Parsnips might be considered carrot look-alikes, but they have their own unique flavor that makes a rich addition to soups and stews. That’s not all. Roast parsnips, stovetop parsnip fries, and honey-glazed parsnips bring traditional flavors to the table that will instantly make you fall in love with the root vegetable. If you’re already fond of parsnip recipes and plan on growing them in your garden, one of the first things you may be wondering is, “how long do parsnips take to grow?”
While parsnips can be one of the most stubborn vegetables to get going, they’ll grow quickly once the plants are established. Continue reading to learn how long it takes for the parsnip plants to grow to maturity and if there’s anything you can do to speed it up.
How Long Do Parsnips Take To Grow To Maturity
Parsnips take about 100 to 130 days to grow to maturity after sowing the seeds. However, the days to maturity slightly vary with the cultivar you’re growing. You can choose fast-maturing varieties if you want to harvest them sooner.
Once you sow the seeds, as soon as the soil temperatures reach around 50°F in early spring, you should be able to start harvesting the roots from late autumn.
The good thing about parsnip roots is that you can leave them in the ground until you’re ready to use them. The roots can be left in the ground until the ground freezes over. You can leave them in the soil all through the winters if it doesn’t freeze. Exposure to cold temperatures enhances the flavor, making the roots sweeter. However, do remember to harvest them before the next warm season, or they’ll turn woody.
The harvested parsnips can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 months. If you want to save it for longer, keep them in a cold, moist place for over six months.
Parsnip Cultivars And Their Days To Maturity
Several parsnip varieties exist. They differ in texture, color, size, and also the time to reach maturity. If you want a smaller growing season, you can go for cultivars like “All American” or “Hollow Crown Improved.” Hollow Crown, heirloom, however, is slow to germinate, though it gives beautiful long roots.
|Cultivar||Days To Maturity|
|Cobham Improved Marrow||120|
|Harris Early Model||100 to 120|
|Hollow Crown Improved||95 to 135|
|Tender and True||102|
Seed Germination Is The Tricky Part
The most challenging part of growing parsnips is to get the seeds growing. Once you have your seedlings sprouted, the worst is over. According to most gardeners, it’s the tricky seed germination that doesn’t qualify parsnips as an “easy to grow” vegetable. However, if you keep a few things in mind, it’s not impossible to master parsnip growing either.
Parsnip seeds can take anywhere between 2 weeks to over a month to germinate. Here are a couple of tips to help them sprout faster:
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- The seeds lose their viability relatively quickly. After a year or two, the germination rate will slow down drastically. Try to find new seeds from a reliable supplier so you can be sure they will germinate ideally. You can also prepare your own seeds by leaving a few parsnip plants to continue for a second season and go to seed.
- Plant them at a sunny spot, in light, sandy to loamy soil, and keep the seeds well-watered during dry periods.
- Don’t sow the seeds too early. It’s best to wait until the soil temperatures reach around 50°F to 54°F for speedy germination.
- Another way to speed up germination is to put seeds between moist paper towels and place them in a sealed container. Place them at a sunny spot and wait for sprouting. Once the seeds germinate, you can plant them in the garden.
Once you’ve sprouted the seeds, the hard part is over. If the seedlings are out in about two weeks, you have a good start. However, don’t lower your guard just yet. The seedlings will take a couple of weeks to establish. Until then, they’ll ask for a little extra attention to grow healthy. Keep the garden bed weed-free, water them regularly to maintain soil moisture, and thin them to about 3 to 4 inches so that the healthiest plants have ample space for root development. Check out tips to prevent parsnips forking.
Once the plants are established, they’ll only need watering during dry periods. Keeping the soil a little dry as the roots approach maturity helps them grow deeper and longer searching for water. Frequent, shallow watering isn’t recommended since it gives small, weak roots. Very dry or wet soil can result in cracked or split roots, so it’s critical to maintain just the optimal soil moisture, particularly close to harvest time.
Fertilize at midseason by side-dressing with aged compost to keep the plants well-nourished.
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Today we have covered how long do parsnips take to grow. Slow to germinate and particular about their watering requirements, parsnips may not be the easiest vegetables to grow. However, once you find some fresh seeds and follow the tips to help them grow, you’ll be able to enjoy some fresh, sweet roots sooner than you’d think.
Plant good quality, fresh seed in well-prepared soil, gather some patience, and you’ll have your sweet roots in about two months. With the right start and good care of the young parsnip plants, they’ll hopefully be ready for harvest just in time for some hot winter soups and stews.