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How to Grow Parsnips

Pastinaca Sativa

People have grown parsnips for thousands of years. We're certain, that it was in the very first garden.. the garden of Eden. Native to to the Mediterranean, thee early Greeks and Romans grew parsnips.

Parsnips are members of the carrot family. They a root crop, and is white in color. Parsnip plants can reach 3 feet tall. The roots generally grow 12-15 inches.

Did you Know? Parsnips can grow to 32 inches and 10-18 inches in diameter. Now, that's a big parsnip!

Sowing Parsnip Seeds:


Sow Parsnip seeds 1/2 inch deep. The big seeds are easy to handle and space.

Final spacing should be 8-12 inches apart, in rows two feet apart.

Sow seeds early in the spring. Plants take 4 months to reach harvest size.

Days to Maturity: 130 or more.

How to Grow Parsnips:


Parsnip plants grow best in full sun. They like loose, loamy soil. Ideal pH: 6.5.

Prior to planting parsnip seeds, work the soil deeply. Add liberal amounts of compost or peat moss. Remove any rocks, stones and debris, which may block formation of the roots. When a root hits an object, forked or misshapen roots will result.

Keep parsnip plants weeded early in the season. Young seedlings are easily overcrowded, with any competing weeds often winning out.

Parsnips need a good supply of water, in soil that drains well. Water deeply one a week, especially during dry periods. As the roots, go down deeper into the soil you need to water even deeper to reach them.

Apply fertilizer prior to sowing parsnip seeds, and once a month during the season. Do not over fertilizer your parsnips. Too much nitrogen in the soil, results in hairy(fine feeder roots) roots.

Insects and Pests:

Occasionally root maggots can be a problem. Swallow Tail Butterfly caterpillar can also be a problem. Hand pick them, when you see them. 

Disease:

Parsnips are relatively free of disease problems.

Harvesting:

Cold weather improves flavor and sweetness, as the starches turn to sugars. Parsnips taste better after the first freeze. Better still, wait for the first several days of at or near freezing weather

Do not grab the plant to pull out the roots. The plant will almost always break away from the roots. Rather, dig out roots with a shovel or pitch fork.

Parsnips are excellent for over-wintering in the soil. You should be able to harvest roots well into the spring.  Cover the area with mulch or straw, to keep ground from freezing.


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