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Growing Parsnip

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

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

P = Sow seed

  • 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
  • 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

16 Sep 19, Lois Wattis (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
I'm interested in giving parsnips a try. I've read the seed planting guides and also the idea of planting seeds paper towel rolls to encourage a straight root crop. I've also got a parsnip top growing in water and cotton wool and google tells me it won't become a parsnip if I plant it, but it might grow and flower, and I can collect seeds - is this right? Also, do the seeds grow well in a deep pot of good loose compost rich soil or do they HAVE to be planted in a garden bed? I've got some garlic planted in a tall pot (just shooting now) and wondering if I can put some parsnips in with it. Thanks for guidance, Lois
17 Sep 19, Anon (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Most root vegetables do not like or need a rich soil. Rich soil produces a lot of leaf. You want the root (parsnip) to grow. Growing anything in pots requires a lot more attention than in the ground. More watering and fertilising. I'm not a believer in mixing up plantings of different vegetables. I plant rows of different crops so as to cultivate easier for weeds and access.
14 Sep 19, Rob Taylor (Australia - temperate climate)
I have parsnips growing at Hervey Bay, they are growing well, but they appear to be all top. I have cut the top foliage back. Will this affect the root. best regards Rob
16 Sep 19, Anon (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Probably too much fertiliser especially N. More a crop to grow autumn into winter than in spring.
27 Jul 19, Karen (New Zealand - temperate climate)
So is there any particular seeds best to buy parsnips for brand . Karen
13 Apr 19, (South Africa - Summer rainfall climate)
When is the best time to plant parsnip seeds I live in Worcester in western cape?
01 Apr 19, Catherine Ingraham (USA - Zone 8b climate)
Can you sow parsnips in the fall,such as November, and harvest in the spring?
26 Mar 19, Clarkee (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
I wonder, if I sow Swiss Chard (above it says a good companion to parsnips) then once the card reaches a height that shades the soil around it, I then sow the parsnips amongst the chard, will that keep the soil cool and less likely to dry out for my parsnip seeds to germinate?
12 Nov 18, Alison (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
With regard to the parsnips I would recommend you try germination before planting them. Lay the seed on paper hand towel or similar. Lay seeds onto paper and cover with another paper towel. Dampen paper and keep moist (I'm thinking a sprayer would be a good idea). After 3-4 weeks there should be tiny roots forming. Using tweezers to handle seeds, transfer them to the soil bed you have prepared. Now, I haven't done this (by some fluke my seeds germinated and I have three small rows at different stages!) but I will next year. Successful gardening!
30 Sep 18, Gloria Yates (USA - Zone 8b climate)
Can I plant now in we nc 8b?
Showing 1 - 10 of 81 comments

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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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