In earlier times, the parsnip enjoyed the same popularity in our latitudes as the potato does today. The winter vegetable is easy to grow and very nutritious due to its high starch and sugar content. Over the centuries, however, parsnips have been supplanted by potatoes in home cooking and gardens and have largely been forgotten. With the increasing popularity of organic fruit and vegetable cultivation, these were rediscovered and are currently experiencing a second renaissance. The aromatic parsnips have a sweet and delicate taste and can be used for many purposes and dishes.

Location and plant substrate

The parsnip prefers a predominantly sunny location with long-lasting sunshine. So that the roots cannot branch out and grow straight, the soil is deep and well loosened. A nutrient-rich plant substrate that is rather dry is recommended for growing parsnips. The more nutrient-rich the soil, the more intense the taste of the roots develops. The better the bed preparation, the greater the subsequent crop yields. If you invest a little more work at the beginning, you will later enjoy an impressive harvest.

There must be at least three years between growing parsnips in the same bed, otherwise the soil will be too depleted. In addition, a certain crop rotation must also be observed so that the soil is protected and the quality of the harvest can be guaranteed.

  • Sunny to full sun location
  • Humus, heavy to loamy plant substrate
  • Nutrient-rich peat soils are advantageous
  • Ideal pH between 5.5-7.0
  • Loosen the soil well and deeply
  • Remove all weeds before sowing

Sowing and care criteria

An important criterion for sowing parsnips is the crop rotation, which must be strictly observed. Cultivation must not occur after other umbelliferous plants, including aniseed, dill, fennel, lovage, caraway, carrots and parsley. Sowing can be done very early and is possible until the beginning of summer. The later the time of sowing, the smaller the roots grow and the crop yields are lower. Germination will only occur if the soil is kept evenly moist. If the area under cultivation is in a region where there is a risk of frost until spring, protective measures must be taken, since the young shoots can be damaged by severe cold weather. With all too heavy rains and a generally very wet spring,

  • Early sowing, depending on the weather as early as March
  • Sowing can be carried out until June, but the harvest will then be smaller
  • Sowing depth at 2 cm, spacing of approx. 10 cm
  • Roll in the seeds a little after sowing
  • Pull apart seeds that are too close together
  • Row spacing at least 35 cm
  • Seeds germinate in 15-20 days
  • Only use fresh seeds (very limited germination capacity)
  • If there is a risk of frost and continuous rain, cover the bed with fleece or foil
  • Hoe and weed regularly during the growing season

watering and fertilizing

In general, it is important to ensure regular watering processes, whereby the harmful effects of waterlogging are to be avoided at all costs. If the drought lasts for a long time, unsightly cracks form in the beet. Too little water also leads to crusting of the soil. Just like when growing potatoes and carrots, do not work fresh manure and unripe compost into the soil, as this attracts predatory pests. Parsnips do not like freshly fertilized soil very much, so the site should be enriched with compost or other fertilizer early in spring. When the small shoots have reached a certain height, a further but moderate application of fertilizer is advisable.

  • Water sufficiently after the top layer of soil has dried
  • Never let the root area dry out completely
  • Keep the soil only slightly moist, avoid waterlogging at all costs
  • Pay attention to regular watering, especially in the summer months
  • Incorporate manure and immature compost into the soil well before sowing
  • Mature compost and natural fertilizer for the first fertilizer application after sowing
  • Approx. 10-15 cm high shoots again, but only slightly fertilize

Harvesting and Storage

The roots of the parsnip can be harvested from mid-autumn. To do this, loosen the soil and carefully pull out the parsnips. Then cut off the leaves and store the roots in a suitable place before final consumption. If the parsnips are stored for too long, the flavor will change and become a little tart. You can also eat the leaves and use them in cooking. If the harvested quantity exceeds your own needs, peeled and diced parsnips can be stored in the freezer. The roots are fully hardy, so they can remain in the bed over the winter months and be harvested on frost-free days if necessary. However, these attract mice, which find little food in the cold season and like to taste the parsnips.

