Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Boris Parsnip and Boring Brussels

Did you know that the Russian word for Parsnip is pasternak. - no neither did I - it wouldn't sound the same if Dr. Zhivago was written by Boris Parsnip  rather than Boris Pasternak, would it?  I dug up a few Parsnips last week and have stored them in a container in dried earth.  I thought it would be handy to have a few available, just in case we had a hard frost and I wouldn't be able to dig any out.  It turns out we haven't had a single frost yet - perhaps I am tempting fate - anyway parsnips store well overwinter, and we are bound to have a frost eventually.

I have never been very successful with growing Brussels Sprouts.  No matter what I try, be it liming the ground first, or firming the soil - they still wont firm up into decent sized sprouts.  So I gave up and for the last few years I just haven't bothered.  This year I decided to have one more go.  This is what they should look like:-

and this is what mine look like:-
by now the sprouts should have filled the stem, but no, they are small and a little bit blowsy.  I have no idea why they won't grow properly for me - heaven knows I have tried.  They will still be edible of course, but it doesn't make up for the fact that I am a failure as far as they are concerned.

Whereas, my Purple Sprouting Broc, of which I am very proud, is doing marvellously.  Mark Willis at said yesterday that his PSB was already forming a head, which was unusual for this time of year.  So I went to investigate my own - and 'lo and behold:-

one of the plants has already formed a head.  They don't normally do this till the following year, it must be the mild weather that has encouraged it to flower ahead of time.  So it looks like we'll be having supplies sooner than expected.
The mild weather is also helping in the cutting patch where the Zinnia are still flowering with plenty of buds to come, as are:-

the Cosmos, although they are beginning to look a little worse for wear. 
But the Rudbeckia have just about had it - they have had a wonderfully long season, and I have had many bunches of flowers from them - but it is time to cut them back now and hope the plants survive the winter to do just as well next year.


  1. I've started lifting a few parsnips to have with meals, delicious they are too. I've never managed to grow decent sprouts either, I'm keeping my fingers crossed this year, though they don't look to be doing very well again.

  2. Sprouts give you at your peril my friend!! :0) x

  3. I love the idea that someone has a surname that means parsnip. I can't think of any British surnames that are from fruit and veg. I didn't grow either this year. We're not keen on Brussels but we do love parsnips. Because you have to start them off so early I missed the boat. We only took the plot on in January and I spent Feb and March getting it sorted out. I fancy trying them next year. Although canker seems to be a problem on the site and I'm not sure I'll have the space.

  4. Boris parsnip - that made me giggle!! You've got some goodly looking ones there though.

  5. never grown PSB until this year and I was wondering when the heads would form so its good to know that mine arent behind - yet

    I also read somewhere that you can store parsnips in the freezer! Might be worth a try

  6. I need to lift some of my parsnips too, its my first time of growing them so I've got my fingers crossed. Thats a good tip to pick some to store in case the ground gets too frozen. Its so delicious roasted parsnip! Yours look v good.

  7. I haven't looked at my parsnips recently. I grew sprouts (very badly) for years to discover P doesn't really like them much. I don't either so why was I growing them? I think they don't form good tight sprouts if the soil is not firm or fertile. Take your pick...

  8. I've got several varieties of of which has been producing since September! My sprouts are also a bit blowsy on one of the plants and I have no idea why. Fortunately the plants in the other bed are fine. It must be something about the soil?

  9. It's amazing weather here too. A lot of flowers that did'nt do so well in the horrible Summer are actually flowering now. Long may it last. I suspect the Sprouts have too much nitrogen.

  10. If it makes you feel any better, I have also been unsuccessful with growing Sprouts. The Flower Sprout experiment may be significant - because those things are SUPPOSED to be loose and "blowsy".

    P.s. Let's not forget Wilfrid Pickles and Jasper Carrot!

  11. I don't anyone who's grown good sprouts, and I don't even try!
    Amazing to see such flowers at this time of year! Flighty xx

  12. your sprouts look better than mine last time, mine didnt produce ANY!!! and I didnt know that the purple sprouting broccoli are only supposed to produce in the second year, I though mine just failed! your flowers look lovely btw :)

  13. Your purple sprouting broccoli looks great. Mine started producing late summer, quite small heads.

    I grew a great crop of sprouts at the community centre last year. The plants at my allotment this year have tiny firm sprouts on tiny plants. The weeds had got out of control on this bed, might have something to do with it?!

  14. Does your soil have club root as this probably affects sprout growth more than the other brassicas. What are your cauliflowers like?

  15. I am so impressed with your produce Elaine! For me Broccoli is wonderful. I think it looks very pretty too and always makes me happy. When mine flowered I thought they were as pretty as a field of lavander in Provence!! Enjoy:~)

  16. Never been successful growing sprouts? There is one or two golden rules to successful tight sprouts. 1. Planting out soil must be as firm as possible.
    2. Manured and /or composted previous year - not in the current year.
    3. pH ideal 6.7 to 7.0 add lime and also use calcium based nitrogen fertilizer - either calcium nitrate or nitro chalk. Add at planting time and also top dress in July.
    4. Do not grow in modules or plug trays. The plants need to be grown in a seedbed and then planted out bare root to get the wilt/check period. Water in after planting, they wilt but perk up in a few days. This tip is the critical one and secret to tight sprouts. They need the stress period.

    5. Always grow F1 hybrid varieties. Open pollinated are too variable and the cheap seed is false economy

  17. We grow our brassicas in seed trays and grow them on in pots before planting them out as we have club root in our soil and advice is to let the plants develop a root system in the pots before they come into contact with any club root. In that way they have a better chance of withstanding the effects of club root and we end up with tight sprouts.


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