How to sow, grow parsnip and its care

If you’ve never grown parsnips (Pastinaca sativa) from seed, you’re in luck. This cold-loving root vegetable is in the same family as carrots and parsley and could easily be mistaken for a white carrot. But its taste is something totally different. They have the texture of a sweet potato with a flavor that resembles a more earthy, nutty carrot. In this article we will see how to plant, grow parsnips and how to care for them.

grow parsnips


How to get seeds

If I could give you just one piece of advice on how to grow parsnips from seed, it would be to start by finding fresh seeds.

Parsnip seeds don’t germinate well after a year of storage, so if you bought a packet last year and didn’t use it all, throw it away.

Don’t try to get a second season out of your seed packet. I think this is where most people go wrong.

You also need to make sure that you are buying seeds from a reputable source. Look for a distributor that lists the harvest and/or expiration date of the seeds on the package and has good reviews.

sprout parsnips

parsnip plant

The easiest way to grow parsnips from seed is to put them directly into the prepared bed. Doing it in seedlings is not recommended because parsnip does not tolerate transplants.

A day before planting, soak the seeds in water at room temperature.

Sow the seeds in full sun when the soil temperature is above 4°C, and keep in mind that parsnips grow best when the air temperature is between 4 and 20°C.

If they exceed this temperature, they spoil and spoil. This means finding the perfect time to work the land before the days get hot. For most people, this means early spring or early fall.

Once the roots have developed, the plants can withstand intense cold. In fact, the roots taste better once they have been exposed to freezing temperatures for a few weeks.

Sow the seeds 1 cm deep and about 15 cm apart. You can squeeze them a bit more if you prefer, as small parsnips taste better than large ones.

Since parsnip seeds don’t always germinate quickly, you can plant two seeds in each spot and discard one if they both germinate.

In any case, do not pull out unwanted seedlings, as you may disturb the root of the neighboring seedling that you are keeping. You just have to cut with scissors each one you are going to taper.

Where to Grow Parsnips

grow parsnips

When growing parsnips, choose a sunny location that receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight, in well-prepared, rock-free soil that has been deep-cultivated and raked until you have a nice basswood tree.

Ideal soil type for growing parsnips

Parsnips grow best in rich, loose, well-drained soil. Heavy clay will definitely not work. Even clay soil can be too heavy.

Ideally, the soil should be sandy or loamy. Add sand and well-rotted compost to the soil if it doesn’t have the right texture.

Regardless of your soil texture, you may want to add plenty of well-rotted compost to ensure your soil is bursting with nutrients. My gardening philosophy is that a little extra compost never hurts.

Parsnips are greedy and need a lot of food. Soil pH is not as important as drainage. Anything between 6.0 and 6.8 is perfect, but a pH slightly outside that range is fine.

harvest parsnips

grow parsnip harvest

Generally the parsnip harvest begins 4 months after planting. To know if it’s the right time, just watch them, they will start to appear above the ground.

To harvest, dig about a foot with a garden pitchfork and gently loosen the root from the ground. Try not to cut or bang the roots as they bruise easily. Once bruised, just like potatoes, they begin to oxidize.

If you leave the roots in the ground over winter, harvest them before new shoots emerge in the spring.

maintenance tips

grow parsnip care

Apply fertilizer every three weeks as the plants develop and grow.

Irrigation is essential for a good harvest. You need to strike the right balance between too much water and too little, as the former leads to hairy, hard roots, and the latter leads to stunted growth.

Fluctuations in humidity and drought also cause root splits and splits.

These vegetables need one to two centimeters of water per week, but it depends on the composition of the soil.

The easiest way to tell if it’s time to water is to stick your finger in the ground. The first centimeter can dry out between waterings, but no more. The floor should feel like a well-wrung sponge when wet.

A one-inch-thick layer of compost placed on top of the soil can help retain moisture and add nutrients. You can also use straw or leaves as mulch.

Keep weeds out of the garden. Young parsnips can’t compete with weeds.

It may also be interesting to read: How to grow the potato in a pot and its maintenance.

Cover the crowns completely with mulch in winter if you plan to leave them in the ground until spring. Straw or leaves are good options.

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