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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?
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
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?
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.
Showing 1 - 10 of 33 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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