Sunday, 29 March 2009

Right on cue

Last year our parsnips were superb. They were big, though a bit stumpy, tasty and not at all woody. We grew them by chitting the seeds on damp paper before planting the ones that sprouted into fibre pots. Once the plants were big enough these pots were then planted with their bases cut off to let the root grow on into the soil. All of this is because parsnips are hard to germinate and don't like having their roots disturbed. Planting plants out rather than sowing seed gives them a better start and avoids the disturbance from thinning. This process worked well so we are repeating it, albeit with some changes: We stated a few weeks later, we're planting the chitted seeds into cardboard tubes rather than fibre pots and they will go into the ground, tube and all, a bit quicker. The changes might help to produce less stumpy roots because there should be less root disturbance.

Last year the chitting process took about eight days and, eight days after starting, roots have appeared on half a dozen seeds. I wasn't too sure about how long it would take because we're using a different variety this year. The chitted and tubed tubers will go straight to the greenhouse.

The strong winds have died down and today the sun is shining down from a clear blue sky. The air is still cool but the forecast is for that to warm up too. Jean is sowing beetroot and tomato seeds. The beetroot, parsnips, sweet peas and some teasels for our garden will go up to the greenhouse to bring them on. We have had so little rain over the past month that the ground is dry and hard on the surface, so a day of heavy, warm rain would be welcome.

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