I HAVE been turning to pots for years now, but it took decades to be converted.

I spent my earlier gardening years accepting the perceived wisdom that some root crops, and even sweetcorn, couldn’t handle the disturbance of being transplanted.

So that meant daily trips to my allotment to water rows of parsnips and carrots to ensure germination.

That was a pain because parsnips can take a month to germinate — and, even then, germination of parsnips, in particular, is often patchy as gardeners don’t like to see incomplete rows.

I am no exception to that.

It’s now just too late this year for sowing parsnips, but a technique well worthwhile bearing in mind for next year — and for carrots this year — is germinating seed in pots, where you can carefully control conditions, and plant out individual seedlings when they are small.

Parsnips, especially, need warmth to germinate — a minimum of 50 degrees Fahrenheit, so if sowing early in the growing season in March, put a plastic bag over the pot to preserve moisture and pop it in an airing cupboard or other warm spot until the seedlings appear.

It is also said to be important with parsnips and carrots to transplant them while they are just large enough to handle, because damage to the roots when they are bigger will encourage the roots to fork — and that is a real nuisance for chef.

This year, I am experimenting with planting out carrots when they are quite a bit larger and much easier to handle — and I will let you know the result.

Consistent moisture is also recommended. If the plants are stressed by dry conditions that also encourages annoying forks as the roots split to seek as much water as they can absorb.

Leeks, which I bring on in nine-inch pots, are much more forgiving and even appreciate a root trim before transplanting.

Parsnips need space to grow, so put plants a minimum of three inches apart — or four if you want larger roots for that Christmas roast.

And, if there is no frost before harvest, prepare the ‘nips and pop ‘em in the freezer for 30 minutes before cooking to replicate the conditions that make them sweet.