Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Growing Parsnips

Parsnips are a great addition to many recipes. Once cooked, parsnips have a sweeter flavor then their close cousin, the carrot. Parsnips also are at their best flavor when harvested after the first frost.

While you can eat parsnips raw, they taste much better once they are cooked. Parsnips are most commonly used in soups, stews and casseroles, although you are only limited with your use of your home grown parsnips from what you can imagine.

Parsnip seeds take longer to germinate than most other root crops, as much as fourteen days. Even though you can start parsnip seeds indoors, it really does not make much sense to do so, since you can start parsnip seeds outdoors after the last frost and grow your parsnips straight through after the first frost in the autumn months.

Parsnip seeds are larger than carrot seeds, making planting and spacing of parsnip seeds much easier to do. And because parsnip seeds are larger you can plant them a half inch deep. When planting your parsnip seeds make sure you space them out every four to six inches. You can also plant three to four parsnip seeds to a location and when the parsnips are three to five inches, you can thin your parsnips out every six inches or so.

As mentioned earlier, allow your parsnips to grow straight through the spring, summer and autumn months. Once you have had your first frost of the season, your parsnips will be at their best flavor and ready to be harvested. To harvest your parsnips, simply use a trowel to loosen the soil around them, making them easier to pull from the ground.

Parsnips store well in the fridge. After you harvest your parsnips, be sure to clean and dry them and store them in a Ziploc storage bag. Your parsnips will store for three to six months and even longer. Don’t forget to look up some recipes for your parsnip greens also.

While your parsnips are growing make sure they receive an even watering, and choose a location that receives full sun (although they tolerate light shade). Parsnips make for great companion plantings to bush beans, garlic, onions, peas, peppers, potatoes and radish. However, keep your parsnips away from caraway, carrots and celery.


  1. Rachael Ray has been championing parsnips lately. I'm gonna go for it!

  2. Love Rachel Ray, although I would not spend $30 to buy her bowl for kitchen scraps

  3. I grew parsnips for the first time last year. I over wintered them and the cool temperatures really made them sweet. I just wish they stored better.

    1. There is an excellent article in Mother Earth News magazine about storing root crops ... it was an issue from a few months ago, so I am sure they would have the article on their website somewhere. Not sure if parsnips was a part of that article, but it's worth checking out.