Growing Parsnip

Pastinaca sativa : Apiaceae / the umbelliferae family

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
  • 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 8 cm (4 in) apart. If you are planting in rows then space the rows about 50 cm (20 in) 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

27 Feb 09, Liz Price (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
Planted Yates hollow crown parsnips mid October 08, Seasol fortnightly, watered daily, By Feb big tops but stumpy mis shapen parsnips, also carrots stumpy. Did not thin out, could that be reason? Is it too late to plant more for winter? cheers Liz Price.
05 Mar 09, Kiwi (Australia - temperate climate)
Likely too much compost/Nitrogen. Carrots & Parsnips are root crops - so prefer high Phosphorus/low Nitrogen. My spring planted Parsnips+ Carrots turned out OK, but I had used some compost - one or two misshappen. Best to follow a brassica crop or other that will consume the Nitrogen.
15 Mar 09, Tamera (Australia - temperate climate)
What's a brassica crop? Sorry i'm a beginner at this stuff!
02 Apr 09, Jason (Australia - temperate climate)
Brassicas are Cabbage, Cauliflower, Brocolli, Pak choy, etc Mishapen roots can also be caused by having lumps in your soil/compost, Carrots/Parsnips will grow better in fine soil without rocks etc in them.
30 May 09, John (Australia - temperate climate)
Most important that you plant with fresh seed. If you purchase seed sow the lot, no use keeping some for next season. If you save your own seed, best to plant within six months. Avoid planting when soil is really cold. Forked roots mainly caused by too much nitrogen in soil or two heavy a soil. Plant after brassicas and add some sand to your soil if heavy.
15 Jun 09, (Australia - temperate climate)
what is the scientific name for a parsnip
14 Jul 09, Arnie (New Zealand - temperate climate)
Pastinaca sativa
21 Jul 09, venkat (Australia - temperate climate)
How many days will take for Parsnip seeds to germinate? Two weeks gone still no signs of germination. Cheers Venkat
11 Sep 13, (Australia - temperate climate)
2-4 weeks is normall for parsnip seeds
01 Aug 09, MuddyKnees (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
Parsnip germination?? Has vexed me for the last 2 years.. I have tried soaking them in water overnight but no apparent advantage.. I've taken to only use fresh seed and to plant half the pack at a time ( see other's comments). Pretty hopeless trying during hot/warm weather, for me the "shoulder" months like autumn & spring offer the best balance between moisture and warmth. I have a well structured seed raising tub just for these and carrots. I've read where you should not try transplanting either of these but I have no problems doing so.. Carrots are a little flukey with it as you get the odd misshapen root ( probably not transplanted neatly enough.. bent root.. happens..) but at least my carrot rows are complete and all at the same stage. As mentioned by others.. watch the soil texture and composition..carrots are the fusspots of root crops.. Parsnips on the other hand transplant famously. I've never lost one and the roots grow true.. It's frosty down here in Central Vic but the snips are bounding ahead.. Germination time during cold months anything from 3 -6 weeks.. you just have to keep watching and moving them when at the 3-4 leaf stage.. Hope this helps..
Showing 1 - 10 of 101 comments

How many days will take for Parsnip seeds to germinate? Two weeks gone still no signs of germination. Cheers Venkat

- venkat

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