  • Culture time is between 180-200 days
  • Harvest time from October
  • Loosen the soil with a digging fork and gently pull out the root
  • Do not tear out by the leaves
  • Trim the foliage to a remnant of approx. 1 cm
  • Store roots in the sand in a cool place with high humidity
  • Basements are ideal for storage
  • Use the leaves, either fresh or dried, as a flavoring for salads and soups
  • Roots can be left in the bed over the winter
  • When harvested after the first frosty nights, the root tastes sweeter

varieties and taste

Despite the increasing popularity of parsnips, this special root vegetable is still rarely found in conventional shops and supermarkets. If you don’t want to do without this extraordinary pleasure, you have to grow the desired rations yourself.

Parsnips are a root vegetable related to carrots and belong to the umbelliferae family. Several different species are known and widespread in the local latitudes, with the advent of organic farming, this distribution is constantly increasing. After falling into oblivion in recent decades, the parsnip is now being cultivated again, both commercially and by hobby gardeners. The root of the parsnip is white-yellow and resembles the parsley root in shape. The taste is very aromatic and a treat for the palate. It is a nutrient-rich vegetable that also contains very little nitrate. In exceptional cases, a full-grown parsnip can reach a length of 20 cm and a weight of more than 1.5 kg.

  • Pastinaca sativa (vegetable parsnip), annual, thick and long root
  • Pastinaca sativa pratensis (meadow parsnip), biennial, thin root
  • Meadow parsnip grows wild on field edges, on meadows and on dry slopes
  • Sweet, aromatic and spicy taste
  • High content of essential oils, minerals and vitamins
  • To be used for baby food because of the low nitrate content
  • Ideal for soups, salads and purees, for baking and cooking, raw for grating
  • Peel the root before further processing
  • Too long a storage time leads to a tart and even very bitter taste
  • Has a diuretic effect and stimulates the appetite
  • Flowers and leaves suitable for making tea
  • With proper care, the parsnip can reach gigantic dimensions

diseases and pests

Beds full of parsnips attract many pests due to the tasty roots. For this reason, neither fresh manure nor unripe compost should be used in the immediate preparation of the soil, since these fertilizer additions contain increased enticing fragrances. Adhering to the correct crop rotation can efficiently prevent unwanted diseases. It is ideal to sow the parsnips on a bed where green manure has been used beforehand or where mint plants and bulbous plants have grown. If diseases and pests get out of hand in a short period of time, biological means of control are preferable, chemical products should only be used in an emergency.


  • Feeding on the leaves and stems
  • Collect and destroy
  • Wash affected areas with a mild detergent solution


  • White, mealy coating, mainly on the upper side of the leaves
  • If the infestation is severe, the leaves of the plant die off
  • Treat with milk, whose microorganisms and sodium phosphate fight the fungus
  • Also strengthens the defenses of plants
  • Spray affected areas twice a week with a mixture of milk and water
  • Mixing ratio is approx. 1:9

carrot fly

  • Damage caused by carrot fly larvae feeding
  • Plant leaves turn yellow
  • Foliage begins to wither
  • Remove affected parsnips from the bed
  • Collect and destroy larvae
  • Beds with windy conditions are less affected
  • Cover manageable areas with special protective nets

carrot blackness

  • Fungal disease that causes parsnip leaves to turn black
  • The underground roots can also be damaged
  • Widespread especially in damp weather
  • Do not plant parsnips too close together so that foliage can dry off quickly
  • No approved fungicides currently on the market
  • Cut off and discard affected leaves

root scab

  • Bacterium that causes root damage
  • Brown, corky, cracked spots appear
  • formation of scab
  • Remove affected plants
  • Ensure strict compliance with crop rotation
  • Do not add lime or alkaline fertilizers to the soil in the year before sowing

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