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How to Grow Parsnips

Growing Parsnips
Before the potato was introduced into Europe in the late 16th century, the parsnip was largely used in cooking. Few vegetables are as easy to grow, as nutritious or as versatile.


Latin Name
Pastinaca sativa

Hardy biennial grown as an annual.

Site and Soil
The best soil is rich and slightly heavy.

Sowing  to Harvest Time
6-11 months

How Many?
Yield about 14 medium sized parsnips per 3m (10') row.

Parsnips are available as a fresh vegetable throughout the winter, actually improving as the winter progresses and especially if a frost gets to the roots. They can be baked, boiled or fried and the leaves can also be eaten as a green vegetable, getting double value from the crop.

The problem with growing parsnips is that they have a very long growing season. They are one of the first crops to be sown and probably the last crop to be harvested. They occupy the land for the year, thus taking up land which could be used for growing a series of crops. 

If you have a small garden you may decide against growing parsnips for this reason, although you may decide to grow a catch crop such as radishes or lettuce, before the parsnips become established in the spring.

Where To Grow Your Parsnips
Soil is the most important factor when growing parsnips. If you have thin gravelly soil you will only get small mis-shapen roots The best soil is rich and slightly on the heavy side, although it should not be recently manured as this causes the parsnip to fork as they do if growing on stony ground. Almost all well drained soils will produce a good crop. Level the bed off to give a fine tilth a day or two before sowing, which will normally be as soon as conditions allow in the late winter or early spring.  

Parsnips dislike very acid soil and do best in one which is slightly acid, neutral or slightly alkaline, test your soil with a soil test kit several weeks before preparing the seed bed and if necessary, add lime to achieve a pH of 6.5. The site you choose for parsnips is not as important as the soil, they prefer an open sunny site, but they will also grow quite happily in a lightly shaded plot.



Name: jim@GardenAction
Date posted: November 13, 2011 - 12:28 am
Message: Congratulations, you have achieved what we all aspire to, a great crop of parsnips.

Name: Ray
Date posted: November 12, 2011 - 11:20 am
Message: Is it normal to have parsnips 3-4inchs in diameter? Have a real nice crop but they are hugs.

Name: Sheila Rose
E-mail: Private
Date posted: December 17, 2010 - 06:15 am
Message: Is it possible to grow parnips in pots? TIA. Sheila

Name: kathy spencer
Date posted: September 17, 2010 - 11:47 am
Message: My very first veg garden is doing great until today, something is eating the my parsnips from below, leaving only a hole and the top leaves balanced in the hole, they are all in a straight line with rows of swede and leeks either side but they are ok.... Please help, what is doing it that should leave tiny teeth marks in the young parsnips ????

Name: Adam
E-mail: Private
Date posted: August 09, 2010 - 11:57 am
Message: Like most root crops Pete as soon as it starts to look like the vegetable and not like a fragile spindly root it is fairly safe to dig up and replant. Use a forked dibber. If you planted as you should, at the latest May, or even early June this year, you'll be able to move them now.

Name: pete
Date posted: August 08, 2010 - 11:50 am
Message: can any one help me? just started gardening and am in a bit of a pickle.Can anyone tell me the right time to take the 2 weak parsnips of of the 3 would be greatful cheers pete