Seed Sharing and Chitting

Threadspider and I are sharing our seed order again and met up for coffee recently to divide the spoils. Our allotment society is using Dobies as the discount supplier of choice this year, though we did find ourselves putting in a sly side order with the previous supplier DT Brown in order to have all the varieties we want to grow.

We're trying a new parsnip variety (to us anyway): elegant Cobham Improved Marrow which tapers neatly, is resistant to canker and reputed to not grow too big. In our clay soil the massive champion style varieties would only twist and fork themselves into something resembling a sea monster and so would be hell to prepare for cooking.

That clay soil and parsnip seed's notoriety for being more than a bit reluctant to germinate means I chit them in addition to my seed potatoes. For parsnips this means keeping them spread out on some damp kitchen towel in my seed sprouter. As soon as their tiny roots appear (and before they drill those roots through the paper towel) I transfer them to loo roll (aka TP) tubes filled with some nice fine compost. Parsnips are also notorious for not liking any root disturbance (so its usually recommended they're sown in their permanent position rather than being transplanted later) and I've found the extra length of the loo roll tube gets over this problem. If you're feeling really flush, you could invest in some Rootrainers instead. For more on growing parsnips you might like to read the guide I wrote last year.

We're also trying a new mangetout pea this year, Carouby De Maussane. It was the purple flowers which persuaded us to buy them and we both got incredibly excited when I opened the packet to reveal these brownish red seeds. We wondered if it meant purple podded peas as well as flowers, but sadly Rebsie's guide shows they won't be. I'll keep you posted on what we think of the flavour.


  1. I've grown Carouby de Mausanne before and liked it. Grows quite tall, prolific, and has large pods. Need to keep on top of the picking!

  2. Love the idea of parsnips in loo rolls, I must try that as I'm never very successful with them. I'd love to know more about your seed sprouter -- I have not come across such an item here in the U.S.
    Ali in Maine

  3. The link to parsnip advice was welcomed; I need so much help as the proper growing starts in ernest!

  4. Thanks for the parsnip germination advice VP. I adore parsnips but do struggle with germination. I'll follow your guidelines and see how I go.

  5. Rootrainers are truly brilliant. I've used them for sweet peas, with superb results.

    Parsnips - well, of all shop-bought veg, I reckon they are about the most readily available and taste about the same as home grown, so I don't bother with them. Or is that blasphemous?

    Carrots, on the other hand, must be home grown and preferably eaten within hours of lifting.

  6. I love seed hsaring--it rocks! Because unless you're a grower, you don't really need 25 beets! My turnips have already sprouted! I didn't find parsnips, more's the pity. And is chitting like chatting?

  7. Loo rolls may be the best place to put parsnips.

    I wish I were able to grow peas. Never managed it.


  8. Well there's a thing-I was out buying rootrainers only this morning whilst you were beavering away on this post AND sowing parsnip seeds, but straight into the allotment soil. It will be interesting to see how we fare.

  9. I've grown Carouby de Mausanne too and it's both pretty and yummy.

    I can't believe Nige has poo-pooed home-grown 'snips - you can pick them at just the right stage - when they've been sweetened by a hint of frost. That's something you can't guarantee from the shop-bought ones.

  10. G grows parsnips and when I asked him about pre-germination he looked at me as though I was barking mad (again!). He just sows them in situ and they come up fine! Will leave it to him and wait for my supply come the winter

  11. good luck! Hope all the pretty little seeds provide lots of yummy food this season.

  12. Colleen - thanks for the info. I see Homebase is selling this variety this year in their veg plant range.

    Henbogle - welcome :) You don't need a seed sprouter - they're usually used for sprouting seeds for salads. A saucer with paper towel on it will serve just as well as long as the paper is kept damp. With the sprouter, the paper keeps damp for longer.

    TIG - I hope you find it useful

    PMN - I have great difficulty in growing carrots :( It's also a psychological thing for me with parsnips - I'm proud about being able to provide fresh veg for our Christmas meal. Parsnips enable me to do that.

    Monica - tee hee, I like your play with words!

    Lucy - you can chit peas too just in the way I've described for parsnips. I do that so the mice don't get them.

    TS - I tried sowing direct but it didn't work for :( Terry Walton reckons germination rates for parsnips have got worse over the years and he chits his too

    Geoff - we agree on parsnips at least! ;)

    PG - then G is very lucky and a much better veg grower than I am :)

    Michelle - I hope so to. That's the thing about March it promises much for the growing year ahead :)

  13. A great way to cut down on the cost of seeds. I am growing 'Carouby de Maussane' too this year but the seeds are still in the packet :)

  14. Anna - that pea certainly seems fashionable this year. I hadn't heard of it until we were looking at the catalogues, now it seems to be everywhere!

  15. Gwenfar - how did I miss you out? :(

    I look forward to hearing how you get on...


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