Beyond Nowra 34° 53' S 150° 36' E

Festive parsnips

December 29th, 2011
by Mike Leggett

The parsnips were planted for cropping during the Festive season, so on the 24th December a fork was taken to the small vegie patch established this winter. The generous rainfall experienced throughout the Spring had obviously benefitted the parsnips as they had produced so much foliage that they had already smothered some neighbouring plants. Would there be anything under all the leaf?
As can be seen from the crop, there are some big specimens and small ones too – it was an object lesson in providing vegies with plenty of room to grow. If I had been more ruthless after the seedlings had established, by thinning them out to have three inches (8cm) between them, I would have had a whole crop of ‘big ones’.
As it turned out, the medium sized ones roasted the best with the turkey. So it’s really a matter of growing for the planned dish, thinning out accordingly!

3 Responses to “Festive parsnips”

  1. 1 Jo Law
    January 4th, 2012 at 10:38

    What a handsome crop and how enviable to have turkey and roasted home-grown parsnip for Christmas dinner!

    Good tips on the thinning out – it’s quite a hard thing to do to pull out those healthy looking seedlings (although in the past some passing birds or snails did that for my daikon crop).

    How is the soil down in Nowra? Does your garden benefit from being an old flood plain? Our soild is very clay-y 30cm down. We have built it up with our own compost and manure over the last few years. But as far as root crops go, they all hit that impenetrable barrier as some point creating some amusing looking vegetables.

  2. 2 Mike
    January 4th, 2012 at 15:57

    Indirectly, the garden does benefit from the flood plain soil, as it was brought from there and laid over the rock platforms on which the house is built. The area is mentioned in a recent local history as being rough and scrubby sandstone bushland before the housing was put in during the 1960s. The garden style in those days was based on the English model of rolling lawns and herbaceous borders; when we took the house over at the beginning of 2011, the previous owners had extended the precept with extensive plantings of camellias, roses and dahlias.
    During the cooler winter months I was outside for an average of two hours a day, changing all of this!
    Some of the flat rock was visible so I began by investigating how extensive it was in the both the front and the back of the house, peeling back the lawn, piling it into raised beds on either side. The soil was between 10 and 20 cms in depth in the flat areas with cracks and crevices elsewhere; these defined the eventual shape of the beds which were later planted with a variety of regional natives and then mulched with wood chips. Where necessary, incumbent plants were removed, but most were left as part of the process of gradually switching from one culture, to another.
    The small vegie patch was raised, extended and enriched with compost during this process, to a depth of about 30 cm. A range of small plantings were put in to determine, like the rest of the garden, which varieties would be happiest in their settings. Besides the parsnips, zuccini, aubergine (eggplant), dwarf beans, pumpkin and tomato are in the ground. So far, everything seems to be happy, though the rain I think has been an important factor. We have a 5000 litre water tank and this is to be plumbed in to a reticulation system for the vegies as soon as the cool weather returns.

  3. 3 Mike Leggett
    January 6th, 2012 at 09:16

    The local history book mentioned above is: ‘Track by the River’ by ‘The residents of Illaroo Road’ © Kathy Sharpe, privately published and now only available through the Shoalhaven Historical Society and the Nowra public library. The actual quote about the area on which the house is built is: “…no one in their right mind would buy land and live there, it’s just tea tree and mossy wet rocks.” (OK, so we’re mad….. but’s it’s beautiful!)