Our parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes are harvested mechanically in the winter which is a problem with our heavy soil: the crop comes up encased in great clods of earth and even the toughest tractor can get bogged down. To ameliorate this, we rent some land near Exeter which has a much lighter, sandy soil, allowing more reliable access. It also helps reduce fanging in the parsnips (when the root forks into two) although most of this is caused by nematode damage to the root tip.
This week we brought in the last of the crop and early results are looking mixed at best. The parsnips were planted during a particularly dry spell (the soil playing against us on this occasion) and as a result were slow to establish and put on bulk, resulting in many undersized specimens. They subsequently suffered a carrot fly attack, and the damage caused allowed canker to get hold. All told, not so good. They are going through the grading process as I write and it will be a couple of weeks before we have an accurate picture of how we’ve done.
On the plus side, the Jerusalem artichokes look really good and are probably going to provide a heavier yield than expected, so the two crops should balance each other out – always assuming we can persuade you to accept a few more artichokes. It is a sorry fact that parsnips are generally preferred to the humble artichoke. Closer to home we are making steady progress through the purple sprouting broccoli: Rudolph, our earliest variety, is now finished and the Red Spear is nearly done too. Next on the horizon is Red Head which we will start on for the first time this week.