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Growing Parsnip

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Not recommended for growing in USA - Zone 5a regions

  • 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

17 May 17, Aaron (Australia - arid climate)
I am in Perth Western Australia and wants try to harvest my parsnip in between July & September can you advice on planting date. Thank you ! Regards
17 May 17, Giovanni (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Parsnips take about 5 months to harvest from sowing and are normally planted between June and September in the Perth climate zone. This leaves a gap as seed sown in late September would be ready in late March not July - September as you were hoping. They would normally only keep for 3 - 4 weeks in the refrigerator so you still have a 'gap'. Why not plant some seed in March and give them a try? When the seedlings emerge keep them moist and apply a thick mulch to keep the soil a bit cooler. It's worth a try and you'll know for sure then. Maybe someone else has tried it and can answer.
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.
25 Feb 17, Ruth L. (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
here you find the best tips for growing parsnips!! https://www.organicgardener.com.au/blogs/parsnip-secrets happy gardening and success with the parsnips!!
25 Feb 17, Ruth L. (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
In the Barrington Tops area we always plant parsnips (organically) from August to February, mind you the ones that had a bit of frost taste a lot sweeter!! I don't believe that leaving parsnips in the same patch to self seed is a good idea, crop rotation is a must for healthy growth! we harvest by hand (fork!!) very carefully....(medium scale)
16 May 16, Bianca (Australia - temperate climate)
My frost dates are June, maybe last one in July, if the cold weather lasts that long. If i was to plant in Aug as suggested above, and harvest in 20 weeks, this would not see us through to a frost date with the parsnips in the ground... Can anyone shed any light on correct planting times? I would have to assume this is inaccurate?
15 Aug 16, Trish j (Australia - temperate climate)
Hey Bianca, I read that because they are so difficult to grow the best way to grow parsnips is to keep them in the same patch, and let the patch self seed, so only pick half the crop, ensure they go to seed and harvest again the following years. I havesome beautiful parsnips, (in heavy soil too!) not many, so not picking, waiting for them to seed for next year.
30 May 16, Ben (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Hey Bianca, Yeah unfortunately parsnips need a long cool season to grow at their best, and your question makes sense. I'm in far north nsw and we just make sure to plant them as soon as night temps get consistently below 14C (usually around end April/beginning May) and harvest them before night temps are consistently above 14C (usually late September). They also start to flower around this time so we get them out before that happens too. Saving seeds of the last plants to flower is a good idea so that you can eventually have more heat-tolerant parsnips in future. So basically the earlier you can get them in the better, but not too early! haha. I think the planting times are set as they are because it's when the weather is safely cool enough in ALL subtropical regions but yeah I reckon just go with the conditions of your micro-climate. Hope that helps. Ben
02 May 16, Tony (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Ok I'm going to give parsnips some serious attention this year - I love 'em! I live on sub-tropical North Coast NSW How worried do I have to be about stones/compost twiggy bits etc in my soil? I have dug down 30cm and sieved the soil to 5 mm - but there are still some gritty bits -do i have to go to flyscreen to get rid of the stoney bits? very tedious sieving- I'm thinking of using equal parts soil/compost - both sieved to 5mm. Any responses gratefully received
Showing 1 - 10 of 61 comments

Hey Bianca, I read that because they are so difficult to grow the best way to grow parsnips is to keep them in the same patch, and let the patch self seed, so only pick half the crop, ensure they go to seed and harvest again the following years. I havesome beautiful parsnips, (in heavy soil too!) not many, so not picking, waiting for them to seed for next year.

- Trish j

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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. Gardenate 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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