Parsnips are notoriously hard to germinate. You need to give them the right temperature (above 8c), they have a rubbish germination rate unless you use fresh seeds, and ensure the beds are well prepared before planting. Parsnips hate having their roots disturbed so you can't start them off in modules under glass.
We have clearance seed bought last year, before I read up that parsnips do best from fresh seed. So I know the germination rate won't be great, which is why I've chosen to start them off by chitting them.
As you can see small person loved helping sow the seeds. He enjoyed it far more than any sensory play we've tried lately.
How to chit parsnip seeds
- Lay sheets of kitchen or toilet roll in a seed tray
- Water the sheets
- Scatter the seed on top
- Check every day
- When roots start forming plant seed up
Sowing parsnips indoors
- You need biodegradable tubes to start the plants off in- toilet rolls work great, or you can make tubes out of newspaper. Fill the pots with compost
- Put two seeds/seedlings in each tube
- Gently cover with a thin layer of compost
- Once you have your third leaf showing (the first true leaf) thin our the weaker of two seedlings.
- Slowly harden plants off outside over 7-10 days
Planting out parsnip seedlings
- Before planting out make sure you have dug over beds well. You need to dig down to a depth of two feet, removing any stones or weeds and add a layer of mature compost.
- Plant parsnips in trenches 10" apart, with a spacing of 3" between plants
- Time to harvest is approx 100 days from germination. You can winter your parsnips by building up around the plant before first frost with compost.
- Pull up as required