We have spent most of this week continuing to prepare the plots, digging over vegetable beds and weeding. We have also planted the flower border and have been preparing the rhubarb bed on the orchard plot. On plot two we sowed some parsnip seeds.
There is a steep drop from the main path onto the orchard plot making it extremely difficult to access, especially with my little legs. It would take a huge amount of work and the addition of lorry loads of new soil and organic matter to build the plot up to the same level as the path. So we decided it was best to plant a flower border across the entire width of the plot and to access the plot from the side.
We went off to the garden centre and had much fun selecting suitable plants, keeping in mind that we want to attract pollen loving insects and bees, and of course for it to look totally beautiful.
We selected a mixture of the following plants.
- Alchemilla mollis
- Aquilegia ‘Nora Barlow’
- Aquilegia ‘William Guinness’
- Erigeron Karvinskianus Stallone
- Erysimum Bowles Mauve
- Geranium ‘Johnson’s Blue’
- Geranium ‘Mrs Kendall Clark’
- Nepeta Six Hills Gant catmint
- Salvia nemorosa Ostfriesland
The plants are fairly small at the moment but should provide a stunning floral display once established in late spring and during the summer.
At the opposite end of the plot we plan to grow rhubarb. Talk about beauty and the beast! That part of the plot hasn’t been touched since we acquired the plot and it’s covered with couch weed. It’s been a lengthy process as all the weed roots are removed by hand. It takes about two hours to dig out a square metre properly. As rhubarb plants are heavy feeders it’s important to dig down deep and add lots of organic matter.
We plan to plant three different varieties
- Timperley Early
- Glaskin’s Perpetual
We’re hoping to get these plants in this week, weather permitting.
I spent Saturday afternoon sowing parsnip seeds. After a fairly cold start the sun came out and the wind died down and it was the most blissfully glorious afternoon. Very cheering.
This is the first time we have grown parsnips so this could be a rather steep learning curve.
We have heavy clay soil filled with plenty of stones, not something parsnips like to grow in. So I used the method described in the Kitchen garden magazine. I found my dibber and made a series of holes, about 8 inches apart. I filled the holes with a mixture of compost and grit, to help drainage. I watered the compost/grit filled holes and then placed 3 to 4 seeds 1.5 cm deep in each hole. Parsnip seeds are notoriously bad germinators. The lifespan of a parsnip seed is short, old seeds are unlikely to germinate.
Another potential problem is parsnip seedlings have very weak foliage. As the seed geminates the foliage struggles to break through ‘crusty’ soil and as they give up easily they fail to emerge. Hopefully, the free flowing composty/gritty mixture will help with that problem.
The seeds take AGES to germinate, up to a month depending on soil temperature. The soil temperature needs to be at least 46F for parsnip seeds to germinate. We’ve had a good long spell of warm weather so I decided to take the plunge. Besides parsnip seeds can be sowed until the end of May. If they fail we still have time to sow more.
It took a while to sow all the seeds but we now have 4 rows of parsnips. Two different varieties.
- Gladiator F1: This variety has a RHS Award of Garden Merit. It has silky smooth skin and is supposed to taste deliciously sweet. It is said to be very reliable and has good canker resistance.
- Tender and True: A variety that has long tapering roots that grow beautifully straight in stone free soil.. can’t wait to see ours! It’s supposed to have a good flavour and good canker resistance