Parsnips for Canada ?

Just back from a second day of actual work up on the plot.

Yeah, yeah, yeah we’ve been delivering kitchen scraps and some fortuitously collected horse muck to the compost heap on a fairly regular basis, but work …?

So, at long last, days off and a warm, dry spell coincide and we can get to setting things up.

And the first job is to prune the autumn fruiting raspberries, dig them out wholesale and untangle the nets of bindweed roots that are invading the patch. This is a truly pernicious weed, and amazingly tenacious and alien-like tricksy. If the smallest portion of root survives a whole new plant is created.

Image result for bindweed roots Image result for bindweed roots

The soil is still heavy, a little waterlogged and frosted and my fingers get cold.

But the work is satisfying. There are others up there too. Hard at work, preparing ground that has been too wet and heavy to work. It has not been a cold winter, but unusually heavy rains have dogged traditional winter digging.

People are taking up the last sprouts, cabbage, leeks and. Of course parsnips, which always taste better, traditional wisdom says after those roots have been frosted.

Parsnips there remind me of a discussion on the train to Crewe on Saturday. A farmer somewhere couldn’t make enough money from his potato crops, so he diversified into using the potatoes for crisps: he set up the equipment at home and started. It was extremely successful: the birth of Tyrrel’s crisps based in Leominster, Herefordshire. Their web-site – – is unashamedly nostalgic, but fiercely designer-label and, no doubt based on the latest psychology.

Image result for tyrrells chips

But … he was still growing more potatoes than he could actually use for crisps, so wondered what else he could do; that involved growing potatoes (at which he was clearly very successful).

Some Polish workers, apparently mentioned vodka, and that was that.

Product duly completed he set about marketing it: going to the best of London hotels, to local independent shops, to other prestige outlets, telling the buyers that this was the finest English vodka; that it would sell at £30 per bottle.

A fine, self-assured style of marketing:  it worked. After Tyrell’s Crisps came Chase vodka.

Love a success story!

But then in the local paper (Express and Star) was the story of Little Hay (near Lichfield) farmers, the Bartletts, who are shipping parsnips to the U.S. of A. to be made into crisps as there is the paper says a shortage of parsnips in North America this year.

“The business,” the paper details, “was established in the 1950s … when, at that time, it was on a site of just 50 acres. Today the father and son partnership … own 600 acres of Staffordshire and rent several hundred more …”

They also have a web-site – – and, brilliantly the parsnips they grow are Staffordshire Gold.

marketing  packing

Getting this little “creative county” of mine on the maps eh?

But, speaking of crisps: there is a brief discussion in my house – the night before the bins go out or collection: can Walker’s Crisp bags be recycled. me? I am absolutely sure that they can be – until I check. The silver inside them is not actual metal foil (of course it isn’t, how could it be, I realise now) and the bags have to be put into household waste. There is, however a charity that’ll ship ’em out from Southampton to the Philippines where they will be made into household items. However unlikely this sounds it was definitely on the internet, er somewhere.


One response to this post.

  1. I have never liked Parsnips, but vodka is an excellent use of potato! 🙂


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