmas Dinner!

I had a slight panic that, due to the cold Spring, I was way behind with seed planting and had done nothing about brussels sprouts or parsnips for Christmas Dinner. I sowed a couple of rows of parsnips in one of my new raised beds and I am pleased to advise that, unlike last year, we appear to have successful germination. A staple of our winter diet is spicy parsnip soup, so this is a relief as last year we spent a fortune buying parsnips.

The makings of roast parsnips and spicy parsnip soup!

The makings of roast parsnips and spicy parsnip soup!

The variety is Tender and True (“Delicious for Roasting”) and from to sowing to cropping is 28-32 weeks – so we should just make it for Christmas dinner!

As I was over a month late with the sprouts I opted for a variety called Evesham Special (large, old-fashioned flavour sprouts) promising a heavy, early crop from medium sized plants, ideal for exposed sites. Sowings in February indicate cropping from September so fingers crossed we will have plenty for Christmas.



On another Christmas theme, our lucky dip perennial box arrived this week. This was a special email offer from Suttons back in April – 4 x 18 different lucky dip perennials for £9.99. We had forgotten about it so it was a bit like Christmas opening the box to see what was inside. Our four lucky dips were:

Dianthus – I am not a big fan but Mr Mac is. We have two in the garden already which, despite my deliberate neglect, continue to thrive. They will now be joined by another 18!

Coreopsis – I was quite happy about this because I tried to grow these from seed last year and the slugs ate every single one. I was reluctant to try again but now I don’t have to.

Monarda – I had never heard of this but believe the common name is Beebalm.

Sedum – Mr Mac had been after some of this  so he was pleased. According to the catalogue it offers “drought-tolerant” late summer colour. Not something we usually have a problem with but it would be a nice problem to have for a change!

It was too hot in the greenhouse to pot them on so we sat outside in the sunshine!

It was too hot in the greenhouse to pot them on so we sat outside in the sunshine!

All potted on and ready to grow!

All potted on and ready to grow!

Normally what happens at Christmas is I receive my presents and then go out and buy what I really wanted! The same was true this week. We are fortunate that Scotland’s flagship gardening show – Gardening Scotland – takes place less than a 15 minute drive away. The show was last weekend and Mr Mac and I set off with good intentions “not to go draft”- but we were like kids in a sweet shop.

I bought some Helenium plants and another couple of Meconopsis to supplement the pathetic specimens I bought online. Mr Mac got some Lupins, Heuchera and some alpines. We also invested in another couple of Clemetis – a white and pink Montana for some spring colour.

Our purchases

Our purchases

Finally, on a present theme, I was bemoaning to Mr Mac how I am concerned that there has been no activity from the Calla Lillies I planted in a pot. All the other bulbs are starting to show but not the lillies.

When I came home from work the other evening, look what was sitting at the from door…….

Mr Mac bought me a couple of Calla Lillies and planted them in pots with some trailing lobelia.

Mr Mac bought me a couple of Calla Lillies and planted them in pots with some trailing lobelia.



The great big giant parsnip experiment

We love parsnips. I have a fantastic recipe for curried parsnip soup which we eat all winter and there is nothing better than picking your own parsnips and brussels sprouts for Christmas dinner. Parsnips roasted with honey, black pepper and olive oil…yum.

The only problem is that our ground is very stoney and while we do pull up the occasional monster parsnip, most of them look like an octopus.

We were watching a gardening programme last summer (think it was Beechgrove Garden, BBC Scotland’s answer to Gardeners’ World) and one of the presenters was planting his parsnips seeds for competition. He was using a really tall bucket and had various “top secret” blends of compost, the details of which he was not going to share with the viewers.

Mr Mac suggested we try and do the same thing with the broken water butt lying at the bottom of the garden…so we did!

We filled the bottom with gravel and crocs for drainage then filled it to the top with our own compost. Mr Mac made seven holes right to the bottom with a broom handle and we filled the holes with sand. We planted two seeds in each hole with the intention of thinning out the weaker seedling (which I never did…oops!).

Now this took place in August last year, in hindsight probably a bit late. The seeds germinated and then were forgotten about over winter. I started to water them again in the spring and the leaves were growing taller and taller. I thought if the root was half as long as the leaves were tall we were in for a treat.

Then this morning we were having a look at them and decided to pull one out to see how it looked. Here it is…

Disappointed, we pulled out another couple and they were no better. Somehow I don’t think I’ll be trotting off to the village hall to pick up my “best in show” rosette!

We have left the rest of the parsnips in the water butt to see if they grow any bigger. I’ll keep you posted!