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 ½ 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

Wit & Wisdom

Fine words butter no parsnips.

Botanical Name: 

Pastinaca sativa

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