Growing Parsnip

Pastinaca sativa : Apiaceae / the umbelliferae family

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

10 Jun 22, dopey duck (New Zealand - temperate climate)
growing parsnips is much like growing brussel sprouts you need them up and running before winter,parsnips need frosts to sweeten them up and brussels need cold to keep the sprouts tight but dont overcook them aldente is perfect and it lessens the sulphur smell,taste.
01 May 20, Murdock Halliday (New Zealand - temperate climate)
I am trying to germinate and plant parsnips now in Christchurch. The weather is amazingly warm for this time of the year. Am I wasting my time? Should I have tried earlier in the year? Thanks and take care.
05 May 20, Anon (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
It says from March onwards - subject to local conditions. When the weather turns cooler go for it. We just had a drop from 17-18 at night to 6.4 and 7.9. 10 days ago max was 32 yesterday 24. For most plants it is about soil temperature required to germinate. A cheap thermometer from Bunnings or gardening centre.
27 Jul 19, Karen (New Zealand - temperate climate)
So is there any particular seeds best to buy parsnips for brand . Karen
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!
28 Jun 20, Mark Stentiford (New Zealand - temperate climate)
I have tried this last year with VERY good results (with three year old seeds as well), place in a container with a lid and you only need to water them once, you can also select the best of the crop to transplant with no failure. Good luck
01 Dec 17, Jos Dekker (New Zealand - temperate climate)
(i) When you purchase your seed, make sure it is within the stipulated "use by date" (ii) Prepare bed or row by loosening the soil to a minimum depth of 20 c.m. (iii) Soak seed in lukewarm water overnight. (iv) I do not sow seeds in singles but use a "scatter" method and thin out plants later (v) Mix seeds with a small quantity of very friable earth and scatter in your row or bed. (vi) I don't particularly like the covering with a plank method to stop drying out but prefer putting a shade to keep the sun off whilst seeds are germinating. Ensure to keep soil wet during germination. Depending on temperatures, if cold, I water with luke warm water. (vii) I think that transplanting tends to produce malformation in the parsnip root. Let them grow in the spot where they first saw the daylight! Good luck!
04 Nov 17, helen duckworth (New Zealand - cool/mountain climate)
Whoopee my parsnips have germinated 100% by the look of the rows. Do I need to protect the seedlings from frost - I live in the McKenzie Country of South Canterbury.
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
Showing 1 - 10 of 12 comments

We can grow parsnips thru the hot summer if we plant now in may

- Glenn T Terrebonne

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