There are also some plants that I simply will not grow from seed. However, parsnips are not one of them.
Once you know what to do, growing these outstanding root veggies is pretty simple (no stratification required).
They nearly beg to be planted from seed since they have long taproots that don’t like to be disturbed.
Having said that, there are a few tricks to getting the work done.
HOW TO GROW PARSNIPS FROM SEED
Many gardeners will tell you that these veggies are difficult to cultivate from seed and have low germination rates.
That was also my experience in the past. But then, a few years ago, I started doing things differently, and now parsnips are sprouting up all over the place.
Read more guide here
Here’s what we’ll go through to assist you reliably start parsnips from seed:
Are you ready to learn the tricks, as they say? Let’s get started!
LEARNING ABOUT PARSNIPS
You’re in for a treat if you’ve never grown parsnips from seed before.
This root vegetable that thrives in the cold belongs to the same family as carrots and parsley (Umbelliferae or Apiaceae), and it’s easy to mistake it for a white carrot.
The flavor, on the other hand, is rather different.
They have a sweet potato texture and a carrot flavor that is earthier and nuttier.
They grow quickly from seed and thrive in sub-zero temperatures, while all of your other plants are still sleeping.
OBTAINING PARSNIPS SEEDS
If I had to give you one piece of advice for growing parsnips from seed, it would be to start with fresh seeds.
After a year in storage, parsnip seeds don’t germinate well, so if you bought a package last year and didn’t use them all, throw them.
Don’t waste your seed packet by trying to get a second season out of it. I believe this is where the majority of people go astray.
Also, be certain you’re purchasing seeds from a trusted supplier. Look for a retailer with good reviews and who lists the harvest and/or expiration dates of the seeds on the packaging.
Burpee is a well-known brand, and they sell exquisite ‘Hollow Crown’ cultivars in packs of 550 seeds.
Another tried-and-true retailer is Eden Brothers.
‘Harris Model’ is available in single packets, one-ounce containers, and quarter-pound packages. This is a tasty heritage that is one of the most consistent producers I’ve ever grown.
HOW TO START PARSNIPS INDOORS
If you don’t have a lot of time to cultivate parsnips, planting them indoors is a good idea.
It’s important to keep in mind that they can take months to mature, and they don’t enjoy the heat. Because of their long growing season, depending on where you reside, you may not be able to start them outside without experiencing some heat.
Don’t worry, you’re not out of the parsnip-growing-from-seed race just yet.
Start the seeds indoors and transplant them outside when the weather permits, but make things easy on yourself by using compostable containers made of peat or cow manure.
Because you don’t have to remove the root from the container; instead, you simply place the container in the ground, there’s less possibility of surprising or stressing it when you transplant it.
CowPots are my favorite because they’re manufactured from a sustainable resource: cow feces! The #4-sized pot is perfect for growing parsnips.
Arbico Organics sells 12-packs, 180-packs, and 450-packs.
Fill the pots with seed starting mix, then immerse the seeds for 24 hours in water. Cover each pot with a quarter-inch of dirt and two seeds.
Using a spray bottle, soak the medium and keep the soil moist. You don’t want it to be completely soaked, but it also shouldn’t be completely dry.
Place the pots in a location where they will get at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, or under a grow light.
Then, because the next stage will take some time, go locate a good book you’ve been meaning to read or start a new pastime. Parsnip seeds take a long time to germinate.
Three weeks isn’t out of the ordinary. But don’t despair! I’ve discovered that they peek their leafy heads out to say hello just when I fear I’ve got a terrible batch of seeds. And I believe this is another area where individuals make mistakes.
You must make some difficult decisions before the plants mature. If more than one parsnip seed is grown in a container, the weaker of the two must be rid.
With a pair of scissors, snip it off. You can try to carefully pick the seedling out and place it in its own pot if you like, but this is a hit-or-miss process, so don’t be disappointed if you lose your small transplant.
Your parsnips will have formed one or two genuine leaves after another week or so. It’s now time to begin exposing them to the vast outdoors.
Take your pots outside and place them in a protected area where they will receive an hour of direct sunlight. Then gather them up and place them back inside.
Give the seedlings two hours outside the next day. Bring them out for three hours on the third day, and so on until they can be outside for an entire eight hours.
You can now put them in the ground. Check out the section on outdoor gardening below for ideas on soil preparation.
This is simple if you used compostable pots. Simply dig a hole that is the same size as the pot and place it in it.
You’ll need to be especially cautious if you used non-compostable pots. Dig a hole the size of the pot and gently slide the seedling out of the container, earth and all.
Place it carefully in the hole, taking care not to disturb the root.
Give the seedling a good drink of water, and if it settles too much, add extra soil on top.
HOW TO START PARSNIPS OUTDOORS
The simplest method for growing parsnips from seed is to plant them directly in a prepared garden area outside.
Parsnips thrive in well-draining, loose, and rich soil. Heavy clay isn’t going to work. Even loamy soil could be excessively dense.
The soil should ideally be on the sandy side of loamy. If your soil isn’t already the correct texture, add some sand and well-rotted compost.
Regardless of your soil texture, you may want to incorporate a lot of well-rotted compost to ensure that your soil is nutrient-dense. A little more compost, in my opinion, is never a bad thing in the garden.
