Sunday, 4 March 2012

GW catch up

It looks like my method for starting off parsnips is becoming popular. It is mentioned in the BBC magazine Gardeners' World, but not mentioning me of course. I did come up with the idea, but so would other people too. It seems common for different people to come up with the same or similar answers to problems independently.

Parsnips are slow to germinate and unpredictable, some say unreliable. I have heard people have said things like 'I have sown hundreds of seeds and only a couple of plants came up'. To avoid the uncertainty we chit the seeds on damp paper, that is spread them on a damp surface and when they sprout a root, transfer them to seed compost in a cardboard tube. As soon as the first leaves appear think about planting them out so you don't disturb the root. We use a bulb planter to bury the tube to the right depth. The cardboard tube rots away leaving the plants to grow nicely.

The germination rate is around 50%, amazing for parsnips, and because you plant out plants, not sow seeds, there's no thinning needed.

Gardeners' World don't plant into cardboard tubes, rather plant straight into the ground. We find the tubes useful, indeed I recommend it.

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