How to Grow Parsnips
Parsnip may not be overly popular in home gardners. But, it has been grown
as a food crop for thousands of years. This plant is native to the
Mediterranean, where early Greeks and Romans grew parsnips.
Parsnips are members of the carrot family. They a root crop, that looks like
a carrot, only it grows much bigger, and is white in color. Parsnip plants
can reach 3 feet tall. The roots generally grow 12-15 inches. But, the largest
ones, have grown to 32 inches and 10-18 inches in diameter. Now, that's a
Did You Know? In Ireland, a beer was made from parsnip roots, by boiling
the roots with water and hops.
Sowing Parsnip Seeds:
Sow Parsnip seeds 1/2 inch deep. The big seeds are easy to handle and space.
Final spacing should be 8-12 inches apart, in rows two feet apart.
Sow seeds early in the spring. Plants take 4 months to reach harvest size.
Days to Maturity: 130 or more.
How to Grow Parsnips:
Tips for Growing Parsnips:
Work the soil deeply. Remove all rocks and stones.
A loose soil is very important. Add plenty of compost, but no manure.
Do not add too much nitrogen fertilizer. It results in "hairy" roots.
Water deeply, as the roots grow deeply.
Grow parsnips in full sun, in soft and loose loam soil. Ideal pH: 5.5 - 6.5.
More on soil pH
Prior to planting parsnip seeds, work the soil deeply. Add liberal amounts
of compost. If compost is not available, add peat moss. It is important to
remove any rocks, stones and debris which may impede the downward formation
of the roots. When a root hits an object, forked or misshapen roots will
Keep parsnips well weeded early in the season. Young seedlings are easily
overcrowded, with any competing weeds often winning out.
While they may not show it, parsnips need a good supply of water, in soil
that drains well. Water deeply one a week, especially during dry periods.
They also respond well to fertilizer applied prior to sowing parsnip seeds,
and a couple of times during the season. Do not over fertilizer your parsnips.
Too much nitrogen in the soil, results in hairy(fine feeder roots) roots.
Temperatures - Ideal germination temperature by vegetable
Ideal Soil pH -
Insects and Pests:
Occasionally root maggots can be a problem. Swallow Tail Butterfly caterpillar
can also be a problem. Hand pick them, when you see them.
Parsnips are relatively free of disease problems.
More on Plant Problem Diseases
Harvest parsnips after they have been exposed to freezing temperatures. Cold
weather improves flavor and sweetness, as the starches turn to sugars. This
is why Parsnips taste better after the first freeze. Better still, wait for
the first several days of at or near freezing weather
Do not grab the plant to pull out the roots. The plant will almost always
break away from the roots. Rather, dig out roots with a shovel or pitch fork.
Parsnips are excellent for over-wintering in the soil. You should be able
to harvest roots well into the spring. Cover the area with mulch or
straw, to keep ground from freezing.
Recipes: May we suggest: