Sunday, 18 November 2012

Parsnip harvest, and help from a mercenary digmaster

newcastle blog
The leaf-strewn path to the patch
A fine day followed a soggy evening in Newcastle yesterday, making for good conditions in which to continue the slow work of tidying up and preparing the ground for next year's planting. Except that actually, the work done yesterday wasn't so slow at all, thanks to the phenomenal digging abilities of Kasia's mum, who visited to help us out/ put us to shame. All the remaining un-manured sections of the plot, both on our side and Toni's were dug over and most of the final dregs of the manure we acquired last year were spread over them. Today we'll get them covered up to suppress the weeds until spring.

A north-eastern autumnal scene; the womenfolk are tilling the land
The only down side to scattering the manure around the place is that the pile has become infested with large quantities of bindweed root. We did our best to pull all of this out before scattering the manure, but inevitably some will have gotten into the barrow-loads we tipped onto the land. Ho-hum. Once we've finally cleared all the manure pile, we're going to have to attack the bind weed that has been growing underneath it. I've banged on about bindweed on many an occasion (Patchy Growth, passim), but turning over a couple of paving stones near where the manure was revealed a thriving git-storm of the stuff.

My nemesis. "Ah, Mr Bindweed. You know, we're not so different, you and I..."
There's probably nothing quite so satisfying as pulling up huge piles of this awful bounder of a plant. Slowly but surely, with every turned-over paving slab and every grabbed handful of roots, we'll prevail.

In harvesting news, we dug up the rest of the small patch of parsnips we planted way back in the spring. These probably win the prize for most amazing smell as they come out the ground; vegetal, peppery, floral and maybe a bit vanillary too- unbelievably good. As I've mentioned before, we really didn't do anything with these, although I have read that they do quite well in soil that isn't too rich with manure or fertiliser, which can cause them to split and send down additional roots. They've grown in a section that we had previously referred to as "death-patch", in recognition of it's amazing germination-preventing properties. Good old parsnips bucked that particular trend.
Hassle-free roots
Some of ours have split anyway; maybe they encountered a stone or something. In any case, we're well chuffed with these and will certainly plant them again - probably a good deal more of them - next spring. The first batch of these we ate were just simply roasted. They were, even if I say so myself, shit-hot. I doubt if this batch will be treated much differently.

All cleaned up
Anyway, another fine day is in prospect (I know, mad eh?!), so, having filled up on porridge, we're back off down the plot. Hurrah.


  1. I haven't found a better way to cook parsnips than roasting. I like your attempt to analyse essence of parsnip!

    1. Ha, cheers Mal. It's quite an aroma. I think you're right about roasting them. They make a great silky soup, but it seems a shame to soupify them when they're so fresh and full of flavour.

  2. Bindweed - very aptly named - a real bind! Hope you don't compost it (I'm sure you don't but just thought I'd mention it!)

    1. Hi Sue. No we certainly don't compost it, but thanks for saying! It has been frustrating enough finding that it has grown through our manure pile without adding to our bindweed woes. We'll find out how successful we've been in getting rid of it next summer.

  3. I think we all hate bindweed and I hope you manage to get the majority of it out.

    Your parsnips look great. I don't think I've ever had a year where at least some of the roots haven't split...I don't really care to be honest...I'm not growing for looks but for taste!!

    I love them roasted but also add them to stews and casseroles and they make wonderful soup.

    I prefer the taste when they have had a frost or too on them though.


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