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

26 Feb 23, Paula (New Zealand - temperate climate)
I must be missing something. Doesn't it say that parsnips need frosts to finish them off. But this says to start planting seeds in July. Then 20 odd weeks from then is Summer? Wouldn't you start them at the end of summer so they are nearly ready by winter? Thanks
03 Mar 23, (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
I grew parsnips in a frost free area last year.
28 Feb 23, (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
I think you don't have to have frost but is preferable. Different planting times for sub-tropical, temperate and cool climates. Probably to do with germination temp required.
26 Feb 23, Liz (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
It does actually say to leave parsnips in the ground until after frost (as they will be sweeter) . These are not hard and fast rules, just an indication of the best times to sow/plant seeds.
10 Jun 22, dopey duck (New Zealand - temperate climate)
growing parsnips is much like growing brussel sprouts you need them up and running before winter,parsnips need frosts to sweeten them up and brussels need cold to keep the sprouts tight but dont overcook them aldente is perfect and it lessens the sulphur smell,taste.
02 May 22, Glenn T Terrebonne (USA - Zone 9b climate)
We can grow parsnips thru the hot summer if we plant now in may
05 Feb 22, Carolyn (Australia - temperate climate)
I know parsnip seed should be fresh and have successfully grown parsnip from my own seed . I have let some parsnip go to seed for bees and seed this year but next to them is the fennel which also went to seed . Does anyone know if they cross pollinate? I don't want to waste space if this is so.
07 Feb 22, John Mauger (Australia - temperate climate)
fennel is in the Apiacea family. parsnip is from the Pastinaca family. There isn't any evidence that they can cross pollinate even though they are Umbelliferous plants. (flowers in umbels, like an umbrella). Trust this helps.
23 Feb 22, Carolyn Dixen (Australia - temperate climate)
Thankyou, I will try my seed and hope the parsnips don't taste like fennel.
24 Oct 21, Edwin S Bedford (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
It is Spring in South West Victoria , my daughter has planted Parsnip and growing well. Suddenly they have all bolted, can you help please. regards Edwin.
Showing 1 - 10 of 101 comments

Can you sow parsnips in the fall,such as November, and harvest in the spring?

- Catherine Ingraham

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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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