How to Grow Parsnips February 10 2014

Parsnip tends to produce high yields in a small amount of space, and have long harvesting periods. The underground tap root grows to 8” with celery like leaves on top. It stores well in long-term storage (such as a root cellar).
Growing Parsnips is not recommended for container gardening.


Nutrition Information
Under optimal growing conditions, parsnipa offer: Dietary Fiber, Chromium, Potassium, Manganese, Vitamin C, Folate


Climate & Growing Conditions
Growing parsnips is best in cool weather but they'll grow in nearly all climates. Either full sun or partial shade is fine. Parsnips are happiest in well-drained organically enriched, deep sandy soil.


Preparing Garden Soil
For growing parsnips with long taproots, you will need to carefully prepare your garden beds by digging very deeply. For optimal growing conditions, the garden plot soil should have a pH between 5.5-7.5.  Add a supply of animal manure. Using a bed that was previously heavily mulched and fertilized for another crop works best. In very hot areas, mulch to keep the soil cool.


Planting
In cold climates - sow seeds in spring through to early summer for growing parsnips. In temperate zones, sow seed from midwinter to mid-autumn. In subtropical areas, sow seed from autumn through winter.
Parsnip seed does not have a long shelf life, so get fresh seed each year.
Sow seeds 1/4” deep in rows 16” apart. Germination is slow, but be sure to keep seed beds damp (not soggy) until seedlings appear.

Watering
Water regularly through the early stages, as you're growing parsnips, but reduce watering when the roots starts to thicken. (Too much water will make the root crack.) Too little water will stunt the root’s growth.


Fertilizing
Dig in complete fertilizer a week before sowing seeds or transplanting seedlings. Do not over fertilize, or you’ll be growing parsnips with a bounty of leaves and stunted roots.


Gardening Challenges
You shouldn't encounter any serious plant diseases when growing parsnips. There may be a few aphids.
Gardening Tip for Growing Parsnips - Practice good vegetable gardening by rotating your crops within your garden space with each new season. This will prevent many plant diseases.


Harvesting
Harvest after 4 or 5 months when the root is approximately 3” across the crown. The flavor is generally better if you wait until after a few weeks of near freezing temperatures to harvest. Using a garden fork, gently lift the root from the soil.


Cold Storage
In areas where the ground does not freeze, simply leave the parsnips in the soil until you’re ready to use them, and harvest as needed.
In colder areas, dig the parsnips in the fall before the ground freezes, and store them in a cold cellar in a box between layers of straw or sand, as you would carrots.