Parsnips Are A Slow Germinator So You Have To Treat Them Like Carrots
Parsnips are an early garden crop and the seed should be sown outdoors
(no transplanting) as soon as you can work your soil.
A few radish seeds along with the seed would be helpful to mark the
rows because this vegetable germinates slowly – you're looking at
least three weeks before it will break the ground.
And to make life interesting, if it turns back to really cold/heavy
frosts or your ground dries out or crusts over – it will take even
longer or the seed will die (and you'll have to resow)
Parsnips ready for grilling
This means that you want to grow parsnips in the same kind of soil as
you do carrots.
A soil that is heavy in organic matter so it doesn't crust, and is
deep so the roots can grow straight and fertile so the plants grow
well. You want a soil that is at least good for 12 inches down so the
roots will grow straight and true.
Again, similar to carrots, overfertilizing will produce a range of
problems so compost is the food of choice rather than chemical
Sow seed one quarter inch deep with three seeds to the inch. Once they
germinate, thin to two to three inches between healthy seedlings.
When you are weeding, hill up the shoulders (edge of the root) to
prevent a problem called "canker" and never stand too close to the
row or you'll compact the soil and get forked roots. Some gardeners
lay down wooden planks between these rows to distribute the weight.
Wait until after the first frost to harvest as cold weather and frosts
increase the sugar in the root.
If you protect them from deep freezing
by mulch, a parsnip can be left in the ground over winter. Harvest
first thing in the spring for great flavour.