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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 Australia - sub-tropical 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 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
    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

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
24 Sep 16, Barbara (Australia - temperate climate)
I live below the Range at Toowoomba and see plants I have "killed" in my garden growing out of the gravel in the excavations so I no longer worry about that sort of thing as water and nutrients are the important things. Strong roots will go around or even into gravel etc. I make wicking beds [google or you-tube for info], I put bones, a layer of veggie scraps and finely crushed egg shell after the first layer of soil, by the time roots have got down 25 cm. it is a slow release fertilizer.
27 Apr 16, Richard (Australia - temperate climate)
how do you harvest on medium sized scale
30 Mar 16, Holly (Australia - temperate climate)
hey just wondering when are parsnips in season
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?
29 May 16, tash (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
possibly too much nutrient in the soil. with carrots if they are over fertilised they dont have to send their root down as far to collect nutrients and so tend to grow outwards to collect nutrients fed from above... try growing them in a bed after a heavy feeder perhaps...
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?
Showing 1 - 10 of 37 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. 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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