Do I have to wait for frost before harvesting parsnips? Diary of a Rocket Gardener

I sometimes struggle to just accept gardening advice, no matter how often I see it touted in books and online. I like to find out for myself, to make sure that the advice is right. One such example is the constant advice not to grow carrots in fresh compost – I’ve honestly never found it to be a problem, and never seen a difference between those I’ve planted into well-dug clay soil versus those I’ve grown in compost in pots. In fact, since I went no-dig, I’ve grown some of the best carrots ever by planting plugs and sowing seeds (sshhh, don’t tell the guys at Rocket Gardens that I ocasionally sow my own seeds!) in no-dig beds that have been liberally topped up with multi purpose compost. So, yes, I like to make up my own mind on some of the gardening ‘rules’.

With this in mind, I got a bit fed up of waiting to harvest my parsnips this year. They are looking so big and inviting, and I’ve dug up plenty of celeriac, carrots and leeks – the comfort food season is calling! This week (early October – no frosts yet) I pulled up a couple of glorious looking parsnips and decided to do a little test. I froze one overnight (trying to mimic frost – apparently the cold makes all the sugars sweeter which is what gives the parsnips their flavour) before chopping into chunks and roasting, and I roasted one straight away.

The results? Undeniably flavourless. I 100% recommend NOT digging up your parsnips early – they were so bland. I will now be waiting patiently for the weather to turn suitably chilly before harvesting any more. Lesson learnt.