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.

Slow Germinator

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)

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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 fertilizers.

Growing Parsnips

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.

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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.

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