Hello and welcome to Organic Edible Garden. Today we’re going to look at growing some root crops like parsnips and carrots which are best sown directly into the ground. Early spring is the best time of year to plant your parsnips and carrots. They need an even amount of moisture to have good germination. One of the most important things when planting root crops like carrots and parsnips is getting your soil right. They need free-draining soil that’s quite friable. In this case if the soil gets compacted like us over winter and it’s quite hard, it’s best to loosen it off with a fork. You don’t want big stones or clumps in your soil because that will cause your roots to fork. And if there’s any weeds along the way I can pull them out at the same time. When growing parsnips or carrots or any root crop it’s really important that you have the potassium in the soil. This is what sizes your roots up and makes them grow quickly. This is an old bed that we used as an insectary and it had nothing in it, just the flowers, because the one thing we don’t want in here is a high nitrogen fertiliser. If we did we’d get a lot of growth on our parsnips and carrots – lots of leaves but very little root. So in this case we’re going to put some potassium back into the soil. And the first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to add some of the fireplace ash. Fireplace ash is a really good form of soluble potash. So we’re going to add this to the soil. The only thing about it is, it does alkalanise the soil. So if you’ve already put lime on your bed, it’s maybe best not to use this source. What we’re also going to put on is our volcanic rock. This is also high in potash as well as other elements, but low in nitrogen which is important. Next I’m going to use my trusty rototiller to work the ash and rock dust into the soil. If you don’t have one of these great tools, a fork will do the job just as well. I try to make the bed flat now so when we sow our seeds and cover them, they can all be covered evenly. Now that the bed’s flat, we’re going to divide the bed into three. The first third is going to be carrots, then we’re going to put some beets or baby beets, and then finally we’re going to plant our parsnips. The reason we’re not mixing rows of carrots and parsnips is parsnips take a long time to mature. Even though we’re planting them in early spring they’ve got to grow all over summer and we’re not going to harvest them till winter, whereas my carrots will be ready all summer long. With both carrots and parsnips it’s really important that you buy fresh seed. This is new seed that I bought this year and I’ll open these packets, but once I’ve finished I’ll probably throw the rest of the seeds away. I won’t keep them again for next year. They just deteriorate that fast. If you’re buying your carrot or parsnip seeds from a hardware store or garden centre, go to a busy place and always take the ones from the back of the shelf which are the newer ones. When sowing your carrots and parsnips you can either broadcast it over the soil, or you can do it in straight lines. The reason I like to grow my carrots and parsnips in straight rows is I find it easier to thin out. Also I like to grow a row of onions or spring onions in between those and the smell of the onions will keep the carrot fly away. Now with the end of the rake I can just make straight lines, or straight-ish. And there is no such thing as a straight line in nature. I’m going to put hoops over this and net it to keep the birds and the dog out, so I don’t want it too close to the edge. Here’s an old type of carrot called Scarlet Nantes – they’re a nice blocky red carrot, that seems to do very well in our conditions. And I’m going to sow them reasonably thickly. This is because if germination is not great, I’ll still get a good take. But also I can thin them out as I need them as baby carrots. In between rows of carrots I’m sowing baby purple onions. The next thing we’re going to do is we’re going to cover them lightly with soil. We don’t want to put them in too deep. But after covering them we are going to stomp them down with end of the rake. By firming down the soil, it keeps the moisture in and prevents them drying out. And it’s the same drill for parsnips. What we’re going to do is we’re just going to put two rows of parsnips in. They grow to almost half a metre tall and they grow really wide so we don’t want to crowd them in. Another good tip for when you’re growing your carrots or parsnips, before you sow them, stick them in the fridge for at least two weeks. This will break the dormancy and help with the germination. Parsnips seeds are larger than the carrot seeds so they probably have to go in a little bit deeper. And finally we’re going to put in the beetroot. We’re going to put in five small lines and plant them reasonably close together. These are Detroit Red and they make great mini beets. I’m just covering these seeds by hand. Unlike the carrots and parsnips, these don’t need to be stomped down. They like growing in light, friable soil. These beetroot will be up in about one or two weeks. But the carrots and parsnips take longer and they can take up to a month. So for that reason we’re going to hoop it. We’re going to cover it with Mikroklima because all the animals will think this is just a bare patch of ground and we don’t want that to happen.