How to Grow Parsnips

For the best winter parsnips, sow as soon as the soil has warmed up in spring. They will grow all summer, forming sweet and starchy winter roots.

When to Start: Early spring
At Their Best: Winter
Time to Complete: 30 minutes for sowing; 3 hours for planting out

Materials Needed:

  • parsnip seed
  • string
  • straw
  • wire
  • plant markers

Sow in Drills

Always sow fresh seed. On well-drained soil, mark out a line with string and make a shallow drill, then sow seed thinly along it. Once germinated, thin to 3 inches apart for small, sweet roots, or slightly farther apart for larger ones.

Sowing Fresh Parsnips

Sowing Fresh Parsnips

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Frost Protection

In cold weather you may need to apply a straw mulch (pinned down with hoops of wire) to prevent the soil and the parsnips from freezing.

Apply Straw Mulch to Protect Parsnips

Apply Straw Mulch to Protect Parsnips

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Harvest Crops

Parsnips taste sweetest after a light frost, so don't harvest too early. The leaves die down in winter, so you will need to mark the rows well so that roots are easily found. Dig up and eat as required; their taste will improve as the winter wears on.

Parsnips After a Light Frost

Parsnips After a Light Frost

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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