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Growing Parsnips

How to grow parsnips in containers, garden beds

and allotments



Family/Latin Name

Apiaceae - Pastinaca sativa

Type of Plant

Root - Crop Rotation Group = Root

Suitable for


Garden Beds, Allotments very large containers


Pests & Diseases    Companion Plants    In the Kitchen

See also:-  Vegetable Growing Glossary  |    Container Growing  | Buying Seeds & Plants


Plant Dimensions

Height  30cm/12"   -  Spread up to 20cm/8"

Yield Per Plant
Yield per 1.5m/5ft row
1 Parsnip

Time between sowing and harvesting

34 weeks

Where to Sow

Outdoors in open ground

Sowing time

March to April  - temperature   +10C/50F. 

How to Sow

3 seeds 12mm/½-inch deep, 15cm/6" apart -  in rows 30cm/12" apart or in groups/blocks. Germination can be very slow.

After Germination

Thin to 1 plant per station. Throw away the thinnings as these do not transplant well.

Growing on -  in Pots

Not generally recommended as the roots are very deep and the crop takes a long time to mature. However, if you have some very deep containers (at least 60cm/2tf) you could  sow as above.

Growing on -  in open ground

Keep weed free and well watered. Avoid touching the crowns of the roots during the growing season.


As above


The  roots are ready to be harvested once the foliage begins to die back and many believe they taste better if left in the ground until after the first frosts. Lift as required through the autumn/winter. Use a fork to avoid damaging the long roots.


Finishing lifting crops by the end of February. These can be stored  in sturdy boxes between layers of sand or dry peat and kept in the garage or shed.

Pests and Diseases

Companion Plants

Parsnip Canker
Indications Tops of  parsnips turn black, crack and rot.
Treatment None. Dig up and destroy affected plants
Prevention Organic
1. Do not sow too early
2. Do not add too much fresh manure before sowing
3. Lime the soil
Carrot Root Fly
Indications First sign is that the carrot leaves may look a reddish rust colour. Lifted carrots have small holes and short white maggots
Treatment None once infected
Prevention Organic
1. Companion Planting
2. Prevent the fly getting to the carrots by erecting barriers about 45cm/18" high around the rows or beds, using stakes and polythene sheeting or fleece.
3. Sow carrot fly resistant varieties such as "flyaway" or "Sytan".
Apply an insecticide containing Lambda-cyhalothrin
Celery Fly
Indications Brown blisters in leaves 
Treatment Organic
Pinch out and destroy blistered leaves
Spray with an insecticide containing Fenitrothion
Prevention Grow under garden fleece or fine mesh
Indications Leaves distorted, yellowing and stunted
Treatment Organic
Spray with a weak solution of soapy water
Use water through a hosepipe to knock the aphids off the plants
Spray with an insecticide containing Fenitrothion
Prevention None


 Companion Flower Graphic


Pea, Lettuce, Rosemary, Onion Family, Sage, Tomato

If you know aphids are a problem in your area, grow flowers such as nasturtiums, calendula asters,  dahlias, and zinnias nearby, but not close, as aphids find them attractive so they act as a lure.



Create a bio-diverse environment by planting flowers nearby to attract bees, ladybirds and other "friendlies". To learn more about companion planting click here.

In the Kitchen

 Storage:  In a cool, dry, dark place for up to 5 days or in the refrigerator for  up to 10 days. Remove any leaves attached before storing for any length of time. Can also be stored in sturdy boxes between layers of sand or dry peat and kept in the garage or shed.

Preparing:  Wash in cold water.  Cut off the stem end and straggling roots if present. Peel older parsnips or simply scrub or scrape young specimens. Best eaten cooked.



Whole, Halves or chunks = 40 - 80  minutes. Drizzle with oil


Slices or Batons = 10-15 minutes


Slices or Matchsticks = Stir-fry 6-10 minutes


Slices or Batons = 5-8 minutes


Slices or Batons = 15 - 20 minutes

For more preparation and cooking information about parsnips plus lots of  recipes visit our sister site www.recipes4us.co.uk

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