Sow your parsnip seeds directly from April till May, ensuring the soil is weed-free, light, and well-draining. Do not add manure before planting. Sow in rows 30 cm apart, placing 3 seeds every 15 cm; thin them out when they are around 3 cm tall to 1 per 15 cm. Sow radish alongside for marking rows and weeding help; radish will be ready for harvest as parsnip takes off.
Parsnips are best sown in situ, as they do not like root disturbance, which can cause them to split into many thin roots.
Parsnip care is straightforward; keep it weed-free, remove any yellowing leaves, and water during hot spells.
Parsnip is related to carrots, so some of the same pests can affect them. Carrot root flies lay eggs on young plants, and the grubs eat their way down into the roots. Using netting can prevent attacks.
Dig up as needed in late autumn and winter. Harvest after the first frost is best but not necessary. Once the leaves start to die back, they are ready. For heavy soil, dig them all up at once and store in a clamp overwinter; ensure those stored have no carrot root fly damage.
Parsnips are delicious. Roast them for the perfect Sunday roast or use them in various dishes like curries, soups, stews, latkes, gnocchi, and even cakes.
To save parsnip seeds, grow at least 20 plants into their second year. Insect-pollinated, they need isolation or 1 mile distance from other parsnips. Harvest when the seed head turns brown; remove seed heads and dry for at least 10 days. Rub seeds off the dry plant and store in a cool, dry place. Stored this way, seeds can remain viable for 1 or 2 years.