Planting parsnips and growing in small spaces

I am looking forward to planting my parsnips in a couple of weeks, an unusual statement I know, but let me elaborate.  Parsnips are easy to grow, you just need lots of time, they are the favourite food of one of my closest friends. The seeds came from a community garden on Guernsey; where I grew up.  I have even promised to send the gardeners pictures.  The idea that their seeds would end up on a sixth floor balcony in Stratford, East London really amused them.


I have high expectation of these parsnip seeds, this is a specimen from the community garden!

Parsnips are often the first seeds to be planted in the new year and a sign it’s time to start thinking about harvesting and refreshing the soil in my winter vegetable troughs.  It’s also time to make sure I have seeds for the year.  My go to blog for gardening in small space is the wonderful and inspiring Vertical Veg.  Mark started the blog to document his journey of growing food in a small space but it has grown into a resource for keen gardeners who only have a balcony, patio or small patch.  It covers what to grow when, the varieties that cope in pots, pests, making compost and how to make the containers you need out of just about anything.  It was certainly my inspiration to grow more food on our balcony.  I get such joy from popping on to the balcony to pick strawberries for my breakfast, parsley or salad leaves for lunch, carrots or French beans for dinner and best of all a sprig of mint for a G&T!

Balcony troughs last summer

Balcony troughs last summer

If you only have a window sill or tiny balcony then herbs are usually your best bet, growing them from seed will normally get a better plant as its not been forced. Supermarket ones are not designed to live long, although some can defy expectations. If you have more space, acquire or make, the largest and deepest containers that will work in the space, just don’t forget to add some drainage holes.  Containers can need lots more water than you think, especially in the summer.  Check out Vertical Veg for what will work in your size pots and for the amount of sun you get.

I get my seeds for Jekka’s Herbs or Tamar Organics as they are Ethical Consumer “best buys”.  The companies are committed to providing a wide range of open pollinated seeds, helping protect the biodiversity of our environment.

I make much of my own compost from our own food waste with the help of Bokashi microbes, saving me money, improving soil health and avoiding the challenges of getting it home.  I’ll explain how I make that work in a small space in another post.

Do let me know know what you are growing, or planning to grow, this year.

2 thoughts on “Planting parsnips and growing in small spaces

  1. Gosh, that parsnip is as big as you Little Green Duckie! I totally agree with you regarding picking and using produce that you have grown. In the summer months I get so much happiness from picking my raspberries in the morning to put on my cereal. I would also recommend growing sweet peas for people who only have a small space. They can be grown in deep pots so perfect for a balcony! I planted my sweet peas in November and another small batch will be planted in March. Last year I was able to cut a fresh posy for my home every day from the first week in June to mid August. My home smelt beautiful and I was able to give posies as gifts when visiting friends- they were very impressed!

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