The Vegetable Garden

How To Grow Parsnips From Seed

How To Grow Parsnips From Seed
Roast parsnips are a joy to eat - and gorgeous roasted. They are easy to grow, need little maintenance and can be left in the soil until ready to use.


Sow around February to April, direct in final growing position, half-inch/1.5cm deep, spacing the rows 18in/45cm apart. Although it is normally recommended to start sowing in February, this can lead to failure in colder, northern areas. Sowings made in March and April and even early May will do much better here. Or, warm the soil before sowing with cloches or similar and leave in place until the seedlings have developed two true leaves.


When the seedlings are about one inch (2.5cm) high, thin out to 9in/23cm apart. Keep the soil evenly moist to avoid splitting.


Harvest from November to March. Start lifting roots when the foliage starts to die down in autumn. Use a fork to carefully lift them. They can be left in the soil until required, although lifting a few extra in November will ensure you have parsnips to eat even if the soil becomes frozen.  Alternatively, they may be stored in a 'clamp' or boxes of sand. Lightly frosted roots tend to produce the best flavour.


A popular variety for Exhibition growing is Parsnip Javelin F1 AGM.

If your soil is heavy or particularly stony make a deep hole with a metal pole or crowbar and fill with compost or a mixture of compost and soil. Sow three seeds and for an earlier crop, cover the seeds/ seedlings with a glass jar or a plastic lemonade bottle with the bottom cut off.

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