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Transplanting self seeded parsnips

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

It's very easy in a busy vegetable garden to turn your back for a moment and realise that nature has got the better of you. Sometimes, it's the perennial weeds that you really felt you were getting a handle on, or in our case it is often that something has bolted and set seed.

One parsnip was selected to set seed on purpose last year as we are very pro seed saving. However, this parsnip, selected for its size, health and vigour was so happy to go to seed that it was all over before we could get out our paper bags and tie that plant down.

The result was literally hundreds of Parsnip "Tender & True" seeds, irretrievably cast over the vegetable garden and of course, six months later, the amount of parsnips we have is jaw dropping.

Over the Winter and in to Spring, a fair amount of plants have become large enough to harvest as baby vegetables and create a delicious summer Parsnip and Apple Soup, but as we removed the largest roots it revealed many more seedlings underneath, waiting to be dealt with.

Of course, if we had the space in the vegetable garden we could harvest the baby parsnips regularly and eat them up through the summer, eventually clearing the crop and releasing the bed.

This is not going to be an option sadly, as with all of us, space is precious and numerous seedlings are in the greenhouse, vying to be planted out.

Peas, beans, ocra, summer squash all jostle to get in to the now overrun parsnip bed.

Some parsnip babies have had to be sacrificed to the compost heap but it is possible to lift small seedlings and transplant them to where they are needed. With parsnips you need to be careful not to disturb too many lateral roots and to ensure the whole seedling is taken from the ground.

These small seedlings can then be moved in to a straight, deep hole which allows the new parsnip to continue growing as if it had not been moved. For large parsnips, allow 15-20cm between plants and 30-40cm between rows. Water them well and wait for Autumn and the first frosts before lifting lovely big roots.

Of course you can let these set seed if you would like to collect more, but do keep an eye on them or we will all be back here again this time next year.

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