The flavour of parsnips becomes sweeter after frost. They are a very versatile vegetable in the kitchen to fry, roast, steam, mash, or bake. Parsnips take their time becoming large in the garden, but then they can be harvested as needed since they store in the ground so well. Continue reading below for full instructions on how to grow parsnips from seed.
We Recommend: Gladiator (PN581). This hybrid parsnip was bred to be fast-growing, uniform, and large – and we’ve seen some HUGE ones. At any size it has very appealing, mild flavour and it’s firm without being woody.
Direct sow from the last frost date to mid-summer Optimal soil temperature for germination: 10-25°C (50-75°F). Seeds take 14-21 days to germinate.
Sow seeds 5mm-1cm (¼-½”) deep. Cover seeds with compost and/or put row cover over planting area to shade the soil and conserve moisture. Thin to 7-10 cm (3-4″) apart in rows 45-60cm (18-24″) apart.
Days to Maturity: From direct sowing.
Ideal pH: 6.0-6.8. Prepare ground as for carrots, digging deeply to loosen soil prior to planting For even longer parsnips, you can dig or form holes 60cm (24″) deep. Weed carefully and keep watered. Contact with parsnip leaves causes a rash in some people, so harvest and weed with long sleeves and gloves.
The flavour of parsnips is best after a couple of good frosts. Dig parsnips from late summer into the winter as needed. Protect from freezing in the soil with a thick straw mulch if it is a cold winter. Parsnips keep better in well-drained soil. The average family will be well supplied with a 6m (20′) row.
In optimal conditions at least 60% of seeds will germinate. Usual seed life: 1 year. Per 100′ row: 440 seeds, per acre: 128M seeds.
Diseases & Pests
Carrot rust fly maggots may injure the roots of parsnips. The most reliable control is floating row cover. Practice crop rotation to prevent soil-borne disease.