The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Time to Harvest Parsnips & Burdock

March 20th, 2010 · 2 Comments · Posted in garden

These parsnips are a year old

These parsnips are a year old

We love parsnips for their ethereal, rooty sweetness. But they are not an easy vegetable. First, they can be tough to get out of the ground. The roots sometimes go very deep.  One of the parsnips I harvested this morning was 20 inches long.

Parsnips are also slow. In fact, they are best eaten a year after planting. Fortunately, they over-winter very well in the ground and only grow sweeter after being touched by frost. These parsnips you see here were planted March 9, 2009. So we are running a little behind schedule with our new planting. Harvesting parsnips is now part of our garden bed preparation.

Some guides advise sprouting the parsnip seeds in a dish before planting. But I don’t bother. I plant them directly in the ground and keep them well-watered until they germinate.

Can you guess what this is?

Can you guess what this is?

Something new for us is burdock. Burdock root is popular in Japan for its sweet, pungent flavor. The plant itself is a bienniel and perhaps best known for the nasty burrs it produces in its second year order in to spread its seed. The taproot can grow up to three feet long, and I’m afraid even with my spade shovel I left most of these roots in the ground. I was inspired to plant them by a book I consider one of the best in the food and gardening world, The Forager’s Harvest, by Samuel Thayer. His writing is to be savored as much as the food plants he writes about.

I’m not sure, exactly, what we’ll be doing with this burdock. But I’m looking forward to a new food adventure. Are we turning Japanese?

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