Last year I had an amazing crop of parsnips. They were real whoppers and it wasn't an unusual occurrence for me to have to leave the tail end in the ground having already dug down two fork depths.
I grow the variety Tender And True and it's always served me well. But when I thinned out the parsnips this year, I was slightly perturbed by the number which hadn't developed a strong root. I guess it just depends on the soil conditions early on in their life.
Parsnips are one of the first seeds to be sown in the veg garden. Their papery seeds easily get blown away as you try to sow them. Not only that, but the seeds famously only last one year. After that they rapidly lose viability. So why do you get about a thousand in a packet? I always end up with loads left over.
They do say that parsnips should be picked only after the first frost has got at them. Apparently it makes them sweeter. But today, having read about a couple of other bloggers' first parsnip harvests, I just couldn't resist any longer.
Sue had asked me to dig some carrots and swede to go with some lamb, but I decided that parsnip would be a better bet.
So I sunk in the fork and loosened the soil, teasing carefully so as not to snap the parsnip off in the soil. But I didn't need to worry, for here's what emerged from the ground.
Yes, it's a veritable octopus of the parsnip world! It might be alright for a stock, but it's not the ideal shape to ease food preparation. I could understand if we had stony ground or if I'd manured the soil overwinter, but neither of those is the case.
Anyway, I got out the iron and got to work and after a couple of hours steam ironing here's what I managed to come up with.
I lost the taproot on this one, which is the way it should be.
Can't wait to eat it with that lamb.