Parsnips Picked (Or, Huzzah 2009!)

Javelin Parsnips
Parsnip Harvest

Let’s hear it for 2009.

Exactly 135 days after these javelin parsnips (a hybrid known for its  slender root, hardiness, and resistance to canker) were planted, they were harvested.

Sure, just a couple of days ago POD was pretty certain they’d kicked it. After all, it seemed as though it rained almost non-stop between mid-August and late-December, this was one of the chillier Philly falls in recent memory, temperatures well below freezing and last week’s two feet of snow couldn’t have helped matters, and by November/December, the little blue deck sees all of an hour of direct sunshine each day (when the sun shines). Disaster, right?

But then it rained for two days, the soil thawed, and Sunday dawned bright and sunny.

Rare and precious sunshine means puttering around outside. Outside means the little blue deck. While cleaning up, transporting pots into the basement, and basically closing up shop, I decided to dig into the parsnip pots. And guess what? Underneath the freeze-dried and dead, dead leaves were creamy white parsnips.

All told, the perimeters of three five-gallon buckets produced just over a 1/2 pound of parsnips. Not bad for the first foray into parsnip planting. Definitely a do-again for next year. After all, what could be more satisfying than roasting up freshly picked vegetables in December?

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Persnickety Parsnips

POD’s figuring things out as we grow along, but parsnips, like any other veggie, seem to be a little fussy. But, so far, so good — every one of the javelins has germinated and they’re sprouting right along.

  • Rich, deep, well-fertilized soil
  • Go light on the nitrogen, though — evidently they don’t like it
  • Full flavor develops when the roots have been exposed to near-freezing temperatures
  • POD’s hopes for a Thanksgiving crop may not pan out — perhaps more like a February harvest, just when they’ll be most needed
  • Full sun/partial shade okay

Fall Fell

lettuce seedsWell, dear friends, Fall has touched down in South Philly. Which is not to say we won’t be slammed with a few more 90 degree days; but generally, temps are hovering in the 70s during the day and low 60s at night. The biggest challenge, though, is the rapidly dwindling sun exposure. POD enjoys at least six to eight hours of sun throughout most of the summer but by September, it receives only a few hours of morning sun.

What does this mean for POD’s zone 7 garden? Major work on deck.

As you can see from yesterday’s post, there’s been some reorganization.  First, all containers have been crammed together to maximize sun exposure. Both the Gold Nugget and Isis Candy cherry tomatoes bit the dust, as did the spacemaster and lemon cucumbers (tune in for more info on Friday).  Filling their shoes are several more parsnip seeds, French radishes, lettuce, Swiss chard, and carrots.

Parsnips and Radishes of the Future
Parsnips and Radishes of the Future

The Brussels sprout seedlings have also made their way, full-time, onto the deck. Honestly, they’ve been looking a little peaked lately. Here’s hoping they pull through.

Parsnips Peeping

parnsipsA few weeks ago, in a fit of Chicken Little-like panic, fall garden planning began. This is a first for POD — usually the containers get retired when the last of the straggling cucumbers make their way onto a salad and the herbs have been hacked down and transformed into indoor pets.

Not this year, though! POD has visions of making the Thanksgiving trek to Michigan with armfuls of parsnips, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and maybe even some last-gasp chard. (There’s no hope that the wee parmex carrots will amount to much, but hey, it’s worth a shot.)

Planting Fever

Each week (or so) we have a few friends over for dinner, and while I was busy stirring POD’s thai chilies into the evening’s much-delayed lemongrass curry, our dear friend began asking all sorts of interesting gardening questions.

Clearly he’s caught the gardening bug. Poor thing.

He came to his addiction late, though, and is wondering what the heck he can still plant now that daylight is on the wane and Philadelphia has turned into the soupy humid swamp that is late July.

So, dear friend, here are a few suggestions for July, who knows, you just may see them sprouting up on deck soon. Let’s give it a whirl together:

Brussels Sprouts (October-December harvest)
Cauliflower
(December-March harvest) — Look for the following varieties: Needles and Purple Cape
Parsnips (November-December harvest)

Check back in a couple of weeks and see what works for August sowing.