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Aug 24, 2022
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How to grow parsnips

How to grow parsnips

In regions with a warm climate, you can start sowing as early as March, although if you wait until the middle or end of April, the seeds will germinate faster and more amicably (for best results, soak them for 2-3 days in water).

Parsnip or “white root”: how to grow on the site

One of the main food products – this is how parsnips were called in Russia until the 18th century, or, as it was also called, “white root”.

But as soon as carrots and potatoes brought from overseas countries appeared on local markets, the former favorite was out of work. Meanwhile, parsnips are less nutritious than potatoes and more useful than carrots (the “white root” is especially rich in potassium, silicon and phosphorus).

But now it is remembered not so much for reasons of usefulness, but because of the growing popularity of eco-gardening, in which the emphasis is on natural balance and the rejection of chemicals. Parsnip just does not require such processing, since few pests will covet it. And now these fragrant root vegetables flaunt on the shelves again. Moreover, parsnip dishes are already on the menu of gourmet restaurants.

There was interest – there was also a proposal: breeders brought new varieties. One of them is ‘Aromata’. As, in fact, it is clear from the name, this is a particularly fragrant varietal novelty. Its creamy yellow roots are tender, sweet and flavorful and are best eaten raw, grated and used as a salad base. At the same time, the parsnip of this variety is as unpretentious and hardy as its ancestors.

Do you already want to see the “white root” in your area? No problem! In regions with a warm climate, you can start sowing as early as March, although if you wait until the middle or end of April, the seeds will germinate faster and more amicably (for best results, soak them for 2-3 days in water).

Important: check the expiration date on the seed bag and always buy as much as you plan to sow this year, because the seeds of this plant remain viable for a maximum of two years.

Parsnips are undemanding to the soil, but the most beautiful root crops grow on loams with a deep fertile layer. If during the preparation of the beds you made a lot of compost, you no longer need to feed the plants, on the contrary, with an excess of nutrients, the tops grow more, and the root crop remains small. All that a parsnip needs is infrequent loosening and watering in a drought.

Loosen the ground around the parsnips regularly – this stimulates the growth of root crops. The pinnate leaves of the plant are similar to celery greens; when young, they can be used as a seasoning for salads and soups along with parsley and dill.

Pasternak is a biennial

Like carrots, this vegetable plant belongs to the Celery family. From the moment of germination of its flat, rounded seeds to flowering, if the root crop is not dug up, it takes approximately 16 months.

Young sprouts appear rather late – 2-3 weeks after sowing. In cold spring weather, it is advisable to cover the bed with parsnips with non-woven material.

However, with the appearance of the first leaves, this plant is no longer afraid of frost. When the first true leaves are visible, the crops should be thinned out, leaving a distance of 10 cm between the seedlings. If sown too thickly, the roots will be thin and woody.

Root crops begin to gain mass only from July. In the first months after sowing, the taproot is hardly thicker than a pencil, with the beginning of its growth in breadth, the leaf petioles turn dark green and become fleshier. By the end of autumn, when it’s time to harvest, root crops reach 40 cm in length and gain weight of several kilograms.

Yellow umbrella inflorescences will appear only in the second year at the height of summer, and the seeds will ripen by autumn.

Harvesting

Harvested no earlier than October and stored in damp sand in a cool room. It is in autumn, before the first frosts, that root crops gain weight and acquire a characteristic aroma.

Small root crops are easily pulled out by hand, while thicker ones can break in two. To prevent this from happening, when digging, pry the root crops with a garden pitchfork.

You can leave the root crops to winter in the garden (then they will be more fragrant), but be sure to cut the tops and spud the plant. And don’t forget to dig up the parsnips in early spring, before the young leaves appear, otherwise the roots will become woody and tasteless.

Root crops of the ‘Turga’ variety can remain in the garden until spring. Their long yellowish “roots” are absolutely not afraid of frost.

‘White Gem’ forms short and wide top snow-white roots with sweetish pulp. This is one of the few varieties that are great for growing in heavy soils.

For this purpose, select a few more powerful plants. Parsnips that bloom in the first year of cultivation are completely unsuitable for collecting seed. The inflorescences that appear in the second year after sowing give the largest and best seeds in terms of germination. Do not delay the collection of seeds, otherwise they will crumble.

When to collect seeds

The best time to collect seed is as soon as the umbrellas turn yellow-brown or light brown. Then carefully sift the seeds through a sieve, dry (this will take several days) and store until spring in a dark, cool and dry place.

Tip: Parsnip leaves and stems contain the toxic substance furocoumarin, which, when exposed to the sun, causes an inflammatory reaction – redness and itching, sometimes even blisters. Therefore, before going to the parsnip garden, take care of clothing that protects exposed areas of the body and gloves (or wash your hands immediately after picking)

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