ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How to Grow Organic Parsnips

Updated on May 21, 2013
An organic parsnip from my garden.
An organic parsnip from my garden. | Source

Grow Organic Parsnips

Parsnips are familiar to southern gardeners, who use the hot, long summers to their advantage to grow this delectable root vegetable. Native to Europe and Asia, parsnips have been cultivated since ancient times. The Romans loved them, and European cultures loved them too because parsnips can be left in the ground during long, cold winters. Their flavor actually improves after a frost, and they'll keep for long stretches if left in the nurturing earth.

Parsnips do need a long growth period and cannot be rushed. They also need plenty of loose soil. Rocky, clay soil must be amended to improve texture and drainage or parsnip roots will rot or deform. Growing organic parsnips begins with site selection, followed by seed planting, care, and harvesting.

Organic Parsnip Requirements

Light Requirements for Parsnips

Like most vegetables, parsnips require full sunlight. Full sunshine is defined as six or more hours per day of bright, steady, direct sunlight. The more sunlight they receive, the better.

Soil Requirements

As an organic gardener, you know how important soil quality is to your plants' health. Good soil builds healthy plants. Your first step for growing parsnips is to get your garden soil tested at the local County Cooperative Extension office or garden center.

Parsnips need sandy, loamy soil. They prefer a slightly acidic pH.

Dig the garden bed to a depth of two feet in the area where you want to plant parsnips. Mix in abundant helpings of compost and composted manure. Talk to the group that conducted your soil test for any organic recommendations to improve soil texture or pH in addition to adding composted manure or garden compost.

If your soil is heavy clay, consider raised beds. A simple raised bed to grow parsnips can be constructed by stacking foundation building blocks or using old truck tires. Stack two truck tires and fill with bagged, sterile organic potting soil from the garden center. It's a fast way to create an ideal bed for growing root vegetables such as parsnips.

Starting Parsnip Seeds

Parsnips grow best from seeds. Buy a fresh package of seeds; parsnip seeds lose their viability quickly, and even a one-year old package of opened parsnip seeds probably won't germinate.

Plant the seeds directly into the ground as soon as you can. Plant one seed every two inches or so. If you mess up and plant more than one, don't worry - you can thin them out later.

Don't plant them too deeply. Plant just about 1/2 inch deep. Cover lightly with soil.

Water well after planting.

Caring for Organic Parsnips


It takes about two weeks for parsnip seeds to germinate. During that time, be sure to water the area daily if the forecast doesn't call for rain.

Once the seedlings have two sets of leaves, you can thin out any that are growing too closely together. Just pull out the smaller plant and compost it. Don't feel bad about it; if you leave them growing too closely together, you'll end up with stunted parsnips.

Weed by hand during the growing season. Keep the area well watered.

Harvesting Parsnips

Let them grow, and grow. Harvesting is typically after the first frost for your area. Don't pull them up sooner than that. Even if the parsnip is big enough, they taste sweeter a frost.

One of the best things about growing organic parsnips is that they can be left in the ground after the frost. You don't have to rush around in the fall harvesting, canning, or placing the harvested parsnips in a root cellar or refrigerator. Just leave them be. Even if the greenery gets nipped by the frost, the edible roots will still be tasty.


Lush foliage on organic parsnips in my garden.
Lush foliage on organic parsnips in my garden. | Source

Pests and Diseases

Organic gardeners are often concerned with pests and diseases. After all, most gardening books recommend conventional, chemical-based treatments for insects and diseases of vegetable plants. Fortunately, only a few problems trouble most parsnips, and with the right care, you can prevent many problems.

Insects

Three insects can harm parsnips: aphids, leaf miner, and carrot rust flies. Many organic gardeners use traps to keep insects away from plants. Pastes can be applied near the plants so that these insects stick to the paste before getting to the plants.

Another simply organic control method for pests is a floating row cover. A floating row cover is a special cloth purchased at the garden center which allows light and air to circulate among the plants but keeps insects away. It is placed over a frame, usually hoops made from flexible PVC pipes or a special frame meant for row covers, and removed for watering and pollination. Since parsnips don't require pollination to produce a crop, row covers are a good solution.

Lastly, good garden maintenance can prevent many insect pests from moving from nuisance to threat stage. Remove all garden debris at the end of the season so that insect eggs cannot winter over. Rotate crops, planting root crops such as carrots and parsnips in different areas of the garden so that insects that plague one type of crop don't have an easy time of it when they emerge in the spring - they won't find conveniently placed food sources, your plants, nearby.

Parsnips are usually quite hardy, however, and even with a bit of insect infestation, are fine. Carrot fly will leave some marks on the roots, but you can trim them away. For organic gardeners, a few insects is an acceptable trade off for avoiding chemicals.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Anne Harrison profile image

      Anne Harrison 

      4 years ago from Australia

      I never knew the Romans ate parsnips! I try to let a few plants go to seed, then use those seeds straight in the garden for my next crop since the seeds don't store well. Great hub, thanks

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)