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Apart from needing a reasonably deep soil, Parsnips are quite easy to grow. The soil should ideally be prepared well in advance and allowed to settle. Manuring should have been done for the previous season. As with all root crops, fresh manure can cause forked or deformed roots.


A standard vegetable garden pH of between 6.5 and 7.0 suits Parsnips. Lime during Winter to raise pH, if it is lower than this. A pH and NPK soil test is better than guesswork. Fertilize according to recommendation if testing has been carried out. Otherwise a balanced general fertilizer in the proportions of NPK 1.1.1 can be raked in just before sowing.


It is often recommended that Parsnips are sown in open ground during February and March. It is no wonder then that parsnips have a reputation for being slow and unreliable germinators. Sowing in March might be alright under cloches. Otherwise sow into open ground during April or May. Germination is then fast and reliable, and nothing is lost. The later sowing soon catches up.


Drills should be 30cm apart and 2cm deep. Sow the seed fairly thinly. Later thin out to 10cm apart. Parsnips go in the root crops plot, in a 4 year 4 plot, crop rotation. The crop is ready for harvesting in September, but can be left in the soil and dug as required during the winter.


Average rainfall is adequate. In dry summers, some irrigation will be needed. Keep the rows weed free by regular hoeing. Liquid feeding isn't usually required, but if the plants show a need for feeding then a general liquid feed is suitable.


Canker can be a problem on some varieties. Unless severe, the damage may only be to the skin. However it is a good idea to grow a resistant variety. Frosting turns the parsnips starch to sugar, and many people prefer the flavour after frosting.







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