Over a few days at the end of October, beginning of November we had some remarkable weather, with the maximum temperatures getting up to 20°C, mild nights and sunny days. I took the opportunity to prepare the potager for onions and garlic.
Wild Parsnip pulled from the potager.
Our potager has a tendency to get over-run with certain native plants which are a nuisance in the garden so I consider to be weeds. These include Bristly Oxtongue Picris echioides, Creeping Thistle Cirsium arvense, Dandelion Taraxacum agg, Field Bindweed Convolvulus arvensis, Wild Carrot Daucus carota and Wild Parsnip Pastinaca sativa. Of that list the two that annoy me the most are the first and last. As friends and regular readers will know, I am extremely tolerant of weeds, but Bristly Oxtongue and Wild Parsnip are vigorous, tall, stiff, deep rooted and self-seed enthusiastically. They are a complete pain in a working garden. I'm also sensitive to Wild Parsnip, which leaves me with phyto-photodermatitis (burns caused by skin contact with compounds in the plant that then react to the UV in sunlight to redden and blister).
Often I deal with weeds in a quick and dirty manner, by chopping them off at ground level. This gets them out of my way and prevents them seeding if I time it right, but doesn't kill the plant. When I eventually get round to pulling them out entirely they can put up quite a fight. The one in the photo above was right on the edge of a fallow row, so had been chopped off several times and lived through several seasons because I hadn't needed to remove it. Now the row is back in service and planted with onions, that parsnip had to go.
Looking at that impressive tap root you can see why some enterprising Roman gardener looked at Wild Parsnip and started cultivating it deliberately for the table though. Even on a wild plant there is obviously considerable carbohydrate potential.