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How to Grow Parsnips


 Click here for Parsnip Troubles

Sowing Time

Planting Time



Cutting / Lifting Time



Parsnips require very little attention and the roots can be left in the ground all winter and dug up as required but if you store some in November you will still have some when the soil is too frozen to dif them up. Do not attempt to replant thinnings as they won’t take well. Keep an eye on weeds and water well in dry weather. Harvest as the leaves begin to die down in autumn. They will taste better if left until after the first frost.

Mid February to end April n/a For long specimens ensure the soil is well prepared and stone-free. Any reasonable soil will do in a sunny or light-shaded site. Dig well in Autumn but don’t add manure or compost. Sow three seeds together and thin out to one plant 6ins apart and 12ins between the rows. Mid October to mid March Can be kept in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to two weeks. To freeze: trim, peel and wash, cut into cubes, blanch for 5 mins and freeze. Top and tail and remove any damaged areas. Scrub (don’t peel) and remove the hard core in older roots. Parboil for 2mins and roast. Alternatively they can be boiled and mashed.

Parsnip Troubles





Black Rot

Blackened Carrot Roots seen on stored carrots

Burn diseased roots

Store properly and do not use the same land for carrots next year


Not serious but will produce blackened roots  


Dig out any clay in the soil before sowing


Forked roots


Don’t add manure or compost prior to sowing. Don’t make beds too firm

Parsnip Canker

Blackened Parsnip roots which crack leaving the root to rot


Lime the soil and don’t sow too early.

Small Roots

Small parsnips


Dig soil deeply and break up any clay by adding well-rotted manure or compost

Sclerotinia Rot

Mouldy Roots found on stored parsnips


Ensure roots are firm and disease free before storing


Split roots caused by heavy rain. These parsnips will not store successfully

None but can still be eaten

Water regularly in dry weather and apply a mulch to conserve moisture

Swift Moth

Hollowed-out roots caused by caterpillars


Use Chlorophos to control

Violet Root Rot

Mouldy roots and yellowing leaves


Rotate crops