The Ultimate Parsnip

It seems there’s never enough time to get all those allotment jobs done. You spend all week planning how to get the most out of those precious weekends on the plot, that when it comes round and tasks are completed, several more are only too keen to rear their eager heads. But that’s what gardening is, a continuous cycle. We do, we learn, we move on.

For me, it was a weekend of turning soil, sowing seeds in the polytunnel, warming beds and chopping and digging over the green manure.2 Collage

However, something I am doing a little differently this year is germinating my parsnip seeds at home in a propagator. I always find parsnip seeds are a bugger to get going. Once they’re off, it’s a different matter. Although the finished result can come in a multitude of unusual shapes and sizes, they still taste great. So now I’ve challenged myself to grow the ultimate parsnip. 4

It took a week for the seeds to germinate, but with their first shoots emerging, I took them up to the allotment.

On the plot I decided to create holes with the dibber then backfill with sifted soil, place the germinated seed on top and lightly cover. I could be way off the mark here but my thinking is, a clean route down will mean less encounters with stones thus preventing forking. Who knows? I’m committed now and the quest for the ultimate parsnip has begun. Wish me well as I set sail on the voyage of parsnip discovery. 1meHowever, if you can keep a secret, there’s another project I’ve been working on, locked away in my garden shed.  But before I return, under the cover of darkness to proceed with my covert operation, I wanted to share some pictures of my wallflowers and our sole Fritillaria meleagris ‘Snakes Head’.

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More of Operation Build soon.. Over and Out! AdeSignature


Roasted Roots Soup

Roasted Roots Soup

October is here, bringing with it misty mornings, nippy nights and a craving for food which warms and comforts.

I’m a big fan of soup and I find myself making a pot of  it every few days at this time of year, with whatever goodies we’re currently pulling up from the veg plot. Ade had great success with his root vegetables over the summer and after I came across a half-forgotten bag of carrots, parsnips and beetroot that we’d harvested a while ago (thank heavens root veg keep so well!), I decided to roast them with our home-grown garlic and thyme before blitzing them into a soup. Roasting only improves the flavour of root vegetables, enhancing their earthy sweetness, so it’s well worth throwing them into a tray with some oil and herbs before simmering them in stock, it really makes a world of difference to the taste.

The result is a rich and robust soup, perfect for a chilly autumn day.



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Serves: 4   Prep Time: 15 minutes  Cooking Time: 75 mins

800g of mixed root vegetables (I used carrots, parsnips and golden globe beetroot)
1 whole garlic bulb
1 onion
3 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1.2 litres of vegetable stock
Crème fraiche to serve
Salt & pepper


Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/Gas Mark 5.

Take a small piece of aluminium foil and place the garlic bulb in the centre. Pour over 1/2 tbsp. of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper, before wrapping it up in the foil to protect it.

Peel and chop the root veg into large chunks and place in a roasting tray. Toss the veg in approx. 2 tbsp. of olive oil, salt, pepper and half of the thyme leaves. Spread out in a single layer, adding the foil-wrapped garlic to the tray. Cook for 1 hour.

When the veggies are nearly cooked,  heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the chopped onion and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Remove the veg tray from the oven and put the garlic bulb to one side, unwrapping the foil and allowing it to cool.

Add the root veg to the pan (along with all the sticky, caramelised goodness from the roasting tray), give everything a good stir and add the stock. Simmer for 10 minutes before turning off the heat.

When the garlic is cool enough to handle, separate the cloves and squeeze out the soft pulp inside onto a chopping board. Stir the garlic pulp and the remaining thyme leaves into the soup.

Transfer to a blender to puree the soup, and return to the pan to re-heat gently.

Ladle into warmed bowls with a dollop of crème fraiche and a garnish of fresh thyme sprigs.

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