DIY Network

How to Grow Parsnips

Parsnips are a delicious addition to any vegetable garden, but they take care and time to harvest.

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radish seedling will mark the row for parsnips
  • Time

    Several Months

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty



Step 1: Prepare to Sow

Parsnips need sunny, well-drained soil that has been deeply worked. They do best in sandy loam or raised beds. To help aid germination, soak the seeds overnight in lukewarm water. Drain before planting. Plant two weeks before last frost so as to be mature by late fall.

Step 2: Sow the Seed

To sow the parsnips, mark rows 18" apart using long wooden dowels or a broom handle. Plant two or three seeds 1/2" to 3/4" deep every two inches. Cover the seeds by pushing the soil back on top of them. Be sure to not compact the soil on top of the seeds as this can prevent them from germinating. Water seeds.

2 X 2 boards form raised beds for parsnips

Step 3: Thin the Parsnips

When parsnip seedlings emerge, thin to one plant every 4". It is important to thin the seedlings before crowding impairs their growth. Thin by cutting the tops off the young plants rather than by pulling them, which can disturb the remaining seedlings by damaging their roots.

use floral shears to thin unwanted plants

Step 4: Harvest the Parsnips

Parsnips need a good supply of water and prefer very lightly damp soil. Make sure parsnips get 1" of water every week either from rain or by watering. Parsnips reach maturity in approximately 100 to 120 days. Harvest after the first frost or as the need arrives.

parsnips need a good supply of water