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Roots and Perennials Planting Days in Late Summer – First of the Parsnips

parsnips gone to seed

After the heat wave of last week, today is cool and wet.  We had over two inches of rain yesterday and the garden, orchard, geese, ducks, fish, yabbies, wildlife, dams, tanks – everything is loving it.  (Well, the chooks not so much. My chooks are so phobic about water that when I tried to mist them with the hose set to a really fine spray last week to keep them cool, they just stood miserably out in the sun till I turned the hose off).

It’s a perfect planting day. The ground is wet and Bom says that here in northern NSW we can expect under 30°C and patchy rain for the next week.

I’ve planted another round of carrots and beets and spring onions, using my usual system.  There were a lot of casualties to the heat wave out of the last lot, so it’s good to fill the gap.  Succession planting small amounts every month, rather than using up all your garden space in one big planting, is a good insurance strategy.

It’s a too early yet for onions and garlic, but I’ve planted the first round of parsnips for the season.  I had left a couple in the garden to go to seed (that’s the picture), and they reckon it’s the right time to plant seed. Parsnips are from the umbelliferae  family, and like the rest of that family their flowers are good for attracting predatory insects like tachinid flies, assassin bugs, lacewings and parasitic wasps.  So letting a few flower and seed is a pest control insurance payment, and you get free fresh seed as a byproduct.

By standard gardening calendars it’s a bit early for parsnips – they take four months to mature, and they are best harvested after the first frost.  We can’t expect a frost until well into June.  But I’ve learned to trust that plants know what they are doing. Parsnips hold in the ground well so if we get bad conditions for planting next month, we’ll still be eating them in June. And we eat a lot of parsnips.  To my taste they make better mash than potatoes, and they are wonderful in a tray of roast vegetables, which is one of my all-time favourite dinners.

I use the same system for parsnips as for carrots – raised in the shadehouse four or five to a pot, then planted out as a group, potting soil and all with minimal disturbance to the roots.  I find they transplant fine like that, and it saves having to spend a month trying to keep them constantly moist in the garden while they germinate and establish.  And it allows me to put little clumps of them spread around the garden.  They grow taller than you would think, much taller than carrots, so they go towards the southern side of a bed.

If I get some time this afternoon, I’ll also pot up next year’s strawberries The chooks are due to move on to the bed they are in next, and they need a fresh start anyhow.

And I have about 20 seedling Mango trees in the shadehouse, that have been waiting for enough rain to plant.  I think they might be a good fire retardant species, so I’m planting them all along the edge of the fire trail downhill from the house.

And, most important of all, I need a sanity day getting my hands in dirt!


{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Ruth January 25, 2014, 1:49 pm

    Wow – I can’t imagine getting 2 inches of rain on one day. I’ve had a total of 1.5 mm since 19 October 2013!
    Even if I had a tank or a dam it would be empty.
    I havn’t yet worked out a sustainable garden system for my place, but when I do it will probably use grey water.

  • Deb Taylor January 26, 2014, 4:01 pm

    Hi Linda, one of my favourite mashes growing up was carrots and parsnips together. It was something my grandmother did and although she’s no longer around to get a recipe, I reckon they were just mashed with some butter. Yum!

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