How to Grow Parsnips
How to Grow Parsnips
Parsnip – Pastinaca sativa
A native of Europe, this is one of the easiest vegetables to grow. While not so popular as the potato, it is a useful winter vegetable, for steamed or baked roots can be a real delicacy. They contain vitamin C as well as some vitamins A and B1 while there are also traces of iron and calcium.
They grow best in a deep, light to mediumnot lacking in lime. Parsnips can also be grown on fairly shallow ground so long as the short rooted varieties are used. Select a site which was well manured for a previous crop. If soil is very poor and it is not possible to obtain bulky organic manure, a complete fertiliser can be used at the rate of 4oz per square metre.
Parsnips occupy the ground for a long time. It is often possible to sow at the end of February or early in March when soil and weather conditions are reasonable. Drills should be drawn in the usual way or a few seeds can be placed at stations 23cm apart. If extra large roots are required, an even wider spacing can be allowed.
Individual holes can be made up to 60cm deep with 8 to 12cm diameter at the top. Such holes can be filled with a mixture of three parts good garden soil and one part of matureor rotted manure. Pass these through a 7 mm, sieve. Three seeds are then sown in each hole and the thinned down to the strongest one. The drills should be 38cm apart.
Since the seed is liable to be slow in germinating, it is a good plan to sow radish orseed along the rows. The quick germination of these will show where the rows are, and prevent loss when the ground is being cultivated. Thinning must be done early, the best time being when the first two true leaves have developed.
The roots can be left in the soil throughout winter, and dug as required. Since they are needed during the time when the soil is liable to become frozen hard, it is a good plan to place straw or bracken around some roots, making it easy to lift them, when the soil would otherwise be frost-bound. Roots can also be lifted and stored in heaps of sand or soil or in a shed, for use during bad weather.
Parsnips are not greatly affected by any disease or pest attacks, although canker sometimes arises. This causes cracks and brown areas chiefly around the top. It is not a disease but a physiological disorder, usually caused by wet conditions, bad drainage or too much nitrogen, although hoe damage will sometimes start it.
Varieties: Hollow Crowned; heavy-cropping, well shaped, broad shoulders. Offenham; intermediate size, with broad shoulders, useful for shallow soils. Tender and True; medium size, extra tender flesh. The Student; well-shaped roots of fine flavour. Avonresister; having short, thick roots specially suitable for shallow soils, resistant to rust or canker. White Gem; a new variety tolerant to canker, and a heavy cropper of medium sized roots.