How to grow & care for parsnip
Parsnips are a nutty and sweet root vegetable that can take 5-6 months to reach maturity! But the flavour of homegrown parsnips is worth the wait and effort.
Parsnips are best grown from seeds planted directly into your garden. They’ll grow in most climates of Australia and cold weather at the time of harvest will actually give you a sweeter crop. In cold and cool temperate areas sow seeds from September to March, while in subtropical and warm temperate areas it’s best to sow parsnips from late summer to late autumn.
If you’ve struggled to grow parsnips in the past, try again - but without giving them so much love! Parsnips actually prefer a poor soil and little or no fertiliser. It’s also important to keep their soil moist, but not soggy - if they dry out the roots can split.
Top 5 steps to growing parsnip
- Choose a full sun position in your garden
- To grow long and straight, parsnips need a loose and friable soil
- Parsnip will tolerate a poor soil, but a bit of compost or Scotts Performance Naturals™ Organic Based Soil Improver is ideal will help retain moisture.
- There’s no need to fertilise parsnips - excess nutrients can cause their roots to fork and deform.
- For the best germination rates always plant fresh parsnip seeds & keep the soil while they germinate.
- Parsnip seeds
- Scotts Performance Naturals™ Organic Based Soil Improver
- If growing in pots, Scotts Performance Naturals™ Premium Organic Based Potting Mix
- Garden trowel
- Defender™ Snail & Slug Pellets
Parsnips should be grown in a full sun position, into a loose and friable soil. Just like other root crops parsnips don’t like root disturbance - so they should be direct sown into your prepared soil.
Parsnips will tolerate a poor soil and will happily follow hungry crops like brassicas or tomatoes - however, mixing Scotts Performance Naturals™ Organic Based Soil Improver through the top 20cm of soil before planting will loosen it up and help the soil retain moisture.
Planting in the garden
Sow parsnip seeds 3cm apart in rows 30cm apart. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy while the seeds germinate - which will take anywhere from 2-4 weeks. Seedlings can be thinned to allow 5-10cm between parsnips around 4 weeks after germination.
Because parsnip grow so slowly they can be interplanted with quick growing crops like radish, that will be ready to harvest long before the parsnips are.
Planting in pots
Parsnips are not generally recommended for pots, given their size. However if pots are your only option, you’ll need a large pot that’s at least 60cm deep by the same width.
Fill the pot with Scotts Performance Naturals™ Premium Organic Based Potting Mix and thinly sprinkle parsnip seeds on the surface. Cover lightly with more potting mix and keep them moist while they germinate - which could take 2-4 weeks. Seedlings can be thinned to allow 5-10cm between parsnips around 4 weeks after germination.
Parsnips are ready to harvest 120-180 days after sowing depending on the variety you’ve grown and your climate. Harvesting after a frost is said to make your parsnips sweeter.
If you leave your parsnips to set flowers in spring or the warmer weather their cores can be woody and tough. If this happens remove the core before you cook with them.
Pests & Diseases
Slugs and Snails will cause significant damage to parsnip seedlings and foliage growth. Protect your parsnip crop by setting beer traps (saucers filled with beer) or use Defender™ Snail & Slug Pellets.