Below are some basic things you need to know to grow parsnips at home.
Parsnip is a member of the parsley family (Apiaceae) , which includes carrots, dill, fennel, parsley, and other plants.
They’re a bit of a tricky vegetable to grow. But if you’re up for the challenge, this article is a basic guide on how to grow and care for them.
Growing Parsnips From Seeds
Here’s how to grow parsnips from seeds:
1. Planting Time
The first thing you need to do is check what time of year it is. The seed packet may tell you that a good time to plant outdoors is April to June.
Planting them too early, when temperatures are too cool, can cause the seeds to die. The seeds also have a short shelf life, so it’s best to purchase a new packet each time.
Seedlings will start popping out in 2-3 weeks, and the plants mature in 120 to 180 days.
2. Soil and Site
If you’ve planted the seeds in the right place and season, they’ll grow successfully.
Parsnips enjoy growing in an open environment with well-drained, fertile soil that is deep and light. You’ll also want to choose a planting spot that gets full sun.
3. Sowing Seeds
Sow in a couple of rows about a foot apart. Also, make sure the area is dug very deeply, with the rows marked out with a rake beforehand.
The seeds are highly coveted by wild animals like birds, so it’s best to stretch some chicken wire around the planting site for added protection.
Before planting, water the area well to help moisten the soil and seeds for germination. Water plants every two to three weeks.
5. Thinning Out
You’ll need to wait until the seedlings are about an inch tall before you can begin thinning them out. Thinning gives the strong, healthy ones a better chance at survival.
Replant the seedlings you’ve taken out about half an inch deep. Space them 3 to 4 inches apart, in rows 18 to 24 inches apart.
6. Pests and Diseases
This is always a major concern for farmers and gardeners. What sort of plant diseases or pests may get in, and how do we deal with them?
You’ll especially want to watch out for aphids, slugs, snails, and cutworms. Carrot rust flies are also a major problem. As the name implies, they seem to favor tuber vegetables such as carrots or even parsnips.
Be sure to keep your parsnip garden weed-free. There are a number of organic methods to get rid of weeds in your garden.
8. Harvesting and Storage
As mentioned earlier, it takes about 120 to 180 days for a parsnip to go from a seed to a mature root that is ready for harvest.
They are usually ready from October through the end of the year. However, it’s recommended that they be left in the ground and harvested as needed so they stay fresher.
In fact, it is advised that you leave them in the ground for a few touches of frost or the entire winter. The starch in the vegetables is changed into sugar by the freezing temperatures, which makes them sweeter.
This is also true of root vegetables like turnips, beets, and rutabagas.
Growing Parsnips From Tops
Begin with the root‘s top inch or so and the leaf stubs attached. Place it in a small glass or bowl with about an inch of water. However, ensure that the leafy side is up.
Now place the container outside in the sun and make sure to change the water each day. Within a few days, small roots will begin to form, and new greens will emerge from the top.
After a few weeks, you can either transplant the parsnip to a container with potting soil or place it outside in your garden. But be sure to place the root side down in the hole.
Allow about 1/4 inch of root to protrude from the soil. Also, keep the soil moist with water.
What do Parsnips Taste Like?
They are starchy like potatoes and have a sweetness like carrots, with a nutty flavor.
Nutrition and Health Benefits
Parsnip benefits the body in many ways. It is a great source of fiber, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K, and Magnesium, as well as other important micronutrients.
In addition to the nutrients listed above, it also contains the following:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin E
Parsnip promotes a healthy heart, improves digestion, promotes weight loss, and even boosts the immune system .
Parsnips may even help reduce birth defects in pregnant women. They can also help improve vision health and reduce cholesterol.
Parsnip is a classic cooking ingredient, often found in many European dishes. For example, it helps make “neeps and tatties”, a popular parsnip and potato dish in Scotland.
While parsnips can be eaten raw, it’s best if they’re cooked. You can also substitute them for carrots in some recipes due to their sweet, nutty flavor.
Besides, you can have roasted parsnips sprinkled with sea salt. Using parsnips in dishes is plenty. Look up those parsnip recipes!
Now you know the basics of growing parsnips. Besides, after harvesting, whether you choose to eat them raw or cook them, you’re bound to enjoy your fresh produce. Happy farming!