Parsnip Essentials

By National Gardening Association Editors, June 23, 2008

Planning

  • Parsnips require a long growing season (100 to 130 days) to mature. They tolerate frosts and can be harvested just before the ground freezes or left in the ground over the winter.
  • Time seed sowing for harvest just after the average first fall frost date. In areas with mild winters, you can also sow seeds in the fall from September through November.
  • Purchase fresh seeds each year.

Preparation

  • Work soil at least a foot deep to remove rocks, clods, and other obstructions.
  • In heavy soils, form raised beds about 4 to 6 inches high.
  • Add commercial slow-release fertilizers or aged manure.

Planting

  • Soak seeds for 24 hours before planting directly outdoors.
  • Sow the seeds 1/2 inch deep, 2 seeds per inch in rows or beds. When planting in heavy soil, cover with vermiculite so the seedlings can emerge easily.
  • Because parsnips seeds are slow to germinate, it's a good idea to mix some radish seeds in with them to break the soil and mark the rows.
  • Parsnip seedlings will emerge in 2 to 3 weeks.

Care

  • Thin well-established seedlings to stand 3 to 6 inches apart, depending on how large you want your roots.
  • Keep the rows weeded with shallow cultivation.
  • If you haven't used a slow-release fertilizer, side-dress 1 to 2 months after planting with 1 cup of 5-10-10 per 25 feet of row or its equivalent. (Slow-release fertilizers will be used up in 2 to 3 months.)
  • Parsnips are mostly pest and disease-free.

Harvesting

  • For the best-tasting parsnips, harvest before the ground freezes, but after a few frosts, or leave them in the ground through the winter.
  • If you store parsnips in the ground, cover them with a thick layer of organic mulch. Harvest immediately after the ground thaws in the spring.

Harvesting

  • For the best-tasting parsnips, harvest before the ground freezes, but after a few frosts, or leave them in the ground through the winter.
  • If you store parsnips in the ground, cover them with a thick layer of organic mulch. Harvest immediately after the ground thaws in the spring.

Other articles in this series:
1. History of Root Crops
2. All About Horseradish
3. Beet Varieties
4. Carrot Varieties
5. Radish Varieties
6. Celeriac - Lazy Man's Celery
7. Turnip and Rutabaga Varieties
8. Parsnip Varieties
9. All About Salsify
10. Selecting Root Crop Seeds
11. Planning Your Root Crop Garden
12. How Root Crops Grow
13. Carrot Essentials
14. Parsnip Essentials ← you're on this article right now
15. Radish Essentials
16. Turnip Essentials

This article is a part of our Vegetable Gardening Guide for Other Root Crops / Getting Started.

 

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