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Because parsnip seed is so light it is advisable to wait until the weather is calm before sowing. You may be able to buy seeds that are pelleted, there are a few parsnip varieties which are available in this form. The pelleted seed is slightly heavier, so they will not blow away so easily. After the seeds have been sown cover them with soil, sifted soil is best for this, and then firm down. Water the area if the weather is dry. Germination takes approximately three to four weeks and is is quite possible for the newly forming seedlings to be lost amongst the newly germinating weeds. Weed frequently and carefully.
Many gardeners sow a
quick maturing catch crop such as radish, or lettuce. This not
only give you an extra crop but it also helps to mark out the rows of
parsnips. If you do not wish to do this, keep your marker in
position until the parsnip seeds have germinated and the rows of seedlings is
obvious above the ground.
Care of Parsnips
Small parsnips in light soil can be pulled up once the soil around them has been loosened with a fork. Normally the only way parsnips can be lifted without breaking them is by digging. Begin at the end of the row and dig a hole beyond but close to the last parsnip. Dig the hole as deep at the parsnip and loosen the soil around the root and then it can be easily removed without damage. Lift the next parsnip by moving the soil next to it into the hole from which the first parsnip has been taken and continue like this to the end of the row. You may find that you have to dig down much further than you expect, the end of a parsnip tapers off for a considerable length 15 cm (6 in) or more, and has a very strong grip on the soil. You may want to break off the thinnest part of the root if you want to avoid digging a very deep hole possibly 45 cm (18 in) deep for each root. Once the parsnip has been lifted, cut off the remaining leaves, these are excellent compost heap material.
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Name: Richard Johnston
Parsnip Variety Pictures
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