The Q&A Archives: Parsnip Seed Starting

Question: For two years I have tried soaking the seeds for 24 hours.
It seems that only a few sprout. I have gone through 3 packs this summer and only have about 15 plants. That is after pains stakingly using tweezers to put them into the ground. I keep them damp but after two years I am ready to bag it if I can't get any help.

Answer: Parsnip seeds can sometimes be difficult to germinate because seedlings are weak and won't push through crusted soil. Try sowing the seeds about 1/2 inch apart and 1/2 inch deep, and covering seeds with vermiculite rather than soil. Optimum soil temperature for germination is 50F - 75F. Parsnips are slow to germinate and the soil must be kept moist. The seeds can take 15-28 days to sprout. Thin to 3 inches apart when the seedlings are established. The germination standard is about 65 percent, so your success rate should be higher than you've experienced. Better luck on your next try!

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