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Growing Guide

Growing Parsnips

The easy to grow relation of the carrot - they're sweet, contain more starch and have an earthier, nutty taste.

Growing Parsnips

Parsnips, as you might expect, are related to carrots. They are root vegetables that produce their characteristic cream coloured edible tap root in a growing year. They are easy to grow; once the seeds are sown and the seedlings thinned out, they need little care until harvest.

Harvested when winter frosts come on, the frosts intensify the sweet flavour. Parsnips make a great addition to winter stews and soups or can be roasted for a super side to any Sunday roast.

Hollow Crown Parsnips
Large tapered roots with a fine flavour, an old, but dependable variety. Strong tops make harvesting easier.

Pride of Europe Parsnips
This variety has been improved disease resistance and, what many believe to be, a superior and stronger taste. Great for growing in smaller gardens!

Supersnip Parsnips
A versatile vegetable, being popular in soups & casseroles or boiled, roasted or steamed as a tasty vegetable Supersnip has a fine, smooth creamy white skin making it easy to prepare

How to Sow Your Parsnips

In late Winter and Spring (July* to March in the North Island and October to December in the South) identify an open sunny place in your garden with good drainage and good soil that does not need fertiliser. Don’t add fresh compost or manure as this tends to cause forking of the parsnip root.

Make a trench about 5 cm deep and 15 cm wide; an Atlas Trade Swan Neck Hoe is ideal for this. Sow fresh parsnip seeds in the trench about 7 cm apart and cover with the soil. Take care as parsnip seeds are light and will easily blow away. Firm the soil down lightly.


Keep the soil moist until germination (3-4 weeks). Then, when the seedlings are 5-10 cm tall, thin out every other seedling to give room for the parsnips to grow.

Do not fertilise your parsnips as you want the tap root to go deep in search of nutrients.


Parsnips are best harvested in winter when some frosts have sweetened and intensified their flavour.

The parsnips can be left in the ground all winter and dug when they are needed for your recipe, which is an advantage over stored parsnips that can shrivel and develop a woody core. However, in warmer northern areas you should lift them as they mature. Once dug, the tops should be trimmed close to the core to prevent loss of moisture and the parsnips stored in a cool dry place.

*Parsnips seeds can be planted as early as July in warmer parts of New Zealand but they may take longer to germinate. For best results plant early in Spring.

12 August 2020