Direct sow parsnip seeds outdoors from mid spring to early summer, as soon as the ground is workable. Avoid sowing in cold or wet soils. Grow parsnips in a sunny position in stone-free, well prepared ground that has been deeply cultivated. Parsnips prefer a fertile, light, well drained soil.
Sow parsnip seeds thinly at a depth of 2cm (¾in) in drills 30cm (12″) apart. Germination is slow and may take up to 28 days. When large enough to handle, thin out the seedlings within each row to 7cm (3in) apart or 10cm (4″) apart if larger roots are required.
Water well to encourage germination. Once germinated, parsnips should be watered only when necessary to keep the soil moist. Keep beds weed free at all times.
Harvest parsnips from late autumn through to January, as and when required. However, their flavour will be improved if they are left in the ground until exposed to frost. Alternatively lift and store parsnips in boxes of barely moist soil, peat or sand, and store in a cool place. Roots can be stored like this for up to 4 months. Loosen the soil around the roots with a fork before lifting them to avoid damaging the roots.
March, April, May
sun or semi shade