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May 27, 2010

Question for my gardener friends!

Who among you grows parsnips? I just planted some homemade seed tapes with parsnips, but now on further research, I am finding that only 1 in 20 germinate? Thinking now I should have just thrown the whole packet in the bed or is it even worth it? I've never done them before, and have never eaten them before, although people that know me say I would love them.

So what do you do? How successful is it? Should I place a board over the planting like I do for carrots?

Tell me your stories!


  1. I love parsnips, and grew them last year. I had about 50% germination, so just poked seeds in the spots where they hadn't come up. Mine got huge tops, like 3' tall, that flopped over the neighboring crops. I had to pound in some 4' stakes and run garden twine around them to hold up the foliage. I ate a few before there was a freeze (freezes are supposed to make them sweeter), and they were good. I left the rest of them in until after the first frost, but when I dug them, they were big and woody and inedible. Bummer. It must have been the variety. Needless to say, I didn't even try growing them this year.

  2. Parsnips are notorious for slow germination and do challenge one's patience when everything else in the spring seems to be growing so very fast. Do not give up on them though as they are soooo worth the wait. Sometimes it can take as long as 30 or 40 days for them to all sprout, and they are slow to mature.

    I eat a few in the fall, then leave the rest in the soil all winter long. Then when I want a real treat, I go out and dig one or two. They're good added to a pot of vegetable soup or a stew, but my favorite way to eat them is sliced lengthwise and fried. Oh, my goodness, so good - so naturally sweet.

    Good luck with yours. I hope they do well!

  3. Well oh crap, Gran! 4' tall???? I "tucked them in" between some carrots and mesclun LOLOLOLOL!!!

    Gran & Rose, thanks for the info! I can't wait to see what others say, so far it looks like it's worth the pain, I will have another bed against the fence that will be available soon when the peas come out, maybe I'll plant the entire packet there and they won't be shading anything else!

  4. Erin, this is what my parsnips looked like after I put up the stakes and the garden twine. This was only two rows of seeds down the center of a 4'x4' bed, and I was planting lettuce seed mats on both sides of them. You can see that I'd already removed a few of the oversized leaves from the parsnips to try to contain them:


    About a month later, that same bed looked like this:


    Needless to say, the lettuce seedlings didn't survive in this bed.

  5. I happen to be the resident comment hog today. I just have to echo what Really Rose said, parsnips fried (especially in real butter) are to die for. I parboil mine for a bit just to tenderize them enough to easily slice, then slice them lengthwise and fry them until they are sweet and caramelized. She's also correct about the slow germination. I ended up thinning out some, as many of the earlier planted seeds did finally come up. I just didn't want to take a chance, so I had reseeded.

  6. My parsnip story isn't worth much at all, I'm afraid.

    I've only tasted them once; bought some and sliced and boiled like carrots, added butter, salt and pepper. They were AWFUL! No flavor except for bitterness. But I must admit it probably wasn't a fair trial 'cause they looked a little "old" when purchased. I wanted to find out if I should try growing them . . . and obviously didn't after that taste test.

    I've been told that the way to grow them up here is to plant in late summer, winter them over under a heavy layer of mulch and then harvest them in the spring. But I can't vouch that that method works since I've not done it.

    Worthless comment for you, eh?

  7. I was about to jump in and say Granny does!

    But Granny beat me to it.

    Many times.

    One can never have too much Granny, that's what I always say.

  8. Ribbit, it was almost too easy, like fishing in a bathtub... I was thinking to myself, "I know Granny knows the answer, now how many minutes before she takes the bait?"LOLOL

  9. Hey, I'm a newbie to your blog. Had to chime in about parsnips. I've never grown them, but LOVE to eat them - roasted in the oven or boiled with carrots, then drain off the water and mash with butter and salt.
    Melissa - Square Foot Gardening in Central Florida