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Parsnip

Botanical Name
Pastinaca sativa
Height
2 to 3 feet
Width
6 to 12 inches
Light
Full sun to part shade
Soil
Moist, well-drained, fertile, well prepared and loose (free of stones and clumps)
Planting & Care
  • Plant seed in early April or May when soil temperatures reaches 50°
  • Seeds are slow to germinate - taking up to 2 to 3 weeks (longer with cold temperatures)
  • Sow seeds 1/2 to 3/4 inch deep in rows 18 to 24 inches apart
  • Seed thickly since germination can be spotty, sow seeds 2 to 3 per inch
  • Keep soil moist to speed germination
  • Sow along with radish seeds every foot to break the soil crust and mark the row
  • Thin to 3 to 4 inch spacing, trim instead of pulling to avoid disturbing remaining seedlings
  • Mulch to suppress weeds and retain moisture
  • Hill soil around the base of plants to prevent greening of root shoulders
  • Harvest the roots by carefully digging up when 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter and 8 to 12 inches long
  • Some people may develop a rash from contact with the juice from the foliage in direct sunlight, wear gloves to prevent contact during harvest
  • Parsnips don't develop their flavor until after enduring frost and cold fall weather
  • Can be overwintered and left in the ground through early spring, lifting when needed - mulching the soil helps make digging easier
Problems
Carrot weevil, leafhoppers, low soil fertility
Varieties
  • All American - 10 to 12 inches, high sugar content, stores well
  • Harris Model - smooth, white, tapered root, 10 inches
  • Hollow Crown - 12 by 3 inches, develops flavor after frost
  • Andover - 12 to 14 inches, slim and tapered roots, vigorous tops, stores up to 4 to 6 months
  • Lancer - high germination rate

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