Can you even imagine a roast dinner without roast parsnips? I can’t. They also give a unique taste to casseroles and stews. The best thing about parsnips is that you don’t have to put much effort into growing and maintaining them. Besides, you can leave them in the ground until you use them. Sow in spring, and you’ll have parsnips in the autumn.

Sowing Parsnips

The best time to sow parsnips is in spring. Sowing in spring means you can harvest a prize crop of parsnips in the autumn. While sowing, make sure you have chosen a sunny and open location. Besides, deep and light soil on the sowing position also matters a lot with this particular vegetable.

You must sow the seeds so that there are only three seeds every 6 inches. Besides, make sure there is a distance of 1 ft in rows and seeds are 0.5 inches deep.

Some people also recommend sowing in the February, at the beginning of that month. But, it could be a wrong decision. You will get much better and more consistent results if you sow your seeds in March, April or early May.

I have a fantastic tip to make parsnips sowing effective. Always warm the soil up as much as you can before cloche sowing. Then, afterwards, leave them well alone until the formation of seedlings with two true leaves.

Growing Parsnips

Here’re the tips that you must follow during the growing period of parsnips:

  • Thin out the seedlings when they are grown to 1 inch. Make sure there is one seedling every six inches.
  • Remove the weeds from the soil. You must remove the weeds manually. Otherwise, the top of the roots will get damaged with hoeing.
  • Keep the soil moist. It will prevent the roots from splitting, which is a common problem with this vegetable.  

Harvesting Parsnips

You can pick the roots in autumn or even late summer once the foliage starts to show signs of wilting. Carefully use a garden fork to help you in releasing the roots carefully from the ground.

As I said – you can leave these roots in the ground until you need to use them to ensure they are in excellent condition. However, you can enjoy the parsnips even when the soil is frozen by lifting the roots in November. These lightly frosted roots are super delicious.


Common problems

Parsnip canker:

This particular disease is rot with brown, orange or purple colour. The root tops mostly become infected with it. Damage to the crown, over-rich soil and drought are some primary reasons for parsnip canker.


  • Avoid root damaging
  • Improve soil draining
  • Prefer resistant cultivars such as “Archer” and “Avonresister.”
  • Never sow seeds earlier in the year.
  • Prevent the carrot fly from invading

Carrot fly

A carrot fly is a fly with its body black in colour. Its larvae eat the roots of the carrot. The larvae make tunnels to reach the roots of developing carrots and damage them severely.

The carrot fly also attacks parsnips, which is why we cover it here.


You can’t get rid of carrot fly once they invaded your crops. So, you can easily see that prevention is the best strategy to avoid the carrot fly attack.

Here’s some preventive measure to avoid carrot fly invasion:

  • Sow the seeds thinly at a proper distance.
  • Don’t damage the foliage while thinning out the seedlings or picking up the weeds.
  • Use a 2ft higher barrier to surround your carrots. Make sure the barriers should be of polythene. These barriers will keep the low-lying female flies away from your plants.
  • Use horticulture fleece to cover the plants. Enviromesh is the best horticulture fleece to protect the crop.

Check out 34 delicious recipes using this versatile vegetable, from Delicious Magazine

There are several types of parsnip seeds available – we have put a selection of them here. Check them out with regard to variety, planting, value, etc.

For more information or assistance with this article, or if you want to add something that you feel is relevant, we would love to hear from you via the Contact Us page.

07/13/2021 | Vegetables | 0 Comments

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