Packet Content (approx.): 350
General Sowing information: Sow February Onwards 1-2cm deep in drills 30cm apart sow in clusters of 4 seeds every 13-20cm, thinning to one strong seedling. Seeds are slow and erratic to germinate especially if sown early when ground is still cold.
You may also consider planting radish seed along with the parsnips, they will mark the row and keep the crust from hardening, making life a little easier for the parsnip pushing through. As the radishes become of edible size, use them and weed and thin the parsnip seedlings to stand 15cm (6in) apart.
Prepare the site:
Parsnips are not fussy about what soil types they grow in. For all plants that have deep-growing roots as the parsnip and if you wish to grow the long, ?perfect? looking parsnip, you will need deep soil, that has recently been manured and is stone free. If parsnips hit a stone while growing they tend to fork.
They grow best in a light, rich soil. A generous amount of compost or humus in some other form, incorporated in the soil will help provide soil aeration and a uniform distribution of moisture, besides the source of food supply for the plants.
Sowing: Sow February to May
Parsnip seeds have a very short vitality, fresh seed should be secured each year.
If you are going to sow as early as February or March, you may wish to warm the soil with cloches or similar, leaving them in place until the seedlings have developed two true leaves. Sowings made in late March to early May should not need a cloche. Parsnip germination rates can be low and seeds germinate slowly. It can be difficult to get a full row of seedlings. However, once parsnips have germinated they are really easy to grow. Soaking the seed overnight may help to hasten germination.
Sowing Direct - The traditional method:
Sow three or four seeds at 15cm (6in) intervals, 13mm (0.5in) deep in rows 25 to 30cm (10 to 12in) apart. When the seedlings are about 2.5cm (1in) high thin out to leave one seedling per 15cm (6in) station. Don?t leave this job long as they need room to grow. It is wise to mulch the rows after planting as the soil must remain cool and moist during the germination period when the seeds are in danger of drying out. Water regularly.
Weed using a hoe or by hand but be careful not to disturb the young seedlings.
Harvesting: October to early March.
The tops will die down once the parsnips are ready to be harvested (late October) however it is traditional to wait until after the first frost to harvest, it is said to improve the flavour. Use a fork to carefully lift them. Don?t harvest all of them immediately, the best method of storage is to leave them in the ground, but lifting a few extra in November will ensure you still have parsnips to eat even if the soil is frozen.
Harvesting can continue right up until early March. In spring dig as needed until new tops start to grow, then dig all that remains and store them in a cold place to prevent sprouting. After the growth of new tops begins, the roots lose flavour.