First Harvest

July 14, 2016

Well, I thought I knew from long experience what all the weeds were that grew around here, but these ones around the new house had me a bit baffled:

unfamiliar weeds

They sort of looked familiar, but I couldn’t quite place them. It took a visiting gardening friend to put her finger on it

‘Are those … parsnips?’

weeded parsnips

Why yes, it appears that is exactly what they are. Sadly, weed-proof membrane means they aren’t likely to be growing into anything sensible – but then again, we’ve had mad parsnips before

Year End Bonus

March 21, 2014

big digger

I promised you excitement – but even I didn’t realise we were going to wake up to a big shiny yellow digger in our drive this morning. How the council knew it was my birthday,* I have no idea, but they decided to celebrate by sending back the old chap and the young chap and the world’s biggest Tonka Toy to come and sort out the drainage for once and for all. This was fortunate, because the return of the weather gods in the last few days (of which more anon) has conclusively proved that attempting to use a broken three-inch pipe to drain an entire burn in South West Scotland is not going to work. Clearly, all the rain we’ve had has concentrated the council’s mind on matters of drainage – and with the mild winter we’ve had, it would appear they’ve got year end money to burn as it was a very new and clean looking digger (either that or they left their computer logged in with a tech savvy toddler about …)

But it’s not just the council that’s offering up a little year-end bonus. I thought I’d dug up all my parsnips already this year, but spring has proved me wrong

emerging parsnip

Not a bad haul for an empty vegetable bed.

last parsnips

* 45. How on earth did that happen?

Last of the Winter Leeks

April 5, 2013

last of the leeks
This represents not just the last of the winter leeks – but probably 50% of the entire harvest… Riddle me this: why is it my leeks come out looking like spring onions, while everyone else here seems to be able to effortlessly grow enormous sturdy looking leeks – while my parsnips, which nobody else seems to be able to grow at all here, come out looking like this?

giant parsnips

This year, it will be different…

Spring Harvest

February 25, 2013

Heading up to the veg plot yesterday to see what it is like when it isn’t doing its best impression of a rice paddy,* I was surprised to hear the sounds of voices from people working in the woods beyond. It turns out that the landlords have had the cunning wheeze of getting their snowdrops thinned for fun and profit: some nice young men come along with implements of destruction, dig up the snowdrops while they’re still in flower (so they know what they’re getting) and then pay £20 for a tray of singles – and £35 for a tray of doubles. Given that the snowdrops very quickly grow back (in fact they’re better for the thinning) and grow like weeds up here anyway, it’s a bit like finding someone willing to buy rain, or mud, or midgies (all of which I have no doubt you’re going to tell me have a lively online commodity market. OK, maybe not midgies).

Still, it put the landlord in a good mood and meanwhile I have at least managed to convert mud and rain and midge bites into a number of giant parsnips, one of which I traded for one of the landlord’s giant leeks, my own being disappointingly weedy this year. These were then converted into curried parsnip soup for lunch and, ultimately, cycling fuel (or possibly extra padding and/or insulation…) I would like to say that there can be no nobler fate for my garden’s produce but honesty compels me to state that I wouldn’t mind finding someone willing to pay me cold hard cash for crocosmia corms or, come to think of it, ground elder roots, especially if they’re willing to dig them up themselves.

Offers in the comments please. Unless you’re about to tell me that ground elder is edible, in which case I KNOW, it’s just that it also tastes like hedge.

* we have had a week – A WHOLE WEEK, people – of practically no rain. I’ve not yet heard someone complain about the drought but it’s surely only a matter of time

Be Afraid…

September 13, 2012

I may have mentioned that after 2010’s giant mutant parsnips, the other half pronounced last year’s crop ‘disappointingly normal’

Something tells me that’s not going to be a problem this year…

half a parsnip

Unfortunately I only managed to extract half of it (and that after a prolonged battle with the thing) so you can’t see its full magnificence. And if this is what they look like now, with a few more weeks of growing season left, lord knows what I’ll be digging up come the winter…

In other news, has anyone seen my camera? My phone isn’t really cutting it as a replacement.

Lost and Found

June 11, 2012

You know you’ve been neglecting the weeding when you discover a beetroot plant has managed to establish itself right in the middle of the paths between the beds

I have absolutely no idea how it got there, unless I dropped it when I was planting them out. It’s done better than the beetroot plants that have been living a pampered existence in the actual bed which have mostly gone awol so I’m rather reluctant to move it. Hopefully this little dyke of stones will keep it from being trodden on…

Also missing in action: some of my parsnips. I think I got a bit cocky with parsnips. After the monster parsnips of 2010, 2011 saw a fine crop of ‘disappointingly normal’ parsnips so I didn’t really pay too much attention to them this year, thinking I’d got the whole parsnip thing cracked. I chitted them but just put the chitted seed out when it was convenient rather than when they really needed to go out so germination was patchy. I then re-sowed and even got around to weeding them a couple of days ago but when I went up to check yesterday some of the new seedlings had vanished. No mystery about the culprits there though:

Slugs ‘found’ (and promptly ‘lost’ in the chicken run) thanks to the latest weapon in my anti-slug arsenal, the half-orange:

Works a treat. Although the slugs are still probably ahead on points.

All Change Please

March 19, 2012

the last of the parsnips…

… the first of the weeds.

Oh, okay, daisies aren’t really weeds. But they are a sign that we need to step up the cobble clearing. Now that they think they may actually finish painting the Forth Bridge, may I humbly suggest weeding our cobbles as a replacement metaphor?

Signs Of…

January 14, 2011

… well, not spring exactly. Spring is a strong word. But there are signs that the year is on the turn: snowdrops just poking through, ground you can put a fork in, vague glimmers of daylight even after four o’clock and the landlord’s hens producing their first egg.

Oh, and the continued production of monster parsnips

I think this is the biggest yet. I’m never chitting parsnips again, I tell you.

The Downsides of Growing your Own…

November 16, 2010

Meal planning in the townmouse household:

Other half: Ok so that’s Sausage and cabbage on Wednesday, Caldo Verde with cabbage on Thursday and stir fry on Friday. Should we use some of the frozen beans for that?

Me: Or we could have cabbage in the stir fry and save the beans for Saturday

Other half: *senses a cabbage-related theme to the week*

Me: Well we don’t have to have cabbage with everything. we could have parsnips with everything instead.

Delicious new ways with cabbage (and monster parsnips) would be appreciated in the comments…

Just When you Thought it was Safe to go back into the Veg Patch…

October 18, 2010

You thought we were done with the monster parsnips, didn’t you?

Well, the truth is I could see that there was a parsnip lurking in there that looked as though it was going to be a biggie. I’ve been sort of avoiding it until I felt capable of dealing with it, but today the thought of spicy parsnip soup for lunch beckoned and I decided tackling it during daylight hours might be the safest way.


I tried it with the fork and despite getting a good way in, it didn’t seem to be budging at all. So I dug it out gradually, the way you might a fence post and finally worked it free.

That’s 1.3 kg of parsnip right there, that is. I think we’ll be having it for lunch for a while…