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I'm brand new to gardening and could really use some help ...

I've started a veg patch for my daughter and am not sure if these are weeds or shoots the first one below is where I planted Turnips

 The next is where I planted Parsnips

Also I planted Onions and Little gen lettuce and need advice as to when and how to thin them ...below are the pics of the "clumps" .. they seem very puny to pull out and replant now ? should I wait til they're bigger?? how big?? 


 Little gem lettuce (each leaf seems to be an individual plant!)

 Many thanks in advance !!



Hello, these are young parsnip plants. Thin them out to about 6" apart. Just carefully, with your fingers, pull out the excess.

 Do the same with the little gem lettuces, you will find that if you pinch out a few together and look at them each one will have it's own roots a a few leaves.

Sorry, I've never grown turnips, don't like them much, and onions I grow from sets (baby onions that you plant). But I think the onions look a bit small to handle. I'd leave them a little longer.

Thats great thanks Lizzie ... I don't think my parsnips are parsnips then!

seem to have loads of lettuce and not much else!

thanks again ...




Parsnips often take a long time to germinate and they aren't very reliable.

Why don't you buy a good book, with photos, about vegetable growing?

I'll do that .. it's a bit spur of the moment and started with my mum and daughter, gardening centre, pack of seeds - It looks dead easy if you just read the packet !

Think my daugher's got the bug tho ... just hope I don't kill them all ...


I think that the plant in your first image ( turnips) is creeping buttercup which can be an invasive weed and really needs digging up. It has brittle roots and all of it needs to be removed otherwise the root pieces will grow back.

the first seed leaves of turnips will be heartshaped followed by more normal leaves.

Your lettuces look an ideal size to be transplanted, water well, lift as a clump and then gently seperate them and replant about 6 inches apart. Just be careful not to damage the stems so only hold them by the leaves.

Good luck.

Smashing ... I love this forum ...

thanks !

hollie hock

Hi Alan, growing some veg here for the first time. The first pic looks a lot like creeping buttercup to me ......... if it is I would get rid of it, there's loads of it  here and it can spread and strangle a lot of other plants

I'm excited at the prospect of being able to eat something that I've grown, good luck

Ok ... I've asked the audience ... still got phone a friend ....

But are you sure that the things growing where you said you planted turnips aren't the parsnips......?

Another point is that perhaps you should try really hard to separate the seeds as you sow them into the row. You seem to be getting clumps, maybe because the seeds are all fallng in together. Although the packet says to thin them after they come up, some seedlings, particuarly root crops, don't like to be transplanted, so the packet is really telling you to throw them away. I'm, greedy, so I don't thin as much as I should, but with parsnips, carrots and beetroot, they seem to push each other out of the way and you can (carefully) pick the larger and leave the smaller for another time. But you do need to try to leave a space between seeds if you can.


Alan- it's a great thing to do with your daughter and you'll have good fun! As you'll see from Busy Lizzie's pic her veg are in nice straight rows in well prepared soil and that's the best advice I can give you. It makes it easier to tell which are weeds and which are the plants you've sown! Label the end of each row too as soon as you've sown and don't sow too generously.

A few little quick growing seeds and/or some strawberries will keep your daughter interested too (especially if you can give her a little patch of her own) - they always want them to grow yesterday!! A couple of tomato plants on a window sill is a good idea as well as she'll see quite quick progress.

Some of the seeds were tiny and my 9 yr old planted them .. I think she did a pinch at a time ... we'll know next time ... we have a good project for the weekend now tho...

We have tomatoes and runner beans in the conservatory at the moment ...



You're way ahead of me Alan! So many of the veg seeds are tiny which does make it difficult. If you mix them in a little sand it can make it easier for little hands.


apparently the other mistake I made was putting them all in at the same time .. we'll have 30 lettuce all ready at the same time ! .. lettuce soup anyone?

I always sow parsnips a pinch at a time. so I am in complete agreement with your daughter.  Frankly parsnips can be a bit reluctant to germinate, so I sow 4 or 5 seeds every 9 inches along the row.  Then, when they begin to grow, I pull out the weeker looking seedlings just leaving the best looking one.  I can't see the point in sowing all along the row, however thinly, when you only need a plant every 9 inches etc. Any seeds sown in the remaining 8 inches are always doomed.

This works for parsnips, turnips, beetroot, kholrabi etc.

Just to confirm j_gilberts doubts about me mixing up turnips and parsnips, here's a better picture of the plant growing where I'd planted Turnips .. having looked at Lizzies pic I'm pretty sure this isn't either a parsnip or a turnip ... must be creeping buttercup ...


That is a creeping buttercup, and you really do not want that in your veg plot, nor anywhere else for that matter.