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Growing Parsnip

(Pastinaca sativa)

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
          P P P P      

(Best months for planting Parsnip in Australia - sub-tropical regions)

P = Plant direct in garden where they are to grow.

  • Sow in garden. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 6°C and 21°C. (Show °F/in)
  • Space plants: 8 - 10 cm apart
  • Harvest in 17-20 weeks. Best flavour if harvested after a frost..
  • Compatible with (can grow in same bed): Swiss Chard (Silverbeet), Capsicum, Peas, Potatoes, Beans, Radishes, Garlic
  • Avoid growing in same bed: Carrot, Celery, Brassicas
  • A freshly dug parsnip
  • Parsnip leaves

Best grown in deep sandy, loamy soil. After planting keep seeds moist - can cover with a wooden plank or mulch - until seeds germinate. 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

27 Oct 13, barb gilbert (Canada - Zone 6a Temperate Warm Summer climate)
My parsnips taste great. However they are about 3 inches across and 3 inches long. Then this is where it gets strange There is all these 3 or 4 inches long about 1/2 inch around shoots coming off it. What went wrong?
16 Aug 12, Suzi (Australia - tropical climate)
I live in SE QLD where we don't have frosts. Would putting them straight into the frig after harvest help convert the starches to sugars to any degree?
28 Feb 14, sandy stephenson (Australia - temperate climate)
you can put your Parsnips in the freezer over a couple of days and the result will be the same as a good frost
16 Aug 12, adam (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
Hi Suzi. I don't think it works that quickly. But Parsnips taste fine as they are, without the added sweetness. I mash them together with carrots, butter and a little salt and black pepper. Yum. You can also cook them with a little brown sugar, stir fried in a pan.
06 Aug 12, Emily (Australia - temperate climate)
Probably shouldn't grow radish around brassicas (cauliflower)
12 Aug 11, (Australia - tropical climate)
someone suggested to twist off the tops from parsnips so the leaves do not draw moisture from the roots. is this correct? if so at what stage of growth.
10 Aug 12, adam (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
You twist the leaves off when you dig them up to eat. It stops them going rubbery. Not while they're still growing.
09 Jun 11, Meg (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
I would like to grow parsnips on a large scale any suggestions?
28 Apr 11, (Australia - tropical climate)
I wish to grow parsnips on a larger scale like market gardenening... any suggestions?
11 Sep 10, angela seeckts (Australia - temperate climate)
Strange shaped parsnips and in the same garden bed, cauliflowers with leaves only. Can you tell me why?
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