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Growing Parsnip

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec
P P             P P P P

(Best months for growing Parsnip in New Zealand - cool/mountain regions)

P = Plant in the garden.

  • Sow in garden. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 43°F and 70°F. (Show °C/cm)
  • Space plants: 3 - 4 inches apart
  • Harvest in 17-20 weeks. Best flavour if harvested after a frost..
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Swiss Chard (Silverbeet), Capsicum, Peas, Potatoes, Beans, Radishes, Garlic
  • Avoid growing close to: Carrot, Celery, Brassicas
  • A freshly dug parsnip
    A freshly dug parsnip
  • Parsnip leaves
    Parsnip leaves

Best grown in deep sandy, loamy soil. Use fresh seed and soak seed overnight then, after planting, keep seeds moist until seed germinate. Similar to starting carrots, maybe cover with a wooden plank or mulch until seeds germinate. They will completely fail if the seed dries out after planting and it's not unusual to have an entire packet fail. Difficult to grow in summer as the seed dries out fast and won't germinate. Leave in the ground until after frost or at least a couple of weeks of really cold weather. The cold results in the starch in the roots being converted into sugars which give the parsnip its sweet taste. Use a spade to dig the parsnip out of the ground.

Germination rates of parsnip seed are not great so sow about 3 seeds per inch and at a depth of around half an inch. Germination may take up to 20 days. Thin seedlings down so they are about 8cm (4in) apart. If you are planting in rows then space the rows about 50cm (20in) apart.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Parsnip

Peel and roast with vegetables or meat. The sweetish flavour of parsnips enhances most other vegetables.

Your comments and tips

14 May 17, liz (New Zealand - cool/mountain climate)
hello - i also need some help with parsnips - i have a raised bed and put in plenty of compost most years - this last year i managed to get a whole row of parsnips to grow but - they are so tiny no bigger than my fingers and wrinkly like norah batties stockings but taste so darn good - my question is - how do i get them to grow into proper big parsnips - have i got something missing from the soil of my garden that they need to grow long and big??? thanks
15 May 17, John (Australia - temperate climate)
Parsnips like deep friable soil to get long roots. Too much manure will give you twisted and forked roots. Planting them after a crop like lettuces, cabbages, beans, tomatoes, pumpkins, etc is good as the soil will be loosened up and there will be less nitrogen in the soil. An excess of nitrogen will cause big bushy tops and small roots.
14 Jul 09, Arnie (New Zealand - temperate climate)
Pastinaca sativa

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This planting guide is a general reference intended for home gardeners. We recommend that you take into account your local conditions in making planting decisions. GardenGrow is not a farming or commercial advisory service. For specific advice, please contact your local plant suppliers, gardening groups, or agricultural department. The information on this site is presented in good faith, but we take no responsibility as to the accuracy of the information provided.
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