Wednesday, 17 February 2016
Sowing parsnip seeds in loo roll inner tubes
My packets of parsnip seeds say they can be sown from February.
My packets of parsnip seeds have obviously NOT looked at the weather we have had over the last couple of weeks. Winter has thrown every conceivable form of horrible weather at us - rain, sleet, snow, frost and really strong winds ....meaning that the soil is still cold and very wet and if I were to sow parsnips seeds they would most likely not germinate. This is not a veg patch ready for seed sowing of any sort:
Ideally to get large parsnip roots you need a long growing season so what do you do to achieve this when the soil isn't ready for early sowings? As parsnips are a root crop they do not take kindly to being transplanted therefore starting them off in seeds trays in a warmer place is not an option ... but there is a variation that does work: sowing them in long biodegradable pots where you plant out the whole thing in the ground when soil conditions are better and the pot rots away leaving the parsnip root to grow on undisturbed. However these biodegradable pots are quite expensive so why not use the next best thing .... that's free too ... loo roll inner tubes.
You simply stand the inner tubs in a plastic container of some sort and add compost. Parsnip seeds are big enough to allow you to sow one per tube and then cover with about a centimetre of compost. Water sparingly if the compost is dry and place somewhere warm to germinate. Even when warm parsnips seeds can take a while to germinate so be patient. Oh and always buy your seed fresh each year as parsnips seeds do not keep well and most will not germinate from an open packet left over from the year before.
After germination move them to a greenhouse/polytunnel to grow on and once the weather improves and the soil warms up and dries out you can transplant the whole tube in rows leaving 10-15cm between each one.
This method also works for other vegetables with long roots or which do not like being transplanted e.g. sweetcorn and flowers such as sweet peas. However it'll be a while before I start my sweetcorn off as, unlike parsnips, they will not stand cold weather.
In other news luckily cabbages are frost/snow hardy!
If you fancy giving this method a go why not pin me for future reference?
How are things in your garden? Have you sown anything yet or is winter still firmly in charge? Oh and if you are wondering why on earth you'd want to be out gardening at this time of year why not have a look at this blog post I wrote about the advantages of growing your own fruit and veg. It might inspire you!