The Parsnips, Carrots, Turnips… and Cats

This year I’m growing three types of vegetables that I’ve never grown before – parsnips, carrots, and turnips.

Parsnip ‘F1 Gladiator’

I love a roast parsnip, and so after realising that I was buying several of these, I thought that I would try growing them myself.

parsnip seedlings and a row of turnips
The Parsnips were transplanted out, whilst the Turnips were direct-sown.

I sowed the parsnip seed back in February, so I’d hope to start being able to pull them in about September.

Rather than sowing direct, as per the packet, I sowed mine in a small tray – only about a dozen seeds – and then transplanted them out in early April. These were the first plants out the door and into the ground, so I’m hoping that they’ll grow into something worthwhile.

Parsnip and Turnip plants in a raised bed
The Parsnip and Turnips have grown well in the raised bed.

The plants are looking healthy at least, and apparently they are ‘full of hybrid vigour’.

Carrot ‘Flyaway F1 Hybrid’ and ‘Sweet Imperator Mix F1’

I honestly don’t remember ever growing carrots before – not even as a child. They’re pretty much a vegetable 101, but it took me many years of childhood to begin to appreciate them.

These days I can’t get enough of them – not so much raw (yet) but I love them steamed, boiled, and roasted, and I’ve been using lots of them to create Carrot and Lentil Soup. They’re packed full of Vitamin A, and so I thought that I would try to stop buying them, and grow them instead.

I sowed two small rows (one of each) in my raised bed.

The Carrot ‘Sweet Imperator Mix F1’ was first – these could be sown in April, and they should produce those ‘vintage’ kinds that you see in the likes of Waitrose and M&S adverts – purple, red, orange, yellow etc, and the Carrot ‘Flyaway F1 Hybrid’ variety are just the standard modern orange colour, but have been developed to be carrot fly resistant (apparently). We’ll see – but I sowed them next to the others in a hope that they mask those too.

Turnip ‘Snowball’ and ‘Armand’

I’ve never knowingly eaten a turnip, but that hasn’t stopped me wanting to try them for myself. I now have two rows of turnips in my raised bed – the first, Turnip ‘Armand’ was sown weeks ago on XXXX and these are now showing lush green tops.

The Turnip ‘Snowball’ variety were sown this morning, so should follow up in a few weeks with their lush greenery.

If you have any interesting recipe ideas for turnips, then please leave them in the comments, but even the Snowball packet suggests that I ‘try glazed turnips – boil the roots then caramelize in sugar’, which sounds a little bit calorific and luxurious. I was thinking of soups, salads, and roasts?

Within 3 months I should have some ready to harvest.

Sowing into the raised bed

The raised bed is certainly making growing these easier, as the root vegetables need the depth. I have some pretty heavy clay soil in most of the back garden, so this will help the veg to head downwards, and should help me to get them back out again without a pickaxe.

I’m not very good at sowing thinly, and can’t quite reach across safely without risk of falling in.

I found that I had to construct some simple removable wire frames over the top, as RubyCat and her feline foes see every single raised bed as a convenient toilet.

anti-cat frame on raised bed to protect from cats
One of the anti-cat frames on the raised bed stops it being a full-time toilet.

Her fat bum has despatched broad beans, raspberry plants, and squash plants in the past, so by cutting some hard wire mesh that I picked up for £1 from poundland, and then using little plastic cable ties to secure the long edges to two wooden beams across the raised bed, means that I can guard them with a simple solution.

I’ve also fashioned a moveable board to block the edge, so that nothing gets under them, and more importantly, the cat excavations don’t creep into the veg rows.

Black cat Ruby with her tongue out
RubyCat will have to find somewhere else to dig for victory.

This allows the veg to grow happily without cat or bird interruption, and eventually I will be able to move them when the plants are big enough.

How have you managed to deter cats from permanently digging up your raised beds? I’d love to hear your ideas.

It’s a roasting bank holiday Monday, and so I’m not doing any gardening in the sunshine. I hope you’ve had a happy gardening weekend. Thanks for reading!


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