Growing Parsnip

Parsnips need a long, cool growing season. They will tolerate cold at the start and the end of the growing season, and they can withstand freezing temperatures. Parsnips prefer full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Plant parsnip seeds two to three weeks before the average date of last frost.

Parsnips thrive in a short growing season. Frost helps parsnip flavor develop.
Parsnips thrive in cool weather.
Frost helps parsnip flavor develop.

Turn the soil completely to a depth of 10 to 12 inches and remove all lumps and rocks. The initial soil preparation is essential for a healthy crop: Soil lumps, rocks, or other obstructions in the soil will cause the roots to split, fork, or become deformed. Since it may also cause forking, don't use manure in the soil bed for root crops unless it is well rotted.

Plant seeds 1/2 inch deep and thin them to 2 to 4 inches apart; parsnips must have adequate space for root development. Thin seedlings with scissors so you don't disturb the tender roots of the remaining plants. Parsnips need plenty of water until they approach maturity. At this point, cut back on watering so the roots don't split.

Harvesting Parsnip
Leave parsnips in the soil as long as possible or until you need them. The roots are not harmed by the ground's freezing, but dig them up before the ground becomes unworkable.

Types of Parsnip
  • Hollow Crown, 105 days, is long and produces mild flavored, white flesh.
  • Harris Model, 110 days, has white flesh with a smooth texture.

In the next section, we'll show you how to select parsnips.

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