Home brewing antics can now be found at my other blog; http://gettinggrist.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Sowing Parsnips

Well, not only was the moon in the right phase on Tuesday, but the sun did pretty well too. Not a cloud in the sky as I set forth to sow some parnsips, raddish, carrots and spring onions.

While I was there, I also planted some new strawberries. Not the ideal moon phase for strawberries, so they will no doubt succumb to a plague of locusts or somesuch, but the seeds should be good.

With so many more new people turning to growing their own, I thought I'd set out my method of sowing parsnip seed.

Having prepared the bed a week before, it was a simple case of preparing a 'drill'. I use an old broom handle and stand on it a few times :)

I then water the drill to provide some moisture before sowing the seed. The packets tend to have far more seed than you will use and there's a great temptation to sow them along the whole drill, but that just creates more work further down the line when it comes to thinning out.

What I like to do is to sow three seeds per station. Simply select where you'd like a parsnip to grow and put down three seeds, then carry on in the same manner along the drill.

At the very worst, you should have at least one plant where you want them. If they germinate well, you'll have two or three, but at least the thinning out process is much less than if you sowed a continuous line.

The other benefit for new gardeners of growing in stations like this, is that it's easy to identify the seedlings from the weeds, as you'll usually have clumps of two or three parsnips at the specified intervals.

As I'm on heavy clay, the soil isn't great for outdoor sowing - 'fine tilth' is not something I'm familiar with. So, instead of backfilling the drill with my horrid clay, I use a handful of commercial seed compost and gently cover them over.

Finally, I gently tap down the compost with the end of the rake. There's no need to water again as there's enough moisture in the ground, following that first water when preparing the drill.

The last thing to do is label the row and pray that Mother Nature does her bit. She let us down last year, as all my seed was washed away in the torrents of rain which followed the sowing.

Hopefully this year, we'll be back to prize parsnips like the one pictured at the top of my blog :)

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