Growing Guide ~ Parsnips

Parsnips Pastinaca sativa

requested by Deb at Footprint reduction in the ‘burbs

Family Apiaceae

Relatives –  carrots, celery and parsely

Seeds to harvest –  20 to 30 weeks (roughly depending on germination)

parsnips seeds

Before sowing parsnips it must be noted they they can grow very long, up 30cm for a good specimen.  So a soil that is deep and friable, meaning it is not rock like just under the topsoil, is highly desirable.  If your soil is less than perfect for a fussy parsnip, a lovely gentleman with the most fantastic vegetable garden taught me to dig a deep cylinder shaped hole  and to back fill it with compost and friable soil and then pop your seeds in.

I have had limited success with parsnips in previous seasons, they can be difficult to germinate and take forever to emerge from the soil.  I find them as fiddly as carrots.  Also they will not transplant!

Have I turned you off growing them yet?

Parsnip seeds are small seeds that loose their viability very quickly.  So fresh seed each season is recommended.  Before sowing your seeds soak them overnight in warm to tepid water to help with germination. 

When sowing these seeds they can be as difficult as carrots are to germinate.  Some types can take several weeks to germinate.  Sow them with seeds such as radishes or lettuces so they are not forgotten.  Like carrots covering the sown seeds with a damp hessian sack can aid germination.  When the seedlings can be seen emerging from the soil uncover them.  Carrots and Parsnips are not good companions so grow them apart.  And also do not plant them in parts of the garden that have previously grown carrots or celery.

Parsnips here in Toowoomba can only be grown in the cooler months of winter.  Temperatures between 7 – 24C are ideal for germination.  They will also tolerate some shade.  Once they have successfully germinated, they need to be thinned down to one plant per 10-15cm.  It is often recommended to grow them in rows spaced at 30cm.  Again they can be grown closer, 10-15cms. 

Like most root crops irregular watering will cause the roots to split or become cracked.  To much water will cause the parsnips to rot.

Once you have successfully germinated your seeds, the plants are fairly easy to care for.  They can be harvested at any stage, but generally this is once the foliage has died back.  They will store in the fridge for several days, however it is best to store them in the ground until they are needed.


One thought on “Growing Guide ~ Parsnips

  1. Thanks Emily,

    I can see now that they are difficult little buggers, I will give it one more go and if that fails then resign myself to paying $9 a kilo for them for the rest of my life.

    I have solved the fungus mystery, it’s on the blog if you’re interested. Deb

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