Parsnips: Tips For Growing Your Own

The parsnip had almost fallen into oblivion. Today it is popular with housewives and celebrity chefs alike. The root vegetable is versatile, tasty and healthy. How do you succeed in growing it yourself in the garden?

  • traditional root vegetable
  • suitable for self-cultivation
  • hardy, resistant to diseases
  • taste nutty, spicy, slightly sweetish
  • suitable for soups, purees, salads and more

Parsnips were almost forgotten. Today they have made it back into cookbooks and onto restaurant menus. The white to yellowish thick roots are versatile. They combine a variety of positive properties, are rich in minerals and healthy, easy to grow, store well and resistant to diseases. With their pleasantly spicy, slightly nutty flavor, parsnips are perfect for preparing stews, soups, purees and salads.

Parsnip belongs to the umbelliferae family (Apiaceae). It consists of a pointed, white-yellowish root with a thick head and herbaceous leaves. By the way, the parsnip is also called mutton carrot or bog root. The vegetable is easy to care for and hardy. Do you want to grow parsnip roots in your own garden? We show what you need to pay attention.



If you want to grow the root vegetable in the garden, choose a sunny to semi-shady location.
For successful parsnip cultivation, the soil must be

  • loose
  • moist
  • deep
  • be rich in nutrients.

The substrate may be sandy or contain a small amount of clay. Heavy, compacted soil impairs the development of the root vegetable. Only round, short varieties such as – White King – Kral Russian thrive in heavy soil. Before planting, thoroughly loosen the soil and mix in a little compost. Refrain from adding horse manure. This attracts the carrot fly and changes the taste of parsnips.

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Sow parsnip seeds two inches deep in the prepared, well loosened bed between early April and late May. The root vegetable germinates very slowly. In order not to lose sight of the plantlets, marker seeds with fast-germinating plants are recommended. Suitable as marker seeds are radishes or pluck lettuce. Hoe the soil between the rows regularly and keep the bed weed-free.

After 20 days, the seeds will germinate. When the seedlings emerge, they can be spaced 15 to 20 inches apart. The spacing is necessary because the foliage formation of parsnips is stronger than that of carrots.

Pastinaken vorziehen

Tip: In cold regions, you should prepare the parsnip seedlings in seed trays on the windowsill. Plant the seedlings in the prepared bed after the Ice Saints.

Plant neighbors

Experienced gardeners know that parsnip development can be positively or negatively affected by plants in close proximity.

Suitable neighbors:

  • Radish
  • Radish
  • Lettuce
  • peas
  • Beet
  • Onions
  • marigolds

Unsuitable neighbors:

  • Parsley
  • Fennel
  • Celery
  • Care


An application of compost when preparing the parsnip bed is sufficient for good development of the root vegetable. Additional applications of fertilizer are not necessary.



Especially in the summer months and during drought, watering the plants is important. Parsnips that are too dry will only develop short roots. Loosen the soil regularly. Prevent waterlogging.


At the end of October, the white roots are ready for harvest. It is worth leaving the vegetables in the bed until after the first frost. The cold weather allows the aroma to develop even better. The tasty roots can be harvested into the winter. Carefully loosen the soil with a digging fork to remove the parsnips without damage.

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Note: As with carrots, parsnip foliage can cause skin irritation in sensitive people. Protect yourself with gloves when harvesting.


The root vegetable is best stored in a frost-free cellar.
Fill buckets with damp sand. Stick the roots in completely. Make sure the sand does not dry out. Dryness will make the parsnips tough. Alternatively, the root vegetables can be stored in the refrigerator or on the balcony. Wrap the roots in a damp linen cloth.

Pastinaken richtig lagern

Diseases and pests

The parsnip is uncomplicated and resistant to diseases and pests. Soft rot, caused by bacteria, rarely occurs. The best protection against this disease, which also affects carrots, is well loosened, weed-free soil. Like carrots, celery and parsley, parsnips can also be attacked by carrot fly. Protect your plants with vegetable fly netting. Mixing crops with onions, garlic and chives will prevent carrot fly infestations.

Suitable varieties

Due to the increasing popularity of white roots, prospective buyers can find a wide selection of old and new parsnip varieties in stores today. These varieties are suitable for growing in your own garden:

White King

  • excellent for raw consumption
  • pleasant consistency

Semi-long white

  • very sweet
  • suitable for baby food
  • aroma – nutty, sweet
  • tender, light yellow roots


  • very frost hardy
  • long roots

Kral Russian

  • short, roundish roots
  • pleasantly sweet



Parsnip is a biennial plant. After harvesting, leave two to three parsnip roots in the ground. They will form flowers the next year. The flowers look beautiful and magically attract bees. The seeds are easy to harvest. Store the parsnip seeds in a dry and dark place. They do not keep long and need to be planted right away the following year.

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Frequently asked questions

What can cause parsnips to develop thin, multi-legged roots?

Heavy, dense soil will cause short, thin, multi-legged roots to form. Loosen the soil thoroughly before planting and add compost. Let the bed rest for a week before tilling. We recommend green manuring with phacelia or lupins for optimal bed preparation.

What can cause parsnip leaves to turn yellow?

The yellowing of the leaves is often caused by a magnesium deficiency. A too shady location or waterlogging can also lead to discoloration of the foliage.

Can parsnips be eaten raw?

This healthy vegetable is suitable for eating raw. Remove the foliage and peel and clean the roots with clean water. Enjoy the parsnip like a fresh carrot or prepare a tasty salad with it.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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