Hose Pipe Bans and Sweeter Tasting Parsnips!

Leaving Parsnips in the ground until after the first frost makes them sweeter.

Apparently this old wives tale is true.  A recent study carried out in Canada placed early picked (and therefore bland tasting) parsnips into cold storage at different temperatures.  Some were stored at 10 degrees Celsius and others were stored at 0 degrees Celsius.  Those roots that were stored at the lower temperature were found to be considerably sweeter, lending credence to this old wives tale.

So, this year, leave your parsnips in the ground until you need them and they will be all the sweeter.

The weather here in Sussex has been cold again turning my thoughts to roast dinners and the delicious taste of roasted parsnips.  Hence this week’s old wives tale!  But yummy Sunday dinner’s aside, it’s a bit of a bore dealing with grey and cold after the lovely warm, dry sunny days we have been experiencing in the last few weeks.

Such little rain has led to a severe drought warning in England and some councils have already enforced hose pipe bans for gardens.  As an Australian this really makes me chuckle.  When severe drought is declared in my country it’s because the landscape is a dust bowl due to absolutely no rain having fallen for years.  The experience of drought being declared after 3 weeks of dry weather strikes me as being a little over-reactionary, if there can be such a word!

Still, the declaration seems to have nudged Mother Nature to remember her duty and the rain is falling.  Water butts, empty and green with algae are refilling and the parched ground is smiling.  Oh woops, wrong country/wrong drought.  I mean everybody has stopped moaning at the lack of rain and has started moaning about the wet weather.  Moaning about the weather – it’s a national pass time.

As a result of the colder weather, I have delayed planting my seedlings by a week or two, hoping that the weather will warm up again.  I have made some changes to my planting plan (thank you commonredstart for the advice!)  I have been busy in the vegetable patch though, hoeing the weeds that have sprung up with abandon during the warm weather and generally tidying and readying my little potting shed for the coming growing season.

How has your week been in your garden?

© Simone L Woods 2012


The Planting Plan

If you want to know when to sow, take your trousers down and sit on the ground.

This is another old wives tale – and what a fantastic one.  I can just imagine scores of gardeners across the country, subjecting their rear ends to all sorts of uncomfortablenss by taking down their trousers and sitting on the ground.  But apparently if the temperature of the soil doesn’t make you leap up with a screech, but actually feels quite comfortable, then it’s the perfect time for sowing your seeds.  The ground is warm enough!  Classic.

Well, for me  it has been a busy week of planning and digging.  I have drawn up my planting plan for this year and I have also dug into my vegetable plots some well rotted cow manure (ewww ‘cow poo!’ exclaimed my 5 year old!).  It is well rotted, almost looks like earth and does not smell at all and is as advised by commonredstart in my previous post  as I really should have done it back in Autumn to give it all a chance to rot down really well and not damage the young seedlings.  Well, better late than never!

In drawing up my planting plan, I was guided by two excellent books.  One was recommended to me by a gardening friend.  This is Joy Larkcom’s ‘Grow Your Own Vegetables’ and is apparently a classic.  It is very detailed and informative and is a great read on its own.  The second was given to me by my boys for my recent birthday.  It is Dr D. G. Hessayon’s ‘The Vegetable & Herb Expert’.  Its sub-heading proclaims ‘The world’s best selling book on vegetables & herbs’.  Well, how can you argue with that?  It’s a must have for the gardening book shelf!

I like the vegetable and herb expert as it is easily read and digested.  It devotes 3-4 pages per vegetable or herb in a consistent format and has seed facts, soil facts, sowing facts, looking after the crop, harvesting and kitchen uses.  It also talks about pests and diseases with some (frankly yucky looking) pictures!  It also explains about crop rotation and plant families.  Very useful.

Grow Your Own Vegetables has this in spades (hah, get it?!) and more, in much more detail.  It’s a real read.  I glad I bought this as I am finding it is great relaxation reading and it’s wonderful to be able to get expert in-depth knowledge about the subject. I think the two books compliment each other very well.

So this is my planting plan.  Let me know if you see any glaring errors, or anything you think will not work.  Any advice is much appreciated.

2012 Vegetable Planting Plan

2012 Vegetable Planting Plan

This coming week, as the weather is so nice, I will be getting the seeds all sown.  I have been advised to do this in seedling pots as it is early still and we may still get some frosts….  I will let you know how I get on!

P.S.  And I’m using my hands to check the temperature of the soil……… I’m a chicken, I know!


The Wanna Be Vegetable Gardener

Hello and welcome to my blog.  This blogs purpose is to document my journey as a beginner in the world of vegetable growing.  I hope you will not only join me on the journey but more importantly help and guide me when I need help and guidance; I will be very pleased and relieved to receive any advice you would be willing to send my way.

It’s not that I have never grown vegetables before, I have.  My vegetable beds are actually a couple of years old now.  But I’ve never been very good at it.  I need to get my proverbial together, stop messing about and apply myself a whole lot more.

As things are yet to really get going, I will be posting weekly for the next couple of weeks….. but things will hot up soon enough and I aim to post twice weekly from about May onwards.

My goal?  To be able to feed my family (that’s four of us – two adults and two little boys) at least partly from the vegetable garden this summer.  I could go ahead all guns blazing and declare that we will be self-sufficeint in vegetables this year (ahem, like I have the past 3 years, only to grow a few carrots and beans!) But not this year.  This year I am going to try and learn how to do it properly.  Learn from you.  And if you are a beginner too – we can go on this journey together.  Journeys are always better when they are shared.  So come on board – subscribe via email and share with me via comments and photos how you are faring.  Lets share and learn and do amazing things with our amazing produce!


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