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Botanical name: Pastinaca sativa

Plant type: Vegetable

USDA Hardiness Zones: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Sun exposure: Full Sun, Part Sun

Soil type: Sandy, Loamy

Soil pH: Slightly Acidic to Neutral

Parsnips, popular with ancient Greeks and Romans, were brought over to the Americas with the first colonists. Although parsnips are biennials, they are usually grown as an annual vegetable. Parsnips are a hardy, cool-season crop that is best harvested after a hard frost. Parsnips are not only tasty in soups and stews, but can also be enjoyed by themselves.


  • Always sow fresh seed.
  • Parsnips need a long growing season, so sow as soon as the soil is workable.
  • Loosen the soil to a depth of 12-15 inches and mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost.
  • Sow 2 seeds per inch 1/2 an inch deep
  • Seedlings will emerge in 2-3 weeks


  • Thin the seedlings to stand 3-6 inches apart.
  • Water during the summer if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week.
  • Always keep the beds free of weeds.


  • Aphids
  • Leaf Miners
  • Carrot Rust Flies
  • Parsnip Canker (all cultivars but 'Tender and True' are resistant to this)


  • Parsnips mature in about 16 weeks.
  • Leave your parsnips in the ground for a few frosts but harvest before the ground freezes.
  • If you leave them in the ground for the winter, cover them with a thick layer of mulch and harvest immediately after the ground thaws in the spring.

Recommended Varieties

  • 'Avonresister' (short)
  • 'Cobham Improved Marrow' (medium)
  • 'Gladiator' (long)


Wit & Wisdom

Fine words butter no parsnips.


Last fall I left my parsnips

By Molly Holst on March 27

Last fall I left my parsnips in the ground. I had them covered, but uncovered to dig some and forgot to cover them back before the hard freeze. I covered them after the freeze, but they had froze. This spring I tilled the tops off and they are growing again. Should I leave them or till them up?

Parsnips are best if they

By Almanac Staff on March 27

Parsnips are best if they stay in the ground for a frost--or, a few frosts! They're also fine if you leave them in the ground and overwinter, even through the snow. However, we would harvest the roots in the spring before new growth begins. If you have too many parsnips, you can always blanche and freeze.

fixing parsnips

By Anonymous

we usually peel and boil until almost done. then transfer to baking dish and cover with brown sugar and butter and bake until completely done. yum yum

sounds great but try slicing

By Donna Weatherington on April 13

sounds great but try slicing like potatoes fry in a skillet slowly in butter and add brown sugar when they are tender sautee and serve does bot take ling to do this way.

Parsnip Cultivation

By Anonymous

The reader will be better informed by this article than one by the Royal Horticultural Society.

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