Parsnips are not typically found in home gardens, but they should be. Parsnips are root vegetables, related to carrots, but larger, and white in color. They are more cold hardy than carrots, and have a slightly stronger taste, and smell. I actually like parsnips better than carrots when cooked, as they are sweeter, and I prefer the smell of fresh parsnips to carrots.
Parsnip in the ground
HistoryBefore the potato was understood to be edible, the parsnip was the major source of starch in Europe. Even though the potato reigns supreme today, the parsnip is nutritionally superior. Parsnips grew wild in Europe, and were considered a delicacy for the elite of Rome. Eventually, they were brought to America by the Europeans in the 1500’s.Soil & CultivationAs with all root vegetables, parsnips grow best in loose soil. I am not a fan of rototilling as it will destroy your soil life, but I will fork the area I am going to plant my parsnips. They also like some compost for fertilizer. PlantingEarly spring is a good time to plant parsnip seed. The seed is larger than carrot seed and should be planted at a ½ inch depth, ½ inch apart. It takes a long time for germination, so you have to be patient. Some of my parsnips seeds took over a month to germinate. After germination, thin your parsnips out to one every 3 or 4 inches.HarvestingParsnips require a long growing season, and they mature in about 4 months. When harvesting, you cannot simply grab the leaves and pull a mature parsnip out of the ground. The root is usually too strong and the leaves are too weak, so you will simply pull out the leaves. It is best to dig around the parsnip with a shovel to loosen the soil, then you can pull it out. Be careful not to damage the root with your shovel.
Storage & cooking Parsnips can be stored in the ground over the winter, and harvested as needed. However, you should apply a thick layer of mulch before the ground freezes. They actually become sweeter after a couple of frosts. If any parsnips are left come early spring, they must be harvested then. If you wait too long the core becomes stringy and hard. They can also be stored in a root cellar at 90-95% humidity at a temperature of 32-35 degrees. It is best to store them layered in damp saw dust, leaves, or sand. If you don’t have a root cellar, you can always blanch and freeze them. Parsnips can be cooked the same as carrots in most instances. I like them baked or roasted with butter.
Last season I planted perennials in my zone 1 annual garden in an effort to transition away from annual gardening. I'll always have an annual garden, but I am limiting the size, given the amount of energy required for their upkeep. I much prefer to mix in my annuals among my young food forestry.
Transitioning Living Mulch to Wood Chips
So, one half of my annual garden is in transition to a zone 1 food forest with fruit, berries, perennial vegetables, vines, with annuals plugged in wherever I have space.
Plants Burning Under Tarp
I'm transitioning the other half of my annual garden from a living mulch, back to a garden mulched with wood chips. The living mulch does work, but my yields suffered because of crowding. To help with the transition, I'm using a heavy black tarp to kill the vegetation. It takes about a month to work it's magic. In a strict annual garden, I prefer heavy "dead" mulches to a living mulch.
Zone 1 Food Forest Early Spring
In my young zone 1 food forest I prefer a living mulch. The trees and shrubs grow well with the living mulch. Here I am still using a living mulch of clover, dandelion, purple dead nettle, chickweed, chives, garlic, comfrey, and a mix of other beneficial herbs. I still weed occasionally, pulling plants that compete with my trees and shrubs. This would be mostly grass. As time goes on and I allow beneficial plants to take up niches in the system, my weeding chores are less and less.
Zone 1 Food Forest
To recap, for a strict annual garden, I like heavy mulching to improve the soil and stop weeds. Wood chips, shredded hardwood, and straw are nice choices. For food forests, I prefer living mulches. Don't be afraid to use a lot of diversity here. You will save yourself a ton of work if you can identify the helpful "weeds" from the unhelpful. Don't be afraid to let "weeds" find a home in the food forest. For example, I'm lucky to have a few large patches of chickweed. It is a nice groundcover and makes a great salad. Denise and I eat chickweed almost everyday from March until June. I highly recommend learning about wild plants and their uses. You may find those plants you thought you should pull are actually very useful.
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A tyrannical high school principal.
A young anarchist with nothing left to lose.
One way or another, this place is goin’ down.
Matt Moyer is an orphaned teen growing up on a primitive farm in the Pennsylvania coal region. He’s homeschooled by his eccentric and philosophical great-uncle, who’s a stickler for logic, reason, and intellectual honesty. Despite his uncle’s reverence for veracity, inconsistencies arise regarding the old man’s shady past and the teen’s parents.
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Adult language and content.
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