Tasman Leader : January 30th 2014
20 THE TASMAN LEADER, JANUARY 30, 2014 GARDENING Parsnips sweeter when aged T By STEPHEN McCARTHY his year we have had a good strike of parsnip seed with almost every one germinating. Parsnips seeds must be sown fresh as they lose their viability very quickly, so it pays to check that the seed you have bought still has several years’ sowing time advertised on the packet. Better still, saving your own parsnip seed is a good idea – just let one go to seed the following year (parsnips are biennials) and save the seed in the autumn to sow the following spring or early summer. Keep the seed in a cool dark place with an even temperature. I think the main reason for the successful germination was a tip I read in a vegetable gardening book. The article suggested sowing the seed in the usual manner, watering it well then covering the seed drills with a board to keep in the moisture. We did this and we did not have to water the seeds until they germinated some ten days later when we took the boards off. Lots of shallow-planted seeds suffer from drying out after they have germinated and in open ground in the summer this necessitates daily watering to ensure success. The roots and shoots of newlygerminated plants will not stand to be dried out at this stage and it is most often this which accounts they need to be thinned to a final spacing of 12-15cm apart. Because they can be notoriously patchy germinators it pays to sow seed fairly thickly to ensure getting enough plants. Our neighbour said he sowed a whole packet and only three came up, so he had to do it all over again, the second time with more success. Parsnips are a very old culti- vated vegetable, grown all over Europe for at least the last 2000 years, being the most commonly eaten vegetable until the arrival of the potato from the New World (the Americas, not the supermarket). Being naturally high in sugars they were also rendered down to make a sweet sticky substance akin to golden syrup to replace expensive honey before the introduction of cane sugar. With a regular supply of cane Root crop: Parsnips and their seeds. for a poor seed strike. As with carrots, you need a well-drained, deeply dug soil to grow good parsnips. Also, like carrots, the soil should not contain fresh compost or animal manure as this creates rich pockets of nutrients in the soil and the roots will seek these out, leading to small, multibranched specimens instead of the one large smooth root which we desire. It is advisable to grow both these vegetables on ground which had compost added for last year’s crop in order to avoid this problem. The site can also be dressed with a well-balanced general garden fertiliser to provide nutrients. Along with many vegetables, parsnips do not like a very acidic soil, so a reasonably generous CROSSWORD YOUR STARS TOP 10 THE TOP 10 1. What does the E stand for in OPEC? 2. On 7 October 1769, Nicholas Young on the Endeavour sighted land. What was this piece of land named? 3. Who developed the Lord of the Dance stage show? 4. Which Star Trek star directed Three Men and a Baby? 5. Whose 1989 album Mystery Girl was released posthumously? 6. Kakahukura, a New Zealand butterfly, is better known as what? 7. In a nursery rhyme, who visited the person with a little nut tree? 8. Which continents are separated by the Dardanelles? 9. Which colourful bird has declined greatly in number in Britain, but remains common here? 10. Which planet was downgraded to “dwarf planet” status in 2006? addition of lime or dolomite will alleviate this condition. The plants do not grow much in cooler autumn conditions, and as they take about three-and-a-half months to mature they probably should not be sown after Christmas in cooler areas. They should be sown in a drill about 1-1.5cm deep and in rows about 45cm apart. When they are growing away sugar and the arrival of the potato, parsnips’ popularity began to wane. Today they are used solely as a vegetable for cooking, either boiled or roasted. They can be left in the ground over the winter but need to be used before growing away the following spring, when they develop a hard core which is the developing flower stalk. They are one of the few vegetables which are better after being dug and stored until they are somewhat withered, by which time their natural sweetness will have intensified. SUDOKU NZ CROSSWORD 1. Exporting, 2. Young Nick’s Head, 3. Michael Flatley, 4. Leonard Nimoy, 5. Roy Orbison, 6. Red Admiral, 7. The King of Spain’s daughter, 8. Europe and Asia, 9. Goldfinch, 10. Pluto.
January 23rd 2014
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