Learning Download: How to Grow Parsnips
Parsnips are a root vegetable that look similar to a carrot, though they are paler in color and have a stronger taste. Parsnips have a long growing season and should be planted as soon as the soil can be worked.
Before Planting: Parsnips love deep, loose and fertile soils, with a pH range of 6-7.0. Adding sand or peat moss to your soils before parsnips are planted is recommended for best results.
Planting: Sow in early to middle spring, 1″ apart, 1/2″ deep, in rows 18-24″ apart. Parsnip seeds are slow to germinate in cold soil and may take 2-4 weeks. Do not allow soil to dry out prior to emergence. Thin plants to 2-3″ apart. Parsnips also can be started inside, where you can mix the seeds with compost in a bag and then tie off the bag. Leave the bag in a warm, dark place and seedlings should sprout within a week. After they’ve sprouted, transplant the seedlings to the garden.
Watering: Parsnips prefer a slightly damp ground and should get 1 inch of water every week.
Fertilizer: Fertilization can be done by using a 10-10-10 fertilizer and working it into the soil with a fork, as root vegetables do best growing in fluffy soil. Apply a side dressing of fertilizer six weeks after planting the parsnips.
Days to Maturity: Parsnips take approximately 16 weeks to mature, and their flavor is enhanced by
enduring a few frosts.
Harvesting: Use shovel or fork to get under crops and push up. Parsnips require a full season of growth, and their sweet flavor is brought on by cold weather. Dig in the fall or leave in the ground through the winter. When harvesting in early spring, dig before the tops begin to re-grow for the highest quality roots. Hold washed or unwashed in perforated bags or bins at 32°F and 95% humidity.
Tips: If leaving the parsnips in the ground through the winter, cover thickly with mulch.
AVG. Seeding Rate: 1M/50′, 5M/250′, 25M/1250′, 436M/1 acre at 20 seeds/ft. in rows 24″ apart.