Parsnips are voracious eaters who require a lot of food. The pH of the soil isn’t as crucial as drainage. A pH of 6.0 to 6.8 is ideal, however, a pH slightly outside of this range is OK.
Make sure the soil is corrected at least two feet down (if necessary). The depth of a raised bed should be at least two feet.
You should also examine the drainage of your soil before planting.
The most straightforward method is to dig a hole that is one foot deep and one foot broad. Fill it to the brim with water and then drain it.
Return in an hour. If there is still water in the hole, add more sand and compost to promote drainage.
Soak your seeds in lukewarm water the day before you plan to plant them.
When the soil temperature is over 40°F, sow the seeds in full light, and parsnips grow best when the air temperature is between 40 and 75°F.
Anything higher than that will cause them to bolt and go to seed. That means you’ll need to figure out when the soil can be worked and when the days are cool enough to work.
For the most part, this indicates the beginning of spring or the beginning of fall. The plants can withstand extreme cold once their roots have formed. In fact, once the roots have been exposed to freezing temperatures for a few weeks, they taste better.
Seeds should be planted half an inch deep and six inches apart. If you prefer, you can cram them in a little tighter because little parsnips taste nicer than huge ones.
Because parsnip seeds don’t usually germinate well, you may wish to plant two seeds at each location and discard one if both sprout.
However, I seeded four seeds per location this year, and every single one germinated, so you never know. If you execute everything correctly, you might get fantastic results!
In any case, don’t pick any undesired seedlings because you can disrupt the root of a nearby seedling you want to maintain. Simply use a pair of scissors to snip each one you’re thinning out.
PARSNIPS CARE TIPS
As the plants develop and grow, apply a side dressing of compost every three weeks. You can also use a balanced fertilizer like Down to Earth’s Starter Mix.
This fertilizer is packaged in a compostable box and contains the proper nutrients to keep your young parsnips happy.
This handy product is available in one-pound or five-pound packs from Arbico Organics.
Watering is critical for a successful crop.
You must strike a balance between too much and too little water, as the former promotes hairy, rough roots and the latter stunted growth. Forking and root splitting are also caused by wet and dry swings.
These veggies require one to two inches of water per week, depending on the soil composition.
Sticking a finger in the soil is the best way to know if it’s time to water. The top inch of the plant can dry out between waterings, but not much farther. When the soil is damp, it should feel like a well-wrung-out sponge.
On top of the soil, an inch-thick layer of compost can help retain moisture and add nutrients. Mulch can also be made from straw or leaves.
Weeds should not be allowed to grow in the garden. Young parsnips are unable to compete with invasive weeds.
To prevent green shoulders, spread mulch around the base of the plants a few weeks before harvest.
If you plan to leave the crowns in the ground until spring, cover them completely with mulch in the winter. Straw or leaves are both suitable choices.
To harvest, use a garden fork to dig down about a foot and carefully release the root from the dirt. Avoid nicking or bumping the roots, since they bruise readily. They, like potatoes, begin to oxidize if bruised.
Harvest the roots before new growth appears in the spring if you leave them in the ground during the winter.
I think I noted that parsnips aren’t known for being prolific germination.
Prepare for success by utilizing fresh seeds and ensuring that the temperatures are just correct. Planting too early or too late in the season is not a good idea. Also, make sure the soil is kept moist.
Another thing to keep in mind is to remain patient. Many people believe their parsnip seeds are defective when, in fact, parsnips simply take a lengthy time to sprout.
You might be out of luck if it’s been three weeks since you sowed the seeds and you haven’t seen anything. Don’t give up hope, though. It’s happened to me that seeds took a month to germinate.
If you know the right tricks, growing parsnip seeds is simple.
Parsnips are as versatile as potatoes, as tasty as carrots, and far preferable to either of those popular root vegetables as a winter crop.
Growing them from seed is simple if you know the tricks of the trade – which, presumably, you now do!
I’m constantly on the lookout for great parsnip recipes, so if you have one, please share it with us in the comments. Me? Garlic and parsley parsnip “fries” cooked in the oven with butter are one of my favorites.
Parsnips are a root vegetable that grows well in cold climates and are easy to grow from seed. They have a sweet potato feel and an earthier, nuttier carrot flavor than carrots or parsley.
Growing parsnips from seed aren’t difficult, but there are a few tricks to remember. It takes a long time for parsnip seeds to germinate.
Planting parsnips indoors is a fantastic choice if you don’t have time to cultivate them.
Parsnip seed starting mix is available in 12-packs, 180-packs, and 450-packs from Arbico Organics. Dig a hole in the soil and move the seedling out of its container with care.
Although a pH of 6.0 to 6.8 is optimal, a pH slightly outside of this range is acceptable. Sow the seeds in full light when the soil temperature reaches 40°F. When the air temperature is between 40 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, parsnips thrive best.
Depending on the soil composition, these vegetables demand one to two inches of water per week. Once the roots have grown, the plants can endure extreme cold.
Parsnips are as adaptable as potatoes, as delicious as carrots, and far superior as a winter crop to either of those popular root vegetables. Growing parsnips from seed are simple if you know the secrets of the trade, which you most likely do now.