Parsnips are a cool season vegetable that prefers sunny locations and fertile, well-drained soil. For more information on parsnips,
VARIETIES: Many good parsnip varieties are available through local gardening outlets and seed catalogs, most of which grow well in Utah. Harris Model, All American and Andover all do well in Utah soil.
Before planting, incorporate 2 to 4 inches of well-composted organic matter and apply 2 to 4 cups of all purpose fertilizer per 100 square feet. Work this into the top 6 inches of soil. For more information on soil preparation, click here.
- Seeds should be planted at least ¼ of an inch deep.
- Crusting soil will limit seedling emergence and affect plant stands.
- Over-seed parsnips and thin to 4 to 6 inches in between plants after emergence.
- Plant rows 12 to 18 inches apart.
Irrigation: Water parsnips regularly, applying 1 to 2 inches per week depending on the weather. Mulch placement around the plants helps conserve soil moisture. Avoid over-watering as hairy roots and forking may occur. Moisture fluctuations contribute to root disorders, slow leaf development and a bitter taste. For more information on watering, click here.
Fertilization: Apply ¼ cup of nitrogen fertilizer for every 10 feet of row six weeks after emergence and again four weeks later to encourage rapid plant growth. Place fertilizer to the side of the plant and irrigate it into the soil. For more information on fertilizing, click here.
Harvest: Parsnips can be harvested when the roots begin to size, generally 100 to 120 days from seeding. Use a digging fork to loosen soil and pull up needed plants by the tops and trim off the leaves. Plants can be left in the garden after light frosts. Many gardeners keep parsnips through winter under heavy mulches and harvest them as needed.
COMMON PESTS AND DISEASES: Parsnip flies, leaf blights and rot are common pests of parsnips. These problems can be maintained with appropriate fertilizers, regular watering and crop rotation. For more information on controlling pests and diseases, click here.