How reliable are parsnips?


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I love parsnips. However, I've read that they can be hard to grow. I'm reluctant to set aside valuable growing space for something that takes so long to mature, and might well fail.

Here's where I'm at:
  • I plan on buying fresh seed from the RealSeed company (a good UK based place that 'grows their own' seed).
  • I have a 1m square, deep raised bed with good compost.
  • It's situated in a sheltered spot with full sun.
  • Our garden is well tended, watered etc.
  • We are inexperienced gardeners.
  1. What are my chances of success?
  2. If things go badly will I know soon enough to put another crop in that bed?
  3. How many parsnips can I expect to get from a 1m square raised bed with good soil?
 
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I grow parsnips some years. Once they start they are quite prolific and get large roots and tops. Insure soil is loose or the roots get mis-shapen. Five in each corner and one in the center should give quality plants in a square meter.
 
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I grow parsnips some years. Once they start they are quite prolific and get large roots and tops. Insure soil is loose or the roots get mis-shapen. Five in each corner and one in the center should give quality plants in a square meter.
Five in each corner and one in the center? That sounds a strange layout - did you mistype or am I mis-imagining what that would look like?
 
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Possibly 'Five, one in each corner and one in the center', that sounds reasonable to me. Soil in good heart, or they will be small and thin, on the other hand a bit of deep, black soil full of nutrients and they can be huge.
 
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Possibly 'Five, one in each corner and one in the center', that sounds reasonable to me. Soil in good heart, or they will be small and thin, on the other hand a bit of deep, black soil full of nutrients and they can be huge.
So only 5 parsnips in a square meter bed???

I've looked into 'square foot gardening' - essentially this method divides up the raised beds into square foot areas and depending upon what you're growing you plant a given number in each square foot.

So using the Square Foot Gardening approach you'd have 9 square foot sections in a 1m square bed. They recommend 9 parsnips per square foot, which would be 81 parnsips in a 1m square bed. I've never tried planting so intensively - but even so, 5 in a square meter seems a bit wasteful? I got 100 decent sized carrots out of 1 square metre this year?
 
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You might try three plants along each side. Total of ten ,one in center. You described the soil as good. The parsnips are perennials so some the second year are worth a try.

20 August 2017 Parsnips​

Posted on 08/20/2017 by Durgan
http://durgan.org/2017/August 2017/20 August 2017 Parsnips/HTML/ 20 August 2017 Parsnips
My method of parsnip cooking to encourage consumption by young grandchildren. The parsnips are steam cooked for about ten minutes. Parsnips cook quickly so some care is required. After steaming the sliced pieces are sautéed in ghee and broiled for about ten minutes to slightly brown. The top is garnished with a bit of brown sugar and a splash of soy sauce. The resulting dish is enjoyed by all.
parsnips%20023_std.jpg
 
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I usually grow a couple of rows at the allotment and I do not normally have a problem with parsnip germination as I either chit the normal seeds or use pelleted seeds. This year possibly with the lack of rain I have experienced a problem with ants pinching the pelleted seeds so I have had to resow certain areas with chitted flat seeds. The ants do not seem to bother these but it has put me behind a bit. I think the golden rule is you MUST always buy fresh seeds each year. One year I was trying to be clever and used some seeds from the previous year. It did not take me long to realise that germination was a disaster.
 
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5 parsnips in one square meter seems like a waste of space to me - and pretty much a waste of time for just one or two meals. I sow them in a raised bed in a row and thin them out as they get bigger like carrots and in fact they are closely related to the carrots - which y'all sow in rows too, right? I have not found them to need a ton of space and mine happily grow mere inches apart. Even at just over 4 inches apart, that would be 8 rows of 8 plants in one square meter. And remember, as long as you are not growing them for the local gardening show competition, even if they were half the size 64 would be a whole lot more parsnip to enjoy than 5. My Dad always grew his in rows too (in the UK). Regarding harvesting, he always left them until after the first frost. He said they were more tender then. I am not able to confirm that, since I hated the things back then... we live and learn, I eat anything edible now... Mine are not woody anyway, so it doesn't matter - the tops are up to 2 feet tall and the smaller ones I have pulled already are about 2 inches diameter.
 
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Mother and Grandmother grow parsnips very well. They cook parsnips in a frying pan on top of the stove.
 

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