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Vegetable Garden

Quick tip: Sowing Parsnips

April 6, 2013

sowing parsnips

Have you ever found parsnip germination to be temperamental? I’ve tried sowing them from early February through to May and the most successful germination has taken place once the temperatures have warmed up, around April and in particular, when I’ve sown them directly on top of multi-purpose compost in my vegetable beds.

Sowing parsnips

Don’t be deceived by a lack of foliage – there’s roots under there

This year I’ve delayed sowing everything until now (April) as it’s either been too wet or recently, too cold. We’re still not out of the woods in terms of temperatures but I’m taking a gamble and hoping the weather forecasts are correct and that the days, and in particular the nights, should be warming up soon. If they don’t I’ll cover the bed with horticulture fleece to protect the newly sown seeds or seedlings a bit more.

It’s worth remembering that unlike most other vegetables, parsnip seeds do not have a long shelf life – it’s best to replace them every year.

You can see from the top picture how stony our soil is and no matter how often we pick stones, they still keep coming back! We also have a heavy clay soil and all the books tell us that we shouldn’t grow carrots or parsnips in either soil type, but every year we do and every year they grow (so it’s always worth trying everything out and seeing for yourself). Okay so they’re not award-winning monsters but they are tasty!

How to grow parsnips

My quick tip for successful parsnip germination is: Line the cool clay shallow drill with a layer of multi-purpose compost, sow the parsnip seeds approx 2 cm deep then cover them with another layer of compost before finally covering them over with a thin layer of top soil and watering. Then patiently wait to see the little parsnip shoots appear. Germination can take as long as three weeks so don’t despair if nothing happens for a while.

Have you ever had problems growing parsnips?

Food & Drink

Festive vegetable recipes

December 7, 2011

cranberry sauce recipeWe’ve been cooking this Christmas day menu for several years as we love every scrap of it! The vegetables (except the cranberries) will have been growing or stored from the garden which reduces the grocery bill considerably too.

All the recipes were taken from a selection of Good Food and Good Housekeeping magazines that have long since been recycled. There’s usually only the five of us sitting down for dinner but we love heating up the leftovers for the following day or two, which is why we cook so much.

Traditionally Christmas eve in our house is all about preparing the food for the big meal the following day. It’s the day we bake the ham so the stove is usually on for hours and the whole family gets involved baking, chopping, peeling, rinsing, stirring, decorating and tasting.

You can find the recipes for the vegetable dishes below if you’d like to try something different and I’ll post the meaty ones separately for the non vegetarians (the sprout recipe is here).

Christmas Dinner Menu


Creamy Lemon, Pancetta & Rosemary Turkey
Sausage Nut Stuffing Cake
Brussels Sprouts in Pine Nut Butter
Roast Honey Glazed
Carrots and Parsnips
Steamed Rainbow Swiss Chard
Pigs in Blankets
Bacon Wrapped Prunes
Creamy Leeks
Roast Potatoes
Cranberry Sauce
Bread Sauce

* * * * * * * * * *

Creamy Baked Leek Recipe

(Serves 3 – 4)

2 large leeks
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
salt & pepper
1 tsp fresh thyme
60g grated Parmesan
2 tbsp cream

Chop the green leaves off the leeks and cut the white stem into rounds and rinse well. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add the leeks, thyme, butter and salt allowing them to sweat, stirring frequently. Add half the Parmesan cheese and the cream. If it looks dry add a little water. Place into an oven proof dish, sprinkle over the remaining Parmesan and bake for 15 minutes until browned on top.

Roast Honey Glazed Carrots and Parsnips

(Serves 8)

800g each of carrots and parsnips
4 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp chopped lemon thyme (if you can get it)
zest & juice of 1 lemon<
75g butter, chopped
600ml hot turkey stock

Roughly chop the carrots and parsnips, place in a large pan of boiling water and cook for 3-4 mins. Drain well. Put the honey, thyme, lemon zest and juice into a large bowl. Season and mix well, then add to the carrots and parsnips. Mix to coat. Put into a large, lightly greased ovenproof dish. Stir butter into the hot stock, pour it over the vegetables and cover with greased foil. Bake for 1 hr, removing the foil 15 mins before the end of the cooking time until tender and golden.

Not vegetable or meat but delicious….

Bread Sauce Recipe

(Serves 8-10)
600ml milk

50g butter
1 onion
6 cloves
6 peppercorns
2 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
3 thyme sprigs
100g white breadcrumbs
4 tbsp single cream or mascarpone
pinch nutmeg, freshly grated

Simmer the milk, butter, onion, cloves, peppercorns, garlic and herbs in a pan for 20 mins. Strain and return the liquid to the pan. Add the breadcrumbs and simmer for 3-4 mins. Stir in the cream or mascarpone. Add nutmeg, season and serve. (This can be made up to 3 days ahead and reheated.)

Food & Drink

Parsnip Soup Recipe

February 6, 2011


Dug up by Mr G yesterday

This is one of the quickest soup’s I’ve ever made and if you’re a lover of parsnips (as we are), a great way of using them up if you have a few spare.

We like to eat thick soups in the colder months as they somehow seem more substantial and warming. All that means is that I don’t add as much stock as I would if I wanted a thinner soup.

The original recipe for this bakes the flour and Parmesan coated parsnips in the oven first, but as the cooker wasn’t fired up I skipped this part. I’m sure they would have tasted even more gorgeous prepared in this way.


Not sure how to tackle this one!

Four or five parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 litre chicken stock
Onion, chopped
Garlic, chopped
15g butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan (or similar) cheese


Melt the butter and soften the onion and garlic without colouring.  Add the parsnips, stock and seasoning and cook until the parsnips are soft which takes about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and liquidize. Pour into the bowls and grate some cheese on top.


Thick Parsnip Soup

Fair play to our children for trying this for the first time today. All three tried it, one loved it, one liked it then changed her mind, one wasn’t sure but ate it all anyway. 

Maybe next time I’ll try roasting the parsnips first and if I can stop myself from eating them at that stage, have a go at cooking the yummy sounding Roasted Parsnip and Parmesan Soup, in the meantime this was quicker than heating up a packet soup.

Vegetable Garden

Snowy blanket – Winter Vegetable Garden

January 13, 2010

Winter Vegetable GardenI know that a layer of snow is supposed to act as a good insulating blanket but this is ridiculous!  We did manage to dig up a few parsnips and leeks a couple of days ago (which tasted delicious) but it may be a while before we try the savoy cabbages!  Feeling sorry for the purple sprouting broccoli this year…first the caterpillars and now this!

This photo was taken this morning when the rest of the country seems to be talking about a big thaw…. ordinarily there would be three vegetable beds in this picture still containing PSB, spinach, chard and parsnips.