Parsnip is a delicious heirloom vegetable from which the root is eaten.
Important Parsnip facts
Name – Pastinaca sativa
Family – Apiaceae (parsley family)
Type – vegetable, biennial
Height – 20 to 28 inches (50 to 70 cm)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – rich and cool
Harvest – fall
The ultimate fall and winter vegetable, here are the tips on how to grow it.
Sowing and planting parsnip
Parsnip is sown from February to June but must be started under shelter if freezing is expected early on.
Once any risk of freezing has faded away, it is possible to sow directly in the ground. Whether in a sheltered place or outdoors in summer, sprouting lead time for parsnip is more or less 12 to 15 days.
- Sowing in the ground must be done in very light soil, with sand and only thinly covered.
- Break up the earth to a depth of around 8 inches (20 cm) and add dehydrated manure or compost a few days earlier.
- Trace small furrows about ½ inch (one centimeter) deep.
- Set furrows more or less 8 inches (30 cm) apart.
- Once they’ve sprouted properly, thin the parsnip to 10 inches (25 cm).
Avoid planting parsnip in the same spot for the following 4 years, so that the soil may recover.
Caring for parsnip
Parsnip requires extremely little care. The only relevant care is the same as for all other plants, like regular weeding.
As for watering, it is useful to water during summer heat waves or prolonged dry spells, without wetting the leaves.
- So run the hoe along the ground regularly and water in case of high temperatures and prolonged dry spells in summer.
- Water regularly, especially in hot weather, because water needs are high.
Lastly, to increase the harvest in quality and quantity, provide special vegetable patch fertilizer in spring.
Parsnip harvest takes place more or less 4 to 5 months after sowing. It usually takes place between August and October-November, or March.
Average parsnip productivity is more or less 6 to 8 roots to a square yard (1 m²).
- Regarding the pulling out, loosen up the soil to avoid damaging the roots.
- Parsnip is hardy to the cold, so it can spend all winter in the ground.
- It has been said that freezing and frost makes parsnip sweeter to the taste.
Being a root vegetable, parsnip naturally keeps for a long time, both still in the ground or harvested.
- They can be kept in crates in the dark in a cool, dry and ventilated place.
- It keeps for longer still if you layer it with sand.
It is also doable to let the parsnip sit in the ground and only collect it when you need it.
- In the ground, once it has achieved maturity, parsnip simply stops developing and so can be harvested all winter long.
Pairing parsnip with other vegetables
Parsnip DREADS growing too close to lettuce.
Learn more about parsnip
Indeed, parsnip has high vitamin B9 and carbohydrate levels and has stimulating properties for health, especially as regards the immune and reproductive system.
Note also that is has a high fiber and mineral content and contains many antioxidants which help fight colon cancer.
There are different types of parsnips
- Bulbous parsnip, as its name shows, is roundish in shape.
- Wedge type parsnip has a shape that looks a lot like a carrot. It is the type that is grown most in our vegetable patches.
- Bayonet type parsnip isn’t as common. It is a long, narrow root that can exceed 20 inches (50 cm) in length.
Cooking with parsnip
Some families like to add it to beef stew or tajine, partly because it doesn’t fall apart as it cooks.
It can be paired with meat and fish, for instance as a parsnip puree, and can be added as an herb simply to flavor broth and soup.
Smart tip about parsnip
Just like leek, parsnip is a diuretic and eases digestion. It will also provide you with a lot of vitamin B9!