Monday, 26 January 2015

Harvest Monday - parsnips (and a starling murmeration)

 I headed to the plot for a few hours on Sunday, it was a bit overcast to begin with but then brightened up....lovely. I did some more work on my hugel bed (which I'll report on another time) and spent a bit of time moving one of my enviromesh covers. It was only covering a couple of small cabbages and a purple sprouting broccoli, so I decided to use it over my leeks, chard and some self-seeded lambs-lettuce, which are all growing in the same bed, slowly but steadily.

And in the morning we'd watched the birdies in our garden, to take part in the RSPB's Big Garden Bird Watch (14 individual birds with 8 species, which is our best year EVER!). There were lots of birds around the plot too, including two robins having a bit of a fight.

Anyhoo, on to the week's veggies which I was pretty pleased with, all from the plot on Sunday:

 Some kale (nero), a little cabbage and my last onions from the shed.

A leek, some little carrots that I'd missed before (they were so sweet, we ate them raw), and two massive parsnips!

Here's one of them cleaned up - no canker, which is good for me. I roasted these lovelies.

And here's why I missed last week's Harvest Monday. I was visiting my folks for a few days down on the south coast. I usually try and get across to Brighton, especially in winter when the huge flocks of starlings roost under the pier.

This is where they used to roost - the West Pier. Not much left of it now, damage from fires and storms. I popped here first as the sunset was so lovely, to get a few pics.
 This is where they roost now, It used to be called the Palace Pier but now is just Brighton Pier. This pic is just to show how far apart they are.
I could easily fill up the blog with dozens of pics of starlings and the piers but will stick to a couple of videos of the mumeration (the name of the flocking action) taken from Brighton Pier on my little camera (you get a great soundtrack from the pier rides and stalls too!)

Looking west, a large flock, just before coming in to roost right under my feet
Looking east, another large flock that flew around for a while longer after the ones on the other side had already headed under the pier.

It was the largest murmeration I've seen there for a few years. I had a feeling it was going to be a good one, there'd been lots of starlings in Norwich too (we even have a reasonable murmeration in the city at the moment, which roosts on an office block).

I love seeing people notice the flocks, they're hard to miss! One of nature's spectacles for sure. And the sound when they've come in to roost, thousands of birds right under your feet!

Apologies for the digression, I just had to share :) and it's the reason I missed last week.


  1. A nice little harvest for you this week! I'll be trying parsnips for the first time this year - I'll have to look into this "canker" thing everyone keeps talking about to see if I can avoid it. Great to see those birds! I can't think of many places in my area where you could ever see anything like that.

    1. Thank you Susie, we've been lucky in Norfolk and not had the snow which other parts of the UK has, so can continue picking things.
      Yep, bacterial canker, it's worse in dry weather and on dry soils (like my sandy soil) and if the 'shoulders' of the parsnips get damaged (like by hoeing ) but even if you do get it you can just cut it off so it's not too bad.
      The starlings were great, I'm pleased I got to see them.

  2. Those birds are quite the sight, that's for sure! Like Susie, I will also be growing parsnips for the first time this year & have no idea what canker is.

    1. Canker is the brown patch that was my peculiar parsnip in my Monday's post. Usually it only affects the skin and can be peeled off.

    2. Thanks Margaret and Sue. Yep I'm surprised I didn't get canker on these two but like sue says, you can just peel /cut it off. It's more of a problem if you have very small parsnips (unlike sue's big'un), in which case there wouldn't be much left of them after peeling!

  3. The starlings remind me of my boyhood days in Cornwall - there was a place where the starlings used to roost on the telephone wires. The sky would be black with them for miles around!
    I discovered the merits of Enviromesh last year. It made a huge difference to my carrot crop.

    1. Yes that's true Mark, even though it's been a good year for starlings it's still nothing
      like as many as in the past. Funnily enough I didn't even know about the brighton starlings until after I moved away up here!
      My older enviromesh is a few years old now and has a big hole where I didn't look after it well enough and it rubbed or got caught on a support stick. Silly me! But it's still good for keeping the worst of the weather off even if it doesn't keep out carrot flies or butterflies.

  4. No canker is good in anyone's books. I love to witness a murmuration one day. The best we get is a mur.

    1. Aw sue! Have you got any big reedbeds or similar habitat anywhere around? they like to roost in those sorts of habitats too.

  5. The starling murmurations are phenomenal aren't they. We had just small ones that we could see from our house one year, and every day we were mesmerised by them. I love that moment when suddenly they all plummet into a tree and it is all over. Really amazing. Your harvests are still looking good, I'm envying you those parsnips, it's something I'm going to try next year. CJxx

  6. Starling murmurations are brill CJ, it feels really special watching them, even little ones. Near the allotment I sometimes see a little flock, that I think roost in the woods nearby (though I haven't seen them this year as I haven't been going to or from the plot at the right time).
    It's intersting that quite a few people are going to try parsnips this year. They're in the ground a long time so I guess if space is a premium people don't grow them. I try and get round it by sowing in between my rows of broad beans. The parsnips don't really need to get going before I've picked and cleared the broad bean plants.