How to Grow Parsnips


  • Sowing Instructions
  • Crop Maintenance
  • How to Harvest
  • Storage
  • Pests & Diseases

Sowing Instructions

  • Sowing time: Sow from March to June
  • Stagger sowing times for a continual harvest
  • Can be sown undercover from early February using a garden cloche or green house
  • Sowing Location: Sow direct in rows on vegetable plot
  • Prepare drills 1cm deep, spacing drills 25cm apart
  • Sow as thinly as possible to reduce the need to thin out later
  • Can sow three seeds every 15cm and thin later
  • Parsnips can be slow to germinate
  • If thinning is required, do so once seedlings develop their first true leaves
  • This minimizes competition and allows for faster growth
  • Keep rows well weeded using a garden hoe every two weeks

Crop Maintenance

  • Soil: Prefers a position in full sun or partial shade
  • Soil should be deep, light, free draining, similar to carrots
  • Heavy clay soils are not suitable – improve by added sufficient well rotted farmyard manure or horticultural grit
  • Start digging over soil in late winter or early spring
  • Aim to achieve a fine crumbly texture
  • When cultivating remove all weeds, roots, rocks and small stones
  • Fresh manure and small stones can cause parsnip roots to split
  • Do not add manure as it can make the soil too rich for the seeds
  • Sand will add drainage so mix seeds with a handful
  • Make sure to keep moist

Harvest your Parsnips

  • Parsnips take longer to mature than most other crops
  • Around 28 weeks is required from date of sowing seeds
  • This is why starting seed under cover in February is sometimes done
  • From Late September onwards parsnips can be harvested, once the foliage begins to die back
  • Water well one week before lifting
  • Use a garden fork to lift roots from soil

How to Store Parsnips

  • Parsnips store best in the ground over the winter
  • Alternatively place parsnips in a wooden box in sand, prevent any light reaching roots
  • Allow good air flow and store in a cool, dry place

Pests & Diseases for Parsnips

  • Pests: wireworm
  • A larvae which burrows into roots leaving small irregular holes throughout
  • Control: Common in poorly kept or newly developed vegetable patchy. Avoid long grass and untidy plots
  • Chemical control an option if pest problem is severe


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