Parsnips (Pastinaca sativa) are very rewarding root vegetables to grow, and are easy to grow in gardens, raised beds, or large pots. The best time to plant depends on the climate, so please check labels or see Location for more detailed information. When planting, use fresh seed as the germination rate is typically poor if the seed is old. Though, you will need to be patient. Parsnip seeds can take anywhere between 3-4 weeks to germinate and have a very long growing season, taking anywhere between 18-20 weeks to reach full maturity. Here’s how to grow parsnips:
This root vegetable is ideal in cooler climates, where you can sow seeds from late winter to late summer or early autumn. If growing in warmer subtropical and tropical climates, sow seeds anytime between late summer to early spring. It’s important that the soil temperatures are warm at sowing time, so don’t be too eager to get them in earlier – sowing seeds early may mean a premature death or poor growing root crops. Plant in full sun and shelter from strong winds.
For long, well-developed roots, parsnips need to be planted in loose, well-drained soil. Before planting, fork the soil well to help break it up. Spread Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser over the soil and dig in well.
There is no need to feed parsnips throughout the growing season. The addition of Dynamic Lifter at planting time is plenty of nourishment for the developing roots.
Water regularly to keep the soil moist, especially at germination time. Remember, they take time to come up, but this doesn’t mean you neglect watering! You may want to consider covering the soil with a shade cloth or place a plank of wood over the row to help keep it evenly moist. Continue to water plants regularly and deeply throughout the long growing season.
Pests and diseases
Snails and slugs love the foliage, and if it’s a particularly wet season, they will be out in full force. Protect your plants by sprinkling Blitzem Snail & Slug Bait around beds – do not apply to edible plant parts.
While parsnips can take over 120 days from sowing to reach full maturity, you can begin to harvest roots earlier to make the most of the season. They don’t have a long shelf life, even when placed in the vegetable crisper, so if you have excess, cube and freeze them for long term use.
Parsnips can be grown in pots, however, due to their size, it’s not generally recommended. You will need a pot at least 600 mm wide and deep. If you have the space, they’re better suited to growing in the garden.