Champion show grower John Trim reveals the secrets of cultivating and staging long parsnips to get you the winner’s red card at the show.
There is a wide range of parsnips to choose from when it comes to show varieties. ‘Gladiator’ is still a regular winner but there are many other F1 varieties to rival it.
Exhibition long parsnips are grown in a similar way to exhibition long carrots and it may be useful for you to read this article on growing long carrots for show in conjunction with this article.
Like long carrots, long parsnips are grown in barrels except they need slightly larger bore holes than carrots. So if you are taking out cores move up to a 4”/100mm pipe and bore the hole 6’ deep. Also only grow four parsnips per barrel as opposed to the six holes you would have for carrots.
Compost growing medium for parsnips
The mix I would recommend is similar to Bob Brown’s carrot mix for the compost but with double the ground limestone (to 8oz.) This will help to ward off canker infection.
- 3 gallons of sterilised top soil
- 3 gallons of multi purpose compost
- 3 gallons of silver sand
- 1 gallon of fine vermiculite
- 6ozs of base top dressing. (from Chempak or Vitax)
- 4ozs of calcified seaweed
- 8ozs of ground limestone
Be very careful when examining the parsnips, it is very easy to scratch the skin around the crown which could lead to a canker infection.
Pulling Long Parsnips from The Barrel
Pulling parsnips is different to the long carrots as they are pulled wet. Move the sand away from the parsnip exposing as much root as you can. Flood the hole with water and let it drain down. Repeat once more then attempt to pull the parsnip.
Get yourself right over the top of the barrel so you are pulling straight. Try to give a little twist as you pull. If there is too much resistance give more water then try again.
Preparing Long Parsnips for the Show
Then wrap each one individually in a dry towel and then wrap a plastic dustbin bag around each root leaving the foliage sticking out of the top.
Once at the show trim the foliage to 3” and display as for the long carrots. Cover with a dry cloth to exclude the light.