Growing Guide
 
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Parsnips

Vegetable (Cool Season) - Parsley Family

Pastinaca sativa
Umbelliferae Family

Perhaps the hardiest of all garden crops, parsnips don’t develop their sweet, nutty flavor until after enduring frosts and cold weather in fall. Can be overwintered for harvest as soon as soil thaws in spring.

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Site Characteristics
Sunlight:
  • full sun
  • part shade
Yields best in full sun.

Soil conditions:

  • requires well-drained soil
Prefers well-drained, loose, fertile soil, free of stones pH 6.0 to 7.0. Heavy clay soils may cause crooked and branched roots. Needs a fair amount of moisture.
Plant Traits

Lifecycle: annual

Biennial grown as an annual.

Ease-of-care: moderately difficult

Requires deep, well-prepared soil, early planting, and good early weed control.

Height: 2 to 3 feet

Spread: 0.5 to 1 feet

Foliage color: medium green

Foliage texture: medium

Shape: cushion, mound or clump

Leaves arise from spherical swollen stem.

Special Considerations
Tolerates:
  • frost
Special characteristics:
  • not native to North America - Mediterranean origin.
Growing Information
How to plant:

Propagate by seed

Germination temperature: 50 F to 85 F

Days to emergence: 10 to 21 - Germination may take as long as 3 to 4 weeks with soil temperature at 50 F.

Seed can be saved 1 year. - Seed does not store well.

Maintenance and care:
Sow seeds inch deep, 1 inch apart, in rows 18 to 24 inches apart, in early spring.   Seeds germinate slowly, usually in about 2 to 3 weeks (longer in cold soils). To speed germination, keep soil moist. Sow along with radishes to break soil crust and mark row.

Thin to 3- to 4-inch spacings. Trim instead of pulling to avoid disturbing roots of remaining plants.

Mulch to suppress weeds and retain moisture.

Hill soil around base of plants to prevent greening of root shoulders.

Pests:
Avoid planting on ground that was in sod the previous season. Use fabric covers to exclude insects.

Carrot weevil - Clean up garden debris in autumn. Beneficial nematodes are available. Apply as directed on label.

Leafhopper - Leafhoppers spread disease. No cultural control is available.

Varieties
Browse parsnip varieties at our Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners website.

Choose shorter-rooted varieties if your soil is not deep, light and stone-free.

Varieties recommended for New York include:

All American
Harris' Model
Hollow Crown