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Growing Parsnip

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec

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 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 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

14 Dec 17, Darryl (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
What is best time to sow parsnip seed in Canberra / ACT. We would expect some frosts in May / June. I currently have some from last year left to run to seed, but the seed is not ready yet. I was wondering whether I should sow some commercial seed about now (December) as I am concerned the parsnips currently seeding may be a bit late. Is the time of self-seeding a good guide of when to sow? Any tips on collecting parsnip seed and knowing when the seeds are ready??
20 Dec 17, Mike (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
On the first page here select your climate zone then your vegetable and it will give a time to plant. Sept to Nov for cool/mountain areas. Seeds are cheap to buy from internet seed selling companies.
07 Dec 17, Gary Hughes (Australia - temperate climate)
Is it possible to grow parsnips in the north of Thailand
08 Dec 17, Mike (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
Try and grow it in the cooler time of the year. Google growing parsnips in Thailand.
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.
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.
Showing 1 - 10 of 67 comments

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)

- Ruth L.

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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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