Parsnips and family

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Rooted Parsnips in a bowl

Let us consider the bright side of the Beast from the East and other horrors. For people who like to eat food which they’ve grown, winter vegetables are sweetening up nicely thanks to the frosts. Christmas morning could see some of us harvesting parsnips and other roots to take directly to the kitchen, having attained taste perfection in the foul weather.

“Warm and wet” is not a good winter forecast for parsnip-loving people. Parsnips bask in this weather; they require it. Cold makes them taste better. Many feel that the final insult of the past summer is a winter of flooding and snow and threats from Siberia. But the “action” of frost on parsnips is good, as the starch turns to sugar. This can also be said of the carrot, the parsnip’s cousin.

Homegrown Multi-Coloured Carrots

Back in the abominable spring, allotmenteers noted how well their parsnips were germinating, for a change. Excessive rain was a catalyst in the happy state of their parsnips, as is the frost now. With their statuesque seedheads, the natural tendency of these umbellifers is to self-seed all over the place, even from the mother plant.

They are thus armed with a strong germination “inhibitor”. A spring like the one we had — before the rain there was early warmth at just the right moment — was perfect, because the inhibitor needs to be washed off for these rather tricky members of the parsley family to get going.

So many roots on a fanged parsnipBy the way, if you’d rather not scrub “fanged” parsnips like the ones pictured above, sow them in situ and pray for sun and lashings of rain.

Thanks for reading!