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Parsnips are cool-weather biennials grown as an annual. Parsnips taste best if brought to harvest in cool weather.

Parsnips prefer full sun but will tolerate partial shade. Grow parsnips in soil that has been turned to 30cm deep where all lumps and rocks have been removed so that roots do not split and fork. Parsnip prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.8. Prepare planting beds two to three months in advance adding well-aged compost. Add manure only if it is aged; manure too fresh will cause root crops to fork.

Parsnips require a long, cool growing season where the average temperature is between 7-18°C. Parsnips will tolerate cold and freezing temperatures at both the start and end of their growing time.

Sow parsnip seeds 1cm deep and 2.5cm apart in wide rows; thin seedlings to 8cm apart. Space rows 45-60cm apart. Thin seedlings after they develop two true leaves; cut off thinned seedlings at soil level to avoid disturbing remaining seedlings. Thinning is important; parsnips require adequate space for root development.

Parsnips require moist but not wet soil for uninterrupted root development. As roots approach maturity, reduce watering to avoid cracking. Side dress plants at midseason with aged compost.

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