Parsnip – Gladiator F1

This is an absolute beast of a parsnip that lives up to it’s name. An RHS award winning parsnip at the time of publishing the roots when mature can get to a good 10 cm across and might win you a prize in the biggest parsnip competition.

Sow in Feb/March. Parsnips are notoriously slow to germinate so either sow three seeds together, 1.5 cm deep together. Space each station 23 cm apart. You can sow raddish in the gaps which will help mark the row and enable you to remove weeds easily. Alternatively try pre chitting which involves laying the seeds on damp kitchen roll, cover with more damp kitchen roll and store in a warm place, in a sealed plastic bag or box. After a week start checking daily to see if you can see a tiny shoot starting to emerge. When you do get ready to transplant in to their final positions ASAP before the root gets too big. Tweezers are the best way to pick the seeds up to stop you damaging the shoot.

In the kitchen:

This is a family sized parsnip. One parsnip will happily serve 4 alongside roast potatoes. Personally I don’t think it tastes anything special as I suspect it has been grown for exhibiting, rather than flavour. You will probably have to cut out the central core which is large and can be a bit tough. I like parsnips best roasted, although you can make a mash from them.

Yield and plant health:

Huge parsnips which have to be seen to be believed.  I did find that the sizes were a little erratic and they forked heavily on my clay even though it had not had compost applied and because of their length were hard to get out of the clay.  For exhibition use, growing in sand filled drain pipes would produce a much more attractive root.

They are supposedly canker resistant although the ones I grew this year showed some signs of potential canker and also splitting.

Like many parsnips germination time was lengthy (about 25 days) and a bit erratic. Like all parsnips you must buy fresh seed each year.

Grow again? Probably not. It’s just too big for every day use and The Student offers vastly superior flavour.